Working at Xpirit – how Rob overcame his stage fright

Maarten Blok / 20 Dec, 2021

Xpirit is not your standard, usual company. We do things our own way, which is sometimes different from what other companies do. It is not always easy to explain our mission and values, because what you see at the surface is not necessarily the same as what happens inside.

One of the things we run into sometimes is our presence at worldwide conferences. Many Xpiriters share their knowledge at events like DevOps Pro Europe, VSLive or Techorama. Sharing knowledge is one of our core values and it’s a way for us to work on our Authority mission.

Unfortunately, one of the side effects is that we sometimes come across people who seem to think that if you want to work at Xpirit, speaking at conferences is mandatory. And although that’s not the case and we don’t advocate it like it is, it’s still a barrier for great talented people to apply at Xpirit. Somehow, it’s not easy to change that image. Coming up with ways to tell our story better and explain why so many Xpiriters take the stage, we asked our colleague Rob about his experiences.

Rob, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

“Hi, my name is Rob, I work at Xpirit for almost 4 years now but it seems like yesterday that I joined the club. My focus is on anything DevOps and currently use a lot of GitHub.”

Well, time flies when you’re having fun, I guess. How did you meet Xpirit?

“I’ve met Xpirit for the first time at TechDays NL. Xpirit was founded 3 months before, but they were instant Platinum partner of the conference and hosted over ten sessions. And I was like wow, what kind of club is this? The next year, Xpirit sort of had taken over the whole TechDays NL conference and I knew I wanted to work there but didn’t think I was at that level yet.”

That’s something we hear more often, Rob. But something must’ve changed. Can you tell us how you ended up at Xpirit?

“Well, after TechDays NL, I started to follow Xpirit and a lot of their people. I came across them in the community, people like René van Osnabrugge, Jesse Houwing, Geert van der Cruijsen and many more of them. They were very visible. After some ‘LinkedIn flirting’, they invited me for coffee. And a long story short… now we’re here.”

So how did you feel about taking the stage?

“Well… I wasn’t planning on that at all. I had just started blogging, but I knew the level of my colleagues who were speaking all over the world, and I just didn’t think I was there yet. Besides that, I also had stage fright. In fact, a couple of months before my first talk, I explicitly said that I wasn’t going to speak in public.”

But you did…

“Yes, I did. When I joined Xpirit, they just had formed a group of DevOps experts. I’m also a DevOps enthusiast so I joined that group. I instantly got invited to write an article for our magazine about our vision on DevOps, together with Geert. That helped me a lot to get comfortable in the group.

Shortly after that, we organized the Global DevOps Bootcamp (GDBC). René could use some help with that, so I started helping and the next year I was part of the core team of GDBC. And that was amazing. I loved everything about it and I noticed that whenever people asked me about DevOps or GDBC, I almost couldn’t stop talking about it. So when in 2019 during a bootcamp we got the question to tell a little bit about what was happening behind the scenes, I asked René to do that together. And a little while after that, Xpirit was asked for speakers at the devNetNoord conference. We’re talking 2019 and Covid was not a thing back then. I asked René to deliver the same session we already did internally, but now at a real-life conference. And so we did and that was my first time on stage in front of 150 souls.”

So out of passion and enthusiasm, you started speaking?

“Mostly, yes. That, and a little bit of stimulation from my colleagues, haha. I guess it’s sort of a flow. I already started blogging so that was my way of sharing knowledge. But besides that, I also spoke a couple of times at our weekly internal knowledge sessions. And a few colleagues already stimulated to take the public stage. So when the opportunity presented itself (and some colleagues poked a little harder) to speak about something I’m truly passionate about, it was sort of natural to say yes.”

Do you see that more often at Xpirit, new colleagues join and take the stage?

“Yeah well, sometimes. I mean, it’s not mandatory. Not everybody wants to be a public speaker. There are many ways to share your knowledge, like blogging. I try to tell new people that it’s ok if you don’t want to. But if you do and you don’t know where to start or you have stage fright, we can help you.”

We talk a lot about doing epic shit at Xpirit. What was your epic shit moment when it comes to public speaking?

“Well, a really cool moment was a few months ago after I spoke at GitHub Universe. A few days after my session there, I got a message from Mickey Gousset that he really liked the content I’m sharing lately. An untriggered reach-out from someone at GitHub with a compliment like that, that’s really cool.”

Thanks a lot for sharing Rob. It’s nice to hear a little bit about your journey and good luck with all your knowledge-sharing activities.

“Thank you as well. And if you’re reading this and want to know more about working at Xpirit, don’t be shy, just send me a message on LinkedIn or by email.”

Xpirit is always looking for talented people with a passion for Azure Cloud and DevOps. We don’t have any checklists with boxes like a degree or years of experience. If you’re passionate and good at what you do, we want to get to know you. Check out our profiles for a Monolith Killer, Cloud Magician, or DevOps Whisperer.