For the past two decades, Carina Canoy has worked as a project manager, the person responsible for successfully orchestrating the organization, risk management, and financial responsibilities, and information needs of any particular project. In 2012, while coordinating the production of a necessary plastic component that was an integral part of bringing a project to completion, she suggested to her client that they look to have the part 3D printed. The idea was completely new to her client and was instrumental in ensuring the success of the work they had been doing. It was then that she realized that while 3D printing held enormous potential, many companies simply didn’t understand how it could, or could not, be integrated into their workflow.
Now, Canoy is embarking on a new phase in her professional life as she launches Peer2Tech, a platform for helping other companies understand whether or not 3D printing solutions might be right for them. We recently caught up with Canoy and were able to ask her some questions about what she is doing now and how she got there as part of our series highlighting women working with 3D printing.
Can you tell me a little bit more about your background? Such as where you grew up, what you studied at school, and any interests you had that have helped you to develop your current business model?
“I was born and raised in Amsterdam, my father was a singer/actor. After the pre-university education (Gymnasium) I first worked for 4 years, before starting my studies, as I had no clue what I wanted to be. I thought, maybe an estate agent is something for me, so I started with a BA (Bachelor’s degree) in Management, Economics and Law, including annotation Brokerage/property, Fontys Hogeschool, in Eindhoven. After that I studied Law (part-time), Dutch Law, Major Property Rights, Radboud University, in Nijmegen.
I was a job-hopper in real estate and specialized myself in European tenders (which was very new in 1994). In 1998 I started as an independent worker, which was not normal for a woman, certainly not for a young, blond woman of 30 years old. At that time there were interim managers, 45+, men, grey. One even asked me, what are you doing here? But I was very successful and worked for some days a week for 11 years at Schiphol Airport, all over the company in many roles (project manager, program manager, advisor) in many projects.
In addition, I worked for municipalities as a lawyer for European procurement. In 2008 I set up the Contract management for PPP projects at the Government Building Service (part of the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment). I was disappointed that this client didn’t want to invest in capturing and transferring the experience for later projects. Governments don’t share information, especially not the things that have gone wrong. I found it a pity, so I wrote a book, Public Private Partnership Step by Step. I also hoped to become a specialist, sort of ‘Miss PPP’ in the Netherlands. Although that succeeded a bit, there were too little projects in the Netherlands and they were too big to ask an independent like me to become the project manager.”
What exactly does a project manager do?
“A project manager is responsible for time, finance, risks, organization, information of the project with a start and end. She is overall responsible and sends the parties who must carry out the project. So she has to keep parties behind their rags and manage the risks, to make sure the project will be done within time and money.”
And what was it that first attracted your attention to 3D printing?
“In 2012 I was upgrading a department of purchase of an infra company. There I was confronted with issues with a supplier in Italy. We wanted to order extra parts, but there were problems with delivering time, new price. The supplier had problems with raw materials. I asked ‘this is plastic, so why don’t we print it?’At that time people really looked at me as if I came from Mars. I realized that I am a pioneer, several times I have been a bit too far ahead of other people.
On 1st of January 2014 I woke up and knew I wanted to do something with innovation and 3D printing. I built my own 3D printer, an Ultimaker Original, in a workshop with about 10 other people. But it was a lot do it yourself. I started printing all kind of things and also experimented with different materials, like PLA, ABS, woodfill, glow in the dark, PET, flex, bronzefill.
The first steps in 3D printing were amazing. It’s a fancy world, with mostly technical people, but the software was for me like starting with MS DOS. I thought this can be done better, easier and fancier.”
What have you done to build up your expertise in the area of 3D printing for businesses?
“I went to fairs about 3D printing. The first year those more focused on the makers world, later I focused on the industrial world. I talked to people, went to meetups, followed the news and twitter. I also went to suppliers and collected information. I have built a database with this information (which I am still continuing to develop), to make sure what I can offer and what are the possibilities but also what 3D printing is not suitable for. I talked to big companies to see what they had done with 3D printing and what they would like to do with it.”
What is your vision for Peer2Tech both in the immediate and long term?
“I wanted to open an innovation centre, where businesses and students could work on projects together, an initiative to promote innovation by connecting students and businesses and make new techniques more accessible to a wider public. I wanted to offer a platform were people could not only develop their own projects together, but these also could be tested by the public.
My idea was not only about 3D printing, but also about our new way of living. The idea of knowledge sharing regarding the new way of learning and working started with discontent about the rhythm of sitting whole day behind the computer, in a course or in a car and then working out in a cheerless fitness center in the evening. So I placed a treadmill under my computer and walked while typing. When combining these things it felt like a new way of living, working, and learning. Many people are looking for the same, so I wondered why don’t we share the knowledge and experience we have?
I also built a website. On the website you can do a quick scan, whether 3D printing can offer benefits. With Peer2Tech I am offering the guidance of companies in successfully implementing 3D printing in their organization. The process starts with an orientation conversation, a business case, pilot, roll-out and starts or ends with training. I can offer that, because of my knowledge of the 3D print market, a network of professional parties and a wealth of experience with projects in many different organizations. I don’t sell equipment and am therefore independent.
My vision for the long term is to open an innovation centre like I wanted in 2015. I believe that when companies and students of different branches work in the same room, cross-pollination and innovation arise in a natural way.”
What kinds of businesses do you think will benefit most from the services that you will be offering?
“I think 3D printing can be very useful for construction market, tools, obsolete spare parts, renovation, maintenance. After the construction market I want to approach the dental and medical market. The construction market is very conservative. So if there is someone who did some experience with 3D printing, it will often be a one-off gadget. I want to help them to implement it seriously.”
Do you have any advice for other women who are interested in getting more involved in 3D printing?
“I am used to work in a male dominated world. It is useful to be a woman, as I can ask ‘blond’ things and they are willing to tell and explain more to a woman to a man. This is because I am not a threat to them. My advice to other women who are interested in getting more involved in 3D printing is to first orientate very well, before starting and go and talk to fairs, so you will be a seen person.”
Canoy is launching her business this summer and we will be checking back with her in the fall to get an update on how things are unfolding. Share your thoughts in the Carina Canoy forum at 3DPB.com.
If you are interested in sharing your story, or know a woman we should get in touch with for this series, please reach out any time. Send us an email or connect on Twitter. We’re looking forward to sharing more stories about women in 3D printing. Find all the features in this series here.
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