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How a Bio Engineer ended up as a Project Manager in Germany - Blogpost cover
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Video: How a Bio Engineer ended up as a Project Manager in Germany

Written by Hans Vernimme on 3 October 2022 for Professionals

Meet Luigi Coco, a 27-year-old Bio Engineer on the verge of starting his second year as an Exellyst. In the video below, Luigi tells us all about his professional journey so far: how he got to know us, what his job as a Project Manager entails and how he has experienced the Exellys selection procedure and training programs.

Don’t have 14 minutes? Read on to learn about his experience.

(Filmed in June 2021)

Who am I?

As a Bio Engineer, I have a very different background than most people at Exellys. During my studies, there were hardly any IT-related topics in the curriculum. In the four years after I graduated, I spent two years working for a food production company, and another two years traveling in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. When I came back to Belgium over a year ago, I thought about the next steps for my career. Where did I see myself, not only in a year’s time but also further down the road? I then realized that digitalization was an important part of how I saw my future.

But how do you go about that as a Bio Engineer? I was a bit insecure. Was my academic background going to be sufficient? Did I had to study more or follow different courses? Luckily, I found Exellys. They assured me that they could support me in this process.

How I got in touch with Exellys

My first contact with Exellys was through a friend. It was a phone call, very easy and very open. There were no typical ‘HR questions’ and that immediately made me feel very comfortable. They were focusing on my personality, not my studies. They weren’t questioning why I, as a Bio Engineer, was looking into digitalization. My enthusiasm and my ambition were enough to get my foot in the door. ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’ was definitely more than a hollow phrase on a jobsite in the case of Exellys.

My application process

When I started my selection process at Exellys, I was doing interviews at other companies as well. But Exellys really stood out to me, because they were the only ones that kept in touch in between those interviews. I had the personal numbers of the Tech Talent Scouts and they were always available whenever I had any questions. This showed me right from the start how Exellys treats the people they work with, and that was something I really liked and kept in mind.

After some first calls, I took the two tests that you typically do when you onboard with Exellys. These tests had nothing to do with technical skills whatsoever. It’s about who you are as a person and how you can analyze certain aspects. So if you’re not an IT-technical person, don’t worry about the tests, if I can do it, so can you.

Luigi Coco

After these tests I started my matching procedure. Because of my Bio Engineering background, it was a bit difficult to find me a good match and Covid-19 didn’t exactly help either. In the end, I matched with two companies. One of which was Umicore Germany, and that was an immediate fit for me. It’s a big advantage for me that I get to work internationally – this really pushes my career forward even faster. I think it’s really great that Exellys is increasingly looking at a more international opportunities for their consultants.

During the interviews at the client, someone from Exellys is also present. So, if at any time you might black out during the interview or there’s something you don’t really know the answer to, you feel that you have support sitting there next to you (virtually, in my case). Just knowing that I had this support – and the additional help with the preparation for the interview– made me feel more relaxed in this setting.

My job as a Project Manager

I’m working at Umicore Germany, in Hanau to be more exact. But unfortunately I spend most of my time in my home office in Belgium. So far, I have only been in Germany for two months, because I had to move back to Belgium due to Covid-19 restrictions last year.

I started at Umicore in a support role. I was part of the team that was implementing a PPM tool (Project Portfolio Management) for one specific business unit. I started by taking on small tasks, such as writing the meeting minutes for one meeting and sending out the invitations for the next one. That’s how I started to get more involved in the project.

Now, 9 months later, I’ve taken all those learnings with me in my second year, this time as Project Lead. I will lead the implementation (supported of course by Umicore) of the same tool for another business unit, making small adaptations, introducing the tool to over 300 people. For me, this is a big project with a steep learning curve, where Exellys plays an important role in providing training, coaching and insights.

The coaching sessions

Exellys really pushes you forward, not only by challenging you but also by challenging where you see yourself in a set amount of time. What are your objectives and how can you achieve those goals. This is the role of your coach.

What’s great about the Exellys coaching program, is that they treat everybody as an individual, not as a number. For example, my coach Hans (Vernimme) knows that he doesn’t need to call me every week to check in on me, but I can imagine for other people, that might be completely different. Everyone at Exellys gets the support and the coaching they need, tailored to their own individual situation and personality.

I personally don’t feel the need to be in touch with my coach that often as the 3-monthly meetings work fine for me and I get a lot of value out of them. Still, I know I can call him anytime for anything and he will be there to support me.

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Exellys’ advantages

For me, the biggest advantage of working at Exellys, is that you can experiment. You can try to be a better version of yourself. You have the opportunity to work at your client and try out new things.

During your time at Exellys, you have a safe environment to grow. Knowing that you have some kind of ‘safety net’ makes it easier to openly talk about any uncertainties or challenges. For me, that’s the biggest reason why I love being an Exellyst.

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We match ambitious companies with the finest tech talent. Are you ready to drive the innovations of tomorrow? Ready to make an impact and become a future-fit digital leader?

Whether you are a graduate or (young) professional, Exellys will unlock your full potential by guiding you to a challenging work environment that perfectly matches your personality, expectations and ambitions

On top of that, you are enrolled in one of our very own training and coaching programs (based on your personal and professional ambition and experience). This means that, while working as an Exellys consultant, we are helping you to bridge your ambition to excellence.

Through intensive training and coaching, you’ll gain the essential skills, competencies and knowledge necessary to become the highly effective professional you aim to be.

Become an Exellyst and get in touch with us today!

Written by Hans Vernimme Talent Development Manager