Welcome to this Spotlight on Essenters! Today we will be speaking with Evelien van Blitterswijk, Manager Platform and Automation.
WELCOME, EVELIEN! CAN YOU SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF WITH OUR READERS?
Hi, I'm Evelien and I joined Essent in 2018 as a BI developer. Over the years my role evolved to Data Engineer combined with Scrum Master and HR Competence Lead. This year I changed to Manager Platform and Automation. I enjoy outdoor activities such as horseback riding, winter sports, mountaineering and biking.
CAN YOU BRIEFLY SHARE A BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED IN IT?
My journey into IT was atypical. After a series of study choices that didn't quite align with my passions, I settled on Psychology; a subject that genuinely intrigued me. In my first year I found myself drawn to quantitative research in social psychology and later economic and financial psychology. As I started my career in market research I realized gathering and processing data was very inefficient, which led me to become interested in automation and subsequently into IT.
WERE THERE ANY KEY EXPERIENCES OR MENTORS THAT SHAPED YOUR JOURNEY?
There were two experiences that shaped my journey.
The first I mentioned above, noticing the inefficiency in market research and my drive to improve that.
The second one was the realization that I wanted to work for a company that makes social impact. I realized this while working for a financial company where I felt my efforts largely benefited the shareholders, rather than making a broader positive difference in society.
HOW DID YOU COME TO WORK AT ESSENT?
Making the switch from market research to IT was a great step in my career. I discovered I enjoy improving people, processes, and technologies. And IT is, in my opinion, the best place to do this.
Five years ago, the energy transition was already a hot topic and working on that would make my life more meaningful. This led me to Essent, which combined IT with new sustainable energy solutions.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF THE COMPANY, AND HOW HAVE THEY CHANGED SINCE?
I joined Essent at the beginning of the energy transition. We were selling energy contracts in a stable market and some ideas were formed about new business models for solar, insulation and heating. IT was seen as a supporting department that just had to keep things running. Over the past 5 years a large shift has been made, energy and the energy transition has become a hot topic. Within Essent, IT is now seen as a core part of helping our customers take the next step in the energy transition. We evolved as IT from “keep it running” to the creation of innovative solutions and engineering quality.
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE SCOPE OF YOUR ROLE HERE?
In my department, we are working on empowering all the IT engineers of Essent to deliver high quality solutions at a fast pace. My role in making this a success involves placing the right people in the right position based on their unique strengths and qualities, offering support during challenges and improving employee happiness by removing things that hold them back. I also prioritize fostering collaboration among engineers. We can only make Essent successful if everyone succeeds.
HOW HAS YOUR ROLE EVOLVED SINCE YOU STARTED?
My role has changed quite a bit over the last 5 years.
I joined Essent as a BI developer and I quickly changed to Data Engineer. After a few years in that role, I took up the Scrum Master responsibilities and later also became HR Competence Lead, all while doing my engineering work. Slowly it became clear to me that my ambitions were in a leadership role.
In June 2023 I started in my current role as Manager Platform and Automation. I was the first internal female manager in IT, and to my delight quickly joined by a second one.
Over the past 6 months my scope expanded to also include Engineering Enablement and Eventing, taking the empowerment of other engineers to the next level.
CAN YOU HIGHLIGHT A SPECIFIC ACCOMPLISHMENT THAT YOU FEEL HAS BEEN PIVOTAL IN YOUR CAREER HERE?
The most pivotal moment for me was when I recognized that others viewed me as an inspiration and genuinely listened to my insights. This realization allowed me to utilize my influence to achieve more than I had ever imagined possible.
HOW DO YOU PERCEIVE THE INTERNAL CULTURE OF YOUR TEAM?
Transparency and trust are particularly important, they help us get where we want to go in the long run. Without candid feedback and open communication, we will not be able to live up to our full potential.
Furthermore, everyone is super passionate about what they do. They have a heart for their job and want to drive the changes that are required for Essent to become the modern IT company that we want it to be. Scalable, resilient, with easy-to-use building blocks and high-quality code.
HOW DO YOU JUGGLE THE DEMANDS OF YOUR JOB WITH YOUR PERSONAL LIFE?
It does not feel like juggling to me, I prioritize what I choose to spend my time on.
I enjoy my job and it does not feel like something I must do. But I also love to go horseback riding in the Loonse en Drunense Duinen national park and spend time with the people I love.
Making sure work and personal life are balanced comes naturally, I know they both suffer if I neglect one of them.
ANY ADVICE FOR PEOPLE ASPIRING TO WORK IN YOUR FIELD OR IN A ROLE LIKE YOURS?
Focus on your strengths; that is where you will find your passion. Leveraging them will not only lead to a greater impact but also ensure you enjoy the journey, rather than trying to compensate for your weaknesses.
We would like to thank Evelien for the time she took to speak to us, and for the insights she shares.
If you have any lingering questions for her, do not hesitate to drop a comment below. We will ensure you are promptly connected.