‘My bees help keep me sharp. Also at the office'

Mark van Straten - Lead Developer, mentor and bee whisperer

‘How do you look after bees? And how do they make honey? These questions have always fascinated me. So, last year I decided to become a beekeeper alongside my job. I’ve now got three hives and I can honestly say that beekeeping has become a passion of mine. I love doing this alongside my office work and being outside in the fresh air.’

Bee manuel

‘When I approach one of my beehives, I do what I was taught on my beekeeping course. But the situation is always different than I expect. That makes sense. However well you’ve studied your beekeeping manual, bees simply have their own dynamic lives. And so, I have to adjust my plans and be open to new knowledge and insights. It’s no different in the office. There, too, I have a plan, but the execution is often different than how I had envisaged it. However well you master your subject, when it comes down to it, it’s about the practical application.’

‘In September 2020 I joined NN as Lead Developer on the team that’s responsible for the corporate client portal. In this scrum team, I mentor several colleagues, direct the technical vision and assist in the development of new functionality where possible. I also work a lot with others across teams, for example on the roll-out of eHerkenning – a digital identification system for businesses - as a log-in system. The knowledge I gain then flows back to my team. The variety of collaboration, promoting a vision and personal development is what attracted me to this role.’

Seeing your baby grow

‘I worked for a project office for a long time, where the focus was on product development. Once we had finished a project, it was like giving up a child. I found that a shame. What I really enjoy is to see a child grow up. What problems arise? How do we solve them and take our product to the next level? We can do that at NN. We work on updating existing products, which throws up many challenges. The dynamics really appeal to me.’

‘What’s more, my drive is a good match for NN’s ambition to become a knowledge-driven and tech-driven business. It means that there’s also scope for technically capable people here who enjoy the challenge of sharing their knowledge in a complex and dynamic organisation. People who don’t have a silo mentality, but who think in the interests of the company as a whole. It’s only then that you can learn from each other and grow.’

Bringing people together

‘Beekeepers are essentially nerds and their passion makes them knowledge experts. Knowledge-sharing means making a connection. For me, it’s not primarily about the software, but about bringing people together. As a knowledge ambassador, I seek out the users, try and understand the problems they’re facing, bring all the pieces of the complex puzzle together and develop software with my team that matters to them. But how do you know whether your strategy has worked? Ultimately, you can see it in your results  - whether that’s in the honey or at work.’

Set your own path

‘At NN, you’re not pigeonholed. And there’s no ready-made development plan. Development and responsibility are balanced here: I feel the responsibility and the freedom to set my own path. If you want to register for a conference or take part in a course, it’s all open to discussion. My colleagues are just as passionate as I am. Everybody wants to excel and NN makes that possible. You matter, the promise that NN makes, is not an empty slogan. Whatever role you play, you matter. What’s important to you is important to NN. And the same applies while we’re working from home because of coronavirus. NN understands that you can’t do your job until your own house is in order.’


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