What’s a typical day like?
Most of my day is focused on working for the customer in the data engineering team, but I also have time dedicated to spend on other activities. The days I work from home, I start my workday around 8 or 9 AM. I’ve agreed with my colleagues that on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I go to the office. From where I live, it’s a two-hour drive each way on average. But I’m not going to move because the commute gives me a little bit of me time: I can listen to my music loud, podcasts, even trainings. And I have a nice car thanks to Schuberg Philis as well. On days I’m at the office, I arrive between 9 and 10 AM. Recently, on Wednesday evenings, a small team of us has been playing basketball. On Fridays, I am also involved a lot with other things, such as joining meetings about how to improve the company’s onboarding process, preparing for our annual tech market, and doing more for the communities I belong to, like the Netherlands’ AWS User Group.
Your schedule seems highly regimented but also entirely self-designed.
I think it would drive me nuts if somebody expected me to always be at the office at the same time. I had this before in my other jobs, and this is not healthy for me. I follow “the maker’s schedule,” which programmer and computer scientist Paul Graham wrote about. Graham points out that this type of schedule is common among programmers and writers, and it comes in contrast to the “manager’s schedule.” For those of us on the maker’s schedule, meetings can be a challenge because they interrupt our mode of work. But I acknowledge that respecting the manager’s schedule is also important. I do have two alarms set every day: one for 10 minutes before 9 AM and the other 10 minutes before 1 PM because sometimes if I’m focused, I forget to attend the daily recurring meetings, which are mostly team standups. I also often work in the evenings because I like to do so at times when I do not get distracted by other people.
You started at Schuberg Philis four years ago. How does the experience differ from other places you’ve worked?
It’s really true that you get full ownership over what you get to do. So it’s not like a consultancy hourly based job, where you get this assignment, go and fix it, and then it stops or you get your next assignment. At Schuberg Philis, you and your team get full access to the customer’s complete platform or multiple environments over a long-term relationship. You get to know a lot about the customer as a company, but also the people there. There’s not a lot of difference between the way it feels working with your own Schuberg Philis colleagues and the customer’s colleagues – we’re always aligned and having fun together. It does all boil down to trust and a good relationship. At a lot of meetings and activities, whether they’re serious or fun, the customer is always involved. There’s a really thin line between the customer and Schuberg Philis. That’s another reason I love working here – in the consultancy firms I used to work for, it was with a lot of smaller or less-known companies. What I really enjoy about my work now is that it’s for customers whose services involve things we all do in in our day-to-day lives, like ordering groceries. As an engineer, I always want to see what’s happening behind the technology. Working for Schuberg Philis allows me to look behind the scenes of these bigger companies.
How does your role of AWS Community Builder & Ambassador exist alongside your job?
Within Schuberg Philis, I am known as the person who is very passionate about AWS. Amongst others, I share all kinds of information in our AWS Slack channel. My dream is to build AWS tools and share knowledge that all customer teams can benefit from. I was already working for quite a while to become an AWS Community Builder. I got to know the community in the last two years much better thanks to AWS Hero and Ambassador Martijn van Dongen, my mentor and a fellow engineer at Schuberg Philis. In early 2023, I was accepted into the Community Builder program and now hold the official title. Another good thing about Schuberg Philis is that there’s never been an issue when I want to learn or arrange something related to AWS. In 2021, I went to AWS re:Invent in Last Vegas. Last year, I did multiple AWS courses. As long as I am able to communicate this on time with the people I work with, this is no problem because my colleagues understand that this type of work is meaningful to me, and it’s also a way for me to create more attention for Schuberg Philis. Soon I will be giving AWS trainings, internally and externally, as well as helping organize AWS community days, events, and meetups. As I am really passionate about AWS, I love to collect the swag. My five year old always says the letters “AWS” multiple times with enthusiasm when I give her stickers or when she sees me wearing AWS-branded T-shirts, jackets, or backpacks. At the moment, I’m also creating a comic book for young kids to learn about cloud computing; the story is about a conversation between my daughter and the people close to her. I hope this helps create a positive impact on the younger generation, teaching them a complex topic in the easiest way possible. I shared a teaser on social media and it was very well received.
That kind of community-building sounds like it might require being outgoing. Is that a way you would characterize yourself?
I am a very introverted person. People won’t see it often because I also like to be very social, but it takes a lot of my energy. I work in a company with a lot of entrepreneurs and people who are extroverted, so it can be quite overwhelming. Sometimes I’ll just walk around in the office or prefer to lunch alone just to recharge. Still, what makes Schuberg Philis feel like a nice and safe environment for me is that there are teams with no managers. I often don’t need supervision because I’m used to working independently. This results in figuring out solutions for myself. Because I’m introverted and do not want to disturb other people, I learn things on my own. I’m also not talking for the sake of talking in meetings. I’m often the silent guy until the moment comes that I know what I want to say about the topic and feel confident enough. During conversations, I’m taking in all the information, reflecting on and processing it. Our self-steering teams combined with the company culture means that things are always based on consent. And as soon as you speak up to say that you are introverted or a bit more shy, people understand. Then they get into the habit of asking directly: “Do you agree? Is there something you still want to say about this?” I also hope to let this interview be some sort of guide for people who feel the same way because I think there are a lot of people like me. I’m not ashamed to speak up about it. Being introverted or shy should never hold you back from achieving your dreams, and you are not in it alone.
Curious to know more about how more colleagues spend their days? See the whole series here.