Name: Kristof Van Cauwenbergh
Role: PHP developer
Studied: Bachelor’s and master’s in Computer Sciences
Something he’ll never forget: the 1997 air show in Ostend. An aircraft crashed 200 metres from where he was standing.
Kristof Van Cauwenbergh has been a PHP developer for two years at ClearFacts (a subsidiary of Isabel Group), which develops cutting-edge software for accountants. PHP is a programming language, and Kristof can write it with his eyes closed – well, almost! Kristof has 12 years of experience, the last two of which as a freelancer. He’s the life and soul of the party when he’s with friends, but quietens down a bit in the office. Above all, though, he loves what he does.
You, yourself and you
If we took your best friends aside for a moment to talk about you, what would they say?
Kristof: “I think they’d describe me as helpful, always cheerful and someone who gets things going.”
Would they be right?
Kristof: “Yes, although I suspect my colleagues would raise their eyebrows at that: I’m a bit more restrained in the office than I am in my private life [laughs].”
What characteristics would they say really describe you to a tee, then?
Kristof: “I like figuring things out, and I’m quite a perfectionist about that. It gives me a lot of energy, and I set the bar high – too high, sometimes, and then doubt starts to creep in. At that point, a few words of reassurance really help. No, that’s not a hint [laughs]. Different members of our team often work together on one thing – it’s called pair programming – and I really like it. I’m a real team player in that respect.”
If you had to choose
Do you like to spend your holidays in the lap of luxury, or are you more the type to jump into a raging river without a second thought?
Kristof: “You can keep your river, thanks, but I love grabbing my backpack and going off exploring. I’ve trekked through Poland, the Czech Republic, Russia, Finland… just heading out into the great unknown without a plan, unprepared, to see what the day has in store. Since my daughter was born, I’ve had to tone all that down a bit [laughs].”
What makes you happier, a picnic in the park or a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant?
Kristof: “Maybe you wouldn’t expect this after hearing how I like to spend my holidays, but I’d opt for the culinary delights of a fancy restaurant. With all the trimmings, preferably!”
Since the craziness of Covid, our living rooms have become the backdrop to the working day. Some people love it, but others brave the traffic jams every day to get to work. What about you?
Kristof: “I work four days out of five from home, and that’s my choice. Don’t get me wrong, I like going to the office to see my colleagues, but I waste so much time behind the wheel: even without congestion I’m on the road for at least an hour in each direction. Luckily, it’s perfectly possible to work together remotely. My productivity here is on point.”
Do you prefer doing your own thing all the time, or are you eager for regular follow-up from your manager?
Kristof: “As I said before, I doubt my own abilities sometimes, so a one-to-one conversation helps to put things into perspective. That happens every three to six months at ClearFacts anyway, and I make use of the opportunity to get things off my chest or talk about what’s on my mind.”
Isabel Group takes its values – guts, teamwork, innovation and simplicity – very seriously. What do those values mean to you?
Kristof: “When you’re the new guy in the office, you have to learn the ropes. People are sometimes – unconsciously – stuck in a bit of a rut, and I believe it shows guts if you dare to come up with a new idea. This is not to force your own opinion on others, but because in the end it may prove to be an efficient step forward for everyone. Yes, I dared [laughs]!”
There’s a friendly atmosphere among us, and a great vibe automatically stimulates teamwork. If you enjoy what you do, you’ll carry on thinking about your work after hours as well. The world of development is so fascinating; I can genuinely apply the interesting input I gain from outside ClearFacts to my job. If that makes an application work better, I’d say that was innovation. And to build on that, you need your application to be user-friendly. Customers aren’t supposed to have to call three helplines before they can even start using it. It’s all about simplicity: it’s as simple as that [laughs]”