Nicolas Kharkevitch , Technical Advisor
What exactly does your role entail?
As Technical Advisor, I am the first technical point of contact for customers needing help with Belnet's services. In specific terms, customers can come to me with technical questions and for advice about all of our services, whether they are network services, security services or roaming services such as eduroam. I also accompany our Account Managers on customer visits on a regular basis.
I always try to identify the most effective technical solution to fulfil a customer's needs. This requires a customer-oriented approach and good internal coordination with my colleagues at Services or Networks.
My job also includes a support role – I advise our customers when they are implementing Belnet services or I refer them to relevant documentation.
What route did you follow before you started working at Belnet?
I am an engineer by training. Afterwards, I worked for 4 years as a professor at a college in Tanzania, where I also managed the school's network. Even then, I had a passion for all things R&E.
Then I came back to Belgium and worked as a network engineer in the private sector for about ten years. The knowledge I gained there on how to build, manage and organise a network is a great advantage in my current position as Technical Advisor.
What prompted me to apply to Belnet is the fact that networking is our core business. And the fact that we have a specific mission with regard to education and research. So Belnet was 100% what I was looking for and I haven't regretted switching employer for a second.
What aspect of your job appeals to you the most?
In my position, I have a lot of contact with our network and our system engineers on the one hand and with our customers on the other. Identifying their needs and working with my colleagues to find the best solution for them is one of the reasons I love doing this job. It's the best of both worlds!
I also enjoy working for the research and education sector. Our customers are people who want to move things forward, collaborate and innovate, ...
Having been a neutral partner of theirs for more than 25 years, we have built a relationship of trust with them. That makes for a nice interaction between Belnet and its community.
How has your position changed over the years?
The first thing is that the requested bandwidth has increased enormously compared to 4 years ago. More and more customers are working in the cloud and therefore need a more high-performance connection that provides more built-in redundancy.
Due to the rising number of security incidents, we are also seeing a strong increase in demand for security services from our community.
Of course, the coronavirus crisis has also had a significant impact on my work. Because of COVID, there were few or no physical meetings for a long period of time. Although we are gradually returning to "normal," I find that many clients have now become accustomed to online meetings.
How would you describe the culture at Belnet?
At Belnet, you get a lot of freedom and confidence to arrange and shape your own work. A typical feature of our corporate culture is that everyone is heading in the same direction and is working towards the same goal. That plays a major part in ensuring the fine and collegial working atmosphere in the company.
At Belnet, the work-life balance is much more pleasant when compared to the private sector. In my previous job, I had to be available 24/7. At Belnet, you have the choice and that choice is respected.
What is more, the flexible working hours and extensive leave arrangements make it easy for me to combine my work and private life.
Do you have sufficient opportunities to develop within Belnet?
Definitely and without any doubt. Belnet attaches great importance to training. For example, I take Dutch classes during working hours and have already taken part in general courses such as First Aid and firefighting, which also have their uses outside the work context.
On a technical level, I have had the opportunity to take several courses about the infrastructure we use at Belnet.
Last but not least, I am also learning an enormous amount through my colleagues; there is a real culture of knowledge sharing at Belnet.