Sophie van Overeem

What to expect from the Digital Innovator program

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As a Digital Innovator, you’ll be getting lots of training to be able to do your job well. You’ll learn all the ins- and outs to become a full-stack innovation expert, just within 2 years. But what does the training program actually look like? Hidde van Neerbos and Sophie van Overeem are both Digital Innovators and have had their own experiences with the training program. We talked to them both:

Sophie, Hidde, tell us everything!

Sophie: So, when you start with the Digital Innovator program, you’ll begin with an onboarding month’. During this month you’ll be working on a case. For the case you’ll have to set up your own company. You’ll validate the customer need, find a fitting solution and will have to find out if customers are interested in your solution. You’ll get some guidance, but most stuff you’ll have to figure out on your own. You’re really thrown in the deep end and get used to having the growth mindset. After one month I thought: wow, I learnt A LOT of stuff. I now have all the skills I need, and am ready to put them into practice at a company.

What do the trainings look like from the moment you start a project at a corporate?

Sophie: We get trainings that fit within the capability framework. You’ll work on skills within 3 domains: personal, professional and domain skills. 

The further you are in the program, the more advanced the trainings become.

Hidde: You’ll also be able to do trainings on this platform called CXL. Here, you’ll find courses in all different kinds of fields, from growth hacking to analytics. You also get a training budget, to spend on different kinds of trainings that you find useful. If you want to develop yourself in design, you can sign up for a design training.

Do you get any coaching throughout the program?

Sophie: We actually have 2 different kinds of coaches. One coach focuses on personal development. You’ll talk about who you are, what you stand for, what gives you energy and which skills you’d like to develop to become better at your job. Every once in a while you’ll also do some challenges with this personal coach. We did an ice bath challenge for example, and went on a silence weekend’ away. In these fun ways of training and workshops you’ll learn to step out of your comfort zone and you learn a lot about yourself.

Hidde: And then there’s the innovation coach. Every other week you’ll have a 45-minute chat with experts in innovation. You’ll give them an update on your project and discuss problems and challenges. They also help you to think out of the box regarding your project. They share tips & tricks and they’re really fun to brainstorm with to find out new opportunities for your project.

I feel like I can do my job better thanks to the innovation coach.

Sophie: I agree. The coaches are what makes this program so special. You always have someone to lean on, to talk to and to brainstorm with. Sometimes I think: I don’t have that much to talk about with my coach today, but after 1 hour of talking I always gain new insights. You learn a lot about yourself during the program and you’ll get a lot of help in the process. The coaches can really help you become a better innovation professional.

How do the trainings correspond to your daily job?

Sophie: During the 2‑year program, you’ll be trained to become a full-stack, generalistic innovation expert. You won’t necessarily be a specialist yet. After 2 years you can choose to become a Lead Digital Innovator and specialize in certain fields. But during the 2‑year program everyone gets the same, broad education.

We try to collect and document everything we learn in a single place. That’s why we’re working on an innovation playbook, an online platform where we document everything we’ve learnt. Everyone can check the platform every once in a while to consolidate their new knowledge.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learnt in the program?

Hidde: I’m still at the beginning of the program, so I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface. For me, the session with the most value was the Facilitation Training. It was a training about how you communicate with stakeholders and how you can present your findings. These skills were very useful for me, because I could use them for every project.

Sophie: For me, the challenges I mentioned earlier have made the most impact on me. The ice bath challenge and the silent weekend. I would have never done these challenges if I hadn’t joined TTI. You’re challenged in a way that makes you learn a lot about yourself. You also learn more about how you react in certain situations. Think of the ice bath, for example. Your body is in shock for 3 minutes. If you know how to respond in stressful situations like that, it’ll be a piece of cake when you have an argument with a manager or client. These challenges have really gotten me out of my comfort zone and had a real impact on me.

The group also becomes very close. You get into unusual situations with the other Digital Innovators and it’s very special to go through this with each other. You get to know your colleagues on a whole different level.

Anything you’d like to say to aspiring Digital Innovators out there?

Sophie: If you like to work on the development of products and services within large corporations, this is a program where you’ll be able to do so and get valuable training on the side. You’ll learn about all the aspects of innovation and you’ll get all the tools and trainings you need to become a full-stack innovation expert.

Hidde: The things they offer you as a Digital Innovator, you won’t find anywhere else. The training, coaching, working for different clients. These 2 years of your life are super valuable to learn skills like these, as you’ll be able to use them for the rest of your life. I really don’t see any reasons why you shouldn’t do this program, right now.

When people that are doing traineeships at big corporations hear about what we’re doing as Digital Innovators, I often get jealous reactions. They see us doing challenges, getting valuable coaching and see that we have a Slack channel where we keep in touch with our colleagues. Other traineeships don’t always have that. Here, you’ll really learn valuable skills you’ll be able to use for the rest of your life. Go for it and join us. Join the team!

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