One of Namahn's earliest members, Bart joined the company as a junior designer in August 1996 after completing a degree in Physics. When he isn't immersed in techie publications or biographies of great thinkers (no fiction please, he's serious) he enjoys parasurfing, (low-budget) movies, biking, gardening-and chasing after his two young sons.
How has the type of work you've done at Namahn changed over time?
In my early days at Namahn, I specialised in implementation of websites. But as the company matured and refined its practices, I moved to requirements engineering and to project management, which is what I mainly do now.
What do you like about your work?
I like the problem-solving aspect and the endless variety offered by project management. I studied physics at university because I enjoyed looking for solutions to problems, analysing and structuring information, and creating order out of chaos. My education trained me to look for causes and effects. This has been helpful in my work at Namahn because I've been able to develop a detached perspective.
As well as being the client's first point of contact, I also like the constant change you get with project management. You're always being challenged, working with different companies, and getting to see the issues and problems that they face.
What keeps you at Namahn?
What I appreciate most about Namahn is that honesty and quality are part of our company culture — honesty towards clients and one another. You don't have to watch your back! My work gives me the chance to be at the forefront of technology, with a lot of freedom to explore it. Namahn's size allows me to get in and really understand how everything about it works.
What changes have you seen occurring in the client landscape over the last few years?Client requirements for quality have increased enormously. Also, there are more kinds of products that have to be designed by experts. Those products that need upgrading are more complex. I would say too that the user interface has assumed greater importance in the market.
You mentioned you focus on requirements engineering. Why is that discipline important at Namahn?
User interfaces are a big factor in making products competitive. It's not just about how the interface looks and behaves; it's about the functionality it offers. We often find a big difference between what a marketing department thinks is important and what the user actually thinks. Many people will say, for example, that you need to increase functionality to be more competitive when, in fact, there's mostly a need to cut down in that area. Because the user interface is highly visible everyone can discuss it, and often a company will use the wrong decision-makers in making their choices. This is where Namahn comes in. We can prove that we can add value. It's why so many clients come back to us to design the subsequent generations of their products.
When client demands and rambunctious young sons aren't consuming your time, what do you do with those leftover hours?
Right now I'm slowly working toward a Master's in Management and Economics at Ghent's Open University. I wanted an advanced degree that was industry-based and directly applicable to work but one that I could pursue with some flexibility.
I also like to read biographies of famous people, particularly 19th and 20th century thinkers like Darwin, Wittgenstein — and more recently — the physician Oliver Sacks. I envy their lives! They all seemed to achieve so much in so little time. One of the ways I get a feeling of expanding time is by doing something creative. For example, I started printing my own photographs using the old-fashioned development process — but then Oliver Sacks beat me there too — I found out he made his own photography paper!