Mission Control. The term fuels your imagination almost instantly: rocket ships, astronauts, planets, and even exploits in a galaxy far, far away. Who knew that Mission Control is actually within arms reach? Well, Remmelt Beckers knows. Or better yet, he is part of Mission Control. Yes, you read that right; Remmelt has got some explaining to do.
Remmelt is DPG Media’s Agile Portfolio Manager. He’s a friendly, down-to-earth kind of guy, both feet on the ground even. But he is on a mission, two to be exact. One is professionalizing our tech organization; the other is Mission Control, which he works on with Head of Product Selectives Katelijne Molenaar and Manager Mission Control Dirk van Moorsel. Let’s discover what that entails first.
Alignment is the name of the game
The idea is not at all that out-of-this-world, explains Remmelt. Mission Control is a program that provides oversight into key initiatives, facilitates the tech roadmap, sets up processes, helps to define roles, and facilitates the tech steering committee’s decision-making and communication. The main aim is to have a better alignment between business and tech. “At DPG Media, we love new initiatives, and they pop up everywhere. Through our program, we offer everyone better insight into strategic priorities so that everyone contributes to company-wide goals.”
Creating oversight on the top priorities was one of the main things Remmelt worked on the last few months. For 2021, we have around twenty prioritized initiatives. So people have quite a few go-lives and project completions to celebrate in the upcoming year. Of course, the prioritization is not a one-off exercise. The real accomplishment is the process with, for example, quarterly roadmap sessions that keep everyone aligned and focused. Something to be proud of – but Remmelt is quick to add that it is not only his merit. “We have designed the process, but it’s the Area Managers, Platform Managers, and development teams that make it happen. They are the ones applying and implementing our ideas.”
Embracing professional growth
Not too long ago, Remmelt was a Project Manager and Scrum Master at DPG Media. For over three years, he mainly worked on projects for the editorial teams. Even though in Scrum, there is no Project Manager, the role is extremely valuable in a large organization like DPG Media. “Just think of GDPR, or the Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF),” explains Remmelt. “Someone needs to be the driving force behind projects that affect the entire organization. That someone is the Project Manager. Also, the Project Manager’s role is to remove impediments and enable collaboration between teams, quite a task considering we have about 70 teams here.”
Remmelt is always eager to learn, so next to his job as Project Manager and Scrum Master, he wanted to study. “I participated in the Digital Transformation: Strategy & Leadership program at Antwerp Management School and graduated. I’m very grateful that DPG Media gave me that opportunity.”
While he aimed to educate himself, Remmelt was unknowingly laying the groundwork for his new role as Agile Portfolio Manager. For a study assignment, he researched tech and business alignment within DPG Media and got to speak to many people. Remmelt’s questions sparked an interest – there was definitely work to be done. So when months later, Remmelt – armed with his diploma and high on enthusiasm – approached the management to see what progress had been made, he landed himself a new role.
“I think we have a very pragmatic working environment, one that offers many opportunities to people that want to roll up their sleeves and just go for it. That has always been the spirit and drive within this company.”
“All you need to do is welcome change”
Remmelt’s example is actually quite illustrative of DPG Media’s working atmosphere and culture, he says. “I think we have a very pragmatic working environment, one that offers many opportunities to people that want to roll up their sleeves and just go for it. That has always been the spirit and drive within this company.”
His advice to people keen to make an impact at DPG Media? “Reach out to people, both professionally and personally. Make connections and be open-minded and positive. It may sound like a cliché, but the only constant really is change. All you need to do is welcome change. If you dare to do that, awesome things happen.”
Remmelt took his own advice when he started his role as Agile Portfolio Manager. “Preparing for the role involved a lot of reading to familiarize myself with what had already been done, and I spoke with a lot of people. But most importantly, I just got going. I knew that I did not know everything yet, but that’s ok. It’s how you learn and get ahead.”
DPG Media beats any start-up – by far
While Remmelt joined a program at Antwerp Management School, there are plenty of other learning and development options within the company too. De Campus provides training to our editorial staff, and De Academy and Boost organize training sessions on subjects such as Design Thinking and Artificial Intelligence. Besides that, there is a true engineering culture with lots of knowledge sharing, Remmelt says. You name it, DPG Media has it on offer: from Guilds to Brown Bags and Open Spaces to in-depth sessions on specific technologies or ways of working.
“We are a tech company, and we work with very advanced technology. Especially our content creation and customer-facing platforms are cutting-edge. But, logically, we’re not as fast-moving as a start-up or scale-up.” And that’s a good thing in many ways, says Remmelt, who worked at multiple start-ups earlier on in his career. Although the speed, new propositions, and new technologies are appealing at first, they take their toll on people.
Remmelt: “The start-up life often requires working around the clock, and even on weekends. Which is fine for some people, but I enjoy working at DPG Media because we have advanced technology and everything is in place organizational-wise: the company takes good care of us. The facilities are great, there are growth opportunities, I receive plenty of support – mentally and professionally – and I have so many smart and fun colleagues.” What more could a person ask for, right?