I was lucky to join my dream company Spotify straight out of University as an associate backend engineer who truly loved work. I could get stuck learning and solving problems for hours without realising it was way past bedtime. I remember a manager saying that eventually, the learning curve would flatten out and that it was all normal, I recall thinking “that possibly can’t be true, there is so much to learn, I don’t want this to stop!”. I kept learning in a step curve, very much thanks to the mentorship from fellow engineers, managers and the opportunities/trust I was given (thank you!).
Promoted to “Senior Engineer”?
Really? Roughly two and half years after joining Spotify I had been promoted to Senior Engineer and I still felt like I had a lot to learn. I sure had learnt a lot and done a lot of cool things but senior? No, I don’t think so. A promotion sure is flattering and beneficial in many ways but it also comes with expectations. I was still learning a lot from many perspectives, not only technical. Somewhere here I started hearing that my direction was pointing towards becoming a staff engineer (explanation here). Many of the best engineers I know are staff engineers. Is that what I want? I sure see myself taking the staff+ engineer route, I love leadership, code and people but what does the route look like? The title sure isn’t the end goal. The best technical leaders I’ve seen and met so far have done some, metaphorically speaking, painting, drilling, plumbing, and carpentry of small/large houses. Spotify is a pretty large house after all and I’ve maybe done some drilling and painting.
So why did I want to try something new?
It all came down to the possibility of learning. I wanted to continue to broaden my view and see other types of problems. I loved working at Spotify and was still learning loads(!) and really liked my band members but I wanted to see something else. A place where a lot of the technical foundation was not already in place, where you can’t click a button to have a full-blown service available and where a lot of things are abstracted away. I wanted to carpentry a smaller house.
Optimising for learning and not a promotion
For me it was truly important to optimise for learning and nothing else, I love to learn new things and it is those moments I can get stuck for hours. So what is important for me when it comes to optimising for learning?
- Purpose, a company with purpose beyond making money. Without it I would not have the same drive.
- Psychological safety, a company which doesn’t focus on blame but rather on what we can learn from mistakes.
- Another domain, a different domain than what I’d seen so far.
- Speed of iteration, a company where agile is the core principle. No rigid processes but rather allow for continuous iteration and improvement.
- Working with a skilled and diverse set of people, a company where you can learn a lot from your colleagues with different perspectives.
- Meeting people physically, a company where I can meet my colleagues physically and preferably can bring my dog!
- Having fun, a company where I truly enjoy the people and spending time with colleagues.
- Employment safety, a company where you don’t worry that it will go bankrupt next month.
Why Gilion (former Ark Kapital)?
Working at a FinTech company surely wasn’t high on my priority for companies to work for. “Are most of them not just focusing on profits?” was my initial reflection. However, I tried being more open-minded than my initial reaction and trying to understand what Gilion is trying to do. The more I read and heard about how Gilion is trying to impact founder success with a data-driven approach the more excited I got.
Add the fact that Gilion was one of the few companies that ticked all of the above boxes (including bringing my dog to the office!). I have never before been in an interview process where I feel more and more excited for each person I met working at the company.
What have I been a part of the first 4 months?
The first four months have been focused on building the second version of the Gilion platform. I’ve managed to take part in things like
- Designing the architecture
- Building four new microservices
- Evolving existing microservices
- Setting up a Kubernetes cluster and related ingress controller
- Setting up CI/CD
- Written backend, infrastructure and frontend code
- Pair/ensemble programmed a lot
- Two weeks vacation
One can for sure say that there has been a lot of learning in the three and a half months I’ve worked! I’m eager to see what we in the Gilion team will be able to achieve in the coming month and years to come.
Ps. Gilion is hiring, feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.