Today it’s time to change

Today it’s time to change

By: Cesare Valitutto

Quite long time has been passed since I started working with the CIC. A long time by the perspective of my first full-time job.

I am used to saying that “time flies” when one is really involved in what his is doing, wholly absorbed by his daily life.

Do not misunderstand me, I am totally happy with what I am doing and if went back to my first day, I would make the choice again. I would move again to “KKGroningen”, renouncing the sun, the beaches and the Italian food! (Yes, I said it).

I think this is because changing (and being ready to change!) is really important, especially when one is young. To change, is the key for facing any kind of situation which life always offers us; being more open-minded and conscious, more confident and wiser. If not change, or taking part in important and critical decisions, what made IBM the company which it is now?

Work is not just work. Work is a place in which you can find confrontation, in order to grow both professionally and personally. I have been collecting so much experience working on so many projects, here in Groningen, in London, connecting with Ireland, Italy, USA, Germany, Belgium, there are no limitations.

If I have to look back to the person I was one year ago, I would ask myself: “So, you are potentially a computer scientist…what can you do? What are you expert in?” Today I have the answer to that question.

I am completely grateful to IBM and all the CIC community for its support, and the investment they are continuously doing with the youth, because they (we) are the future. The youth are the hope for the progress, for a happier world that we can better improve ourselves, look for innovation, and find new directions and perspectives.

So today it is again, time to change.

I am IBM


By: Sandra van Diemen

Throughout my life I have been all different kind of things. At first I was just a girl who played the accordion; this is what defined me for a lot of years. After that I became a student and in my free time a cyclist and at times a triathlete.

If you have done something like that yourself, if you are an avid cyclist or runner, you know that you immediately connect with all kinds of people. You are part of the community and nobody is a stranger.

In March a big part of my personal definition changed. I finished my Master’s degree at the University of Groningen and I was no longer a student. So I ended up somewhere ‘in-between’.

Now I am no longer in the ‘in-between’ phase. In July, I began working at the IBM Client Innovation Center in Groningen and started off with 2 months of training. I was in my own team (of 15) and we did everything together. I was part of the team, but somewhere along the line I also became part of IBM. I didn’t notice it at first, but already in these first months I was becoming blue, which is also a big part of the first months of training.

So after the training I got assigned to my first project at the Department of Justice in Gouda. I became part of an IBM team that had already been in place, and was it a diverse team. There were IBM’ers from the UK, Belgium, the office in Eindhoven, the office in Amsterdam and three of us from Groningen filling in all kinds of roles like developer, manager, architect and tester.

What I noticed during my stay in Gouda – which was for 2 months – is that it is just the same as being part of the running community. It is being part of the IBM community. We come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but in the end we are all the same. We all have an affinity for IT; we all like working for clients; we all got drilled on how to be blue, and the list goes on and on.
So one of the most important things I learned whilst working on my first project in Gouda is that I AM IBM, and I like it :).

(Bonus, a lot of IBM’ers in Gouda liked running and even now, when I’m working on a new project, we still follow and encourage each other on Strava.)


**Photo is of Sandra and other IBM’ers at 4mijl Groningen, 2015.**

Liquid Networks


By: Steven Bos

“What goes best with a cup of coffee? Another cup.” – Henry Rollins

I would like to share with you my thoughts about coffee; the environment in which we drink our coffee, to be more specific. In Henry Rollins’ quote I see this “other cup” in the hand of someone else. It is not the coffee – or whatever beverage rows your boat – that’s important, but the fact that you have time to catch up with a colleague. At IBM CIC Groningen, we have this relax and vibrant atmosphere in which we can sit down in any of the relaxing chairs or wobble around in the wooden swing. Of course accompanied by a cup of coffee.

Currently I am on a project at ABN AMRO, in Amstelveen. At client side I am, together with 20 colleagues from the CIC, blessed with free (and even more important) good coffee. The good part is that they have a coffee corner, very cliché, but also very handy. It’s a space where work continues due to the fact that people have conversations about on-going work and it’s a great space for relationship building. You get to know new people, learn about their work, tasks and strengths. So, when I need help with something I know which of my “coffee friends” can help me out.

Some years ago I read the book Where Good Ideas Come From by Steve Johnson. In his book, Johnson tackles this question by looking at historical innovative events. The essence of the story in my opinion is that great innovations don’t emerge from “eureka!” moments but over time. You have an idea and after a period in which an idea is discussed with several people, one comes to their great innovative idea. Johnson calls this the “slow hunch”. The sharing your idea part is important, and is there a better place to do this than the coffee table? “Liquid networks” as Johnson puts it.

I encourage people to take time for coffee. Talk, work and share your ideas. This is how you can contribute to you work environments next big innovation!


Blue veins on Client site


blue veins

By: Joseph Lanjouw

After almost one-and-a-half years working for the CIC, I experienced how big a chance it is to be working on and from a client site when assigned on a project. There are a few (lucky?) ones that do not or do rarely need to visit a client site. Most prefer to work as close to home as possible. However, reality dictates that most clients prefer to have you within their reach – in their office – and able to reach out to you in no time. Although one might think that modern communication techniques would eliminate this need, in practice this rarely leads to a client saying: you can work fulltime from your own office (exceptions occur!). This is really not that strange at all.

From my own experience (working 4 to 5 days on a client site), I can state that I sometimes feel like I have lost contact with the CIC. Especially, when I did not have any CIC colleagues on site (I have one now!). Fortunately, a fun thing is that you are actually able to get the best of two worlds! I work on a client site where I am appreciated, a serious formal-ish environment yet able to have fun (we actually have an intact foosball table!). I can promote the CIC far better when I am on site and communication lines are shorter. Besides that, you come into contact with so many other areas in the business; many people from different backgrounds and disciplines. This is the essence of developing yourself: watch, learn and do! I have learned a great deal already and there is only more to come.

When the time comes that I can be at the CIC, it always feels like a homecoming. A creative not-so-formal environment, all the nice colleagues, participating in the Education Committee and last but not least, a great deal of fun. Our CIC is like a safe-haven, a place where you always feel welcome and where a lot of ideas have and will find their origin. I think it is time for me to thank the CIC and IBM for giving me blue veins.

Quality Awards for Quality Effort


By Zahierra


After months of hard work and dedication, our team at Jumbo (A large Dutch retailer) received the 2015 Silver Quality Award from SAP in the category “Business Transformations”. We won the award for the SAP Upgrade Project, where we updated a SAP 4.6 system to the 6.0 version. The upgrade was really a big deal, because the whole business depends on it, and it was essential that all the business processes would still function when the upgraded version was implemented.

The IBM CIC team, fulfilled a variety of roles on this project, which included testing, developing and project management support.

Their commitment to the project (going as far as postponing holidays and even working through Pentecost and Ascension Day) and the hard work that enabled further growth at Jumbo, were deeply appreciated by the client. Now this effort has also been recognized by SAP and the broader market, which is really motivating. As a result of the excellent work the team delivered, Jumbo now sees us as their partner of choice for their SAP – as well as other – IT projects.


Seeing those three blue letters…


By Martijn

That moment when arrive at a cashier while you are on holiday in Croatia, and see those three blue letters… “IBM”.

When people ask me what I do at my job, most of the time I answer “stuff with computers”, Because describing what you do at IBM to most people is hard. I am a programmer, have loved to create since I started school. What really got me going was the platform GameMaker, which was a relatively simple program that gave you the power of building games. Starting off with drag and drop commands you soon discover the power of code. The power of thinking outside a standard set of options, creating your own and using them to your advantage.

After creating comes problem solving, because we all make mistakes. The internet provided me with the perfect quote on writing code: “Writing code is like writing a book, except if you forget 1 comma the whole thing makes no sense”. Since I was little, I started taking stuff apart. Always curious about what was inside of that toy I got; making a lot of people angry. After growing older and breaking everything on my path, I started learning how to fix things. The insight you get in taking something apart and putting it back together gives you a better understanding of how it all works. The same applies to code. At this moment I am still breaking things, sometimes intentionally to see what happens and sometimes due to mistakes.

Starting my career at IBM on April Fool’s Day was anything but a joke, I was taken on a rollercoaster through the entire history of IBM, meeting all the people at the ISC and participating in all kinds of events. I love rollercoasters for the thrill, and that is exactly what IBM has given me. Currently, I travel to the UK bi-weekly and am literally expanding my boarders when it comes to work.

So what do I do at my job at IBM? Building, breaking…and learning in the process.

Not in boardshorts just yet


By Dirk

After having worked for the IBM services center (ISC) for a year and three months, I can truly say that I am happy I made the choice to work for the ISC. I have been learning loads and growing into a position at a project where people are saddened by me going on vacation because of the good work I do. Last year I wrote that “this job may give you a flying start to your career”, and this is a statement I would like to make again.

I have been working on a side project in my spare time to start a web shop with a couple of friends. Now that I have learned from the best, I could use that knowledge to create something that will teach me something about entrepreneurship and even more about development. We are now in the final stages of development and will launch soon. For me personally, this is quite a big deal, as I am the only developer on our team of friends! Of course, I still make my forty hours on the project, while playing a star-role as a striker in the Saturday beer-and-friends football team, so it’s quite a busy and fun life ;-).

Wait! There is even more to it! As a proud member of the ISC Event Committee, it was my honor to be in charge of organizing an awesome barbecue event. Reason for the barbecue was: “We do not have to have a reason to throw a large barbecue party with the entire team”. This notion is exactly what seemed to convince most of the colleagues to join on a dreary Friday night. Even heavy rain could not stop us, as some colleagues brought their tarps (that they usually use for camping) to cover our large balcony terrace. This is exactly what I like about the ISC. We learn, we work, and we party together. Even when it is raining cats and dogs, we will barbecue on; we planned it, we looked forward to it, and we will make it happen no matter what.

I must say that I did disappoint myself a bit, because I thought that this job was going to get me on a surfboard in boardshorts sooner. But I still do not own a house on a Sydney-suburbia-beachfront. Fortunately, I have been enjoying some nice holidays, with our paid vacation days sponsored by IBM =).

Welcome to the real life – becoming a full-time worker!


By Eline

Last January, January the 5th to be precise, my career started at the IBM Service Center. It was my first real full-time job after I graduated in Business Administration. The first time I walked into the building as an employee I was very excited, but at the same time a bit scared to have such a real job. I got my IBM badge, this badge you need to enter the building through our revolving doors (in which I get stuck at least 2 times a week), my laptop and my mobile, and that was it. From that moment onwards I had everything I needed to become a true IBMer!

After a lot of different trainings (basically to become a mobile app developer) and a bit of time on the bench waiting for my first project, I finally had to really work! My first project was one for a low cost retailer who wanted an analysis on their warehouses and processes within their supply chain. I operated as a business analyst: I looked at data of the warehouses with a special IBM program (DIOS, dynamic inventory optimization solution) and held interviews to look at the processes within the supply chain. After our analysis we wrote a report with the points of improvement we found. I really liked this project because of the responsibilities I got from my project manager and the difficulty of the tasks.

But next to the real work, I also found it important to have fun at work. And what better way to make sure there is a lot of fun within the ISC then to join our event committee? So after a hard interview (which was a bit scary) to test my organizational skills I got in and I left the first meeting as the treasurer. We organized an orange party (with real old Holland games), a cocktail party, a soccer tournament, and a lot of different fun things! I think the members liked my organizational skills, but doubted my talent for being a treasurer (the numbers didn´t always add up) so after 2 months they voted me chair and I love doing it! I believe the event committee is of great importance to the ISC and I´m proud to be a member of it!

So, and now? Now I have been working at the ISC for over 9 months. A real job, 40 hours a week and a lot of responsibilities. I have to say that the weeks fly by and I love it. My first project ended last week and next week I will start at a new one. I´m excited about it, let the next challenge start!

Data Specialists on Board!


By Georgia

Data is everywhere. Any device that you can think of contains data. There is an unimaginable amount of digital structured and unstructured data around the globe. The data evolution can be very helpful since each unit of data contains information that can be combined to provide useful insights for a smarter planet. At the same time the growth in the quantity of the data is challenging for storage and security. IBM invests in Big Data technologies and provides software and platforms that can handle big amounts of data – transforming them into useful insights for businesses.

So, Data Specialists could not be missed at the CIC, right?

Group 11 joined in July. As Sjoerd introduced last month, we have been trained in Big Data and Analytics. We started as a group of 16 people, 15 of us to be trained as Big Data and Analytics specialists and one was hired as an experienced developer. The training lasted for two months, full of interesting topics to learn. The main topics of the training were: Analytics using SPSS Modeler, an extensive analytics platform offering automated algorithms and modelling techniques, BigInsights, a platform storing and handling unlimited amounts of structured and unstructured data, and Master Data Management, a software tool that enhances the understanding of business data.


Last week the training came to an end and an exciting period of time arose: waiting for a project. Meanwhile, I use the free time to practice my coding and analytics skills. I can say that we did not have to wait a long time, since we all have an assignment now. Most of us will be working together on a project in Amsterdam from next week onwards. It is great that we have been assigned together to our first project. Our first assignment is not in Data and Analytics, but an analytics assignment will follow soon.

So, what does it feel like to work in CIC so far? In few words: a valuable experience. Apart from the training which was really filled with interesting technologies and tools, the working environment is very friendly and makes you feel comfortable. I have the feeling that I can continuously learn new technologies and grow within CIC.

I cannot forget to mention the event in our first week at CIC. There was a big party to celebrate that the CIC reached the milestone of 100 employees. So, a nice way to start our graduate program and see how our new colleagues enjoy their work!

I am now looking forward to starting the real work next week and am even more excited to get an assignment on Big Data and Analytics to apply the knowledge that I gained during the last months.

“Always Remember: Your focus determines your reality.”


By Michael

Some of you may recognize this quote, and I will explain why I am using it in the context of working at the CIC (Client Innovation Center). When I first started working here in January 2015 it felt like hopping on a roller coaster. And then I mean the type of roller coaster a twelve year old hooked on steroids would create in RollerCoaster Tycoon with unlimited money hack. Safe to say: it was pretty intense. I was learning a lot of things in a very short period of time. However, it didn´t take me long before I was starting to see the bigger picture of what I was learning regarding different technologies, languages, applications and procedures. Our training really got interesting when we had to design our own mobile applications. We weren´t just focusing on the technical aspects of creating an app, but we also very much focused on the design, the user experience, and cooperating with multiple developers on the same project. When developing complex technological applications and working in large organizations you are dependent on other people, and they in turn depend on you. The sooner you realize this and the better you are at taking but also sharing responsibilities, the more likely it is you will grow fast.

After my training I started working as a Business Intelligence Developer and I have been in that role for seven months now. As a BI Developer I can create a balanced mix between being a developer and translating business needs into technical requirements. Next to this I´m training myself in Analytics and Data Science, I do so to be able to shape my own career. The amount of data available across the world, and of course also within organizations, is growing rapidly. This creates a growing need for new tools and techniques to be able to turn this data into valuable information. There is still so much to be done in the area of Analytics and so much to be achieved. As an IBMer I want to be at the frontier of where all this is happening and if I make the right choices: I can be. This brings me back to the quote at the top: “Always Remember. Your focus determines your reality”. Here at the CIC you really create your own career. It is the choices you make regarding which responsibilities you take, how you sell yourself and what skills you develop that determine where you are heading.

“Do you believe you are the chosen one?” Come join us at the CIC.