“I found my position at blue-infinity through a LinkedIn ad. At the time I was in Adelaide, Australia, doing SharePoint consulting.” After three years ‘Down Under’, Benjamin Gournay joined our team mid-2015 and is currently alongside a Geneva-based client in the non-governmental sector. Prior to this, Benjamin travelled the globe with different work, from a Paris base with Avanade, to New York with Lacoste, then on to China, and finally Montreal where he was a SharePoint consultant for CGI.
“My most recent personal trip was to India. The poverty shocked me but it was amazing to meet the people, and witness their culture. It's another world compared to Switzerland and it was one of my best travel experiences, you learn a lot about yourself and the others by travelling on your own in such a different country." Benjamin is equally curious about culture as a means of adapting to new environments. “You have to stay open minded. If you don’t agree, try to comprehend why.” He aims to learn about other cultures first, to adjust behavior and “not simply criticize when you don’t understand.”
Is this why he joined blue-infinity, to be a part of a culturally diverse environment? “We’re international. We’re interesting as we all work differently. I know we have a lot of different nationalities here. Oh and the talent. I’m learning from SharePoint MVPs!”, talking about MVP colleagues Marius Constantinescu and Rodrigo Pinto. “They’re very structured. Marius knows how to present things. I learn many technical things from Rodrigo.”
Besides his colleagues, there is the attraction of big clients and projects. “Our clients are long term. It’s interesting to see how an NGO works and to use the latest technologies to their advantage.” How does Benjamin combine this on a daily basis? “I deal with implementing and building applications inside SharePoint. I’m on the architecture side. Lots of planning, estimating. I liaise with the team in Portugal and scope the design of applications.”
What experience has so far changed Benjamin in the way he approaches his work? “Well, I was a developer before. Now I go less inside the application and more into writing documentation. I look at how it will interact, instead of coding the application itself. That’s changed my perspective.” Benjamin’s adaptability has been key to his success as a consultant. “Integrating with your client’s team is really important. I try to put myself in their shoes. It’s advice I would lend to anybody joining the team.”
How does a 31-year old consultant describe the atmosphere at blue-infinity? “It’s really cool. Relaxed, even if we have the usual project peak times - but we still take time out to get to know each other, often overfor drinks. The best part is the challenge.” Big challenges it seems, are something Benjamin takes in his stride from country-hopping in his youth and adjusting to different contexts. “Responding to all the client expectations is certainly interesting and fulfilling.. In addition, I’ve been given the opportunity to express my ideas and present my work directly to the clients.
In a recent project, Benjamin has been involved in a major change, implementing a collaboration space that replaces all file share and network drives with an offline SharePoint platform, a Cloud drive that handles 2TB of data. “It’s the biggest project for me so far. The challenge is putting in place the right processes to make it all happen. Certain people can be reluctant to such change so there is a key part of change management in every project.”
“There is also a lot of decision making. Many different people are involved and they understandably have different priorities. One has to be open-minded and realistic when it comes to taking those decisions."
In his personal time, Benjamin enjoys a good read. “Books about those who go beyond. Like a journey from Siberia to Australia! Inspirational novels that push the limits.” His favourite digital media? “Social media. I find so much useful information, interest groups, and ways of staying in touch. As for my colleagues here, they’re the kind of people that makes blue-infinity digitally-focused.”