About me and van-Zand, but what about you?

Welcome to Consulting As Navigator, my business blog with a personal touch at van-Zand.com, and thank you for showing interest in getting to know me better.

That’s already one thing we have in common:¬†the desire to know who we’re interacting¬†with. So allow me to share tidbits first. Then more later on, once¬†you follow suit in the comments below. Deal?

The origin of van-Zand +(wijk) in my byline

My full name is Mike van Zandwijk,¬†which explains how¬†van-Zand¬†is just a shorter, anglicized version of my last name. I figured that’s easier for¬†non-Dutch¬†speakers since many look puzzled at the ‘ij’ or¬†even get¬†startled when trying to pronounce it:¬†S¬∑ah¬∑nd-wike,where ah¬†sounds like when¬†the doctor asks you to stick your tongue out¬†and ‘say aahh’.

The etymology of Zandwijk remains disputed. Some claim Zand stems from Saint¬†(yeah right) but most keep the literal translation sand, and¬†wijk from Latin vicus which means:¬†village /¬†district¬†or (trading) settlement. Others think it’s actually¬†from a¬†town in England named after Lord¬†Sandwich where allegedly the popular¬†toasted bread meal was invented in 1762. If it gives you a chuckle,¬†feel free to call me Mike van Sandwich.¬†Microsoft Skype for Business¬†does too.
Want to know more about the meaning behind Zandwijk or Sandwich? Click to expand …

A bit about my personal life: hello world in 1977

click to enlarge

I was¬†born and raised in The Hague,¬†the political capital of The Netherlands where I still live today. Officially, my first name is Michael but since I as agnostic freethinker have no answer to ‘who is like god‘, everyone¬†just calls me¬†Mike (of course my mom still calls me by my given name; dad made the switch). My online¬†screen name is MikevZ, sometimes added with¬†my birthyear (’77) added if someone else beat me to it.

Let's see what else you might want to know about me personally.
Never got married, currently single and planning to keep it that way. Already praise myself lucky with¬†two beautiful daughters: Danique (’01) and Cassidy (’03) who primarily live with their mom, stepdad and baby half-sister.¬†Honestly, as long as my kids are happy, I feel happy.

As one particular coworker would shout out: hobbies, hobbies, what’s your hobby?

Sure, here it goes: reading (mostly research, hardly any fiction), writing (blog posts and working on my Sci-Fi book) and traveling (especially Eastern countries since I love the beautiful women culture there). I used to like playing some online strategy or card games like poker and blog about its correlation with business, but quit altogether to get a life.

About my business life: Jack of all trades, master of some

My consulting career ignited¬†in 1999 at a small, yet¬†great firm called Interchange. The biggest boost followed during my employment¬†at the Dutch subsidiary of Microsoft (Consulting) Services till 2007. Embarked¬†the Microsoft ship as associate IT (infrastructure) consultant in 2001, got promoted to senior consultant after my job at the ING Bank to deploy 40,000 desktops across Europe. Architected the Cyber Center of Deloitte & Touche. Served Philips Research as service manager, and advised the CIO’s Office of both Akzo Nobel as¬†Philips Int. as enterprise¬†strategy consultant at Microsoft.

Reaching the age of 30 (the deadline of one of my biggest ambitions), I revived my small business as aspiring entrepreneur. Since I suck at bragging subtly, let me quote the practice manager who hired me at MCS:

Mike’s one of my best hires at Microsoft Consulting Services in the Netherlands. He’s a great talent that jumped through every challenge that was thrown at him. He’s one of our consultants that combined great deep technical skills with huge business insight and [is] a very effective communicator.¬†It’s obvious Mike’s talents were too¬†big for the Dutch MS [Microsoft]¬†subsidiary, and I think it’s a great move for Mike to become the CEO of InterWays [My business with no staff; so besides CEO, I also served as¬†Coffee &¬†Cleaning Officer]

With these much¬†appreciated compliments in my pocket, I “jumped through” the new challenges that entrepreneurial life threw at me flying solo, like sales and marketing,¬†innovation (yay) and bookkeeping (yawn), just to name a few besides my core consulting business: helping clients succeed. My¬†very¬†last client provided so much joy and intellectual horsepower that in May 2008 I’d accepted¬†their compelling¬†offer from the director of business development¬†at¬†Winvision¬†to join forces. I still work¬†at Winvision as principal consultant with much passion and pleasure. So with 15 years consulting experience, my¬†self-proclaimed title Master of Consulting is fair game¬†in my humble opinion. If not, my second self-proclaimed title is Mix Master of Disaster¬†ūüėá

Prior my work as consultant,¬†I’ve¬†picked up¬†a lot of know-how as system engineer where I was assigned to CMG¬†for long term external aid. Started on front¬†line support (best way to learn dealing with customer complaints, really), quickly moved on to second line tech support (troubleshooting) and finally to Projects working on large scale (Windows) workstation¬†deployments, web development (Classic ASP -grins-) and internet security.

My experience with web technologies got¬†noticed by Interchange, superior¬†Exchange consultants¬†back then, who wanted to broaden¬†their portfolio of services. I had the privilege to work with a¬†fantastic management team, even though the CIO¬†consistently kicked my ass with foosball, and with¬†really¬†great clients such as the Royal Dutch Army¬†for security assessments. Even got asked to¬†analyze¬†top secret crypto cards from a large¬†research company¬†in Eindhoven. Their cards didn’t pass the test in 2000,¬†but coincidentally I had the pleasure to serve this¬†same firm as¬†enterprise service manager at¬†Microsoft in 2004. This shows once again how extremely important it is to realize:

Your third party supplier today could be your client tomorrow. Same for your hires and rejections, your temps and interns, your staff and your competition. So remember to treat every single one nice and fair, the very same way you want people to treat you. Or even with more courtesy and respect. Always.

That’s truly¬†my principle numero Uno. As¬†consultant and as fellow human.

Do you really want to read about my pre-consultant life as system engineer who got his ass kicked by a CIO?

About my early life and (lack of formal) academic degrees

Technology intrigues me since I programmed my own applications as preteener on almost every Commodore-model (especially all Amiga-ranges). No big surprise I wanted to study computer science after high school, but my mix of chosen courses in economics, geography and history instead of beta studies seemed to prohibit me for signing up in 1996. Eventually, the Hague University accepted my enrollment into Informatics & Information Science (I&I), which I dropped despite passing the first year with flying colours.

A tough decision I’ve made, however never regretted. Simply because the timing felt right which fortunately¬†turned out to be the case since¬†the internet bubble bursted right¬†after the new millennium. In the meanwhile,¬†I¬†worked myself up from retail computing as McMike (flipping hardware, not burgers) in the consumer space to¬†major accounts like Shell in the enterprise league. Fascinated by the versatility of software, I accepted the¬†job offer as system engineer and immediately got subcontracted by CMG for two years as Jack of all trades as you might have read above.

PS. As a teenager I loathed reading and writing. Today, I’m lovin’ it!¬†„ÄĹ

Or even more about me as Nerdy McMike working in a computer store to pay for my Computer Science study in '96?

Your turn! ‚§Ķ

What's your thought on this topic?