X!LEAD is an innovation programme for recent MSc graduates who aspire to work on major societal challenges, and are keen to gain some experience at both a startup and a large international company. As a future of work fieldlab for cognitive robotics, RoboHouse falls into the startup category. Last year we worked with Floris van Krimpen, who went on to do a PhD in ‘governance of public sector machine learning’ at Politecnico di Milano and TU Delft. In March 2021, we welcomed Giula Bacchi and Maaz Khan, both masters in strategic product design.

Q1: What would you now say to your younger trainee-self of six months ago?

Maaz: The advice would definitely be to just embrace the deep sea and make peace with the fact that you will never be able to explore the entire ocean in one day, or a week. The best you can do is focus on your own swimming and coordinate your moves with the fellow swimmers. Robohouse is in itself and a part of a vast ecosystem, so don’t be afraid to ask to be guided around in this vastness for the first few weeks.

Giulia: I remember my first day at RoboHouse with excitement. It was a new beginning with an old friend by my side, Maaz. We started the Master in Strategic Product Design together and two and a half years later also our professional working career, as innovation trainees. We received one of the best welcome-on-board’s ever and we have been guided throughout the discovery of RoboHouse. What I will say to my younger self are two things:

Honey, do not be afraid you are doing good.

– Giulia Bacchi

  1. Alignment is crucial to set expectations and goal.
  2. Honey, do not be afraid you are doing good.

Q2: How do you feel about your time at RoboHouse?

Maaz: It has been a great personal development journey through a variety of tasks and challenges. If I would use one word to describe my time here, it would be ‘variety. There was never a dull moment, where you get stuck on some kind of ‘repetitive task’.

Giulia: My time at RoboHouse has been great. I had the pleasure and the opportunity to work with such a talented team. I will always be grateful to Casper, Bas Lammers and Ties for having made so memorable my introduction into my Dutch working life. Now after six months, I can really say that I made a step further in both my professional and personal growth.

It gives a certain sense of pride to show this very inspiring workplace to other professionals.

– Maaz Kahn

Q3: What was the most memorable moment that happened?

Maaz: I think the day when my fellow colleagues from X!LEAD were welcomed at Robohouse for a masterclass on robotics, that’s been quite memorable. Because it gives a certain sense of pride to show this very inspiring workplace to other professionals and feel belonged to your own workplace more than ever.

Giulia: Definitely the opportunity to launch a new event format. Just us. It has been great to have witnessed and have collaborated on its design. I feel proud to have given my contribution in transforming fuzzy insights into a consolidated format where participants are enthusiasts and eager to meet around specific topics.

Q4: What is the most important thing you have learnt?

Maaz: It’s okay to fail as long as you keep going. I have always tried to avoid failure and in that quest, taken much longer in perfecting things. But I learnt that in most situations it’s better and more efficient to simply keep going, keep producing without the worry of failure becoming an obstacle.

Giulia: I would say: ‘To let it go’. Let things go in different ways at different levels. Let deliverables go; not when they are perfect, but when you have sufficient material to build a discussion around them. So you can receive feedback and have the opportunity to further implement them. Let it go with projects that cannot be implemented. Let it go with people who cannot be changed.

I would dare more. I would investigate how to make communications more engaging.

– Giulia Biacchi

Q5: If you were managing director of RoboHouse, what would be your vision and strategy for the future?

Maaz: I really admire and truly believe in the current vision of Robohouse; human robot collaboration and the human factor in robotisation of work processes. So I would definitely like to keep that. The strategy towards that vision would be to bring forth the human factor within Robohouse. Focus on the internal needs of the in-house team and the community members and work towards those needs. This will extrapolate to the output the in-house team and the community produces in favor of Robohouse’s vision.

Giulia: This is a really good and tough question to answer. I would dare more. Within RobHouse, there is so much expertise and talented people who are valuable to be known outside. I would investigate how to make communications more engaging, appealing and playful in order to further expand the RoboHouse community and highlight its value. RoboHouse has a really cool logo. What about some good merchandising to gift to participants of your next Hackathon?

On Friday 8 October, the RoboHouse team is organising a festive occasion to thank these two visionary talents for their contribution. We will also be welcoming a new student assisent for RoboHouse communications, Liza Oomens. She is current chair and former commissioner of publicity at Turn the Page, a magazine published four times a year in a volume of 6.900 from the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering from TU Delft.

Focus on the internal needs of the in-house team.

– Maaz Kh

If you are interested in X!LEAD: pre-registration for X!LEAD 2022/2023 has just opened. In March 2022, the programme starts their third edition of our innovation traineeship. Check it out, if you want to:

  • gain 1.5 years of work experience in both a startup and a corporate environment;
  • work on three strategic, innovative projects;
  • follow a tailor-made development program aimed to enlarge your skill set;
  • receive personal coaching throughout the entire programme;
  • connect with an inspiring group of fellow X!LEAD trainees who learn together, share experiences and have fun.

Here’s the pre-registration form for receiving updates, invitations to information sessions and a notification when application opens.

Giulia Bacchi (middle, with mask) thanks the very first presenter of Just us., the new community event that she helped to produce. Casper van Eersel, community manager at RoboHouse, says: “Giulia Bacchi, suggested that it may be best to learn non-technical ‘soft skills’ [such as pitching, HR, customer management and marketing-communications] from someone who is just one small step ahead of you in that partical field of expertise. This person will understand how you feel, and you are in it together. As equals. I thought that was brilliant. The skills we need can often be taught by the people who work next door. As learners we can be each other’s teachers. You just need a safe place to get going. That’s Just us.”