Life at Big Industries: Interview with Ruben



Interview with Ruben on how it is working for Big Industries? How important are the values Share your Wisdom, Feed the Family Feel and Dare to Grow.

How did you join/find out about Big Industries?

I pursued my studies in "Informatiemanagement & Security" at Thomas More Mechelen. The program offered a blend of IT and business courses, with a particular emphasis on data and its management. In the second year, we were presented with a choice between specializing in security or data. Opting for the latter, I delved deeper into the realms of data science and analysis.

During my second-year internship, I served as a Data Protection Officer (DPO), focusing on GDPR compliance. As I approached my third-year internship, I sought a more technical experience. Thomas More facilitated internships with partner companies, and one such opportunity arose with Big Industries.

Upon reviewing their assignment, I initially felt a bit daunted. It appeared to be a challenging task, involving numerous technologies not covered in my coursework. While the concepts were somewhat familiar, their application in the realm of big data presented a different scale and usage. My courses had equipped me to handle data and generate insights, but constructing a big data pipeline from raw, unfiltered data and developing an automated workflow was a new frontier for me.

Despite my initial reservations, I decided to embrace the challenge. I am delighted to share that my internship at Big Industries proved to be a rewarding experience, pushing me beyond my comfort zone. This positive encounter fueled my decision to join Big Industries as a Data Engineer, marking the beginning of my first full year in this role.

What do you like about working for Big Industries?

The company really nails the work-life balance, making it clear they trust us to manage our own time. It's refreshing to have that flexibility. Some of my colleagues are big into paddle, although I haven't quite caught the bug myself. I can see the appeal though, and I'm definitely up for joining them on the paddle courts one of these days.

Every three months, we dive into what we fondly call 'Big Industries Academy Day' or BIA days. I love these moments because they give us the chance to connect with colleagues in different roles. It's a time to chat, share insights, and get the lowdown on the tech our colleagues are using. Plus, there's always a workshop in the mix to level up our skill set. It's the kind of professional growth that keeps things interesting.

What was something new you had to learn to do your job?

During the initial months, I seized the opportunity to pursue certifications in "AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner" and "AWS Certified Developer – Associate." These certifications opened my eyes to the vast realm of cloud solutions for big data. The thing in school doesn't quite cover these cutting-edge technologies. The curriculum is a bit behind the curve when it comes to these solutions. While I was familiar with the components, figuring out how to weave them together into a cloud solution was a whole new ballgame.

Post-certifications, I dove into an internal company course on Apache NiFi & Apache Kafka. It laid down some fundamental knowledge that came in handy when I teamed up with colleagues on my first project.

How does your work week look like?

Usually, I get out of bed around 6:30 to 7:30, adjusting my wake-up time based on the day. My routine on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays begins with a quick breakfast followed by a workout, injecting some energy into my mornings. Once the workout is done, I head for a shower and then cozy up behind my laptop with a coffee and a snack, prepping myself for the day ahead.

On Tuesdays, you'll catch me heading to the Big Industries office in Kontich alongside some colleagues handling the same customer assignment. It's a fantastic setup for some productive hours—we toss questions around, tackle problems, and generally have each other's backs. Thursdays play out at the customer's office in Brussels. Some days, I even rise and shine at 6 a.m. to beat the traffic snarl and hit the Brussels road by 7.

At 9:45 a.m. every day, we gather for a data platform stand-up meeting. It's the spot where the whole team dishes about what went down the day before and what's on the agenda for today. Perfect for seeking help from colleagues if a project inside the platform team has me stumped. The rest of the day is usually a deep dive into work with the occasional meeting sprinkled in.

What technology do you like most?

An obvious go-to for us is AWS; it provides a vast array of technologies and applications. Over at our customer's place, we're plugged into a variety of technologies, with a solid 70-85% of our platform comfortably nestled in the AWS cloud.

Personally, I'm a big fan of Python within our work domain. It gives us the flexibility we need when crafting solutions. We're all about automation to make our work smoother down the line. So, crafting Python scripts that come into play later down the road is something I find quite satisfying.

Share Your Wisdom, Feed The Family Feel, Dare To Grow. Can you give an example of a situation where these values were put in practice?

Following my AWS certifications, while Matthias was on the hunt for an assignment, I delved into some internal learning using training materials crafted by Big Industry colleagues. After the initial week or two, I started feeling a bit like a lone ranger in my learning journey. That's when I reached out to Matthias, asking for a learning mentor to join my venture. Enter Joanna, who was tagged as my mentor, and from then on, we had almost daily meetings throughout my learning journey. These sessions were dedicated to tracking my progress and figuring out the tasks for the day. It's a perfect example of me encountering a challenge, Matthias stepping in to solve it, and tapping into the expertise of my colleagues to make it all happen.

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