To spark new ideas for the City of Jyväskylä marketplace sales and how it could be more place appealing for visitors, a hackathon was organized by the City of Jyväskylä. Hackathon offered an opportunity for participants to be forerunners in innovating the new marketplace, perhaps even find out ways to utilize the marketplace without physically being there – in the spirit of corona. And for us at Gofore the hackathon was a great way to help in the development of the city center, where our office is also located, by offering expertise in digitalisation.
Gofore aims to radiate good. This is one of our goals defined as part of our new brand. Mentoring and being part of the jury in this hackathon was a way for Gofore to help in the development of the city center by offering expertise in digitalization. We were sparring teams on ideas about software and application development, user experience, prototyping, and service design. Participating groups could book mentoring live or online throughout the 24 hours the hackathon took place. I was offering my expertise as a software developer and as a former entrepreneur to the participants.
Happy fellows. Goforeans Jarkko, Tero, Esa, Juha L. and Juha T. from Gofore’s Jyväskylä office.
How to stick to one good idea and make that a great one?
The hackathon lasted 24 hours, from 12 am Monday to 12 am on Tuesday with constant checkpoints housed by Crazy Town. Checkpoints gave key knowledge on the marketplace and how to design and pitch a concise pitch. Between the checkpoints was an opportunity for the participants of the hackathon to utilize our and other experts’ mentoring services.
I helped several teams by giving them mentoring and one of the key takeaways was that many had multiple good ideas but may have had trouble sticking to one idea and making that great. The second day started with polishing and preparing the pitches; while I was doing work for our customer.
I offered my expertise as a software developer and as a former entrepreneur to the participants.
How to score: novelty, appliability and effectivity
This was my first time being part of a jury in a hackathon, so in itself, it was a fun experience. The teams would give their 3-minute pitches to the jury and the jury could and would then ask questions and give feedback. Roughly half of the 9 teams were pitching live and half online. There were multiple great ideas pitched and loads of effort put in by different teams. I personally like data so I was impressed by two teams performing surveys to hundredish people about different aspects and utilization of the marketplace.
The pitches were ranked in 3 different categories: novelty, appliability and effectivity. Some of the teams shined in a single category but lacked in another. In my own ratings, the winning teams were the ones with the most steady score all around. It was crucial that most of the judges understood the pitch.
Winning innovation was a mobile application
The jury discussed the final verdict for a while, pondering on different aspects of the highest-scoring teams. The winning teams were chosen to be an analogical and digital solution: a new cart for the marketplace with design competition included and a digital application for both the stallholders and visitors.
Onixia, a group of teampreneurs from Tiimiakatemia, proposed to have new rentable carts in the marketplace to allow for more approachable and easier access to being a stallholder in the marketplace. They had detailed plans on how the cart would be designed and put into action. They won second place and were awarded 1500 € to develop their idea further.
Memorandum was the winning team of the hackathon and they were proposing a mobile application. Memorandum is a startup from Jyväskylä and they have been developing mobile applications and are known for their Augmented Reality experiences. They had a good plan with a team that can see the plan into reality. They were rewarded 1800 € from the hackathon. Participating teams will have the chance to use Crazy Town Showroom to showcase and try their ideas further and perhaps take them to the next level.
The winning team, Memorandum, proposed a mobile application.
I look forward to seeing what the future holds with the new marketplace and I wish the best for all of the participating teams and hope to see some or most of the plans come into realization in some form or other.
Do you want to hear about our expertise and join the crew in Jyväskylä? Check out our open positions here.
Buying shares in the company I work for seemed like a safe way to start as an investor because I knew what I was buying. It felt entirely different from buying shares in a company I knew nothing about.
I had not dared to start investing before this, because I felt that I didn’t know enough about it. I feared that I would invest badly and lose everything. Investment risks and their management were new to me, and I knew very little about investment products. I thought that investing was not my thing, because I’m not a particularly systematic person, or interested in the financial news in general.
The share savings scheme for Gofore employees makes it easy to start investing. You didn’t have to understand everything about investing before buying shares. Since buying Gofore shares, I have started following the development of their value with great interest. This has also taught me more about investing. I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t own shares in the company.
I want to make Gofore a better workplace
Share ownership has increased my commitment. I want the shares to increase in value and can affect the profitability of my investment through my own work. I want to make my work even better so that I will enjoy working there more and other employees will stay on as long as possible. Receiving supplementary shares after a certain number of years of service is a good added incentive.
Share ownership also makes it easier to understand matters from the company’s viewpoint and to work harder to achieve common goals. Being able to contribute to value development both as an employee and owner has a major impact on motivation.
Learning to be an investor through experimenting
Owning shares in the company I work for has encouraged me to try my hand at investment elsewhere. I wanted to learn more: for example, I now know how to avoid the greatest risks and what kinds of returns I can reasonably expect. I follow my colleagues’ discussions on investing and ask more experienced colleagues for advice.
I started investing only small sums, to practice at my own pace without taking big risks. I also tried to diversify my investments into different asset categories, such as funds and shares. In addition, I diversify my investments geographically to hedge against regional risks. Investing in shares requires time and dedication. I still have plenty to learn about these, but in the meantime, I plan to buy other shares as well.
The threshold for starting out would surely have been higher if I had not bought shares in the company I work for. Now, I’m learning through experimentation.
I had been working for Gofore for several years when the company was listed. I invested in Gofore out of pure interest when the employee share issue was launched – as an employee, I knew the company was developing well and I believed in its growth.
I have also expanded my share portfolio by joining the staff share savings scheme. I am particularly interested in the supplementary shares issued to participants three years from the start of the scheme. During that period, it is easy to commit to Gofore.
On the other hand, employee engagement depends on a number of other factors: interesting duties and customers, pleasant colleagues, and treating employees well.
Interest in developing as an investor
I am a long-term investor, investing only small sums. I already had experience in share and fund investments, and own shares in a company I used to work for. I only invest as much as I am prepared to lose.
I think that owning shares in my employer company gives me a more objective view of it. This is possible because I’m already familiar with investing. As an employee, I view Gofore from a very personal angle: as part of the company’s daily operations, I know the business really well.
As an investor, I can also view the company neutrally, which can be beneficial in daily situations at work. In this sense, shares in my employer are just some investments among others.
I’ve also found it interesting to follow the share value’s development. I follow the workplace discussion on investment on Slack, and check the financial news in the paper.
Next, I aim to expand my expertise in housing investment. I plan to read books on the subject to become more knowledgeable. Buying my first investment apartment is part of my five-year plan.
I had only been working for Gofore for a few months when I decided to join the staff share savings scheme and buy company shares at a discount. Investing was nothing new to me because I had started as soon as I turned 18.
I had viewed Gofore as an interesting prospect well before I became an employee. It was a nice coincidence that I took part in Gofore’s IPO in 2017. Even then, I viewed Gofore as a good investment, and I still own the shares I bought at the time.
More active investor
Previously, I would have described myself as a rather passive investor but, thanks to owning shares in Gofore, I’ve become more interested in the company’s press releases. It’s easy to keep up with Gofore’s press releases, as the bot adds any new press releases to our internal discussion forum automatically. It’s great that we have a sense of community and open, active discussion channels on various subjects.
I follow the development of Gofore and my other investments at least once a week, sometimes even daily. I read social media discussions, analysts’ reports, and online discussion forums. I also follow the Moneybags channel in Slack, used for Gofore’s internal communication, which features a range of investment and financial discussions among employees.
A better understanding of the employer’s business
It makes sense for me to own a part of my workplace and work towards developing it. My work motivation has always been high, and I’ve taken part in Gofore’s sales and marketing alongside my regular duties. For example, I’ve been interviewed for several newspapers about the development of our bots, and have written blogs for Gofore’s websites. I’ve also assisted the sales team in making offers.
I want to help win more interesting projects – and euros – for the company. I would probably do the same even if I had not invested in Gofore, but now I have the added incentive of increasing the long-term value of my investment. I feel that a combination of ownership and employment has taught me more about the consultancy business and profitable growth.
Being the best possible workplace for our employees has been a core value of Gofore from the beginning. Our company has a strong culture of employee inclusion, which is also reflected in ownership. We have included employees in our financial success in a very tangible way.
In fact, so many Gofore’s employees own shares in the company. Employee ownership is an important way of engaging employees. The benefits of ownership are realised as dividends and higher share value, although there is always a risk involved in terms of returns.
Gofore has always been also flexible in employee remuneration, which is being continuously developed. Following a number of acquisitions, we have a wide range of remuneration practices and employee benefits but are unifying them, while making sure they fit every part of our organisation. Our guiding principle is to create remuneration systems that strengthen the culture we are aiming for. Competition is tough in recruiting the best people in our field, and attractive remuneration schemes can increase Gofore’s appeal as an employer.
Rewarding employees is also a management method at Gofore, whereas share ownership encourages employees to develop the company’s operations through their work. As owners, we are all in the same boat, seeking to make Gofore a pioneer in the ethical, digital future.
The biggest boost from the employee share issue
Interest in ownership has been high from the start. The first Gofore employees bought shares in the company very early in its history. But the first major push came when the company was listed in 2017 – the personnel offering was oversubscribed 1.2-fold. Employees were attracted by the discount price of the shares. Subscribers were also included in a matching share scheme.
We believe that offering shares help to engage new employees. In 2018, we organised an exceptional recruitment campaign, making new employees shareholders in our company by providing them with shares worth EUR 1,500 as they signed their employment contracts. The campaign attracted some of the best talents in the market to Gofore.
In the same year, we launched the CrewShare share savings plan for our crew. Gofore employees can save part of their salaries and use it to buy Gofore shares at a reduced price. Participants are also entitled to matching shares once their ownership and employment have continued for long enough. There are currently three savings periods under the plan, and almost 260 participants.
Ownership rewards and teaches
Going the extra mile for themselves motivates many of our employee-owners in their daily work. When you own a slice of your workplace, you are committed in a new way to the company’s share development, and work seems more meaningful. Obviously, commitment to an employer is affected by many other key factors, such as opportunities for development, varied duties, pay, and an international working environment. That, at least, is how my list looks.
Investing in Gofore has also made many employees interested in investment on a more general level. Owning shares in their employer may have been a safe first step into the world of investment for those who were unfamiliar with the risks, management, and various products associated with the investment. Being part of the share savings plan, for instance, has taught many first-time investors a great deal about saving and the principles of investing. Hopefully, this has also reduced some of their uncertainty about investing.
Indeed, investing is an excellent way of developing yourself. I’ve been delighted to hear how my co-workers have talked about their plans to take the next step and look into index funds or housing investment. The threshold to begin investing would certainly have been higher without the buying of shares in Gofore – many have been encouraged to give investing a go.
Do you own shares of your employer company?
All kinds of meetings, small and big, have been the salt and pepper of being a Goforean. Informal gatherings are where the magic happens when people meet colleagues and people in different roles. It makes life rich and just.. well, life!
The corona isolation has been a big blow for communality and online coffee sessions just are not the same as real people and real beer (of course). At Gofore, we are using a traffic light model for COVID safety, and the Helsinki office has been in a red state meaning that all the big gatherings should be avoided. So we wanted to organize an event in a manner that translates to walking against the red lights on crossroads.
Taking the science into account
When somebody crosses a street during a red light, that somebody looks all the directions very carefully. This was also the principle we followed.
About the COVID virus, we knew.
In practice, eating and drinking are not possible with the mask on so some compromises had to be made. Our compromise was to have a table group where it is ok to be without a mask, but once you are outside the table, everybody should have a mask on.
Our goal was to translate a big 40 people gathering into 10 separate 4 people gatherings. Eating and drinking would happen in the table with the same group. For everything else, mask. So in theory, you should be able to contaminate a maximum number of 4 people.
Finnish autumn and outdoors, you crazy?
We had a great opportunity to get arrangements from Dylan Böle which has a nice inner yard. All the participants were advised to take enough warm clothes for the chilly weather. Luckily, the weather was almost hot. The inner yard sheltered people from the wind and the sun was shining above. Later in the evening people started digging their long johns.
The restaurant provided the hand sanitizer and washing facilities. (food and drinks also) Our great office queen Ella provided that masks with our volunteer Eero.
What did we learn?
For me, everything worked mostly as planned for the COVID countermeasures. People were able to stay still at the table and used masks for the moving.
Most of the problems were related to the masks which people had not used that much before. The importance of using that disposable mask only once and taking care not to contaminate both sides was difficult. It is important to cover also your nose.
In the tables, drinking and eating were ok without a mask. For leaving your table, there was a bag of new disposable masks to be used.
- Instruct the use of the mask in a detailed manner
- Instruct also the restaurant personnel
- Have enough masks
- And keep the discipline also after the event
And the most important: With this kind of countermeasures, it is possible to have events safely, but everything must be planned and instructed carefully in detail.
I remember a course in business school where we students, mostly unknown to each other, went for an “offsite” learning event for two days. At the end of day one, we were given the opportunity to have some dinner and (a few) drinks with each other. During the evening we got to know each other more on a personal level and had a fun evening together. Not surprisingly but even though very tired the team assignments we were doing on day two were much more productive and creative. Later the professor revealed that this had been done intentionally for us to realise the power of relationships in business and teamwork. After this experience, I have been very interested in relationship building and team dynamics.
Value of relationship: openness and trust
Obviously, during this special time of COVID-19, it is not as easy to build and maintain better workplace relationships as it is normally in face-to-face communication. While working in isolation, it is very easy to focus on the content of work and distancing ourselves instead (guilty as charged..) rather than on the process of relationship building. After all, these times call out for openness and trust more than ever. Organizations and teams need to see the value of this.
Is it even possible to build these better relationships only virtually? I think yes, it is done all the time over the internet in contexts where people share common interests and goals. A good example of this is some online gaming communities where people develop very close relationships with people around the world without ever meeting each other in person. A multitude of other examples exists as well. While online gaming is somewhat different from a strictly professional setting, similar dynamics of teamwork still apply, like a well functioning team has a very high level of trust.
Build and maintain your (business) relationships in a virtual setting
Here are some thoughts and tips which might help you build and maintain your (business) relationships in a virtual setting. I build this experience especially from some of the virtual teams I have worked with lately.
- In meetings, using the camera is necessary. It goes without saying that much of our communication is non-verbal so we need to get used to putting the camera on. Looking into a person’s eyes will tell you instantly if you are on the same page and a thumb-up reinforces that message. And no, it doesn’t matter if you have a bad hair day because most other people have them too.
- While everyone is working from home, it opens the possibility to share some personal things with your colleagues, for instance, an easy way of introducing some family members to the people you work with or sharing something interesting about your hobbies. Sharing some favorite photographs is a fantastic icebreaker or you can “accidentally” place something interesting in the space behind you. Being open will usually have the effect of other people opening up as well.
- Keep the team sizing small rather than big. Most of us people are psychologically more comfortable in “family-sized” groups ranging from 3-7 people. If this is not possible, try to split the group into smaller sub-groups to work on specific problems or questions (at least it’s quite easy to find a room for it now in the digital realm). Then synthesise the findings with the larger group.
- Make some time for chit-chat by putting it on the agenda of the meeting. At the office, stronger relationships are built by the coffee machine and during the time when people are getting to the meeting room. In a virtual context, put the meeting to start 10-15 minutes before intended to do some catching up with your colleagues. This allows the attendees to arrive on time and share for instance a cup of coffee or a sandwich together while exchanging the latest news and checking in for the meeting. If we are not too busy for this at the office, how can we be while working remotely?
- One of the most effective ways of building better relationships is learning something new together with your teammates. This can be achieved by setting some learning and improvement goals. One good way of doing is to dedicate a regular meeting only for these type improvements (many times also called a retrospective). Other ways are also working in pairs around problems and by just ”thinking out loud” in the meetings.
- Add transparency by communicating more on your progress, it only can take a few minutes to update your system, sending a message, or making a short call to your stakeholders. Ask actively feedback so that you can improve on the things you are doing. Ask for help e.g. review something you’ve done as you would at the office, don’t batter your head to the wall alone.
- Overall, be genuinely curious about the people you are working with and acknowledge how important they are. Try to understand their story and let them understand yours. Increase the number of one-on-one meetings with your co-workers and the casual “how are you doing” instant messages just like you would while passing them in the hallway at the office. Even though being remote, people still have the need to be visible and seen by others.
Investing in better relationships takes time and effort especially now in this special time. Especially if you are a leader, you need to see the value of the process of relationship building. Please take this topic and discuss it with your team on how they want to improve the situation.
Goforeans Teemu and Aapeli participated for the first time in our official mentoring program last spring. Together they helped each other in ways that Google could’ve not – for example by offering deeper insights about the topics, sharing personal experience, and opening up the reasons behind some modern tech solutions.
At this blog post, Teemu and Aapeli share their mentoring path and experience. Get inspired!
I have been working at Gofore for over 5 years as a software engineer in various projects in both the public and private sectors. I have worked more on the backend side of projects and while I have some frontend experience as well, I wanted to have a better understanding of some modern web development framework. When I read about Gofore’s mentoring program, it felt like a good possibility for refining my learning goals and starting the learning process.
“I have worked more on the backend side of projects and while I have some frontend experience as well, I wanted to have a better understanding of some modern web development framework.” – Teemu
I got paired with Aapeli, who has a strong experience with React and Node.js. Given their popularity, they felt like a good choice for me as well. We discussed my previous experience, goals, and ways to achieve them. We decided that I would start taking the Fullstack Open course by the University of Helsinki. The course gives a good overview of React and Node.js as well as many of the other tools and frameworks used with them. It is targeted for people who already have programming experience so it wouldn’t go too much into basics.
I started taking the course on my own and we organized calls to discuss the new topics every 2-3 weeks. Of course, it would be possible to take the course completely independently as well, especially since it provides many links to extra material in case you want to do some further research on some specific topic. Still, I found the discussions with Aapeli helpful, since they gave me a possibility to reflect on the subjects and ask questions.
“I am sure the new skills will be useful in my next projects!” – Teemu
I’m continuing to take the course, but so far, I’ve found it good. It gives a good overview of full-stack development using React and Node.js and all the topics have been explained well. I am sure the new skills will be useful in my next projects!
Most of my developer career – meaning a bit more than 5 years – I’ve been working mostly with different frontend technologies and Node.js. React.js I have used since 2016. I feel like having a relatively wide understanding of them. I also like helping others and sharing my knowledge, so it felt natural to apply as a mentor when I saw an advert of the mentoring program.
“I also like helping others and sharing my knowledge, so it felt natural to apply as a mentor when I saw an advert of the mentoring program” – Aapeli
I was a bit concerned about having paired up with Teemu, who had more experience in years as a developer than I do. I knew about peer and reverse mentoring but was still afraid that I wouldn’t have anything to offer for him. We had our first discussion and noticed that due to us having so different kinds of programming backgrounds, I could support him in this learning scope. We agreed that Teemu would start doing the course, and then we would have discussions about its topics and exercises.
Like Teemu said, working with the course independently would’ve been 100 % possible for him as well. But I think that I still managed to help him in ways that Google could’ve not – for example by offering deeper insights about the topics, telling about a personal experience, or opening up the reasons behind some modern solution.
“But I think that I still managed to help him in ways that Google could’ve not.” – Aapeli
I hope that Teemu now feels like he understands web technologies and Node.js and feels like he would feel like having a much better base for starting to learn them more deeply if he one day would end up working in a project where that would be needed. Who knows, maybe he ends up loving them as much as I do one day!
Software architect: a somewhat rare and coveted sub-species of programmer, known as notoriously hard to catch in the current job market. At Gofore, software architects are major players in our largest and most impactful projects. They design and implement principles and infrastructure used by thousands of people on a daily basis. And we would love to have more of them.
But as much as we like clear division of responsibilities and predictable call stack hierarchies in our codebases, we don’t see a place for them in running a modern software consulting company. Gofore has a minimal number of middle management (one, and he’s actually a bot), and our career ladder resembles rock climbing instead of a leisurely sloping path. Titles are not awarded automatically on basis of years in employment or obtaining some certificate.
We realised that we have a puzzle to crack: how to grow new software architects at Gofore.
“Gofore can and will offer help, tools and support for people who want to take on new responsibilities.” – Meeri
Meeri’s story: “My first step towards my goal was to join Gofore’s mentoring program”
After working as a software developer for 10 years, half of which I’d spent at Gofore, I was ready for new challenges. I could see a clear pattern in my previous projects: my engagement was significantly higher when I had taken part in the design phase, met with the shareholders, pitched in my ideas and evaluated technologies, as opposed to projects where I had been just another pair of hands to speed up implementation. I was eager to take on more responsibilities and join larger projects with non-trivial architecture. My first step towards my goal was to join Gofore’s mentoring program in the spring of 2020, where I was paired up with Juhana.
In the first sessions, we set our targets for the program. As the program was only a few months long, I didn’t expect to emerge as a full-fledged architect. Instead, I wanted to know where I stood and what direction I should take off to. I knew the textbook definition of software architecture, but I also wanted to hear the experiences of people who were actively practicing it. I wanted to learn what was beyond the web service patterns I had been using for the past 15 years. Most importantly, I wanted to learn what I didn’t know, so one of the first thing I asked of Juhana was to help me identify the strengths and weaknesses I had but didn’t see in myself.
It’s often even more important to remind ourselves and others of our strengths
As important as it is to work on our weaknesses, it’s often even more important to remind ourselves and others of our strengths. I asked Juhana to remind me to share my knowledge. I expected him to maybe send me a message at some point, telling me to give a technical talk or to write a blog post. Instead, sharing my knowledge became a much more regular–and impactful–discussion point in our mentoring sessions.
With coronavirus shutting down offices, we began our program with bi-weekly remote meetings.
As for the content of these sessions, my initial thought was that we would draw a roadmap–possibly using some formal notion I had not used since my university days–and start crossing off items. Juhana, however, had other ideas, so we set out for exploratory research, starting with the simple question of if software architecture was something I would enjoy.
Software architecture is a mix of technology and people skills
Software architecture is a mix of technology and people skills: In addition to drawing diagrams and setting up services, at Gofore we expect software architects also to be experts at defining requirements and maximizing value to clients and users. While we benefited greatly from discussing blog posts (What Kind of Animal is a Software Architect, The Path to Becoming a Software Architect), software architecture is not something you can learn just from a book.
To explore this other side of software architecture, we studied an entirely different document: my resume. We identified the roles and responsibilities I had had in my past and current projects. We picked out past architectural work–after all, the line between developer and software architect is blurry, especially in smaller projects – and started looking for ways to verbalize this experience, forging my past experiences to pave a way into the future.
As a result, we found plenty of opportunities to use my current skills and start building on them in my current projects. To my surprise, what benefitted me most turned out not to be an academic study of existing architectural patterns. Instead, I started bringing new value to my client by utilizing tools of software architecture in the work I was already doing. And because my work had an impact on my team, it made for a shorter feedback cycle as well as some good old-fashioned peer pressure. In the end, I was very happy that I didn’t have to take a huge leap to a new role in a new project at this time.
“… what benefitted me most turned out not to be academic study of existing architectural patterns. Instead, I started bringing new value to my client by utilising tools of software architecture in the work I was already doing” – Meeri
My tip: “to reach your goals put them into words”
My key takeaway from the mentoring program was something very simple: The most important thing you can do to reach your goals is to put them into words and discuss them regularly. Having the mentoring sessions set in my calendar forced me to find time to do the thing we had discussed. Of course, sometimes there were urgent project tasks that took priority.
Admittedly, we did not come up with a universal curriculum to turn developers into architects in four months or less. However, I believe that we have proved that Gofore can and will offer help, tools, and support for people who want to take on new responsibilities.
Juhana’s story: “Software architecture is not something you can learn just from a book”
I’ve been working at Gofore since Dec 2019, and my professional experience in building digital services dates back to early 2006. Here at Gofore I’m working as the Capability Owner of Web Development multitasking as a Technology Consultant in key projects with several hats from Software Architect to Scrum Master and Lead Developer to name a few. I’m renewing and nurturing Gofore’s capabilities in Web Development to match the current and future needs of our clients, and to grow new scalable businesses.
For the past decade, I’ve been involved in SMEs, growth companies, and startups as Head of Digital, VP of Software & Services, CTO, Chief Architect, Lead Developer while simultaneously undertaking all imaginable software professional roles from DevOps to Design, and from Architecture to Development, Integration, and Database administration. I often find myself working towards sharing a common understanding of the digital services at hand, either when ideating, planning, or both in their current status and what future holds. Furthermore, making proactively sure that client is heard and understood, and those important things get done and finished, effectively tying up loose ends.
I was asked to scout out potential mentors for different tracks and decided to join in as well as a mentor as I’ve previously experienced mentoring to be an excellent way to learn and widen one’s own perspective and as a software architect, I was a suitable mentor for Meeri.
What it is to work with software architecture and what it means to work as a software architect are very different things. As the mentoring was more from a coaching approach, I wanted to set the expectations towards having a low barrier dialog between two equals, open sharing of experiences, and therefore learn through widening our lenses by learning how to wear different hats one might say. Commitment to achieving goals set to oneself and having good open communication were some of my additional expectations for the mentoring agreement.
Fundamental structures of a software system, different development activities, paradigms and models, methodologies and frameworks, practices, tools, and standards are something that can be learned from books, but that doesn’t mean that one using them becomes necessarily a software architect and it is the same toolset for developers.
A good software architect: the backbone of an entire development organisation
Software architecture is also about being able to make fundamental choices that can be costly to change once implemented, and also about being able to communicate all of the above to all of the different stakeholders at hand. It is very much about people’s skills. How all of the above should be taken into consideration when applying these into the customer business landscape in order to find a problem-solution fit for the particular digital service or a problem domain.
Expectations for mentoring the software architecture track weren’t set out of the blue. I strongly believe that being able to identify oneself as a software architect, it comes from understanding the rationale and decisions behind past experiences (both one’s own and others) and having the applied knowledge and knowhow suitable for the task at hand to tackle the future successfully. A compelling track record one could say. Furthermore, accompanied by an ability to be able to have a good and open dialog between different stakeholders on a level that everyone understands the matter at hand, the decisions needed to be made, and being able to reflect, iterate. A good software architect can be the backbone of an entire development organisation even without having sugarcoated title prefixes, such as principal, lead, or chief.
“… software architect can be the backbone of an entire development organisation even without having sugarcoated title prefixes, such as principal, lead, or chief” – Juhana
We usually have pre-determined goals for positions or roles we apply to and have thoughts about the possible road ahead of us to grow into. However, even though often these goals are thought of beforehand they tend to change while things unravel.
Mentoring: “Give value to the shared knowledge and discussion”
As a takeaway, remember to have an open mindset in your professional development journey whether it is participating in a mentoring program or through something completely different. Give value to the shared knowledge and discussion, and adjust it to your situation together, and remember that setting strict goals might not be for everyone and that pre-determined goals might not be the ones you are truly after.
Sharing knowledge is a two-way street. Support one another in your professional growth through openly sharing your knowledge as well as learn how to turn these discussion items into action points that get followed through thus paving your path into your future role.
And one more thing. Remember to ask for feedback.
Goforeans participated for the first time ever to our own official mentoring program last spring. ’Official’ meaning that mentoring at Gofore has been rather unofficial and it has usually taken its form in project teams or with two colleagues talking casually, yet repeatedly, about their challenges at work.
Even though unofficial mentoring continues to be the most important form of mentoring in our company, we know that we also need structures and support. Participants gathered their thoughts and lessons learned on our blog. Get inspired!
I had been an entrepreneur for a couple of years in Jyväskylä and was at a turning point in my career. My friend invited me to participate in Star Wars movie night organized by Gofore and I thought to myself “why not”. I had been interested in the company prior since I had had some friends work there. I had heard that the company is a good place to work in so I was interested already in working opportunities at the company.
After the movie, I questioned my friend about the company and their story was aligned with what I had heard. The daily work-life sounded pretty much what I expected the work of a consultant to be. We had done customer projects while working as an entrepreneur so taking a leap with Gofore sounded like a natural fit for me.
I contacted the site lead of Jyväskylä and he instructed me to send an application on the Gofore website to get the process rolling. The process consisted of 3 interviews: defining my fit as a consultant, technical prowess and perk, and salary negotiation. The technical interview included coding live, which feels awkward as ever. I got a decent salary and as a very nice perk, a few weeks of paid holiday (without lomaraha). Normally when starting in February one would only get a few day’s worths of holiday.
Taking initiative is important
The last negotiation was at the end of January so there was still a week or so until I actively started at the company. Before that I got to fill my Hohto-profile that is used to find meaningful client projects. I got to select the equipment that I am currently writing this blog post with and do my normal software development work. I wanted to go with OnePlus 7T as my working phone since it had enough power to use on the go but didn’t seem that overpriced. And last I got to take a picture with a professional photographer. I was blinking constantly, which didn’t help the process, but we got the picture taken. These all were count as working hours that I could take back later when the actual work started.
In many of these things I got to be very self-initiative – in good and in bad – as is with everyday working in the company. Nobody is there to order you to do things but one must take initiative and make decisions themselves. The Company does its best to support decision making to allow people to make hopefully the best decisions for themselves and the company. It was nice that since the Hohto-work had been done in advance I was enrolled to start in a project during my first weeks. Unfortunately starting in the project required a security checkup.
The freedom and responsibility that are offered working here are both frightening and refreshing. My biggest hardship was to fight the quilt I had for not being able to start in my customer project. The project required a security checkup made by an official source (often called tursel). While waiting I did some work on 2 internal projects and practiced my skills in the areas that could be useful for the upcoming project.
Getting to know my new colleagues before corona
Nobody directly ordered or denied me from going to my first learning opportunity inside the company “Fundamentals of working as a consultant” in the Tampere office. Another reason for this trip was to make contact with soon-to-be teammates face-to-face. It helps to know the faces you are working with. It was nice to also get to know my new colleague better that was in a similar situation: just started in the company, waiting for tursel and joining the same project.
Gofore Jyväskylä was in the middle of moving to a larger office at the center of Jyväskylä. We had barely been able to move to the new office and set up our desks when the company declared a remote-first corona policy, as was the government’s recommendation. I had set up my desk and was able to at the new office for merely a few days before this took place. It was unfortunate to not be able to meet new colleagues more before jumping in on the project but it was also nice that I had had a glimpse of people that I was talking to on Slack.
Thankfully around at the same time, I had been able to start in the customer project and got to do some coding in that project. Not being in the new office was not that big of a deal since half of the project team worked further away anyways. At the start, we had plenty of telcos (Slack and Teams calls) to get things rolling and it was good to start coding in a new project with another person. We could share our insights on the project that we had accumulated doing feature X and both of us got to learn new things during this back and forth exchange of knowledge.
Photo: Gofore Jyväskylä office visible from Jyväskeskus
Balancing work and everything that happens in life
The working life during corona was pretty straightforward. Wake up, eat something and brush teeth and walk 2 meters from kitchen to computer. Start the day by browsing features or continue one that had been started earlier. Dailies are also a good time to talk with teammates since there’s far less natural contact with workmates – no talking during coffee breaks or in the hallway or can’t go to their desk to ask or discuss something.
The year, in general, has been somewhat of a roller coaster for me. Starting a new job, a close person dying, corona, getting married in midst of all of this, and so forth. I can be thankful since there haven’t been any problems fitting my holidays to align with wedding plans, or to be able to take a day or hour off to arrange things that needed to be done. I have had to just take initiative to secure that there won’t be problems with the project I am working in. And for this work and life balance, I can sincerely recommend Gofore as a working place for you. You can read more in Finnish about Gofore as a workplace from our blog.
You can also see the currently open positions at https://gofore.com/en/careers/ or just send on an open application if you think you could be a fit for Gofore.
Also, I’d be happy to answer questions regarding my journey so far or things that tickle your curiosity.