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.

Amsterdam to Groningen


By Sarika

Working at the ISC Groningen is a fascinating experience. You work in an environment which is conducive for young and enthusiastic people who are passionate about IT.

I would like to tell you about the initial days at my job which involved a lot of daily travelling. I am living in Amsterdam with my family. During the initial period of my job I was travelling from Amsterdam to Groningen on a daily basis. From home to office, it was a 3 hours journey. It was crazy!!! I used to wake up at 5 am and go to sleep at 23pm, so I was sleeping a maximum of 5-6 hours per night. It was really difficult to manage, but excitement to learn and work kept me going.

After 3 months I got my first project in one of the banks in Amsterdam. I am quite happy with my first assignment, and it has also reduced the need for daily travelling. At the same time, I am missing the office in Groningen and my ISC colleagues, as I had very good time there.

My first project is the top 2020 IBM Project and I am part of the testing team. We are working in a big team with very experienced colleagues. I am working on Performance Testing of the LDAP server and use IBM Watchit Tool for this. Overall this project is a very nice learning as well as work experience for me.


“London, thou art the flower of cities all!” -William Dunbar


By Rik

I would like to talk to you about two things.

The first being the slogan the ISC uses to attract new hires: “Image where it could take you”. Well, for starters, it took me to London! In the last 15 weeks I flew back and forth to England’s capital 13 times. There I work with a team of colleagues from the IBM London office on a project for a major financial institution. When I started at the ISC last January I was told there would be a chance that I had to work in a city other than Groningen once in a while, and I heard stories from colleagues who worked in Amersfoort or Apeldoorn. I didn’t expected it could also be London! As you can suspect I am quite enjoying my time there! It is an amazing city to work and live in. From beautiful views along the Thames (sometimes enjoyed from a hotel room window), to great parks to run in. From fascinating modern architecture to streets filed with historic buildings. From small narrow streets filled with pubs to wide avenues leading up to palaces.

Thames view

British aren’t famous for their kitchen (although I did like their gravy pie with mash potatoes), London is a great place to go out to dinner every night. A few tips: Gaucho for the best Argentinian steak, Nando’s for really, really tasty chicken, or you can go to one of the food markets for flavours from all over the world (there is one every Friday almost next to the IBM’s Southbank office). The only bad thing is that it is hard to find a decent beer in London, for that you have to go to Belgo, which serves Belgian beers (I’m not a fan of British beer).


The second thing I would like to talk about is how nice it is to work in a great team. During this project I already learned so much more and so much faster than during my previous projects where it was just me and one other guy who had just a much experience as I had. All my current team members are more experienced than me, and always willing to take some time to teach me something. It’s not just the code reviews and feedback from my fellow front-end developers that help me learn, but also the back-end guys, testers, designers, architect, scrum master and project owner. Being able to ask them a question every now and again about what they are doing really helps me to learn!

Another thing I really like about working with experienced colleagues is seeing all the great tools they use. Developers really love to use tools that make their lives easier. For instance, why would you find and download all the necessary libraries and other dependencies yourself if you can do it automatically with Bower and NPM? And of course you build your projects automatically with Grunt so your codes gets nicely compressed by minifying and uglifying it. And writing css gets so much easier with tools like Sass. Team communication is so easy with Slack. This are just a few examples. Conclusion, great developers use great tools!

Suffice to say, I am really enjoying my time at this project. I get to spend time in an amazing city, and learn a lot from working with great colleagues!

My first-ever blog


By Sjoerd

Hello everyone,

This is my first blog post for the IBM Services Center (ISC) and it actually is the first blog I have ever written, so please bear with me while I tell you about myself and the ISC :)

It was just four weeks ago that I first entered this building and had my first ever post grad working day. Together with my peers in group 11 we started our training in Big Data & Analytics, and I must admit that there is some interesting technology behind all of it. I already learned a crazy amount of new things and I would really enjoy sharing all the details with you in a follow up of this blog post if you guys are interested. I also started to learn Python as a programming language and I plan on learning other languages in the future, I might even do some developing.

So who am I? My name is Sjoerd and I am a 24 year old Engineering graduate who decided to start a career in IT. The reason I decided to work for the ISC is that I like the different natures of people that work for the ISC and IBM in general. The ISC hires people with different backgrounds for the reason of having a more diverse work floor environment in which people’s skills complement each other. For example: In my group (group 11) we have people with a background in Law, Business Administration, Engineering, Maths, Finance and even Real Estate but we all share the same passion for IT. I am utterly convinced that I would have a great time working on a project with any of them.


Now for something completely different, but yet very important when you visit the ISC in Groningen. If you were under the impression that the ISC is located in Groningen you might want to reconsider. During my first four weeks I have been under the impression that I have been in the Amazones. It gets warm here, very warm and very humid. I once heard about a climate system controlling the indoor climate, but that remains a legend to this very day. It was rumored that the climate system would cool the indoor temperature relative to the outdoor temperature by 4 °C, but instead it feels like it is heating the place by 4°C. Good thing we have a terrific HR team that comes by and brings you ice cream :) They are delicious, especially the pear ones.
For now just remember to put on a T-shirt or some light clothing when you come to visit the center on a hot day.

I will see you the next time.


ISC events


By Sukhjit

Since a lot of things are happening at the ISC lately I will give you a short story about what our Event Committee was up to lately. On 8th of July we had a football tournament within the ISC in Stadspark. All ISCers were welcome to join and play or just cheer for their favorite team, followed by some drinks in the canteen next to the field.

Unfortunately for us the evening had a bit different plans in terms of weather and every now and then it was drizzling; although that didn’t stop us from enjoying what we came for. Actually after the recent +30Cº days this might have come as a bit refreshing :). Overall there were 4 teams competing and everyone’s spirit was high. Each match was about 20 minutes long, and was followed by a 10 minute break. After several rounds of intense matches between all the teams and even more intense cheering, the tournament was over and everyone headed for the canteen. Some people even stayed a bit longer and enjoyed some more time playing before heading for the dressing rooms. After everyone changed from their sportswear to something more casual we enjoyed each other’s company, insights from the game and some fun stories.

At the ISC we have many different activities that are organized by our event committee, and I am sure that I speak for all of us when I say that we enjoy them to the fullest.

Can’t wait to see what awesome event is happening next? Read the follow up blog posts and you will find out!



By Mariela

Since I started working at the IBM Services Center Groningen, almost two years ago, I have been confronted with all kinds of activities, projects and expectations. Nonetheless, this dynamic company environment does not stop surprising me.
So, hereby a quick update of what I have been up to these last years. First, I was for quite a while doing some hard core Java learning while I was waiting to get started on a nice project. After about four months of intensive learning I got a project in SAP as project manager officer (sort of project assistant). After carrying out a very challenging SAP upgrade in five months, I moved to my following project. This one started one year ago.

In this new project I worked as an application engineer for a large number of aix applications. This again proved to be very challenging. I did not only have to learn a lot on OS level, but also on middleware/application level. Even though the project was very interesting and certainly good for my professional growth, I did not have a good click with all of the people there; which gave me a bigger challenge than I would like to admit. I am the kind of person who thinks that relations should not have an impact on work: big mistake. It has a huge impact!

Therefore, one month ago I asked for a project transfer. I am at the moment part time on my former project, and part time as junior project manager on an SAP project again. And today, I just heard that I am also going to be managing all the test process, which is once again a “new one” for me. I just wonder, when does the juggling stop? And even more important, do I want it to stop?