Day One

It was a sunny day in Hilversum, a nice change of pace from the usual cloudy weather in the Netherlands. Our first day as Xccelerators was about to begin. We made our way from the train stop through a beautiful, wooded park to Xebia’s headquarters, the parent company of Xccelerated. Our talent manager, Mahlia Joenoes, immediately introduced us to each other and our colleagues through some team-building and sharing exercises. She also set some ground rules for communication within the class. Xccelerated’s data engineering lead, Emanuel Lal, suggested a proper development setup that would also prove useful throughout the training.

Immediately we could see that things ran a bit differently here, especially when the Xebia Group founder and former CEO, Daan Teunissen, made a guest appearance. He spoke openly about his mindset, the structure, and culture of the organization and was quite eager to hear our questions and give meaningful responses.

Data Engineer Boot Camp

The Xccelerated boot camp started with an intense course on designing programs suitable for big data applications. The course naturally included distributed computation and storage as well as network and messaging between remote processes.

The instructors taught representative technologies, including Apache Spark, Apache Hadoop, and Apache Kafka. However, the focus was on understanding the core concepts that will enable us to leverage a wide variety of existing solutions.

Many of our assignments focused on modern coding practice, both on CI/CD and functional programming. Functional programming is particularly well-suited to big data applications and distributed systems. This goes double for concurrent processes over distributed memory, which explains the trend of many companies embracing this practice.

However, Xccelerated does not want its fledgling professionals to only work on their technical skills. They are very aware that a data engineer needs to collaborate within and across teams for any application. To this end, we learned more about our personal communication style, so we could also work on developing our “soft skills.”

Data Engineer DISC Profiles

All the Xccelerators were assessed on their communication style using the DISC personality analysis. The instructors then described the different styles, using examples. Then, under the safe guidance of Mahlia, we each had an opportunity to express ourselves and see how we interacted. This exercise allowed everyone to understand each other’s intention, style, and mindset, which improved communication and relationships within the group overall.

Next, we took an in-depth look into our virtues and vices, so-called “pitfalls” within the DISC framework. We were then challenged to modify our behavior, with the goal to eventually integrate the new information into our natural style of communication. It was a powerful opportunity to learn and grow.

Xccelerated, an Organization Striving for Authenticity

Everyone within the Xebia Group, including the Xccelerated staff, work at a fast pace. But the environment is not hectic or full of pressure. Instead, everyone is energetic and eager to help. There’s even a hospitality service team to ensure everyone is comfortable and well-fed! Also, both the Hilversum and Amsterdam offices have cool spaces with a bar, where you can hang out and relax after the intense training and share thoughts.

The typical flatness experienced in the Netherlands represented in the lack of hierarchy. That is, everyone seems equal—even the CEOs and senior members are ready to listen and offer support. It’s a rare opportunity to develop professionally within such a dynamic culture and workspace. We look forward to growing here before we move to the next step in our careers.