With one foot in the future, and one foot in the present

Roland Gardeniers, IT architect


“An IT architect is actually not that much different from a residential architect. The latter creates designs to match their customer's preferences, but they also have to follow all kinds of rules and regulations. I see that my role isn’t different when it comes to APG's infrastructure. I take the client's preferences into account when I receive an assignment for a technical design, but I also keep an eye on the overall system landscape. I make sure that everything’s aligned and that nothing 'exotic’ makes its way into the technology. It's the same for architects and residents in a residential area; they don't want an industrial estate on a street with luxury villas.

If you're an architect, your profession is changing a lot. In the past, an architect sat behind a desk and made designs and drawings, but now the role of an architect is becoming more and more practical. I don't just sit behind a drawing board to deliver beautiful end products that don't actually work that well in practice. More often, I move between the different stakeholders and we come up with solutions together during creative sessions. I'm often involved in the implementation of digital solutions – we're always focused on the end goal. In fact, an architect needs to have one foot in the future to help determine ways to move forward. And with the other foot, an architect stands in the present to carry and lead their organization toward the future. You have to pull out all the stops in order to get there: strong communication, knowledge of the content, and the ability to connect people

My specialty is infrastructure, although I occasionally try my hand at other areas because I really enjoy developing a broad skillset. That's how I ended up contributing to the design of various information systems and central infrastructure components that operate from within our own data centers. Now I'm working on the new pension contract, something totally different. In this project, my job is to ensure that the desired functionality and technology are optimally connected, and I help brainstorm ways to complete this big task. A few years ago I co-designed the DevOps way of working, a kind of automation of automation. Only that time it didn't stop at the design alone: I made the project mine and temporarily became a product owner while I'm actually just an architect. I did it to get the technical design off the ground in an as-optimal-way-as-possible. And I did it in order to make adjustments quickly. I learned a lot from the experience. And that's what's so great here. You can develop yourself and your skills as you want."



I occasionally try my hand at other areas.