We’ve recently welcomed our employee number 100, which of course is a huge milestone for a company that started out as 4 friends around a kitchen table just 3 years ago.
To celebrate, I decided to sit down and talk to our employee number 100, Backend Engineer Zarina Khadikova, and employee number 1, CTO Jacob Vous, to see what they both have to say about Dixa, our engineering culture, and the future.
Welcome to Dixa, Zarina! How has your first week been?
Zarina: It has been great! I feel really welcomed. The first couple of days are a bit of a haze of new faces, shaking a lot of hands and hearing a lot of names because everyone makes an effort to welcome you. Every department in the company gives new employees an introduction to their work, which means you gain a good understanding of how the entire company is structured and what goals we’re trying to achieve. Also, having an “onboarding buddy” has been really helpful. It's always a struggle for a new person to get up to speed with development and figuring out how everything works, both in the company and in the product. Having a dedicated person to provide an overview, dive-ins and answer questions is a real lifesaver. With my buddy's help, I even got to do my first tiny deployment to production on my second day, which was pretty exciting.
Jacob: We put a lot of effort into giving all new hires a good start here at Dixa. New people are met with a lot of friendly faces and helpful colleagues. I believe first impressions are really important. Also, we prioritize that new engineers deploy something within their first week, ideally by their second day. In startups, this is more common than in larger companies, but it is definitely something we intend to stick to even as we scale. The point is for people to quickly gain an understanding of how we work, and it eliminates the natural fear of breaking something or making mistakes. Production is where you’re most aware of not making mistakes, so it definitely feels like being thrown off in the deep end. Deploying something with your buddy sitting next to you, as well as our implementation of Continuous Integrations makes the experience feel a little safer, but it’s still challenging for most people.
What do you think is important when maintaining a healthy engineering culture?
Jacob: Further to my point about letting newly hired engineers deploy within the first couple of days, it is important to me that we maintain a culture of not being afraid to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail. The only way a failure can truly be a failure is if we don’t learn from it. Being afraid of making mistakes is toxic to creativity, the ability to explore, as well as learning and growing. Here at Dixa, we understand that working with our culture is an ongoing, organic thing. It doesn’t end with us all agreeing to certain values or guidelines. It’s 100% incremental. Our culture is what allows us to scale, as well as make Dixa the kind of place where people stick around. We hire people with the aptitude to grow and be great, which means it’s crucial that we create a culture that allows for people to develop themselves. It’s very much a foundation of our culture that we want to develop together.
Zarina: That is definitely something that attracted me to working at Dixa - the opportunity to learn and grow as an engineer. The culture at Dixa definitely supports this. There is a certain openness, where it feels safe to exchange ideas and opinions. You’re always met with respect and friendliness, and you can ask for support when you need it. There is also a really good vibe in the team, where people genuinely have fun together which is also really important to me in terms of maintaining a healthy engineering culture.
What is 2020 going to be like?
Zarina: I’ve just started a new job, so I’m just really excited about the future! I definitely feel like I’m in the right place, and I’m looking forward to learning more about the product and getting to know my team even better.
Jacob: It’s definitely a great time to join the engineering team at Dixa. We’re gearing up to do a really ambitious overhaul of team structure, by introducing autonomous, cross-functional teams that will be working closely together on different product areas. This will allow people to exert more control over how they solve problems within different domains, be more agile and focus on deliverables. We understand that our engineers are interested in building things and that they want to influence how their work is structured, so we definitely believe this change will increase people’s work satisfaction and sense of co-ownership. So, yes, I am also very excited about what 2020 brings!