Systems Manager and Webmaster… Pieter got involved with the IT world at the Free University of Brussels where, between touring with his band and recording sessions, he mastered database and graphic design. During that time, Pieter met Namahn founder Joannes Vandermeulen, who was managing one of the bands he played in… Pieter joined Namahn in the early days of the company.
Has your job in Namahn evolved over the years?
Yes and no: ‘holding the fort’ always was and remains my specialty, in other words, I’m the first stop for my colleagues when it comes to troubleshooting. But the technologies change so rapidly, and my colleagues are very curious people! They experiment with new software all the time and when they encounter a problem, they come to me. I’m their safety net. This requires a lot of on-the-job training for me, but I love the challenge. My job is all about the dealing with the unexpected, which keeps it very much alive for me.
How do you keep track of all this software?
These days, the lifespan of an application is so short that by the time I’ve figured it out it’s often obsolete or upgraded. And I think this will continue to get faster and faster. But experimentation is an essential ingredient of creativity and at Namahn; this is also reflected in our open attitude to computers. We’re all extremely careful and responsible adults, and there are no restrictions on how individuals use their computers. At Namahn, it’s the results that matter.
Is the Namahn culture the same as when you joined?
It has retained the same vibe: Namahn is a company on a human scale, people come and go, and clients change, but nevertheless the team remains just as strong. We don’t need team-building weekends: we just go away together and enjoy ourselves! There’s a minimal amount of red tape, decisions don’t get thrown at us and I have a degree of autonomy that I wouldn’t find at another company in an equivalent position. Apart from anything else, I like the fact that it’s frequently impossible for me to have a routine here.
As Namahn Webmaster, what trends do you see emerging on the Internet?
I think the Internet is continuing to evolve in a democratic way. It’s being put to innovative uses, with alternative browsers that are faster and safer, and we’re seeing it become a vehicle for ordinary people to be heard in major news stories. But of course, this still very much depends on where you live in the world. On a personal note, I’ve become a fan of CouchSurfing. So far, I’ve visited Moscow and I’ve also welcomed fellow surfers at my home. It’s a totally new way to meet people, enter a social scene and learn about cultural subtleties from the inside. All thanks to the Internet.
Do you still play music?
Music remains my first love. I regularly play electric guitar and bass at concerts and as a veteran of sorts, I know how to “wing it”. In other words, I’m able to interact creatively with other musicians without any preparation. In contrast, computers require me to be highly structured and organised in my thinking, but there are times when it also helps to be undisciplined, stepping into the unknown and trying things out to see if they work. These complementary abilities help me to switch between my different roles.