“You can graduate with a degree in ceramics and work at Spyrosoft in Cracow. We employ interesting people, eager to develop, fans of technology, with unusual interests. A person with a lot of passion will do very well in IT,” says Sebastian Cibor, who manages Spyrosoft’s Cracow office.
Your work history in the IT market: How did you get to Spyrosoft?
I am an engineer by education. I also completed my eMBA at the Cracow Business School of the Cracow University of Economics. Previously, I worked in many corporations, mainly telecommunications companies such as Siemens, Motorola, Nokia-Siemens, and Samsung. I held various positions there. I started as a tester, and over time I became a project manager, and then a line manager. My work in the past was very different from what I do now.
Because Spyrosoft is not a corporation?
Case in point. In many corporations, everyone is focused on a particular product. In our case, the product is the services provided by the employee, so the employee is our greatest value; it is the employee that we focus on and invest in. We are keen for them to be able to grow and change, for example, the technologies they work in or the industries. And in a corporation, you have a specific direction and an imposed, narrow specialisation. Such an approach makes it difficult to break out of such a “pigeonhole”, and over time working like that also becomes insanely monotonous.
It’s different at Spyrosoft. This opportunity for continuous development is de facto our business model in Cracow. Because, yes – people who can be involved in continuous education and learning are satisfied with their work, and as a result, the client can work with a versatile developer. Such people can offer more, so we all benefit from it.
What did the IT market in Cracow look like when you started working in the industry? Today, everyone knows what it looks like and that a programmer is probably the most sought-after profession in the world.
It was so much different! When I graduated, I knew that if I was very lucky, I would get a job. There wasn’t much going on in the IT market in Cracow; there was one big company in the city – Comarch, which absorbed virtually every IT specialist at the time.
And today – the IT market is global, and there are virtually no barriers. It doesn’t matter where you live – you can work for any company worldwide. Do you agree?
Yes, we must only remember that we are talking about people who already have some experience in the industry. A person at the beginning of their career is unlikely to get their dream job immediately. And there is one important thing when it comes to working remotely, which is very fashionable today. Of course, I think it is worth taking advantage of this possibility. But we should not go to extremes here. Working remotely is for people who already have some experience. However, if you are a junior or trainee, you should work in the office until you gain enough experience. It’s very difficult to get it through Teams (the Microsoft Teams application). In my opinion, personal contact is key here.
It’s different if you already have some experience – then you can work remotely without a problem. I am a proponent of hybrid work, a version with 2-3 days of work from the office. Let’s remember one thing – our company does not exist without people. It will not grow without them. In my opinion, people develop the most by interacting with others in the real world. After all, other people inspire us to grow and to do new things.
Spyrosoft Cracow is, after Wroclaw, the fastest-growing office in the Group worldwide. You currently employ nearly 200 people. How is it done?
For me, the key is trust. If, during the 45 minutes of a job interview, the person being recruited and I can trust each other, I know something will come out of it. The second thing I look for in new employees is a willingness to grow. Sometimes, I hire people with little knowledge and experience regarding technical issues. But when I see that such a person has several different passions and has experimented with various technologies, I often give them a chance. Why?
Well, if someone tells me that they play the guitar, play soccer, and still give music lessons – it means that such a person manages their time very well. When I hear project managers praise them after the first three months of their work, it gives me the greatest satisfaction.
And the recommendation rate? How many of the people hired are colleagues of current employees?
About 60% of our employees are referrals, whom we approach with respect, and we with whom we conduct a technical interview every time. We always appreciate the efforts of those who recommend us as a great place to work.
So many recommendations mean that people like working at Spyrosoft. Why do you think that is?
It’s all about the opportunities we provide. I would like employees to feel that they can always come and ask for new challenges. This includes both the opportunity to change the technology they are working in, but also to change to a new industry.
People who have re-branded themselves – and there are plenty of such individuals in Cracow, as we have more than 20 different industries – are the happiest employees. These are our best ambassadors, and they are the ones who recommend the most specialists to us.
And what about life after work?
As I said, I often hire people with interesting hobbies, so you can’t get bored with us. The most original hobby I’ve heard of in our office so far is growing – wait for it – moss.
Our non-work-related activities in the Spyrosoft Cracow office include organising pool tournaments. Earlier, I was looking for a solution on how to integrate developers from different technologies because it is not easy to combine a C++ developer with a .net or java developer. And billiards allows it. We also organise foosball tournaments. We play soccer – we have a business league. We also have our Spyroband, which is a community that organises various activities within the company. We had yoga, a mountain trip, and jogging in Błonia Park.
Periodically we also have events in Cracow, for example, integration breakfasts with new people. We had a French breakfast in June and a spring breakfast in May. Every month there is a different theme. After business hours, we go out for a “welcome party.” We also have coffee and doughnuts once a month while talking to the directors of various business units who come to Cracow. We discuss what has worked for us in a project and what hasn’t worked so well.
Speaking of team-building events, this year, all of us from the Spyrosoft Cracow office went to Bialka Tatrzanska for two days to a hotel with a sauna and jacuzzi to relax a little. It was possible to work remotely from the hotel if one wished to do so. The goal was to show our employees that they could work from anywhere, as in our Work from Anywhere policy.
And what technologies do you deal with? What does cooperation with your clients look like?
We develop the largest number of technologies of any Spyrosoft office. Even those that are not available in other facilities. We work for many industries, including automotive, geospatial, finance, etc. Our clients appreciate the commitment of our specialists. They often visit us to discuss product development and exchange experiences. Our relationships with the clients are based primarily on trust, as noted by our specialists, who feel responsible for the project.
Would you give us some taste of the projects?
All the projects are interesting. We work in dispersed teams, with people from other locations, so I don’t want anyone to say that we are appropriating a project. Just two years ago, if you had asked me about an interesting project, I would have talked about an autonomous car, for example. And today – yes, we’re making a model of an autonomous car, and that’s fascinating, but I look at it simply as another project in this area.
And how do you work with clients? Do they visit you?
Actually, we have clients visiting the office every week. They are always impressed with our new office and its location. We are located close to the Main Square. In my opinion, this is the best location in Cracow at the moment.
Our office is also a great value for employees. It was designed to meet the requirements of many SCRUM teams. That’s why we have 14 meeting rooms and 10 phone booths.
Apparently, there are also link trainers in the office.
Well, yes, it was Kasia’s idea, she’s employed as a people partner. For a long time, I’ve been courting such a person to help ensure that we do something together regularly, such as the pool tournaments. And in fact, we also had link trainers recently, and we organised races in the office. Quite a few people got involved. So that was something new. This is our way of encouraging people to work from the office.
Where do the employees come from? Do they all have IT degrees?
We have employees from Cracow but also from somewhere near Rzeszow, Lublin, or towns near Cracow. We don’t pay much attention to education. With us, it doesn’t matter if someone graduated in computer science or ceramics or medicine; what matters is that they have the right competence and passion for what they do.
Ok, to wrap it up, in your opinion, what makes a developer happy?
In my opinion, it is the awareness of and the opportunity for continuous growth – the fact that I am better today than I was yesterday. Developer – the name itself already says that it is someone who wants to develop.
The original article was published in lovekrakow.pl.
About the author
What it’s like to work at Spyrosoft UK – an interview with Duncan Johnson