Let’s peep into our Bialystok office! In this interview, Tomasz Juszczuk, Bialystok site manager, tells us more about the IT market in Bialystok, the history of our office there and the day-to-day work of our developers.
If you’re interested in joining our Bialystok team, take a look at our current job offerings. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!
How did you join Spyrosoft? What is your professional story?
I came to Spyrosoft through a recommendation from my and Konrad’s [Weiske] mutual friend. I learned about Spyrosoft at the initial stages of the company’s activity. At the time, Konrad was looking for a place to set up another office and needed someone to help him create and develop it.
I had a meeting with Konrad, and he told me about his vision of how he’d like Spyrosoft to look. I told him what Bialystok could offer in terms of IT specialists’ profiles. I think we convinced each other, and that’s how my adventure with Spyrosoft began.
Regarding my professional history – I completed my studies in management at Bialystok University of Technology. I also studied at the University of Southern Denmark, where I graduated in manufacturing engineering and management. Later, I went to Warsaw, where my adventure with the IT industry began. I joined Samsung as a Project Leader. There I made my first steps in IT and got to know the entire software development process. I worked on mobile projects that Samsung released to the European market. I also had the pleasure of going to HQ in South Korea, where I led really cool projects. We customised software for major players in the European market, such as Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, etc.
After Samsung, I focused a bit more on project management. I was a PM at one company in Warsaw, but after 3 years, I returned to Bialystok. In the meantime, I graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics, where I studied project management. In Bialystok, I was employed at a software house, where I worked for almost 3 years. It was right after this adventure that I had a meeting with Konrad, and I was employed at Spyrosoft, where I work to this day, that is, for 5 years.
So you were a PM first, and later a line and site manager in one?
Yes, I developed my competencies working closely with people.
How does the IT market in Bialystok look? What shape is it? Is there anything that sets it apart from other cities?
Well, there is a smaller market than in other cities in Poland, such as Wroclaw, Warsaw or Krakow. Nevertheless, it is powered by the many students who graduate from the University of Technology every year.
I think that Bialystok is also a tasty morsel for other companies, which is proven by the fact that more and more software houses or product companies are being created here. Competition is a good thing because it forces us to develop and adapt our offer to the market, so as not to fall behind. This is a plus for the entire IT industry in Bialystok.
What distinguishes Spyrosoft from the competition?
It’s cool that people who work here aren’t tied to one project until the end of time, as is often the case in product companies. You don’t have to leave Spyrosoft to work on something equally interesting, because we have various customers in many cool industries. You can change a project in terms of industry as well as technology. There are many examples of backend developers who wanted to work a little with frontend or DevOps solutions in our company.
Also, one of our greatest advantages is a clear and simply constructed training budget. We focus on the employees’ development. We know that it will pay off for them and, consequently, for us.
What creates such a unique, open and friendly atmosphere in the Bialystok office?
I often come across this opinion. Honestly, I think it’s because we are direct and we like to joke. Also, we treat ourselves like a large family. It is standard in all our Spyrosoft offices that we have a welcome breakfast for new employees every month. They have the opportunity to get to know other people on their very first day at work. I think it’s cool and not so common in competitive companies.
What is more, we have several communities of interest. We regularly meet to share knowledge and help each other. For example, .Net developers and enthusiasts meet every Wednesday. They established the format of the meetings and divided the duties between themselves. For example, there is one person who books rooms and distributes tasks. They even came up with the idea to take the .Net skill matrix and vote on the topic, which is attractive to them or with which they have the most problems. Then they analyse these topics and problems and go through them together.
They have the meeting formula so well thought out that two people are always prepared for each presentation in case one gets sick. Other groups followed their example, and we now have an internal frontend and testing community of interest.
We also often meet after work. We meet in the office to play board games or watch movies. We have a „sports freaks Bialystok” group who meet to play football or run together. It’s worth mentioning that we will rent a sports hall with exercise space to play volleyball, ping pong and other sports.
These are all bottom-up initiatives. We didn’t have to persuade anybody to take part in them, which is great and says a lot about the atmosphere in our team.
Maybe I’ll move to Bialystok…
[laughs] You’re welcome here!
What is your technological stack in Bialystok?
In Bialystok, we mainly work on Enterprise projects, so C# and Java are the main backend programming languages. Regarding the frontend part, we usually work with React and Angular. Of course, I can not forget about our QA team, who test solutions prepared by their colleagues.
Also, since last year we have had an ecommerce business unit in our company, and a few people from Bialystok are already working on ecommerce projects.
Apart from that, here you can also find people specialising in DevOps, mobile or appian.
Do we have a main specialisation in Bialystok?
Apart from the leading areas I just mentioned, we don’t have any specific specialisation, and we work for various industries.
Can you describe the most interesting project from a technological or domain point of view that you have been working on?
It’s hard to pick just one. Definitely Smarter Technologies. The client offers IOT solutions used in the industry or for private home users. We are currently working on a smart view project for smart cost management, which is a really hot topic right now.
We also have a lot of people who work on the Allpro project, which, I think, is really interesting. Allpro is our internal system, which is currently used, for example, to log working time or allocate technical specialists. Further modules will be added soon, for example, project settlement or recruitment. This project is implemented using new technologies and is also a tidbit for developers.
How many developers are there in the Bialystok office?
We are close to 100.
What values is the Bialystok site built on? Can you tell us about the work culture that you promote?
We promote learning from each other. It’s not like only seniors are giving presentations at the knowledge-sharing meetings. People with less experience or seniority get the same topic to work out, because you learn best when you develop something yourself and then share the knowledge with others.
We generally focus on cultivating a good atmosphere by organising various meetings after work, like sports or board games. Also, it’s very important for us to create an environment where you can be yourself.
Do you treat yourself as one group, or is there a distinction between teams or projects?
It seems to me that projects are generally mixed, and teams are scattered between our sites. Hence, people from Bialystok work with other people from Bialystok, but also with a team from Wrocław, Warsaw or Croatia.
It’s not that if we work on different projects, we do not know each other and do not spend time together, because we do not cooperate on a daily basis. People really like and support each other here regardless of the project or technology.
What do you think about remote work?
I really appreciate the possibility of remote work and it’s great when, for example, I have a sick child, or I expect a parcel to be delivered.
But in general, I really appreciate working from the office and the fact that I can talk to other people, whether it’s about work or private matters and what is happening around the world. This face-to-face contact pays off a lot. It’s a different kind of relationship.
Even if a team is distributed, PMs organise integration meetings in one city so that the team can meet live. Clients also invite our developers to their HQs from time to time, or they come to visit us to meet people with whom they work on a daily basis. It is really much easier to talk and cooperate later.
All in all, it’s nice to have the opportunity to work remotely, but I generally prefer working from the office.
On July 1, we celebrated the 5th birthday of the Bialystok office. You have been here from the beginning. What were your biggest challenges in terms of managing the site, changing the location, etc.?
Initially, the biggest challenge was that no one knew Spyrosoft in Bialystok. It was completely new on the market. My biggest challenge was to convince people that it was worth trusting us, it was worth changing their employer. It was necessary to show them that this company is made up of people with great experience who want it to be a leader in the IT market. I think it worked.
Currently, the biggest challenge is big competition in the market.
Do you think that 5 years ago the competition was smaller?
It was definitely smaller. In my opinion, it was also a sign for tech companies that it is worth choosing Bialystok because there is human capital that has great potential.
In addition, changing the location of the office was also a challenge. We approached it like a project. We created a board with tasks that needed to be carried out. Each task was assigned to a person from a given department and we held regular meetings where we went through the tasks to see if we were on track with everything. It worked well for us.
What were the most memorable and crucial turning points at Spyrosoft for you during these 5 years?
The most memorable event for me was the opening of the office. We started with a few people and it took us a while to get it all ready. It’s also cool that there are still people here, who have been working at Spyrosoft since then and those who opened the Bialystok branch with me. It’s not a common situation in IT that someone works for 5 years in one company.
Another milestone was moving the office, which I mentioned earlier. Thanks to the fact that we employed more and more people we raised the standard of the office. We celebrated it with a big party. Oh, and we have a fish tank in the office, which we take care of together. You can see them in our promotional videos.
The next turning point was when Agnieszka and Ela joined our team. It paid off for our employees as I think they feel better-taken care of now, having somebody they can count on.
Ela is a people person. If someone wants to learn something about the company or needs advice, they usually go to Ela. Agnieszka took the testing and .NET team under her wings. Since we are now a team of 3, we can devote more time to individual people.
Imagine that you are travelling 5 years into the future. What does a perfect site in Bialystok look like for you?
First of all, I’m still there! This is the guarantee of success [laughs].
I hope it will be sooner than in 5 years, but from a business perspective, I would like us to be leaders in the IT market in Bialystok. I’d like every graduate who leaves the university walls to browse our job offers first. I also want us to be recognised in Bialystok as a cool employer, where talented people can develop their skills working in a friendly atmosphere.
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