My story

The software developer

My name is Linda and I have been involved in software development for most of my life. As a young girl I saved all my money to buy my first computer, an MSX2. I used it to write games and small programs that could help me with my homework. Nothing spectacular! I often just copied the DOS code that I found in magazines but had a lot of fun doing it and trying to make it work.

Later I studied technical computer science and became a Smalltalk developer for a consultancy company. I have fond memories of this time and in hindsight I’m still amazed about how fast we were able to implement and deliver our projects using VisualAge for Smalltalk and using Rapid Application Development.

The business analyst and project manager

But to all good things come to an end and with the rise of Java, the company I worked for decided to make a shift in technology. That was for me the signal to move on and do something new. I began to focus on what was needed to build and deliver software successful, helping customers define their development process, how to do technical design and how to write good requirements. Around this time I was hired by SwissRe, who are one of the largest Reinsurance companies in the world. Here I learned everything about business process modelling, SOA architectures, and project management at a large scale. In total I worked here for five years, primarily doing Business Analysis and Project Management. My work gave me the opportunity to travel around the world and work in places like London and New York. On one of my adventures I met my future husband, Sean who also worked for SwissRe at the time. It was if lightning struck and from the day we met until now, we were inseparable. I followed him to North America where we had the time of our lives working hard and partying hard in New York and later on he followed me back to Amsterdam.

The manager

After my adventure with SwissRe we moved back to Amsterdam and we got married. At that time I was approached by a former boss who asked if I would be interested in becoming the technical and operational manager for a software consultancy company that he founded called QNH. Being responsible for a team of 25, mostly Java developers was something new and though I was honoured to be asked I was also terrified. QNH turned out to be a great learning school. I learned so much about running a business, of profit and loss, of finding the right customer proposition and recruiting people, the fun and risks of doing fixed price projects, how to manage people and keep them wanting to work for you, you name it.

Becoming a mother

In 2009 I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Samantha. Becoming a mother changed me a lot. I decided to quit my job, so I could spend more time at home while figuring out what my next step in life should be. After 3 months being at home, I knew that being a “stay-at-home” mother and wife was not for me.  I realised that work was such an important part of my life, it gave me energy, it gave me drive. It was an easy decision to re-join the working world.

The manager and becoming a leader

In 2012 I joined Backbase, a software product company in Amsterdam, as Manager of Professional Services. I worked at Backbase for six years, which was an amazing journey. Never have I worked for a company were we had to deal with so many challenges, where the team had to be so flexible and the demand on them was so high. When I joined the company we were just a small team of 25 consultants. It was a difficult time because the product wasn’t finished, there were no standards or processes in place and at the same time Professional Services had to compensate for the gaps in the product.

At that time it was very chaotic and people where demotivated because they were pushed from one place to another. Although it was hard, it was also the most fulfilling period, there were some many different things to fix and fires to put out, and I believe that’s what when I’m at my best.

So my focus quickly became fixing the internal operations within the team, taking care of the people, hiring and selecting the right people to improve the way we develop and deliver software. Within a few years the Professional Services team had grown from 25 to 225 people and I became responsible for Professional Services world wide. To accommodate the growth we implemented a new organisational model that promoted accountability and autonomy inspired on the Spotify Model. It was great to see people stepping up and taking more responsibility and seeing them grow made me incredibly proud.

Backbase was a crazy ride, one I enjoyed very much but after six years it’s time for something new.

A new chapter

So now I have arrived at a new chapter in my life and career and I’m very exited what 2018 will bring.

But before rushing into something new I am going to take some time to reflect on the past years. What worked and what didn’t work. How to grow a team, how to develop and deliver software successfully and how to get the most out of your people.

If you are curious and you want to know more about my views and experiences, then go to my blog and let me know what you think.

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