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My journey from Industrial Engineering graduate to Chapter Lead

Written by Lenny Sluyts on 5 August 2020 for Professionals

Meet Lore Donné! After graduating as an Industrial Engineer, she joined Exellys in September of 2018 as a Full Stack Developer. Because of her technical skills and the fact she obviously didn’t had a problem with steep learning curves, we figured that digital transformation agency Design Is Dead (DiD) would be the perfect fit for her. And we weren’t wrong! She recently shared her two-year journey from Groep T graduate to Chapter Lead on the Design Is Dead blog. And because it’s such an inspiring story, we wanted to share it here as well. Enjoy!

My first steps of an exciting journey in IT

Choosing your own path as a recently graduated junior is not an easy job. It takes hard work, but in the end, it is worth it.

My life as a young woman in the IT-world began in 2018 when I graduated as an Industrial Engineer at Groep T (KULeuven). Today, being a consultant for DiD, I am working as a Chapter Lead at Telenet. I’d like to share my story of these last couple of years with you.

My journey from Industrial Engineering graduate to Chapter Lead

How it all began

The first client I worked for via Design is Dead was a big IT company. Any first work experience is already exciting (and a little overwhelming too) in itself, but the fact that mine was at such a well-known and big organization made it even more so. So, you can imagine that during those first weeks, I was happy that I could count on my Design is Dead colleagues to help me get used to a new world and a new life.

New insights

I started out as a motivated full-stack developer and enjoyed learning a lot of technologies. Although, after 6 months I felt like something was missing. I loved being a developer, but every now and then, I started getting doubts about the job content and I questioned myself if this really was what I wanted to keep on doing.

One day I got the opportunity to do some real front-end work (HTML/CSS), which was a real eye opener to me. This was it, this was what I really wanted to do. I felt like I was completely opening up for the first time and I mentioned this as much as I could to my co-workers. They started giving me more similar assignments and eventually, I was allowed to do all the HTML and CSS work in the team. I started to actually really, really love my job.

New opportunity

After 8 months of working there, the client asked me to become part of a new chapter. I gladly accepted the offer, since this chapter was not only part of a new structure which would integrate a new way of working and a new way of structuring HTML and CSS components, but it also became a new chapter in my professional life.

When they asked me, I thought they were thinking of me as one of the developers in the team. Instead, they asked me to become the Chapter Lead and lead the team in this new direction. As you can imagine, I was not anticipating such an offer and it swept me off my feet a little, to be honest.

My journey from Industrial Engineering graduate to Chapter Lead

I already mentioned I accepted the offer, but not before thinking it through thoroughly. After all, I was only 24 and I was really enjoying the work I was doing. Was I ready to manage a team at this stage, especially since it existed of people with a lot more experience than me? Did I even want to manage a team at all? Would I not regret trading in my cherished development time for meetings etc.? Then again, I felt happy and I appreciated their confidence in me. So, I said to myself that I would be crazy not to seize the opportunity.

Evolving in the new chapter

So, there I was, the youngest and only female technical Chapter Lead at Telenet. It was amazing; I got to work closer with the other technical Chapter Leads and had all these new responsibilities now. Of course, I had not really grown into the job just yet and I felt like I needed to prove to everyone (perhaps including myself) that I could do this.

As any youngest member in a new position will tell you, you must work or fight just a little bit harder to be taken seriously from the start. The key is making everybody just forget about age by showing what you know and are capable of. With that in mind, I started my new challenge.

To add to my healthy dose of initial stress and excitement, our manager asked me to give the entire IT department a presentation about the new team. Presenting in front of 60 of my colleagues was a little daunting, but it also gave me a nice opportunity to step out of the shadows in which developers usually operate. It also allowed me to inform everybody from the start about the role my team would play in the new approach.

One year later

From that point on, things just kept getting better. Looking back at last year, I can safely say that my team has accomplished quite a lot already. The new way of thinking and working we introduced has now been adopted by other departments as well, ranging from full-stack developers to the UI and UX team and even the business department. We take pride in being a very important piece of a large puzzle. On a more personal level, I am grateful to Exellys, DiD and Telenet for giving me the opportunity to advance my career in IT and to lead this team to where we are today.

My assignment at Telenet will be ending soon, but I’ll be happy to keep you updated on whatever comes my way these coming weeks and months. In the meantime, I invite you to share your own experiences.

And if you want to find out more, like what it means to be working for or with Exellys or Design is Dead, then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Inspired by Lore’s journey to Chapter Lead? Why don’t you read another one?

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