At Amsterdam Data Collective (ADC), Project Leads take on a crucial role in managing client projects and ensuring successful delivery. Viviënne Haring is one of ADC’s Project Leads and a member of our Data Engineering Competence Centre. Together we discuss discovering her interest in data engineering, the importance of communication and collaboration, and the unique collective culture at ADC that enables employees to thrive.
What education and career background led you to ADC?
After completing my studies in econometrics, I started my career at Solid Professionals over five years ago as a finance and risk consultant. During my time there, I also had the opportunity to learn about AI through the company’s AI Competence Centre. Two and a half years later, Solid Professionals merged with ADC and I, along with all the quantitative consultants, moved to ADC.
I quickly found myself at home at ADC, and I was pleased to discover that the projects were more quantitative, with a greater focus on data engineering and risk modeling. I discovered that I enjoy building data sets and pipelines, as well as creating an environment that can be automated. It is great that ADC allows us to explore various fields and discover our personal interests. For me, my passion lies in data engineering, where I can use my skills to create a positive impact on society through a data-driven approach.
How did you experience the two different ADC mergers?
Having been through two ADC mergers, I have experienced the process from different perspectives. During the first merger, I was part of the team that was absorbed into ADC. This time around, I am on the other end, with a Nordic company (Damvad Analytics) merging into ADC.
One of the biggest differences this time is that the merger involves teams across international borders, with our team being based in the Netherlands and the other teams in Denmark and Sweden. Despite the geographical distance, the merger has enabled consultants from each office to work on projects together and foster a sense of unity across the company. It is a great way to get to know each other and work towards a common goal!
How important is it to have a mentor to grow as a leader?
As a Junior Consultant, I had the opportunity to learn from people who were more experienced and senior on my projects. I believe that having a mentor, someone who can guide you and share their knowledge and experience, is crucial to grow as a professional and as a leader.
However, now that I am focusing more on data engineering, it is a bit harder to find senior people in this field to learn from. Luckily, we have each other in the Data Engineering Competence Centre, so we can learn and grow together. In addition, I have the privilege of having Casper Rutjes (CTO) as a mentor. He has an incredible amount of experience and has been able to provide me with advice and solutions to complex problems. He is always there to listen and ask the right questions to help me see things from a different perspective.
As I have grown in my career, I have also taken on the role of mentor for two working students. I enjoy helping them expand their technical skills, but I also try to help them develop their soft skills, which are a big part of consulting. Starting a career can be overwhelming, and I want to be present to answer their questions and provide guidance as they navigate the consulting world. Overall, I believe that mentoring is a two-way street, where both the mentor and the mentee have an opportunity to learn and grow together.
Can you describe the role of the Competence Centres in ADC?
At ADC, we have three Competence Centres, each with a specific focus: Strategy & Innovation (S&I), Advanced Analytics, and Data Engineering. Being part of a Competence Centre allows me to specialise in a particular area and deepen my knowledge in that field. This expertise can then be used to help projects on a more technical level. Rather than having broad sector knowledge, I focus on specific topic to gain knowledge and experience that can be applied to help clients more effectively.
Personally, I am passionate about helping people on a more technical level, and the Data Engineering Competence Centre allows me to do that. We focus on creating a data architecture that can be automated, so every day all the data pipelines run smoothly, and the right data is in the right data set. This ensures that the Advanced Analytics team has the right data to work with, and any dashboards built on top of it have access to accurate and relevant data. The connection between the three Competence Centres also ensures that we are always working with the latest technology and techniques to provide the best solutions to our clients.
Read more about how we use data engineering to convert data into business value.
How can you build your specialisation at ADC?
Building your specialisation is all about learning on the job and exploring new topics. As a Project Lead, I have the freedom to choose what I want to specialise in and how I want to build my expertise. One way I do this is by doing research and trying new things when I encounter something I have not done before. If I cannot find a solution, I always ask my colleagues for help. I remember when I had a bug in my Power BI dashboard, I posted a message in Slack asking for help, and within five minutes, two colleagues jumped in to fix it. It is amazing how helpful and supportive everyone is!
Another way I build my specialisation is by taking online courses. There are many great resources available, especially for topics like cloud computing. Getting certified in a particular area also helps demonstrate my expertise, which can be important in certain sectors. As part of the Data Engineering Competence Centre, we are self-steering and have the ability to choose what we work on and when. This autonomy is incredibly valuable and allows us to work on projects that we are passionate about and enjoy.
In addition to our individual interests, we also work to create a diverse set of skills within our team. We decide on our specialisations ourselves, allowing each of us to develop expertise in a specific area. For example, while one team member may focus on data architecture, I prefer to stay broad in my skill set so that I can learn about all the different aspects of data engineering, including various cloud platforms such as Azure, AWS, and Google.
How much freedom do you have in your role?
At ADC, there is a lot of emphasis on personal and career development. It is very open and free, so you can determine what you want to learn or which direction you want to go. At the same time, if you have trouble with doing that or if you have questions or doubts, you can always go to one of the higher up managers, and they will help you.
One thing I really appreciate about ADC’s culture is that because it is still a relatively small company, if you want to do something, you can always go to the management, and they will listen to your ideas and often give you the opportunity to execute on them. Last year, for example, we had a data engineering working group that I had the chance to lead. It was a great opportunity to take ownership over an initiative I am passionate about.
How would you describe the company culture?
Our culture is one of the biggest things that sets us apart. On Fridays, most people come to the office, and it is a great opportunity to catch up with coworkers and learn from their experience. At the end of the day, our awesome office manager, Odemaris, usually organises a fun activity. Anything from Easter egg hunts with espresso martinis to spa evenings with massages, manicures, and beard grooming!
The company also organises a range of social activities, from ski trips to book clubs to the Collective Week pro bono projects. And I cannot forget about our in-house chef, Bianca, who always cooks us a healthy and delicious lunch with lots of veggies, of course accompanies by the classic Dutch cheese and bread. It is all these things combined that make the culture at ADC so amazing and one of the many reasons I love working here!
What do you hope a new hire could contribute to ADC?
First, I believe that the most valuable contribution a new hire could bring to ADC is their eagerness to immerse themselves in our collective culture. We prioritise working together as a team to learn from one another and deliver impactful results for our clients.
Second, since Data Engineering is a self-steering team, we welcome individuals who are motivated and ambitious to contribute their unique skills and ideas. With no lead, we make decisions collectively, supporting each other’s growth and learning along the way. And, finally, I think it is important that you like to have a drink with us on Fridays!
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