Meet Didier - Big data engineer
Can you introduce yourself?
Hey there! My name is Didier Dirks, I come from the Netherlands and I am a 23 years old employee at Sparkers with a hunger to see the world and learn from people wherever I go. During my academic career I have developed an eye for precision and a weakness for new technology in relation to human behavior. As a son of expat parents, I have been forced to reintegrate into new cultures multiple times. This process of constantly having to make new friends has made me into the independent and self motivating man I am today.
Because of my sincere interest in information systems, people and organizations, my bachelor’s study program, Information Science at the University of Amsterdam (UvA), was a logical choice. It covered a combination of computer science, business administration and psychology with a 360 degrees view on solving information problems. Not only from a technological angle but also from a human behavioral point of view. However, although Data Science was incorporated into the study program, it was a minor part of the program, missing the depth which I was looking for.
This, in combination with my eagerness to always explore new parts of the world, led me first to attend a university exchange program in Sydney, Australia. Here I spent half a year following computer science courses, getting to know new people and learning a lot about the country. However, this experience was not enough for me and only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that exist. Shortly after I decided on my next challenge: I wanted to continue my academic career in Madrid, where I followed the masters’ program Big Data Analytics at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M).
This decision turned out to be one of the best I ever made. Studying in Madrid was a great opportunity to improve my skills. It forced me to step out of my comfort zone in a different culture, survive and make myself at home but it also allowed me to build an international network with people from different cultural backgrounds, which is a must nowadays. Now I can proudly say that living in Madrid has brought me two major advantages: I can easily collaborate with Spanish people and make myself at home anywhere, while at the same time being able to represent my country, bringing my own network and my Dutch/North-European way of thinking.
After falling in love with the city of Madrid, I started working at Sparkers (Madrid office) in October 2021, after graduating my master’s only the month before. Sparkers is, aside from a few part-time student jobs I had while studying (like being a Teaching Assistant and a tutor), my first full-time job. As an internationally thriving company with a promising future, working at Sparkers seems like the logical next challenge within my path of development and exploration, while at the same time being a great start of my professional career.
Can you explain your role at ✨Sparkers ✨?
My first days at the job I was immediately thrown into the deep as I was given a lot of responsibility in the brand new Audiences project. As a Data Engineer in this project, I am in charge of the computations that take raw input data and provide our application with clean data, alongside insightful metrics and aggregations.
While at the start being supported by some of my colleagues, I have now managed to completely take control and responsibility of this part of the project. I expect that as this promising project itself develops and grows, my tasks and responsibilities will grow with it.
What does a normal day for you look like?
I think one of the huge advantages of working in an environment like we have at Sparkers is that there is no ‘typical’ day. Every day is full of new and unpredictable challenges which ultimately lead to many opportunities to grow both individually and as a team.
A benefit of working in the IT sector is that we use an agile way of working. This means that every two weeks we decide on the objectives within the team for these two weeks (also known as the ‘sprint’) and the tasks that are required to reach this goal. But as I said before, unpredictable events may come up and we have to decide how and when to tackle these. However, this agile way of working leads to a very flexible schedule, implying that I have big responsibility over my own work. I can schedule my days and weeks however I want, as long as I get my work done. This means that in general, a normal day of work at Sparkers consists of a combination of (online) meetings and independent work.
Why do you like ✨Sparkers✨?
I really appreciate the fact that, while being a growing international company that is active in many parts of the world, Sparkers has remained very family-like. The hierarchical structure is very flat, and overall I feel part of this great community in which everyone knows each other and looks out for each other. I feel that since day 1, both in times of good and bad, I have always been listened to, my opinions have been valued and I have been entrusted with a lot of responsibilities in a very short period of time.
On the other hand, the fact that Sparkers is active in many different countries is also very attractive to me. As I mentioned earlier, I love exploring new parts of the world and new cultures and getting to know new people. Last month Sparkers gave me the opportunity to visit our Brussels office as part of our exchange program. It was very exciting to finally meet a lot of my colleagues in real life, experience what working from the amazing office in La Hulpe is like, and last but not least enjoy some Belgian beers at Place du Luxembourg. Oh yeah, and also the fries.
What are your favorite video game & hobbies?
As I was growing up, the first time I got in touch with video games was around the age of 6 when my parents bought me and my brother a Nintendo GameCube. We used to play a lot of Mario Kart. Later, I played a lot on the Gameboy, the Nintendo DS, and the Wii. As I got older, I started playing mostly Fifa, GTA, and many hours of Minecraft. I even hosted a server on which I and all my high school friends would play together.
My other hobbies include doing sports (I have always been a fan of running and lately have been playing a lot of padel), traveling, socializing with friends, and getting lost in Madrid (both by day and by night).