Talent Community Lead Evy De Preter has a taste for life, love, and good food
- Posted on May 7, 2019
- Estimated reading time 8 minutes
When Evy De Preter joined Avanade back in 2007, she might not have had a well-defined plan of action in mind, but one thing was clear from the get-go: career-wise, she was not going to be pinned down on a single thing. When Evy is not busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen, this inquisitive talent community lead is passionate about spreading the word on IT, to young women especially: “There’s still a huge misconception about the world of IT, and I want to help set the record straight.”
The way I paved my academic path reflects how I live my life in general. I am interested in so many things some might even say too many and I don’t want to choose: I want it all! About twenty years ago, after secondary school (during which I experimented with both a science and economics focus), I decided to study Business Engineering. In my final years I opted to specialize in technology – so, in a way, I went back to science. I like to explore all options, and therefore I do not really like to make plans: a strict schedule often means you will miss out on the things you did not plan for. That is possibly the one constant in my life: I never know what I will be doing in about five years’ time.
After graduation, I went into consulting. For the next seven years, I worked at Sirris, as a business consultant in strategy and operational efficiency. Then I met my husband, fell in love, and decided to move to the other side of Belgium. I still enjoyed my job at Sirris – the flexibility was great, for instance – but the commute just was not feasible anymore, so I decided to move on to something else professionally. The things you do for love and a man from West Flanders!
IT: the right job for me?
When I started looking for new opportunities and saw a vacancy at Avanade, my initial reaction to the job description was not entirely positive. I assumed there would be too much IT, and I did not think that would be my cup of tea. Fortunately, I convinced myself to have a stab at the interview: After all, I needed to practice my interviewing skills if I wanted to get ahead in the business world. However, during the interview process I liked what I learned about the company, and I realized I wanted to take a chance on the ‘IT business’. Eleven years after starting at Avanade, I still love it.
‘During the Avanade interview process I realized I wanted to take a chance on the ‘IT business’. Eleven years down the line, I still love it’
For the past two years, I’ve taken on a leadership role. I am the Talent Community (TC) Lead for the Belgian Talent Community ERP Projects, the group within Avanade that focuses on ERP delivery. Within the TC we have two separate teams, who each focus on a different service, but in reality, collaborate on a daily basis. I am responsible for a team of about 30 colleagues who implement Dynamics (AX or 365fO) projects. I am also a project manager, involved with team management, devising training plans, laying out strategies and improving delivery methodology.
Supply and demand
An important part of my job is matching the right consultant with the right project, considering not only my team members’ skills, experience level and role, but also their personal interests. After all, they do the job – and I am convinced that if they enjoy that job, it will show in the results.
Avanade is an international company, which is definitely one of our key advantages compared to other Microsoft partners in Belgium. Because of our international presence, we aim for international customers with a decision center in this country, but I personally do not really travel around that often. For me, what makes working at Avanade so interesting is the opportunity to provide the right mix of people for a specific project and to make sure every team members gets a chance to grow within that project and their own career. Next to that, what I love most about my job is the variety in scope, customers, delivery approach, delivery team and product. It never gets boring!
In my experience, people often have a wrong first impression about the company and what we do. In fact, there is still a huge misconception about the world of IT in general, and I want to help set the record straight. We deal with people first and foremost. Even though more and more women will study IT, when it comes jobs requiring highly technical skills, women are still a tiny minority. There are only three women on my team, so I think that says a lot about the amount of work we still need to do. I feel it is part of my job to get rid of these misconceptions about our line of work: the business side, but also the human aspect, of our sector is sorely underestimated.
One of the main objectives for the management team at Avanade is making sure we cultivate a positive and collaborative work environment. I am convinced that a project cannot be completed successfully unless there is teamwork. A strong team not only needs various skill sets and roles, but also a willingness to collaborate. We cannot do it on our own!
‘Teamwork is definitely the secret of our success’
Since I’ve been here, Avanade has grown in size but has maintained the same local values of respect and camaraderie and the same go-getting spirit. On a personal level, I have also changed a lot over the years. I think my job as a consultant played a role in my evolution. I came from a sheltered background, so I used to be rather shy. When I started working, everything seemed quite scary, but of course I could never show the client how insecure I was feeling. Dealing with customers and colleagues was a steep learning curve, but it forced me to come out my shell.
Show them your worth
One of the most important lessons I learned along the way was that you are not given responsibility, you must take it. When you see a situation unfold, you should be able to identify various opportunities, and discuss these with your management and/or team. Communication, be it with customers, colleagues, or management, and being open-minded is key; you can pick up ideas from everyone around you. Only by doing so, will people be able to witness your abilities. In sum, if you are interested in moving up in your career, the best advice I can give is: open your eyes, identify how you can contribute and take initiative. Do not sit back and wait! I try to lead by example, and hope others will follow.
‘One of the most important lessons I learned along the way was that you are not given responsibility, you have to take it’
My husband and I had two children within a year and a half’s time. When it was time for me to go back to work after having given birth to the second, we decided we both really loved our jobs, and both would continue working full-time. Of course, nothing is more important than your children are, but as long as we can combine our professional lives with our personal lives, we want to maintain both. My children have been used to this way of life from the very beginning, and they seem to enjoy it. So far, thanks to a lot of help, we are managing fine, and I am quite proud of that. Especially seeing that in the meantime, my Avanade team and I completed several projects successfully, and my husband and I helped with the construction of our new home. Multitasking is a skill that comes in handy at work as well as at home!
‘I maintain a balance between family life and my job by working hard on weekdays and switching off completely during the weekend’
Outside of work, I’m passionate about my family. I try to maintain a work/life balance by working hard on weekdays and switching off completely during weekends. I am convinced that not switching off is not sustainable or healthy in the long run. I also love the good life, good food and good wine–I am a bit of a bon vivant. I love both going out to restaurants and cooking at home. In a restaurant, you can relax, catch up and try new things. However, I also truly enjoy cooking myself: I can spend an entire day preparing a single meal for my family and friends. The whole process – from shopping for ingredients, to cooking and serving dinner – brings me so much joy.
Compromise over competition
Even though others might disagree, I consider myself to be a patient person. If I am working on a project and deadlines need to be met, I may seem a little pushier, but I am definitely reasonable when it comes to agreeing on timing. I will always check with my team members what they think is feasible and try and go with those deadlines.
I believe one should behave respectfully to everyone; every person contributes in some way and should be recognized for their level of expertise and knowledge. I try to not only apply this at work, but also in my daily life; it helps me to mix with various people and blend in well in different groups.
Name: Evy De Preter
Studies: Business engineering—option technology
Started working at Avanade: July 2007
Relationship: Married with two children
Children: A daughter (8) and a son (6.5)
Loves: Peace and quiet
Favorite food: French fries
Expert in (at university): Connecting with people, and connecting people with one another
Expert in (at work): Project delivery
Expert in (outside of work): Multitasking
On my nightstand: My mobile phone
On my iPod: ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
What gets me going in the morning: Everything I have scheduled for that day
Would like to sit next to on a plane: My husband, so we finally have some time to talk
Life-changing event(s): Marrying a West Flemish man
Best lesson life has taught me so far: Always try to keep things balanced and be patient
What I learned last week: That I can organize a great birthday party by myself for my eight-year-old daughter. We had 12 enthusiastic kids at home. Everything went swimmingly, and they enjoyed it immensely.
Most beautiful place on Earth: The Grand Canyon in the USA
Hobbies/passions: Wining and dining
What nobody knows about me: I have a motorcycle driving license, but don’t own a bike anymore
Life motto: Everyone deserves basic respect