What does the best working environment developers and other IT professionals look like? Jelle Raaijmakers, Software Architect at ISAAC, has a clear opinion about this: "A 100 pro-cent focus on technique, social cohesion and varied tasks, these aspects create the ideal eco system"
Since 2015, Jelle is responsible for the development and commissioning of software projects at ISAAC (90 employees and still counting). Being a software architect, he is the link between the customer and technique. "We mostly work in the finance sector, for payment service providers, banks, and credit card companies like Ingenico epayments, BNP Paribas and Yelder, but we also work for loyalty- and saving programs as well as the bigger webshops like Baderie, Winkelstraat.nl and Maas"
Colleagues and challenges
Jelle describes ISAAC being a young, relaxed and reliable company. "Highly educated, intelligent people work here, most of them having a technical background. I think about 90 pro-cent of us deals with computer programming. This makes ISAAC a dynamic, technical club, a nice eco system of people who are curious about new techniques and with the urge to understand them. Because of this, we have a lot of in-house knowledge and experience available, which helps me again with my projects".
According to Jelle, these projects characterize themselves by complexity. 'We do not make things harder than they are, but er do love complex issues. this offers a challenge. Computer programming is a creative profession. The fun aspect is contemplating about interesting matters and where you see progress. Our working environment is tailored to these circumstances. If one has to resolve the same problem for the third time, it is twice too many".
The tasks at hand are varied. Jelle was, among other projects, involved with the development of a portal where almost all of the Netherlands's primary school students have access to online learning material, but also played a part in digitizing a loyalty program for British supermarket chain ASDA. "Another project I enjoyed was developing an app for Vogel's, a local company from Brabant which produces wall mounts for televisions. Using our app you can steer the mount and thus the television will always be in your desired position.
On top of new developments
Obviously, ISAAC is on top of new developments in the market. For instance, there is a department which builds VR- and AR applications. For car company Audi, a VR app was made where customers can configure their favorite car and eventually also virtual drive it. This expertise has ensued from ISAAC Labs, where technologies outside the company's comfort zone are being investigated. ISAAC VR now counts 15 employees and is still growing. Another company that has arisen from ISAAC Labs is SIMON - a friend of ISAAC - which is specialized in deep learning. "We are also involved in IoT solutions. For Quby, the hard- and software supplier of the smart thermostat 'TOON", we have build a proof of concept in which we connected 1.2 million devices to a virtual network in order for them to exchange data" explains Jelle. "And in the beginning of February, together with 2 colleagues, I have participated in the Dutch Blockchain Hackathon. Unfortunately we did not win, but we did get invited by the ministry of Public Health, Well-being and Sports to talk about the blockchain's options with regards to person-related budgets and the electronic patient files. These are of course nice opportunities".
Location, location, location
And what is it like to work in Eindhoven? Jelle is enthousiastic. "Eindhoven is home to technology and innovation. It is nice to be in a circle of companies who all want to lift technology to a higher level. We are located nearby the High-tech campus and Strijp-S, which is being developed into a trendy work- and living area. With the Technical University Eindhoven we have a partnership in which students are put on our smaller projects; this way they get practical experience. Also, we came up with the Edsger Scholarship, honoring Edsger Dijkstra. Every year we grant it to a talented Master student, who for two years, receives an allowance of € 5.000, a graduation project and a 1 year job guarantee".
All in all, Jelle believes that a company culture in which IT specialists thrive should be aimed at collegiality, innovation and personal development. "People here are free to work in a way they want. To a certain extend you need processes, but, for example, we decide ourselves which techniques we use to solve issues. In addition, we are stimulated to enhance our personal development. 10 per-cent of your working-time you may spend on studying, conferences or other ways to expand your knowledge. Equally important: we do not secondment personnel. Everybody is in the office which makes it easy to consult with one another. I believe because of this a cohesion appears which is only beneficiary to our projects. There is a large sense of involvement. That is probably why our evening pizza-expertise-sessions are always a success. During these sessions colleagues share new ideas or gathered knowledge. At ISAAC we also have a professional caterer who provides a (free) lunch. Our canteen is more like a bar, where on Friday afternoon you can go for a beer or play cards. With any luck our house band will be performing, in which I am the bass-player.
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