What makes a good workplace?
As the skills gap continues to widen and competition to attract the best developers and engineers intensifies, we take a look at the companies leading the charge in securing tech talent.
Read next: The techies 2018 awards in pictures.
ProFinda is one such company. The AI startup recently closed a funding round of £4.8 million and is home to 32 employees, including a development team of 15.
The dev team consists of an API team, a UI team, an Intelligence team and a QA team, with the head of tech overseeing each.
We spoke to Roger Gorman, CEO of ProFinda and Spela Cedilnik, head of product, to find out what makes them ‘Techies Team of the Year’ and why developers should be excited to work for the company.
See also: Techies 2018 winners.
The culture of ProFinda is centred around freedom and flexibility, so much so that the entire dev team work remotely.
Not only does remote working give employees greater autonomy over their workspace and schedules but it allows for more focused coding, free from any office distractions.
Spela says that as a lot of developers are naturally introverted this style of work is really compatible for them, something she’s witnessed across each of the teams.
To ensure collaboration across the team they use various tools for chatting, screen sharing and paired programming.
For remote working to be effective, employees need to be comfortable taking their own initiative and working with little guidance.
This is one of the reasons that the company hires so many senior developers, according to Spela. She says the personalities within the team are also a contributory factor.
“One of the things that makes the team work so well together is that we don’t tolerate egos. Regardless of seniority, everyone is very humble, open to learning, sharing and discussion. That’s what we look for,” she added.
The role of a developer is constantly evolving to incorporate new technologies and regulations.
To really excel in the industry requires a commitment to continuous learning and skills building. Roger says that the team are often working on passion or side projects, outside of their own roles.
“Some of what the guys have built - even some of it in their own time - represents stuff that firms like Deloitte are putting into their Future Of Work flagship centre,” he said.
Spela says that while the appetite for learning is inherent in the team, as a business they’re trying to do even more to nurture it.
“So far it’s been on an adhoc basis but we’re putting more structure around this where we’ll have budgets assigned to each team for courses or conferences, so they can develop their skills even further,” she said.
As a developer, one of the biggest draws to working in a startup is the influence you can have on the core product and overall business.
This impact is still celebrated and enjoyed, even after a person leaves the company, with some former employees still attending company retreats and hackathons.
It’s one of the elements of the culture that Roger thinks is most unique about ProFinda.
“I love that former members are not only invited to these events overseas but that they actually wanted to come, self-funded! It’s a testament to the great working relationships that are built within the team,” he said.
It’s not all about lucrative salaries and benefits. For ambitious dev talent, it’s often the nature of the work that motivates them to join and stay at a company.
Roger says this is especially true of more senior developers who are looking to work on products “with some soul.”
The company is currently working with the UN and the World Economic Forum to launch a climate community on the back of the platform. “Like a LinkedIn for climate change,” says Roger, “but a really, really good one”.
He believes that the quality of projects such as this one is what sets ProFinda apart from larger competitors with larger paycheques.
“We’re building something that has profound impact - not just to transform the way people work and make their lives a bit better - but we actually have the chance to impact society,” he said.
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