Diversity

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By Tessa

 

Yesterday we had a diversity event at the ISC Groningen. Joanne Collins-Smee (General Manager Globally Intergrated Capabilities) came to visit us. Fifteen female students came to visit us and talk about diversity and women in IT. One of the interesting points that were raised, is the perception most people have about IBM. Most participants still had the image of IBM as the stuffy/old fashioned hardware/computer company, while IBM actually made a shift away from this area and focuses more on innovation and development of innovative apps and software. Moreover, the majority of the participants also did not know that working at IBM is not just for people with a technical background. The ISC apparently has to work harder to create a accurate perception about IBM amongst the students in Groningen.

 

Furthermore it was discussed what can motivate women to work in IT or what attracts women to companies or job roles. After all these hard brain cracking efforts it was time to relax a little and have a drink and a snack during our informal networking get-together.

 

diversity

 

At the moment I’m working on a project for the government. I need to travel to The Hague for two days a week. I really don’t mind, cause a lot of my colleagues are also working on a project in The Hague. After work we enjoy dinner together. Currently, I have three different job roles, which ensures that it never gets boring. As mentioned above, the ISC loves diversity, whether it is focused on nationalities, cultural diversity or the wonderful mix of women and men. Nevertheless, no matter how diverse our office is, sometimes you need a well deserved break. Next to the three job roles I try to juggle with, I still love to create the Insider magazine. As Robert already mentioned in the previous blog entry, you can read his travel journey in the newest issue. Of course we want to share this awesome trip with all of you. By following the link below, you can take a look at his city trip website.

 

newyorkcitytrip.eu

 

And…. By following the next link you can read his article for our Insider magazine.

 

New York city trip article

 

I almost forgot to mention that you can soon see the ISC on national television. We had an interview last Monday. We’re not sure when it will be broadcasted, but we´ll definitely let you know. Although it was a lot of fun, I´d rather stay a designer behind the screens.

tessa robert

Days in the life of a beginning developer

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By Robert

The Beginning

Hello, my name is Robert Messchendorp, Application Developer at the ISC. I basically lived and studied my whole life in Groningen (with the exception of half an year in South Korea) and have a master degree in Strategic Innovation Management. This is a somewhat more business related degree, but I already managed to implement principles learned during my master while developing. I started with the bachelor International Business and Management, which has the same acronym (IBM), thus ever since I studied this I always thought that it would be funny if I would end up working at IBM, and here I am  In this blog post I would like to give a short summary about my working life at IBM thus far.

First Project

The first project I was assigned to was for a big government institution. It encompassed building an automatic testing tool with which the testers could automatically test a tool IBM developed for the government institution. I worked on this project together with Henzen, a colleague from the ISC, and unlike other ISC-colleagues we could do most of the work at our own office in Groningen. Only once a week we took a little rail- and roadtrip to Apeldoorn. Unfortunately, this project ended when the pilot was finished because of budgetary reasons at the client’s side. Nevertheless, we got a positive review from the Project´s Manager and IT Specialist and as a final goodbye (for now) we showed them our office in Groningen. We concluded the project last Thursday with a nice dinner and some beers afterwards with (almost) the whole project team. We thus not only brought the campus vibe to our office, but infected other IBM’ers with the virus ;) As you can see we had a good atmosphere in our project team. The whole experience was ideal for a first project during my first real job.

A little vacation break

Working at the ISC so far has never been a boring experience, but sometimes you do need to take a break to fuel up for delivering some excellence afterwards. This year I chose to go to New York for New Year’s Eve. In the next Insider (the employee magazine) you’ll find a whole city trip review regarding this but to summarize; I had a great week at the other side of the ocean, which ended with building a whole city trip (guide) website by making use of my newly acquainted skills. During this trip I discovered working for IBM has some advantages; during border security everyone in my line had to answer a whole bunch of questions. When I came to the second question (“What is your occupation, sir?”) the answer application developer at IBM gives you a pass right away.

IBM Interactive

As already mentioned by Pascal last week there is a new kid in town and his name is IBM Interactive. As the Calimero under the cities, Groningen will ‘receive’ an experience lab. Next in line as smallest city with an experience lab is Melbourne with about 3.7 million inhabitants. Therefore we have to prove ourselves even more and thus the preparations are already in full throttle ahead! Immediately after the announcement I realized this was why I signed a contract at IBM, as the IBM Interactive will have, among others, its focus on user experience/user interaction design. Becoming part of IBM Interactive is a giant leap forward in reaching the place where I want to work and learn the techniques I want to work with.

Second Project

Just yesterday I received a call for a second project at one of the largest banks in the Netherlands. This time I will be the only project member from the ISC. Here I will work with IBM Unica, an enterprise marketing management system. Furthermore, I have to get more acquainted with the back-end system and have to teach myself some SQL programming. I will also have to be on the client’s site for two to three days a week.

Movies

During my in-between projects phases I focused on making some promotional movies for the ISC and the Digital Front Office (DFO), a part of the ISC. Currently I am working on the latter and like real movie makers we already wrote a detailed script about the scenes which have to be in the movie. Yesterday Gerben – a fellow ISC’er – and I made the first shots and afterwards edited them. We can honestly say there is another classic in the making!!

“…and how was your day, dad?”

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By Pascal

Every evening when I bring my sons to bed, my older son and I read my younger son a story. The younger one falls asleep, after which I take the older one to bed. He can choose either that: I read to him from a book, tell him a story from my ‘brilliant-in-making-up-adventerous-and-easy-to-relate-to-and-they-all-live-happily-ever-after-story-telling-mind’, spy with my little eye (in Dutch we say ik zie ik zie wat jij niet ziet) on his gigantic wallposter about fish, or just chat with each other. On this particular occasion, it was the chat he chose.

“Well son, how was your day?”

“It was good, dad. I had to practice my multiplication tables and we played outside. I scored a goal at soccer practice and I made a drawing for Marie Anne. She liked it.”

“That sounds like a good day. Good that you practice your multiplication tables, it´s important for later. So you can solve problems and make the world better. And really nice of you that you made that drawing for her.”

“And dad, what have you done, did you fix any computers today?”

“Thank you for asking, yes, I did. Together with a lot of smart people, we fixed a huge computer. It works now and it is brand new!”

“Cool dad, are they as smart as you?”

“O yes, they are and even smarter. And you know son, at the end of the day, we drove back to the office together in a car, and I realized my collegues come from all over the world.”

“Really?”

“The man in the passenger seat is from Brazil, you know? Its where the World Championships will be this year. Right behind me was a lady from Suriname, which is a country next to Brazil. And you know what? Its situated on the other side of the world, and in Suriname, everyone speaks Dutch! In the middle of the rear seat, there sat a woman from Peru, a country on the other side of Brazil. You´ve seen some of her country in the movie, ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’. And then we have another – true – world traveller. He´s from the country Italy and has travelled, worked and lived all over the world and will probably continue doing this. So yes son, my colleagues literally come from all over the world.”

“Wow, and can you speak with all of them?”

“Yes, I can, it is wonderful to talk to them and learn from these different people. I also work together with people from India, Bulgaria, Portugal, Nigeria, The Philippines, Germany and other countries! I am very glad to have this chance to meet and work with all these people.”

{He snores…}

So I think, actually, I am proud to work at such a globally integrated company, it really gives me a broader perspective on my development and life and I´m convinced that I actually can make the world a bit better by working with these world citizens. And in addition to these developments, my company is launching new labs with multi-discipline experts available to help companies recreate their customer experience. This is paired with $100 Million investment to a new Globally Expanded Unique Consulting Model that fuses Strategy, Data and Design.

Sure, I want to be part of this! And when I come to think of it, in 15 years… What chances have I created for my sons? I truly believe in a planet that is smarter than it is today and I know from my role within the ISC it is possible.

But I also hope there will still be computers that break down and need to be fixed ;)

We look forward seeing you here at this blog, when one of my colleagues has written the next blog post!

My first months on a new project

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By Robert

A couple of months have passed since I started on my current project, and it has been a great experience so far. Most of my time is spent on-site at the client, which has allowed me to quickly become acquainted with the organization, its culture and my responsibilities as a Deployment Consultant.

In my current job role, I am responsible for deploying and configuring a specific software package for internal customers. The software shows key operating values of a production area. One of the main challenges during deployment is data-related: our software uses data from a wide variety of source systems, and these systems all need to be connected properly. For example, one of our source systems uses an Oracle database for storage, and we use SSIS (SQL Server Integration Services) scripts to fetch data at regular intervals. The data is then transformed and moved to our own database, allowing it to be shown in a front-end report to the user. Another source system contains real-time sensor data, such as a temperature measurement, for which the values need to be monitored, alerting users in the front-end to take action when a measurement exceeds a certain value.

More recently, I have been involved in the development phase of an entirely new version of our software, and I am now part of one of three Scrum teams. I have never worked in a Scrum team before, but I can see why it is beneficial: the entire development process has become more efficient (especially in terms of the required time/effort), and we are able to deliver faster.

As you can see above, my role allows me to use a variety of technical skills and I am definitely learning a lot of new stuff. When I started at the ISC, I was hoping to find a challenging project, and this has certainly worked out. The ISC already supports a wide range of clients in different industries, so there are lots of opportunities for graduates like myself. So if you haven’t already, join us! ;)

“You have succesfully followed this training”

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By Evelyn

At the end of February, two of my colleagues and me were the lucky ones who got selected for a bootcamp a.k.a. training in London. Of course this trip was all about work, because we had to prepare for our projects. But still, It didn’t feel like work – although hard working was really the case…

Londen, royal exchange, ibm, isc

Together with 8 IBM colleagues from all over the world: like Finland, Belgium, Spain and the UK, we prepared ourselves to get drilled to become Websphere Commerce (WC) Developers. Amongst these colleagues there was a broad range in knowledge of WC. Meaning it was quite a challenge for me to work on the same pace as the more experienced colleagues and faster ones, since my knowledge of WC wasn’t as profound as others. Not being finished with lab exercises at 6.30 p.m. while the trainer is waiting for you to finish, which occurred once, can be quite nerve breaking. 

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And then there is my special skill: a Virtual Machine Destroyer. During earlier Java training in the beginning of my time at the IBM Services Center (ISC), I managed to destroy my Virtual Box twice – and all of my brilliant Java programming got lost. Yep, you guessed it right, it wasn’t only the virtual box, I’m starting to be quite skilled in everything that has the word virtual in it. My trainer from the WC bootcamp must have been very very happy with me. But in the end these experiences really improved my knowledge. So that was that, my colleagues here at the ISC even start asking me to find flaws in their newly developed app or web application.

After rain comes sunshine as we might say in Holland and now I am a proud owner of a certificate that says “… successfully followed the course[...]”. That can’t be taken away from me not even by a virtual machine ;-) 

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P.s. I’ll start my new project as WC Developer this Monday!

My first project

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By Malissa

While writing this blog I’m on my first project. My role in this project is Windows Application Support Engineer. In the previous blogposts you´ve already read a lot of first experiences from colleagues on their projects, but for everyone it’s a different experience, so here is mine!

After a certain amount of waiting time and training I finally got an interview for a project. I had my interview in the old granny’s room (see Marielas last blogpost for a picture!) at the ISC in Groningen and I have to admit I was a little bit nervous. After this meeting there was nothing left for me to do then wait. A week after the interview I was told I was hired for the project and I could start right away. So ten minutes after I heard I was on the project, I was in my first project meeting.

In the weeks following the interview I had to learn the basics of the role and I had to read a lot of documentation. During the first period I will work with a senior, and later on a colleague and I will have to perform the tasks on our own. Next to taking in all this new information, the actual work started right away. I had to deal with incoming incidents, requests for changes and all other things that come around when you are working on a project. I had to learn a lot of names of new people I have to work with on the project. Fortunately I already knew the colleagues from the ISC so there were a few names less to learn.

I love the fact that this current role involves a lot of communication with people and not just sitting behind the desk. Although my work location is the office of the IBM Services Center Groningen, I do have to travel to the client site. This provides some diversity in my working days and keeps it fun.

Overall I can say that I still believe I made a good decision to go work for the ISC Groningen. I enjoy myself doing my work and I have a good time with my colleagues.

On how I like my job… multicultural!

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By Nynke

Globalisation is a large topic in today’s world, but also closer to home (if that expression is even appropriate in this context) I get to experience a lot of the consequences (in a not-negative way) of working in a world that is increasingly connected.

As I have studied International Business and Management, I can finally take all the theories about globalisation to work. And where the Hofstede studies were actually discarded in university for a.o. having a too small and too narrow sample of interviewees (the study was conducted on IBM employees only), it is utmost appropriate when you actually work for IBM.

My team consists of 10 Indian colleagues who work offsite in Bangalore, two colleagues from The Netherlands, and one Belgium PM (who is actually Chinese – to make things even more confusing). And within all this, the PM and I try to organise the team, make sure that things are done the way they should be done and finished when they should be finished.

Which can be a challenge, and not only language-wise. Cultural backgrounds lead to different interpretations (“yes” not always being an actual “yes”), challenges to be faced like being a woman in a male organisation, running the risk of planning meetings at ungodly hours due to different time-zones, et cetera. Thankfully, we’re actually doing quite well. And as we’re trying to ramp up efficiency of the team, we also get better at coping with these differences.

Well, that’s it for now. I’m off… skiing! Even though I really like my job, one needs a break from time to time.

ISCers at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Agriculture

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By Peter

On the 21st of January, we heard the good news. The ISC and the ministry of Economic Affairs and Agriculture signed a contract for the transition of the maintenance of (around 400!) applications of the Ministry for the next 4 years. One of the demands for obtaining this project was that we had to build both a develop and test environment of our own, similar to the infrastructure the ministry is using. This was the successful closure of the “Proof of Delivery” the ISC had to go through: it cost half a year of hard work in which we had to build up this environment.

Of course there were some challenges with obtaining this project, like getting an IBM-Alpha machine, complete with a Fortran compiler. But we were able to find it and get it up and running. Also we had to study and do the administration of all the software we were going to maintain at the same time. We had to find out who we have to call if there are problems with the software and we had to gather all the resources. And, of course, we needed to determine the set up of the final project team.

In the meantime, we had to prove we could maintain the given number of applications. Therefore a lot of managing was needed to guide us into the right direction for solving all the issues that arose during this process. It took our Transition Manager quite some effort to guide us into this direction but the result was successful. Of course there were many ups and downs (as in every project), but in the end we succeeded.

I joined the project team on the 1st of October, and I can say I am proud of what the project members made possible. It is very clear that we are a team of experts who can get the job done.

A very good job to all the team members!!

New bloggers!

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By Josje

Already six months have passed since I was one of the first 16 people to start working at the ISC. Last Friday 13 of this group signed their new contract, three found another opportunity elsewhere.

I´m still working in Rijswijk at Shell P&T. This week was actually a very interesting week, because our project team moved to another building. The working area where we used to work was a temporary place for our project team. It consisted mainly of a very large room with a lot of desks. Only the amount of people assigned to the working area was larger than the amount of desks… The new working area is perfect. It´s a very large area, with a lot of compartments, smaller rooms, meeting rooms and rooms specially designed for conference calls. At this moment we stay in a hotel with a very nice stairwell and in the meantime we´ve been getting to know the The Hague pretty well. We go swimming every week, we´ve discovered a lot of nice restaurants,  we found a pub we really like to go to just because we can say the name often and next week we go bowling :)

The Huppel the pub!

The Huppel the pub!

Until this moment every week one of the female employees of the ISC share their experiences through this blog, but it can be a challenge to find enough time and inspiration to write a blog every eight weeks. Therefore we´ve been recruiting for the blogging team and we succeeded! Nine of our male colleagues joined us! Starting next week every other week one of these male colleagues will share their experiences with you. Peter will be the first one and he is working on his blog very enthusiastically . I am very much looking forward to his story!

The stairwell of our hotel!

The stairwell of our hotel!

Roller coaster

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By Jasleen

About four months ago I joined ISC-Groningen and all I can say is: its been a roller coaster ride. New to IBM, new to a project, and to top it up, learn a new technology. An overdose of learning, I can say :P

After joining the ISC I got a project in Amsterdam. I live in Amsterdam so it was quite a relief not having the hassle of commute. Though sometimes I am required to go to their main office (the brewery) in Zoeterwoude (close to Leiden). I enjoy working for this project. I have a mixed role, a lot of client interaction and a sample amount of technical work. It gives me a chance to hone my client dealing skills as well as to learn new technologies. The environment is great – open, very multicultural (name a country and an eyebrow will be raised in some corner) and my colleagues are nice and helpful.

Altogether a great experience with a positive and energetic work culture that encourages me to strive for more knowledge and to go the extra mile to produce good results.