Integration Hero Erwin Willemsen


Enable U consists of individual heroes. Some work with customers, others send invoices. Some are our first contact when we get a call and others work in the background to keep systems running or make new connections.

But the Enable U machine works so efficiently because of our many integration heroes. This series of integration heroes is intended to honor those individuals.

Today an Enabler who deserves to be put in the spotlight; Erwin Willemsen. Despite his busy schedule, Erwin has taken plenty of time to explain to me where he comes from, how he ended up at Enable U and what he finds important.

Erwin, let’s get straight to the point. What did you actually do after primary school?

High school? Hahahaha! Ok, I went to the Louise in Leiden (called different now I believe). I was a real Beta student and after high school I went to study Nutrition and Dietetics. I am a graduate dietitian!!

But how on earth did you end up in the world of IT?

After my studies I stuck around at my internship in Rotterdam. After 4 years I still didn’t have a full-time contract and I still needed a Saturday job to make ends meet. I then found a job as a consultant at a hygiene and consultancy firm. During that time I learned how to lead projects and I was eventually promoted to team lead. It was a small company and I worked there for 6 years. In these years, I gained more and more knowledge about healthcare processes and because of that, an interesting candidate for Pink-Roccade Healthcare. That was still called Getronics at the time and we were also a part of KPN and Cap Gemini because nobody seemed to understand how to make money with this part of the business. At Pink Roccade I actually learned the real principles of IT. I have not only learned to deal with IT people, I have become one myself!

Do you consider yourself a “real IT professional”?

Yes, at the moment for sure! Within IT I have found that I operate best when I am right in between functional design and technology. At my former job, the IT people often had no idea what was happening in the hospital but I was always able to make that translation in both directions. That is why I was already connecting hospital and patient information systems with, for example, the financial systems. Since I actually lacked the basic technical knowledge, I had to study very hard. When I learn something new, I always tell myself that I have to know it well enough to be able to explain it to my mother. Thanks to my studies I know that I can explain complex matters. Try explaining to a dock worker what high cholesterol does to your body!

And do these two strong qualities of yours come in handy at Enable U?

Daily! I spend the entire day making sure that people with the right knowledge are connected to each other, spreading knowledge and finding out who has what knowledge. This means I have to understand it myself and I have to ask the right questions.

What exactly is your current position?

I am Teamlead at Solutions & Operations with two teams who report to me: the Solutions Team and the Managed Integrations Team. That’s a total of about 12 people, including an intern.

When I ask if 12 people is quite enough, Erwin has a good laugh.

Fortunately, most can work very independently because they are experts in their field, such as Martijn with Boomi or Marc with Adeptia. And many others of course that I am just leaving out for times sake! It is my job to ensure that the processes are there and that everyone understands why those processes exist. In addition, of course, I try to ensure the right workload, that people do not get overworked, that they get help if they need it, etc. But for the amount of work that is there, of course, we do not have enough people, that is clear. A lot of functional questions come up with my experts and that is not an efficient use of their time. Ideally, I would like to have two people added to my team.

How do you keep your personal battery healthy and full?

My personal battery? Well, by pulling the plug in time, and by accepting that the pile of work will occasionally falls over. I have a very understandable manager in Jascha Gregorowitsch, who supports me in this and I have a strong home front. My girlfriend and I like to do fun things together and I love to dive. If possible every week!

Erwin, how long have you been working at Enable U and what trends do you see?

I have been working at Enable U for 4.5 years now and the trends I see are mainly the growth of Open Source and the ever faster increasing use of RestAPIs. Things like Common Ground, NLX and HaalCentraal are always in the news, but there is still a lot of uncertainty among our customers. The adoption of cloud and the increasing complexity of managing things like Docker and Kubernetes is also something that many customers struggle with. Actually funny; Agile is also increasingly accepted as a standard, but many customers do not really understand it yet. We often see a very strictly managed project that the client then wants to have implemented according to the Agile methodology. And you can’t. It’s one or the other!

Finally: If I give you 1000 euros and you can spend it on three things, what would you choose?

(After much thought…) Pffff. That’s a tough question. I think I would spend it on something that would benefit the team. Team building. Because that is very important in these busy times, that the team continues to function well with the right team spirit.

Apart from an animated conversation about diving in caves (…) the quality of the water in various places in the Netherlands and a monthly snooker outing with a school friend, hackathons & knowledge sharing sessions, I actually found the latter a nice conclusion. It immediately indicates that Erwin puts the teams interest first and that says everything about the type of person and manager he is.