23 Mar 2024

Life at Inimco

A day in the life of an Inimco domain architect

At 33, Nicolas Bombeke is convinced that being a domain architect at Inimco is his dream job. “I really like what I am doing. Maybe I would have as much fun in a totally different job. But I am so happy that I can continue to learn and work together with a bunch of great people.” We discussed with Nicolas what makes working at Inimco such a good experience.

What was your ambition when you were a 16-year-old? Did you already dream of becoming a domain architect at that time?

Nicolas: Actually my thoughts then were that I would become an accountant. I studied Economics/Modern Languages in secondary school and thought my career path would lie there. But when I had to make a choice in higher education, I opted for a Bachelor in Applied Informatics at Karel De Grote in Antwerp. My interest in IT had partly come because I was an avid gamer, but also because my father had to use a PC for a side job and could use some help, being a Boomer himself.

What attracted you to make a career in IT?

Nicolas: I like being challenged and learn new things. Not having had a lot of mathematics in Economics/Modern Languages was a bit of a challenge too. I would  hate to be in a job where you don’t learn anything new and just do the same thing every day. IT is an industry where you encounter something new every day. Also, I find it’s a very social profession, where you have to interact with other people constantly.

A social profession? Does that mean the old joke no longer applies, that you can recognize an extroverted IT professional by the fact that he looks at your shoes when he talks to you, rather than at his own shoes like an introverted IT professional does?

Nicolas: Haha! That joke really does not apply any more. We are not the lonely people that sit in a basement all day long, secluded from the world. Quite the opposite: it’s a job in which you learn from other people, because you discuss solutions with them and solve issues together. In my entire career, I have never encountered people that shut themselves off from the world. You need to talk to customers to understand their challenges and you need to discuss solutions with your colleagues to solve these customer issues together.


What does an architect do?

So, you’re a domain architect at Inimco. How would you explain your job to someone who has no IT knowledge?

Nicolas: I always compare it to doing a big jigsaw puzzle. You have a certain goal and different tools or building blocks. An architect will put the pieces of the puzzle in the right order to get to a solution as soon as possible. For any business challenge, we will find out how to solve that technically. We look at both functional and non-functional requirements. It has to be a working solution that performs well and is secure. We always work in a team, collaborating with the project manager, solution architects, with developers, testers… I’m part of the Facts core team, so we develop the platform that all customers use. When customers request new features, we discuss this and set priorities. The user stories are written out and then we start developing.


What qualities do you need to be a good architect?

Nicolas? You always need to see the bigger picture. That sounds easier than it is in practice. Every feature needs to fit in the larger environment. You also have to keep an open mind: other people can come up with a different view on things. Even if you are very experienced, you need to accept that you don’t have the only truth. You have to make abstraction of your own opinion and not take counterarguments too personal.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Nicolas: As I also write code myself, I am part of the 3-week sprint cadence, so that defines how my days are spent. I can choose what I do and when, but I need to make sure we reach the sprint goal. Some days I focus on developing, other days are spent discussing solutions with the team or answering questions from colleagues. No two days are the same. 

What tools do you use for your job?

Nicolas: I use different tools for different tasks. For development it’s mainly Visual Studio, but also SQL Server Manager Studio to look at databases and, of course, Confluence and DevOps for tasks and user stories, Draw.io when I need to make diagrams. Those are the tools that I use on a daily basis and that I have been using since Day 1 in my career.


Working at Inimco

What attracted you to Inimco?

Nicolas: For one of my previous employers, I worked on a joint project with people from Inimco, Dries for instance. That had already given me a positive impression about Inimco. Also, I had been colleagues with Cedric and Jelle in a previous company. All the contacts I already had, together with the interviews convinced me that Inimco is a great place to work. It’s also a bonus that I live just a 15-minute drive away. For previous jobs I spent too much time in the car. I spend that extra time, these days, taking care of my children.

What also attracted me to Inimco is the product development part – I saw that as an interesting challenge. Previously I was always engaged in implementing someone else’s software, now I am at the source. When you’re implementing software, you’re stuck with a certain framework. If there’s a technical problem in the product, you have no way of solving that yourself. You can only build a workaround. Conversely, when you develop your own product, you have more freedom and control. It’s not just about the product itself, it’s also about how to release it, do release management… It’s a much broader field.

I am convinced that IoT can only gain in importance going forward, so I can certainly continue to learn new things as the technology develops. IoT will not disappear any time soon, as data are the engine that feeds Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. In that sense, the future for IoT looks bright.

You have no fear that your job will be eaten by AI?

Nicolas: I use AI now and I don’t see it as a threat. A computer is better at finding patterns than human beings, but humans are better at pragmatic thinking and coming up with creative solutions. You will always need a human factor to control things. ChatGPT is an interesting tool for research and to compare solutions. Some jobs may disappear through AI, but AI will also deliver new jobs.

I have no real career planning, and I don’t know what I want to do when I’m 40 years old or 50. So many things change constantly, so it’s impossible to see what the opportunities will be 10-15 years from now. I’m curious to find out if, in 20 years’ time, I’ll still be able to grasp all the new things that are coming our way.

When are you satisfied with your job? When do you leave work feeling happy?

Nicolas: Finishing a feature and not getting too many errors back from testing gives a lot of satisfaction. I get mad at myself when bugs are discovered in my piece of the application. I have high quality standards, and our great testers challenge us to keep a high standard.

Is there a particular achievement that you’re proud of in your time at Inimco?

Nicolas: We recently changed the way we release the product, and took a fresh look at release management. I was very grateful to be given the opportunity to work on that project and ensure that the process became more streamlined and transparent. Of course I did not work on this alone. That’s one of the strengths of Inimco: you get a lot of responsibility, and the time to work on that project, but the best thing is that everyone really takes ownership and delivers. No one ever drops a ball.

Would you recommend working at Inimco to your family and friends? And why?

Nicolas: Most certainly. I like the family culture and there is a lot of attention to personal development. The follow-up that is given to each individual, the frequent 1:1s with HR and with your coach are really a great help to make you grow. It’s a young group and you can really have an impact as an individual.

What advice would you give to a young graduate who starts his first job?

Nicolas: My advice would be: don’t think you have learned everything at school. Accept that you still have a lot to learn. Allow yourself to make mistakes, but learn from those mistakes. Learn to take criticism. Criticism is not a personal attack, it’s useful advice to make you stronger. Look at yourself and don’t compare yourself to other people. Stay true to yourself.