Meet the Team: Pim van Berkel

In this year’s first interview, we are introducing our Deputy Managing Director at Direct Maintenance, Pim van Berkel. Eager to know about his main professional challenges or work-life balance? Learn more about Pim in our Meet the Team feature!

How did your aviation career start? What was your experience prior to joining Direct Maintenance, a member of Magnetic Group?

I began my career in aviation at the age of 29 as the Finance Director for the airline DutchBird. We started with an empty office and a small management team of five in Haarlem. In the end, we had five aircraft (B757 and A320), over 350 employees, and 80 million in revenue. The September 11 attacks in the USA in 2001, one year after the airline’s launch, wreaked havoc but helped further my career at the same time. It was challenging to manage business performance because of the extreme volatility of the dollar and oil prices. The company filed for bankruptcy three years after 9/11, introducing me to the administrators and attorneys. The following years saw me working as an interim financial in various positions for different businesses. 

What did you know about Direct Maintenance prior to joining? What was your first impression when you joined?

It’s a funny question. Before joining, I had seven years of experience with Line Maintenance working for Nayak as a member of the Group Executive Board. Working as a competitor, I was always interested to see this company from the inside. Direct Maintenance had my interest because they had opened stations in Africa. In 2020, I got a call offering me a position in Direct Maintenance. I was happy to join and start in January 2021. I was eager to learn more about this business and use my experience to add value to the company.

My initial thoughts reflected how I perceived the company. It was run as a family business in entirely different market circumstances. The company employs many excellent, closely bonded individuals who service numerous strong flag carriers. There was little regulation of the processes, and certain management reports were missing. As Covid continued to control the market, expansion initiatives were on the horizon. We are building the bridge at the same time we are walking on it. However, all diamonds are made under pressure. So, without any excuses, let’s go make this the best line maintenance company in the world!

What are the main challenges in your line of work?

As the deputy managing director of these ten legal entities, it is currently a tremendous and very interesting challenge to maintain contact with all the employees, pursue the same goal and objectives together, and ensure satisfaction with their salaries and work-life balance. There are close to 200 employees representing many different cultures. Line Maintenance is a relationship-based industry unlike any other. It resembles a long train of people of different nationalities bound together by intangible magnets. We are unable to maximize our service and attain our maximum potential when one magnet doesn’t connect with the next. It’s an exciting challenge to keep people on board and help them understand our vision and mission while under the pressure of fierce competition.

What are your key goals for this year in your work?

Stabilization. The company experienced fast growth in 2021 and 2022 under considerable instability and investments. Also, numerous new employees joined the team. It’s time to find greater efficacy and efficiency now. 

However, my particular goal is to build a stable management team and solid organization that is prepared to take on a new home base operation in 2024, revitalizing the company and getting ready for better times. 

Besides work, what are your hobbies?

Well, I became a CrossFit level 1 trainer in 2020, and now I instruct CrossFit for four hours every weekend. My interests, which are primarily related to the weather in The Netherlands, include CrossFit and calisthenics. These can be practiced anywhere and every day. However, if you were to ask my heart, I would say that I like longboard surfing or snowboarding on a mountain in the frozen water (snow). I am eagerly looking forward to going skiing in February 2023. I’ve been snowboarding almost since it first became popular, and I enjoy watching it develop over time. 

And a bonus question – what are your top destinations to travel to?

That’s a nice question. As you might expect, I do prefer beaches. The Polynesian islands have grown to be my favourite location after a lot of travelling. I’ve also visited incredible places like Hawaii, Tahiti, and Bora Bora. 

Nevertheless, my roots are in Spain as my parents have a house over there, which I can call my second home. I love a good cortado in the morning and jamón serrano in the afternoon before taking a nap on the beach.

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