Building on a career as an IT architect

For many, becoming an architect is a childhood dream. Also a dream cherished by Alexander Dejonghe and Jonas Vercruysse from a young age. We’re talking about IT architect, translating the needs of customers into IT solutions from the drawing board to reality. A new website for online shopping, for example. The two architects explain how they each worked towards this multifaceted job.

Alexander (on the left): “IT architecture is important in a large company with a diverse IT landscape such as Colruyt Group. We don’t want a myriad of different technologies. Everything we build needs to be easy to maintain afterwards.

You are both IT architects. How did you get into this line of work?

Alexander:I started as an implementation consultant in the banking sector; then I worked as an analyst developer for an SME and after that I spent two years at UGent doing research into intelligent data processing. This wide range of experience has given me a solid base of technical knowledge. However, I’m not really a techie; doing programming all day is not my thing. I want to know who the end user of a certain application is, what their requirements are and what integrations with other platforms are needed. That’s why I started looking for a job as a solution architect and that’s how I ended up at Colruyt Group.

Jonas:At the time, my teachers advised me to study medicine because, as a doctor, you have a lot of contact with people. If only they knew, I work with people just as much in IT! After training as an engineer, I started out doing more technical jobs — just like Alexander — to build up my experience. When I applied for the position of IT architect at Colruyt Group. It was quite a high aim because I didn’t have any experience as an architect. That’s why I first started as a system engineer in the video team. In order to further broaden my knowledge, I worked in the application infrastructure team for a year and then I started out as an IT architect.

Jonas: “When you graduate as a building architect, you can start work immediately, without having to start as an electrician or bricklayer. However, an IT architect is expected to first gain practical technical knowledge.

What was your first impression of Colruyt Group? Was there a match?

Jonas:I knew the company because I’d had a holiday job there as a store employee and I’d visited Colruyt Group a few times when I was working as an IBM supplier. I fit in quickly; I can really identify with the values and the company culture. There’s a lot of trust from customers, colleagues and management. I was supported every step of the way to becoming an IT architect. I learned a lot from training courses — such as ‘connecting communication’ and ‘ArchiMate’ — and colleagues in particular supported me. I felt that I was given the time to grow, even though I couldn’t wait to get started as an architect. (laughs)

Alexander:As it happens, I worked for Colruyt as a student, at a Colruyt store in Torhout and I also did my internship at Colruyt Group’s IT department during my studies. They were all very positive experiences. My first assignments as a junior IT architect was for Colruyt Group’s internal communications agency. I felt that I needed more support and after discussing this, I made the switch to the Collect&Go team, the online shopping service. That’s where I got a lot of on-the-job training from colleagues who were architects. I really recognise the values that Jonas is talking about. It’s hard to put it into concrete terms; you just feel it when you’ve been here for a while. There is room to grow and there’s respect for each other.

Is the job of IT architect everything you expected it to be?

Alexander:Absolutely. For Collect&Go alone, there are several projects, each of which involves many different processes. Ordering groceries online via the website, picking the orders in the stores and distribution centres, collecting and making payment. I’m interested in how all of this is connected and technically integrated with the central systems where customer data, prices, promotions and the product range are managed. Add to that the non-functional requirements such as security, performance and modifiability and you can see why I have a lot of variety in my job, and challenges! Depending on who you work with, you also communicate differently. Business architects, application managers, analysts or software engineers, they all need different information.

Jonas:Working as an IT architect in such a large company gives me energy. I can contribute to innovative projects, such as the trial for home deliveries. As part of that project, I’ve helped to build a mobile delivery and payment system. My efforts have a concrete impact, both on the daily work of the deliverers and on the customers, who receive excellent customer service. Perhaps I’ll start a completely different project tomorrow. For OKay or Eoly, or our export department. In the corridors here at Colruyt Group, we don’t just talk about IT, but also about electric charging stations, windmills, etc. It’s very inspiring! There’s certainly no shortage of IT projects and I learn more every day. There are 600 different technologies that I can use as building blocks; as an architect, that will keep me busy here for a while.

Read more about the IT department of Colruyt Group.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Colruyt Group

Colruyt Group

Together, we create sustainable added value through value-driven craftsmanship in retail.