Velo3D Employee Spotlight: Brian Hawkes – Technical Sales Engineer

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Interviews

To complement Velo3D’s expansion into Europe, we’ve been diligently building a technical sales team with exceptional backgrounds in various engineering and manufacturing disciplines. The latest team member we’re excited to feature is Technical Sales Engineer, Brian Hawkes.

We recently chatted with Brian to learn more about his professional experience, including his background in mechanical engineering and aerospace design, and to learn more about his role in helping customers in the UK and Nordics understand the technical benefits of the Velo3D fully integrated additive manufacturing solution.

Tell our readers about your professional background.

I first got into engineering when I was in high school. I was doing metalwork and working on machines as one of my courses, and I decided to take up a college course to do engineering rather than go down the A-level route because I enjoyed the practical side of engineering. I’ve always enjoyed working on the machines, welding, and getting things done.

From there, I went to university and did a degree in mechanical engineering. When I graduated, I worked for a design consultancy, which got me into the design and the CAD side. It was super interesting, and a little bit like Velo3D because I didn’t just work on one project, I had lots of different tasks to do in various industries.

I then moved into aerospace design and worked for a company called Meggitt for 10 years doing aerospace design, heat exchanger design, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While I was there, I got my chartership for the Institute of Mechanical Engineers. So, I qualified as a chartered engineer. But there are times when you want to try something different, so I stayed in aerospace design but made the move to Rolls-Royce.

And after that, I stepped away from aerospace and worked in automotive. I did automotive design and worked on valves for braking systems. I stayed within the same company and moved into Programme Management that included gaining a qualification as a project manager. From there, I left to manage an engineering department at a manufacturing company that focused on machining aerospace and marine components.

What was your previous experience with additive manufacturing technology?

Before I jointed Velo3D, my company was primarily doing CNC machining for aerospace, for defense, and for the marine industry. We were fabricating parts, machining, and testing them as well. Additive was something I’d heard and read a lot about, and it was a technology I found very interesting. I did manage to get a desk top polymer machine into the department that we started to use for fixtures and other activities.

What brought you to Velo3D?

I was approached to speak to a recruiter, and as an engineer, you never want to stop learning or pushing or challenging yourself, especially when it comes to doing something new and different. One thing I know about myself is that I don’t like standing still; I want to learn and develop.

Joining Velo3D was an opportunity to do all that. I was heavily involved in manufacturing before, but it was still a big delta change for me but also familiar in some ways. It is still manufacturing similar components but a totally new technology to me, and it’s good to see how they kind of correlate with each other sometimes but can also be quite different.

Can you tell us a little bit about your day-to-day at Velo3D?

It’s a lot of helping customers and educating them on about our technology. I get to speak to customers daily, try to understand their challenges, and determine whether using our technology will help them to overcome their challenges. I get to put my previous experience to good use too, so that means preparing test parts for printing and even helping with their design work so that it takes full advantage of the Velo3D solution. There are many who come to us thinking that they need to design parts a certain way and don’t realize the design freedom our technology affords.

I also support the sales director with technical questions on system sales, do site visits, and serve as the point of contact between customers and contract manufacturer. As you know, customers aren’t required to make a machine purchase to benefit from our technology. There are times where it makes more sense to utilize our contract manufacturing network, so I help customers determine that path as well.

How would you describe the culture at Velo3D?

It’s a very supportive culture. If you have a problem, and you put it out there, there is always someone ready and willing to help you find a solution. I’m very impressed that even in my relatively short time at the company, there is always somebody, somewhere willing and able to support you and move forward.

And even though I’m in a small team in the UK, it doesn’t always feel lonely! Despite the time difference, we are global organization with people all over the world, so there is always someone online to reach out to for help.

What motivates you to wake up and go to work?

I want to keep learning. I think what motivates me is trying to learn more about the technology, but what I find most interesting now is that one day I’ll be doing something for space, the next day I’ll be doing something for oil and gas. Knowing that I’m not always sure what’s going to come in, that there’s always something different around the corner. So yeah, what keeps me motivated is doing new things, learning new things, and further progressing my knowledge and understanding of all these new things I’m doing.

What in your opinion differentiates Velo3D from other additive manufacturing solutions?

I see Velo3D as a benefit compared to traditional manufacturing. I see us coming in and taking away the pains I’ve witnessed with supply chains, the pains I’ve seen that hinder innovation for design engineers, you know, allowing for that unprecedented level of design freedom.

And what I’ve heard from speaking to customers is they like the way we approach support. We really are committed to helping them achieve the maximum value from our solution. There is a very real mindset that we only succeed when our customers succeed, and we take that seriously, and we continue to pursue that outcome long after a sale is made. I don’t think any other companies are doing that. But in all honesty, I don’t care what all the other companies are doing; I just care that we’re doing great things. Our technology is producing great parts. And we’re pushing the boundaries of additive manufacturing.

What has been your favorite project so far?

It would have to be seeing the space industry open so much, working on parts for space, and helping it achieve more than what it previously could by utilizing our technology.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’m not sure there is much most people don’t know about me, but the best I can think of is that I proposed to my wife at the end of the Edinburgh marathon. We ran it together and my plan was to propose at the finish line, so I was very motivated to finish. I proposed and we got engaged as we crossed the finish line.

 

What do you like to do for fun? Any interesting hobbies?

I’m a big sports fan, and I like to watch football at all levels, including the English women’s team win the Euros. I’m also a big supporter of Manchester United, we’ve started off OK this season but there is plenty of room for improvement.

That’s all our questions—thanks for chatting with us, Brian!

You’re welcome!

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About the Author

Amir Iliaifar

Sr. Content Marketing Manager

Amir Iliaifar is the Sr. Content Marketing Manager at Velo3D where he oversees the production and distribution of Velo3D’s global digital content marketing initiatives. Prior to joining the company, Amir worked for a leading professional drone manufacturer, several SaaS companies, and as an automotive tech journalist. He holds a Master of Arts in Digital Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.