I moved to Canada almost 4 years ago. By that time, everything was fuzzier. Moving to a new country, family/kids, and starting a new job. I remember I had to focus to not screw up and keep marching forward.
Last Friday, I closed one chapter in my life that has been critical to my success as a person and software engineer. In this chapter, I was able to lead outstanding people, work on multiple challenges, at the same time I was discovering a gorgeous city, having a second daughter and getting through a pandemic.
I started working at TTT Studios back in 2017. I was lucky to land in a place where work is a consequence of good practices and a culture where people can thrive and communicate with easy efforts.
Very quickly, I was given more and more responsibility and I ended up being the "Director of Engineering". Overall in my stay, I had boundless support and freedom to introduce, dictate and develop processes with the support of the sales, project manager, design and engineering teams.
I wanted to dedicate this post to my key learnings while working for "Two Tall Totems".
So, what did I learn at TTT?
Education is key to improve or create a company process
I was lucky enough to see many people evolve in my stay. Along with that, comes inevitably some changes in the way to do things.
In the software world, many things are going on aside from just coding. And much of those things can be automized or achieved by a machine. Much of this leads to an improvement in quality, speed and thoroughness.
When I started a higher role as "Director of Engineering", I took education as a pillar to lead a team.
You want to start writing unit tests? Start by teaching people why are they important and write them in pair coding sessions. Give them guidelines and basic CI/CD scripts to make their lives easier.
You want to have clean and detailed documentation for projects and internal processes? Spend lots of time writing drafts, proving that they're reusable for new members and keep iterating to get decent content your team can take advantange.
You want your team to surprise you? Spend again time mentoring and giving free advice (free meaning: no extra judgment or emotion attached). Allow them to fail and explain further refinements. Make them feel, regardless of a mistake, it's always an improvement and not "1 step forward, 2 steps backwards" situation.
Discover and develop my voice further
I have forgotten all the list of projects I did work on or oversee. Three or four come to mind instantly because of the challenges and breakthroughs that led to success, frustration and learnings for the next projects. I remember I wrote a blog post for one I worked on with 2 other distributed teams (one in South Africa, the other in Indonesia). I called it "The Most Difficult Project I’ve Ever Worked On".
All of these experiences along with the people who participated, helped me develop my voice and leadership style. Furthermore, Vancouver and the people at TTT are overly multi-cultural, and having all those mixes of personalities and ways of communicating, has been enriching.
Working at TTT allowed me to attend multiple tech conferences, work on projects for leading companies, communicate with a wide range of people at different business levels, and ultimately increase my confidence as an engineer and someone passionate about building software.
To not spit towards the sky
Before 2017, I had spent 7 years working remotely. I even started a conference about remote work. Very few people understood this way of work. I was very comfortable with it and I couldn't imagine myself otherwise.
At TTT I met amazing people that motivated me to go to work every day. I do actually miss going to the office every day and have brainstorming sessions, solving bugs within a meeting or just have casual chats.
It made me realize how important the bond with a team is and how you always need to nurture culture and relationships. Now, instead of preaching about full remote, I believe a good work balance is a hybrid.
My learnings could have not been possible without the team. They allowed me to teach, review and lead them. Thanks for that. Thanks for making my stay at TTT challenging, comfortable and purposeful.
Some big new challenges are ahead, but that's a completely different story...
Thanks for reading.
PS: My wife has supported all of my big personal and work decisions. Last week was full of mixed emotions, but she was able to cheer me up regardless.