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How this Functional Analyst is working on the most innovative projects

Written by Hans Vernimme on 3 June 2019 for Graduates

Let’s meet Giani-Luigi Driesen, curious to say the least. He is passionate about football and all things digital. He likes to learn, whether it’s about technology, biology or how people interact with each other. So diving into a major project at Belfius Insurance as a Functional Analyst proved to be an interesting and exciting first job experience. Excited to learn more about his exponential learning? Keep on reading!

How this Functional Analyst is working on the most innovative projects - blogpost cover

Giani’s Specs

  • 24 years old
  • Master in industrial sciences graduated from KU Leuven
  • Loves football and amusement parks and is into learning all about the newest technological trends
  • A loyal fan of Lieven Scheire’s podcast ‘Maandoverzicht in Nerdland’
  • Functional Analyst at Belfius Insurance since September 2018

Hi Giani, can you tell us how you found Exellys after graduating?

I was kind of feeling the pressure during my last months before graduation. I wasn’t sure what I could expect or where I would end up at my first job, as many newly graduates probably do. Most students visit several job fairs and explore their options, but I was very busy finishing my master’s dissertation, which was about an AI version of the game Solitaire to track early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

My ingenious solution to trying to find a job while combining my studies was: checking out the site of all job fairs and doing my own research about the companies that would be participating. That’s how I ended up on the Exellys website. The concept really spoke to me and I was curious to learn more about them.

Efficiently looking for a job, that’s how we like our consultants! What happened next?

I sent my CV through the website and got a call from Elke Vanhouche, the Tech Talent Scout. Before being invited for my first interview, we had a nice, informal talk on the phone. I also loved that I could freely talk about what I was looking for in a first job and at the same time feel that the person on the other end of the line was genuinely interested.

Elke told me more about the concept and what being an ‘Exellyst’ would mean for me. It was really interesting to learn about this way of working, because I believe this is what differentiates Exellys from other companies. At the same time, it truly ads lots of value for consultants, clients and the company itself.

What about the other interviews and technical tests? Did they go as expected?

The other interviews were more in-depth. I talked a lot about my professional interests, but just as much about my personal life, hobbies, interests and who I am as a person. I really appreciated that because I knew it would help me find a working environment that would fit my personality too.

The technical tests were challenging. The logical reasoning test, where I had to fill in series of numbers, was not really my thing. But I did do great on the test to determine my learning curve. So I guess I didn’t completely ruined it (laughs).

How this Functional Analyst is working on the most innovative projects

That doesn’t really surprise us, considering you told us that you love learning new things! So how did you experience you matching procedure?

I had several matches but didn’t feel like one was standing out straight away. One of them was a job at Belfius Insurance, as part of the technical team. Although I wasn’t super excited about it right off the bat, I still went to the interview. Luckily, at the same time, Elke informed me that there was a second position at Belfius Insurance, of which she was convinced that it would be a more perfect match.

The job itself was similar to the first one, but I would be on the digital team instead. Using digital tools and practices is something that is leaning more towards my interests and was more related to what I had practiced during my studies. So I ended up choosing that job and now I can call myself Functional Analyst at Belfius Insurance.

Can you explain us in a few words what it means to be a Functional Analyst at Belfius Insurance? What do you do?

I am working on the digital applications that Belfius Insurance uses to communicate with clients. This can be via a claim form, a website or any digital platform. My job is to strategize, analyze and think about the best way to make those applications work both on IT as well on development level.

Since I’ve started working at Belfius Insurance, I have been working on one major project, with business people, architects and project managers: a chatbot. Within my team, we were responsible for drawing up the business of how this application should work and what impact it would have on IT. A project like this requires lots of data, coming from different teams within the organization. This allowed me to immediately meet with a lot of different people and to learn a lot about the company structure.

How did you experience storing all this new information and meeting so many new people?

During my first few weeks, there was a big event, where we played a game based on the tv series ‘De Mol’. All teams were involved, which was useful for me to get to know my colleagues in a more informal way, like seeing my account manager in shorts (laughs). But it also helped to get to know the people from other teams in advance, because I knew I would be working with them for the chatbot project. So that set a really nice basis.

I also have a great connection with my project manager who helped me find my way in the very beginning. Also, our account manager is always available to answer any questions I stumble upon. Generally, there’s a great and accessible vibe in the office, which helps a lot!

Besides those close colleagues on my team, it was also really helpful to have an ‘Exellys Buddy’. This is someone who is also working at Belfius Insurance as an Exellys consultant and who just helped me out with simple things during those first few days. From introducing me to everyone, to joining me for lunch, telling me what I could expect or even showing me my way around the office.

What was it like to dive into a major project at a company as big as Belfius Insurance?

First of all, I was glad to help out, because Belfius Insurance really needed someone to support the IT side of the story. I was eager to use and share my knowledge. I managed to work myself in with a really handy chat flow that was already set up. Step by step, I learned what had already been implemented and what was going to be part of the next phases.

I also had to learn a thing or two about the insurance sector. And, let’s be honest, as a recent graduate, that’s something you typically don’t know the ins and outs of. Anyway, since the chatbot is specifically designed for helping people with their fire insurance, I can now proudly say that this type of insurance has hardly any secrets left for me (laughs).

Interesting! From one fire to a heartwarming initiative. Tell us more about Stairs for Life?

There is an entire community of Exellysts working at Belfius. We often go to Exellys trainings together, join each other for lunch and meet for after work activities, so we decided to participate together as a team for Stairs for life.

Every year, Belfius organizes a tower run in the Rogier Toren, the building in Brussels where we are based. The tower has 696 steps and is about 137 meters high. The goal is to climb all the stairs as fast as possible. And although I forgot to bring my work out gear, I managed to climb the stairs in about 6 minutes, dressed in trousers. The event raised around 50 thousand euros in total, so I think we did a great job!

We agree! So how happy are you about everything you’ve learned and achieved so far at Belfius Insurance?

I think I’ve already made an impressive and satisfying learning curve until now, mostly thanks to the innovative side of the chatbot project I have been working on. The most interesting for me is to see how people are working together to complete such big projects. It’s really valuable to see it being carried out in practice compared to what you learn from books or small group projects at school.

Do you have any last words for students who want to find a first job as exciting and educational as yours?

I think it’s important to think broad and explore all your options. Because the offer of jobs out there is immense. It may seem like everything ends after you graduate, but I think that it’s only the beginning. You just have to find what it is that you really want. And as long as you’re motivated, you can do anything.

What inspirational words to end on, thanks for the chat Giani!

Do you want to learn as much as Giani in your first job? Discover our different job vacancies in multiple sectors, companies and locations. Or find out more about Exellys and how we can find your professional match. We just launched a bran-new website, so go and have a look!

Written by Hans Vernimme Talent Development Manager