Why I work where I work

Tags: nelenschuurmans, personal, python

FastCompany’s Jeff Chu recently visited Nelen & Schuurmans (where I work) for an article about Dutch water management. The article is now online: a nice one.

As scientists predict a wetter, stormier future for much of the planet, the Dutch have become a nationwide consulting company, fanning across the world to talk about water.

I’m reasonably well-known as a Python developer (and zope/plone/django). So what am I doing here in a water company? Nelen & Schuurmans is one of those water consultancy companies mentioned in the article. The reason for my presence is also right there in the article:

“The Netherlands is very conservative. We think we can solve everything with a bit of sand,” says Jan-Maarten Verbree, who heads IT at Nelen & Schuurmans, the water-focused consultancy behind 3Di. “But we say that with a bit of IT, you can increase safety even more.”

IT and consultancy go hand-in-hand for us. Which gives nice results as the company is really smart: almost everyone has a university degree (with a couple of PhDs thrown in). Trying novel approaches. Combining ideas. Combining fields of work. Combining fields of experience.

Personally, I’ve got this combination right here inside myself. I’m a Python developer. And by education I’m a civil engineer. Two side notes:

  • I did do every IT-related course inside the study that I could. And my graduation subject and PhD was a combination of IT and civil engineering.

  • The most directly applicable course related to my current work would be the standard second year water hydraulics course. Which was the absolutely dead last course I did, just a few weeks before graduating :-)

So by education and experience (and importantly: interest!) I fit right in. There’s a lot of freedom that I also enjoy a lot. And we’re profitable, which is quite a feat in the current marketplace (and quite good for not worrying). A funny quote in the article points at one of the reasons for the profitability: we don’t spend a lot of money on unnecessarily decorative offices.

In the Nelen & Schuurmans lab, a Spartan collection of desks located in a house in the medieval heart of Utrecht, …

We are however dead smack right in the center of Utrecht, which is a lovely place to have an office!

Note: as I’m spending quite some time muttering right now (over a technical decision), truthfulness forces me to say that not everything is roses and sunshine. But that’s something for a separate entry (probably on how I try to deal with it, I do have to re-gain my positive energy).

Anyway, I’ve got nice work. So let me finish with a video I made for demo purposes. I’d also like to point at another quick video, a more 3d-like visualization. Nice!

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About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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