A day in the life of Isabel van Dooren, Engineering Manager

02.21.2022 | By Mark Speyers

I live in Boortmeerbeek, a small town in Belgium, which is about half an hour drive from Brussels. Even before the pandemic I was working mainly from home, because the majority of people I work with are based in different locations, with most of them in Poznań, Poland and in Dublin, Ireland.

In general, I like not having to commute – it’s such a time saver. Since the pandemic we converted a second room at home into another office space – so my husband now has one as well. I log on as soon as he takes the kids to school, which is around 8.30am every day.

My morning typically begins with a quick trawl through my emails and a review of my current to-do list. Looking at my agenda for the day, I try to decide what I want to achieve that day – although that’s always subject to change as other priorities often come up during the day.

I am an engineering manager and I look after a team of engineers and architects. Most of them work on Sensa-NetReveal, which is our single platform for anti-money laundering, compliance and fraud prevention solutions. We deliver the Sensa-NetReveal solutions in an integrated way, so Financial Institutions can use them across their compliance and fraud departments. Isabel van Dooren, Engineering Manager

I really enjoy coaching and challenging my colleagues and at the same time I learn a lot from them. This helps me keep on top of everything – so it’s a win-win. I love to stay close to what they are all doing, and I challenge myself to help out whenever I can. I also see it as my job to eliminate any possible overheads for them, so they can focus on their core work, which is designing, delivering and building our product.

Our team is mainly responsible for the Compliance side of Sensa-NetReveal, but we’re also engaged in working on a new cloud native product, which will be launched later this year and which will be oriented initially towards a different segment in the market.

I love this sort of work. It’s highly technical but it offers a broad benefit – making a huge difference across society. One thing I am personally very passionate about is delivering the solutions we build as products, to be used around the world, which is what we are doing and have been doing for well over a decade now.

When designing and building a product there are so many aspects and considerations you need to think about. The product needs to be flexible and generic to cover a broad range of customers and business requirements. It needs to deal with the highest data volumes, it needs to run on multiple hardware and software stacks and in many different combinations and flavours. We need to take into account past and future version upgrades, while constantly updating and evolving the underlying technologies.

There are so many things to think about; it’s a constant evaluation of multiple trade-offs. This all requires very clever architects and engineers, who can translate complex requirements in design patterns, break these down into bite-size agile delivery pieces while guaranteeing highest quality at all times. The latter means maximising test coverage across all types of testing. And of course, automation in all these steps is key.

As the day progresses I always try and make sure I take a break at lunchtime. At the start of my career I used to be really bad at this, often working very long hours. But, over time, I’ve learned how to avoid this and I’m actually very happy with the work-life balance I’ve established now.

I now even try and go for a lunchtime run two to three times a week – they are blocked out in my diary. Most weeks I don’t manage all three but it’s important for me to go at least once. I really see the benefit of this exercise – both mentally and physically – and I feel far more alert and more productive as a result. Of course, working from home makes this much easier – no need to bring your trainers and running kit into the office.

I work closely with other parts of the business and in the afternoon our North America based colleagues come online, while Australian and Malaysian colleagues are typically offline. This is part and parcel of working for an international company – we have a community of colleagues based around the world. This works out really well, some forums and meetings we organize twice and we all do our best to be flexible to accommodate the different regional working hours.

Home life starts to intrude as the day wears on. It’s normally me who does the afternoon school run though often this isn’t until about 5.30pm as my kids prefer to stay late at school to finish their homework and hang out with their friends. And in case I do need to pick them up earlier or I still need to finish off some items, they are luckily old enough now not to need constant supervision when at home – so I can keep working relatively easily.

I’ve been in this role for a number of years but it continues to be such an interesting challenge. It’s not just about going to a client, delivering something and then that’s it. It’s really a long term engagement and an interesting journey and I feel I keep learning every day.

The challenges we have constantly change and this keeps me on my toes and makes me get up in the morning. I’ve always been determined to ensure that our work doesn’t just benefit one single organisation but instead is available for as many as possible – and that’s exactly what Sensa-NetReveal does.

Continuing our series spotlighting the roles and lives of our employees, Isabel van Dooren, Engineering Manager for our Sensa-NetReveal® Compliance solutions, tells us about her working day and explains why she is so passionate about delivering productized solutions

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