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CRAFTs Heroes - How can I continue growing?

Evelien van Blitterswijk, Aditi Paliwal
6 minutes


This question probably everyone asked themselves and their manager at some point in their career. And it is a very valid one.
When you start your career, everything is new, and you have lots of clear learning opportunities. You can challenge yourself every day by picking up a task that is new for you, enrolling in a course to learn or a new skill or curiosity to know how more experienced colleagues do their jobs. Its only after a while you are capable of doing tasks independently and you are good at it and that can become monotonous so where is the challenge for ourselves?

At this point you can start seeing all the things that can be improved in the current process and this becomes the new challenge.
Once you have also mastered the skill of spotting improvements and implementing them you start looking for a new challenge. This is quite frequently the moment your manager will utter the famous words: “you need to gain more experience by doing to become a senior”. This is, in my experience, one of the most demotivating things you can be told. Especially if you are talented and ambitious the following questions start rising; “Why is it not possible to take charge of my growth?Is it the only way just spending more hours doing the same thing? Why does my employer not offer anything to challenge me in my work?”


At this point talented mediors start looking for a new job. If the current employer does not have anything to challenge me and the only thing I can do is keep doing the same thing to gain experience, then the grass is probably greener somewhere else. In the current market finding a new job is a piece of cake and by the time the manager has finished their sentence the talented engineer has handed in their resignation.

So “How can I continue growing?” At Essent we wanted to have a different answer to this question. Therefore, in the summer of 2022, we started designing a talent program for mediors. We were asked to design this program with the only guidelines that it should span over a year and should challenge and excite a small group of talented engineers. Being engineers ourselves we could very much understand the frustration that engineers feel when they are at this point in their careers. We started designing the outlines of the program together with Muriel, a very experienced Learning & Development expert. This resulted in a program agenda that was EMPTY...

I can hear you thinking; Empty? You came up with NOTHING that can help the growth of the future participants of the program?
Quite the contrary, we were able to fill a whole year with cool events, courses, trips and much, much, more. However, we wanted the program to be amazing and challenging for the participants. And considering they are all quite experienced, enabling them to design their own awesome development program would result in far better results than we could ever design for them. Additionally, they would be enabled to develop skills and their network in a way that would not be possible if everything was handed to them. These skills can be shared with the rest of the IT organization to become better as a whole.

Taken together, the participants will gain extra skills and give back. In other words, they are Heroes!


So, what did we organize? Based on the concept that this program should be an unforgettable experience for the participants, that provides the opportunity for development that would not be possible outside the program. We agreed on a budget that allows for multiple on and offsite events, inviting inspiring speakers from all over the world and at least two trips any location around the world.

During a two-day kick-off event we went to a remote location in a forest and inspired the Heroes to create a vision on what they want to achieve, and how they want to achieve this as a group. We start off by getting to know each other one-on-one and sharing everyone’s personal goals and ideas. Then brainstorming, designing, searching, and having lots of fun happened. And we finished with an amazing program designed by the Heroes to go above and beyond what they would want to be able to achieve individually outside the program!

Together, and with help of Muriel we had designed this one of kind of a program, but we were scared what will happen as we are new to program coordination also, still the individual was yet to know each other, and design their own journey, coming from different backgrounds and different needs to what they want to achieve with this program what will their approach be. But all the time the voice in our heads finally its happening and it’s going to be amazing kept us driving. As we were new, but we had a goal, and in a way, we were also the chosen ones for this responsibility and program to happen!!


With group bonding activities like dropping/walking in snow and having a meal together made a difference and that we could see with the results, when heroes had it clear in their mind that they wanted to know each other more and understand each other's needs more.

Though it is also one of the kind of experience for both of us, seeing this all from outside by not being hero, but making sure heroes are designing the path efficiently for them. I guess we can proudly say, after the end of our 2 days and 1 night when heroes presented the program and feedback received by our Leadership team and Managers. We accomplished what we wanted to when we started to be prepped for this program in August 2022, That results are fruitful, and we are ready to see what’s next, and what’s more to follow, As this is just the beginning of an amazing learning journey to shape up our heroes, CRAFTs Heroes as we say..!!

And we enjoyed making this happen and enjoying seeing the results!! One of them is writing this blog as proud as we can be. And more to follow as it's just a beginning.

Comments on this article
Sjaak 09-04-2023 | 21:24 Great story, you two are HEROES as well, going the unpaved way, stimulating and challenging talents to go beyond and bonding them to a company in a dynamic, transtioning world. I hope to learn about the experiences with the HEROES in a year time or so.
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