Xpirit: the place to do what you love most

by Maarten Blok / 08 Mar, 2021

If you are into Scrum, chances are you’ve heard of Jesse Houwing. Jesse has been a Professional Scrum Trainer (PTS), Scaled Professional Scrum Steward for Scrum.org, renowned speaker and consultant for years. Recently, Jesse decided to dedicate all his time to making a difference in the field he loves so much: training. As Chief Train, he is ready to find and take advantage of the many opportunities in tech and business training.

At a crossroads

When trying to share your time between two of your greatest passions, at some point, creating focus is inevitable. Jesse explains: “As my training schedule became busier, helping my clients take the next step became harder. I found myself at a crossroads. Do I want to train more or take on more consultancy projects? Marcel (CTO of Xpirit) knew of my dilemma and asked me to explore this new role, which helped me decide. I realized that if I chose to spend more time consulting, I would have less time to spend on training – and that is what I love most. The decision to accept this job happened naturally and with absolutely no regrets!”

Scrum is my thing, but I look forward to expanding my horizon, finding new ways to share our extensive knowledge of Azure, and bringing our large-scale events like the DevOps Bootcamp to a larger audience. There are so many cool ways to learn. Isn’t it way more fun to acquire a new skill in a virtual breakout room with a group of like-minded people instead of watching a video alone?

Help people take the next step in their career

Talking with Jesse, it’s clear that his enthusiasm is endless! We asked him what is so great about training. Jesse: “When people want to learn the thing you are good at, it creates chemistry, and you start exploring together. One of my students recently told me that my training – back in 2017 – inspired her to become a Scrum trainer. Another participant took the more drastic decision to quit her job after the training. She was so excited to put what she learned into practice but felt her employer wasn’t ready, so she found a new job. If you unleash someone’s passion, you help them take the next step in their career. Sometimes, groups aren’t that eager to learn. It’s my challenge to figure out what is going on and give them a great experience regardless.”

When it’s 4:30 PM, and you ask a group to choose between another big assignment or rounding up to go home earlier, and everyone chooses the assignment – that’s cool!

Train developers and innovate Azure learning paths

Jesse knows the world of training like the back of his hand and sees room for growth. “For instance, our Scrum Master and Product Owner courses are very popular, developer courses less so. That fascinates me, as teams consist of many developers, but only one PO and Scrum Master. I want to show companies and the developers that through training them, there is so much to gain.”

Additionally, Jesse wants to focus on Azure training. Today, many courses offer a broad understanding of the landscape, and a certificate, in just three days. Jesse: “Classes like these can’t provide the depth to really put your learning to good use. I want to change the mindset from getting a certificate to learning something you’ll benefit from every day by offering compact deep-dives into particular Azure skills. Skills that you will be able to use directly to create value. Combined, they will enable you to get that certificate.”

More training courses and more trainers

In his new role, Jesse is eager to explore what people are looking for, what makes training valuable, and where there’s room for innovation. Jesse: “My goal is to create courses that meet (changing) market needs, and I want to improve how others train. My colleagues learn so much by working with technology every day. Working in the field equips them with real-world scenarios you can’t easily learn from a textbook. I want to help all our consultants feel comfortable when sharing their knowledge.”

Finally, Jesse adds: “I would love to create more experiences that match the unique context of learners, like in our Sketchnoting or Growth Mindset training. Through facilitating many workshops and giving many presentations, we have our own learning materials. Plus, our trainers are active in the field. This puts us in the best position to tailor training to our clients’ needs instead of sharing a large deck of standard slides. That’s where our strength lies.”

The future of training

Today, due to the pandemic, all training courses take place online. Jesse: “People are seeing the benefits, for instance: no travel time and enjoying lunch with their family. Of course, there are disadvantages. Once in a while, my (very adorable) 1,5-year-old son Mika likes to sit on my lap when I’m teaching, and that’s ok. It makes the experience more personal. You get a look into my life, and I also see more of who you are in the comfort of your own home.”

When asked how Jesse sees the future of classroom training, he answers: “People are still asking for in-person training. We have scheduled a few in September and October that are already fully-booked, while other online courses taking place next month still have spots available. Some people only want classroom training, and I hope that we can meet that need very soon. We’ve already upgraded our training rooms with better ventilation. Will it require a quick-test, a vaccination? I don’t know. I do know that we will have to change some assignments! Asking people to form pairs and hold hands is challenging when we need to keep our distance. But I am sure we will find a solution; we always do.”

Jesse expects that remote training is here to stay, providing new opportunities and challenges. “The world is at our feet, but the same goes for other organizations that provide training. Will competition grow? I believe the quality of the trainer will become a distinguishing feature. Luckily, we already excel in this. Our trainers are subject matter experts who use their experience to help you overcome hurdles and grow. Working with the best people has always been our priority at Xpirit.”