Interview with: Olaf van der Hoorn - Operations Director

Olaf van der Hoorn

The employee is of central importance

At Sentia, the focus is not only on the customer. Employee skills and expertise are also essential. In fact, such expertise ensures satisfied customers. Operations Director Olaf van der Hoorn knows all about this. In fact, he is responsible for ensuring Sentia’s current team structure is tailored to the different skills of our Engineers.

As you may know, Sentia has grown considerably over the last five years. Olaf came into service two years ago and one of his most important tasks was to ensure this growth was properly translated into a uniform working culture within Sentia, with the most optimal working conditions for Engineers. An important part of that was looking at team structures: "By creating more homogeneous teams, Engineers can focus better on their tasks."

Teams based on service

“We started to look at the different types of services we offer and formed new teams based on that. In this way, Engineers mainly work with colleagues who deal with the same issues and technologies. That means they can really develop into specialists and get to the root of any issue. Engineers at Sentia never do half a job, that makes them very strong sparring partners for our customers.”

Olaf explains why Sentia opted for this team classification: “A full outsourcing customer has different questions to one that’s serviced by an Azure-only team. In addition to technical content, the service model also differs per team. To be effective in the event of a problem, Senior Engineers must have a full understanding of their customer’s complete environment."

A focus on core tasks

There are now five different teams in total. “By grouping employees based on their substantive function, we have created many more homogeneous teams. An additional advantage is that Engineers can better focus on their core tasks. They are also an equally good sparring partner for direct colleagues. "Olaf gives the example of Team Red: "They offer full outsourcing, whereas Team Yellow mainly works for customers where they are technically responsible for a number of applications.”

The other teams are Green (fully public cloud), Blue (infrastructure) and Purple (Managed IT). Teams can concentrate better on their work and employees get the opportunity to delve deeper into, for example, a specific technology.

Culture change

Culture plays an important role in building an organizational structure where every employee feels comfortable. Olaf explains: “At Sentia we strive for an open, informal culture in which non-business social activities are also organized outside office hours, like hackathons or gaming sessions. That’s because I’m convinced that culture is the determining factor as to whether employees stay working in your organization. Culture and work atmosphere make people stay, not money."

Part of this is supporting the Engineers’ development and knowledge so they are encouraged to develop and can continue to grow in their role. Olaf: “A good example of this is how we developed landing zones for AWS and Azure ourselves. This not only broadens our Engineers’ expertise, it also ensures we can support our customers with new, innovative services.”

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