My Buddy & Me – Pierre-Sébastien Lheureux and Alain Wauthier
Since we love to see our Tobians learn and grow, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at our TOBuddy (two-way mentorship) programme. So, we caught up with Pierre-Sébastien Lheureux and Alain Wauthier. They are respectively TOBuddy and Buddy, as well as colleagues within the Development business unit at Tobania.
Pierre-Sébastien Lheureux – Java Architect and TOBuddy (Mentor)
Can you briefly introduce yourself, Pierre-Sébastien?
Since my childhood, I have been passionate about computer logic and graphics. I started my professional IT career first as a C++ Developer in 1995. Today, I have been working at Tobania as a Java-oriented Architect for just over 21 years and have already had the opportunity to work across financial, healthcare and industrial sectors, both public and private. Thanks to this experience, I have been privileged to design, develop, test and put into production many successful projects.
“The programme is a great opportunity for both parties to build additional professional relationships within the company.”
Can you explain what the TOBuddy programme is all about?
The TOBuddy programme aims to provide each employee with a non-hierarchical point of contact for his/her career development in terms of learning, experience and job satisfaction. Both at the customer as well as within the company.
Each Buddy can talk to her or his TOBuddy confidentially as “a professional sailing companion”. In other words, the TOBuddy can inform, support or refer her/his Buddy to someone better positioned to answer certain concerns when necessary. It is also just a great opportunity for both parties to build additional professional relationships within the company.
What do you think makes the TOBuddy programme different from any other mentoring programme?
TOBuddies and their Buddies are not necessarily selected based on their experience or skills. They don’t even necessarily know each other at first. The aim is to have an open dialogue, not to maintain a hierarchical or simple coaching relationship: each can learn from another. This communication channel (among other existing ones) is meant to serve as a (two-way) discourse.
What are your personal findings of the programme?
I am among the ones who have always been convinced of the value of such a programme and the COVID period has only reinforced this need to maintain personal contacts between individuals. The TOBuddy programme is a transversal approach that is not always easy to maintain and I really appreciate the energy of it: there exists a clear framework and a roadmap that is established annually thanks to the support of the TOBuddies community and the HR managers of my Business Unit (thanks Liesje and Sanne!).
Personally, the project allows me to collaborate and learn with other consultants outside my day-to-day work. I consider the feedback to be quite positive. Moreover, the community has grown in terms of people and maturity since a few years!
“I try to be that extra non-formal channel of communication and, where necessary, encourage people to take some pragmatic distance from possible difficulties.”
What do you consider to be your biggest strength as a TOBuddy?
I hope to be useful as I now hold a few projects and years of experience. I think I can always discuss things in a relaxed atmosphere, I try to be that extra non-formal channel of communication and, where necessary, encourage people to take some pragmatic distance from possible difficulties.
How would others describe your Buddy style?
I would rather give the word for this to my Buddies and especially to my experienced Tobian “travel companion” Alain, who is not lacking in technical and people skills. Probably “little touches of humour” and “not too much calendar organisation” will emerge from his feedback!
Can you give an example of a moment (during the TOBuddy programme) you are most proud of?
I’m proud of the opportunities I have already received to make new contacts or exchange knowledge with people outside the project framework.
A year and a half ago, I was happy to have been able to bring up a difficult situation on behalf of a Consultant and to initiate a discussion for a team change, both with Tobania’s account manager and that of the customer. This change has since taken place to achieve a much better working atmosphere for this nice colleague.
And last but not least, how would you describe Alain as a Buddy?
It is always a pleasure to talk to Alain, who is quite calm (at least on the outside) but can nevertheless convey significant messages. He is someone who has experienced several intense technical lives: e.g. from Microsoft to the Java world. He has also worn many hats with the care to properly understand the business and technical context, both as a Developer, Analyst, Team Leader … you name it. I think this relationship illustrates well that we are (To)Buddies, as we are professional travel companions for many years now.
Alain Wauthier – Java Developer and Buddy (Mentee)
Can you briefly introduce yourself, Alain?
After a (long) study as a Civil Engineer, I immediately started working as a Developer in VB5. In 1999, I joined EGT (quickly renamed Comexis), then sold to Debis IT Services, then T-Systems, Saga and Tobania (and now with Sopra Steria!). It seems like I worked at many different companies, but in fact I stayed on the same payroll for the last 24 years.
What were your first thoughts when you heard of the TOBuddy programme?
Another coaching programme!
“Having a trusted single point of contact is somewhat reassuring and helps to stay anchored in the company.”
What are the benefits of this TOBuddy programme in your opinion?
Working on a customer project with a small Tobian team (there are two of us), sometimes makes us feel disconnected from Tobania. After all, you have little contact with the rest of the organisation. Moreover, finding the right contact person can be challenging if you work solely off-site. Therefore, having a trusted single point of contact that we can contact is somewhat reassuring and helps to stay anchored in the company.
Why do you think relying on a TOBuddy in the workplace is so valuable?
Given that our TOBuddy is not part of our immediate hierarchy, contact can be less formal and therefore more straightforward. Having one contact person to deal with things you’re struggling with is obviously more effective than just randomly starting to approach people.
Do you strive to be a mentor to others as well?
This question has come up a few times in the past, but, even though I always try to help when needed, I am not comfortable being designated as a “preferred” contact.
And last but not least, how would you describe Pierre-Sébastien as a TOBuddy?
We have known each other for more than 20 years (even though we rarely worked together), so this is definitely a trust-based relationship. Pierre-Sébastien always tries to be available, despite his extremely busy schedule. He is always willing to share his (vast) knowledge and not only to his mates, but also to the community through various events. His commitment could not be more impressive.
Besides his listening ear, he also possesses the ability to find the right way to give an adequate answer. And finally, he also comes with the required network and knowledge within Tobania to refer to the right person when needed.
I think he is the better match for me as a TOBuddy!