Alumni: Tineke Bakker of Boeing

As a young girl, Tineke Bakker-Van der Veen used to sit plane-spotting on a blanket next to the runway. She is now Director of the Benelux and Nordics at Boeing.

  • Name: Tineke Bakker – Van der Veen
  • Place of residence: Leiderdorp
  • Civil status: Married, two children
  • Education: Aerospace Engineering
  • Study association: VSV Leonardo da Vinci

But Bakker did not only develop her passion for engineering during those Sunday afternoons at Schiphol. “My parents took the time to acquaint us with mechanics,” she explains. “My father was a plumber and taught me how to change a tyre.” She considered both mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering and settled on the latter. “It is more challenging to get five hundred people safely airborne,” she explains.

After her BSc she went to work full time for Rolls-Royce in Derby (UK). She flew back once every six weeks to complete her Master”s programme. In 2005, she graduated on the subject of optimising turbine blade grinding. She continued to work for various Rolls-Royce divisions at various locations as a trainee, and met her Dutch husband there. “He’s a mechanical engineer from Delft!” They moved to Glasgow for his PhD and afterwards decided to return to the Netherlands and start a family.

‘They bring you closer to the places where decisions are made’

In 2007 she was made product manager at Heineken, where she learned much about marketing, but also became increasingly sick. She proved to have a gluten intolerance and so returned to the aviation industry. At Fokker Services she was given responsibility for all the engines. She prefers management positions: “They bring you closer to the places where decisions are made.” She was awarded a Business Degree from Nyenrode Business Universiteit and turned to the space industry in 2013.

She was project manager during the construction of the Tropomi (the weather instrument that can also accurately measure the hole in the ozone layer) at Airbus Defence and Space in Leiden. Fokker – now GKN – asked her to become programme director for the Gulfstream in 2015. “The fuselage sections, tail, floor sections and landing gear doors for these aircraft are all made in the Netherlands,” she explains proudly.

It did not go unnoticed: two years later, Boeing asked her to become their director for the Benelux and Nordics. She is responsible for supporting NATO and the fleet at Schiphol, the place where she once spotted planes. “I am now the only engineer and woman on Boeing International”s European team,” she says. “My technical background really makes a difference if I have to read a customer report, for example; I understand the data behind it.”

One of her passions is Boeing Global Engagement: encouraging young people to choose engineering. Boeing does this by demonstrating how much fun engineering is, which is exactly how her love of this field was once born.

This article appeared in the October edition 2018 of Delft Outlook, the alumni magazine of TU Delft. Download the pdf to the October issue.

News editor Connie van Uffelen

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