Step back in time – story #4 Mariusz Kusz
The IT world is a fast-paced environment with constant turnovers and short-lived relationships. However, every now and then, a brief narrative becomes an epic story. What makes a tale special are the protagonists, and who’s better to tell the story than the main characters themselves? That is why we decided to give the floor to our colleagues who cooperate with us at Software Mind for more than 10 years. Their memories are humorous but also do a brilliant job at showcasing the reality of the IT business of the past decades.
1/ How did your cooperation with Software Mind start and what’s your current position?
I joined Software Mind in February 2010 as a software developer. At that time, the organizational division of the company was completely different – there were 2 Production Centers and I was assigned to the one focused on providing services for telecom related companies. The project in which I participated was carried out for one of the largest Polish telecom operators – then still under its old name. Interestingly, after the rebranding of this operator, one of our tasks was to adapt its internal systems to the new brand, which name, if I share it with you now, would be known by all Poles and most people from Europe ?.
How I got here is quite an interesting story because my path went beyond the classic recruitment process. In 2010 Software Mind had branches only in Krakow and Warsaw. However, due to the fact that our former CEO and several employees came from Rzeszow, there was a plan to open another one in this city. At that time, I was considering changing my job, I was even thinking about moving, for example to Wroclaw. When I found out that SM has such plans and is recruiting in Rzeszów, I chose to give it a try. The offer was cool, I also knew people working in this company, so I applied. We met in a hotel in Rzeszow and the meeting went very smoothly. After 2 stages, which I passed positively, I was informed that even though the company is interested in the cooperation, it is not known when, and if ever, the branch in Rzeszow will be opened. Since I was considering relocation anyway, I concluded that Krakow is closer than Wroclaw and I can try it in this city. We discussed the details and having no idea if the office in Rzeszow will ever be opened, I packed my suitcases, moved to Krakow, and started working.
Coming back to the main part of the question – then and for a long time, I was a software developer. In 2011 I changed my project from the mentioned telco and started working for a US-based client, with whom I still cooperate to this day. With time I took over the position of a Team Leader, and in 2016, when the PM of this project decided to change his job, I took his place and continued to develop my carrier as Software Development Manager.
2/ When did you go back to Rzeszów and how did this branch develop?
After a few months of working in Krakow, I was informed that a decision was made to launch a branch in Rzeszow. I was asked to go back to my hometown for a few months and help to get it started. After that time, it was my call to decide whether I wanted to stay in Rzeszow for good or return to Krakow where I lived and worked for the last six months. Eventually, I stayed in Rzeszow till this day, but that’s another story ?. We started working there in September 2010 and had 5 people in a tiny office.
Back then we had our space on the premises of a large warehouse, it was probably even a customs warehouse since there were cars and containers on the first floor. We were sitting in the office part on the second floor. It was a very strange facility with curved semi-circular walls and pipes cut on the floor level and clogged with plugs in the corridor leading to the conference room ;D But it also had its own atmosphere – there were very few of us, so it was quiet, intimate and we did everything ourselves – when we installed the first TV set on the wall, a friend brought his drill from home to fix the holder ?. I remember at that time there was something called “Cookie Mind” in the company – once a week sweets for all employees were delivered to the kitchen. In Cracow, that meant big bowls full of cookies and other treats. In Rzeszow, we opened a pack or two of jaffa cakes because that was more than enough for the small team we had there ? In that office, we reached around a dozen people and it started to be cramped. Because we were planning further development, we started looking for a new one. If I remember correctly, it was 2012 when we moved to the building where we are to this day, although it looked completely different. At that time, it was much smaller and we call this part “old”. We firstly rented an attic, then we expanded to the second floor and finally taken even the first one. In the meantime, the owner decided to expand the building and created a part which we call now “new” ?. Our company decided to leave only the second floor in the “old” part and rent the whole floor in the “new” segment. Recently we have additionally rented the attic in the “new” part. Over the years I had a chance to work in each one of these spaces except for the new attic – but I think that all is not lost yet ?
3/ What’s the first anecdote connected with working in SM that comes to your mind?
The first memory that comes to my mind relates to the flight to the USA shortly after I joined the above-mentioned project for a US-based Client. Only recently we can enter the States without a visa, and the situation happened around 7/8 years ago. The whole trip had to be planned and executed quite quickly so I went to Cracow to meet with the Consul and get my permission. After talking to the Consul, I learned that I have to leave my passport so they could stick the visa into it, and either they will send it to me (which takes an extra 2/3 days) or I can pick it up personally. As it was too late for the courier option, I asked if the passport can be picked up by someone from the Krakow office. The Consul assured that there will be no problem if only the person would have the receipt, which I will get upon leaving the passport. Obviously, I choose this way, left the receipt in the Krakow office, get in my car, and drove back to Rzeszow.
After a few days, a colleague from the Krakow office drove a cab to the consulate. Having the receipt with her, she tried to pick up my passport. But it turned out that the receipt alone was not enough, and they also need an authorization, which I should have sent to the consulate. She called and informed me about the complications so we could deal with this obstacle. I immediately wanted to sit down to my laptop, write her the authorization and send it by e-mail to the consulate, but it turned out that the situation is far more difficult than we thought 😀 Because my friend heard a lot of stories about security checks at the entrance to the consulate and thought that you can’t bring almost anything there, she took only 3 things from the office – my receipt, phone, and a credit card to pay for the cab. So even if I would write and send her an authorization right away, it wouldn’t be possible to pick up my passport because she didn’t have any documents allowing to confirm her identity 😀 There was an hour left until the consulate was closing, so coming back to the office to get the documents and making the second attempt at the consulate was out of the question. Since we had to act quickly, the whole trip was at the homestretch, picking up the passport the next day was not an option either. The only thing we could do was to improvise. Luckily it turned out that the cab driver with whom she arrived was still standing under the consulate waiting for the next course, so my colleague approached him and asked for help. Luckily, he agreed to save my business trip. Then it went smoothly – she gave me the details by phone, I sent the authorization to the consulate, Mr. Ryszard (yes, I remember his name to this day ?) picked up and handed her the passport and I flew out to the Client as we planned it 😀 So my first visit to the USA and work at Client’s premises was saved by the cab driver 😀
4/ What changes inside the company have you observed?
It depends on how we look at it ?. If we focus on the company’s structure, a lot has changed. Back in 2010, there were only 2 production centers, now we have many business units, divisions and in general, everything has scaled up. The board has also changed, we became a part of Ailleron, and from the times of my beginnings, the only representative of the board that remains in the company is Grzesiek Młynarczyk. However, as far as culture is concerned not much has changed and that is a plus. Clearly, along with my position changes, my scope of work also evolved, but the atmosphere in the company remained practically the same. Additionally, even looking at my projects, and despite a certain rotation of employees, several people with whom I started are still in the company. Since the atmosphere, style of work, and people have always been great I’m very happy about the stability within this area.
5/ What made you stay in Software Mind for 10 years?
That’s a good question ?. But when I think about it now, I have always managed to fulfill my plans and ambitions here. I started as a regular developer and found myself in a project, which after some time stopped satisfying my needs – not only was I listened to, but I also received a proposal to change the project. Then, new challenges appeared, and I could develop further until I became a Team Leader. At some point I stood at the proverbial crossroad and had to decide whether to go along the technical or managerial path – I chose the managerial path and the company allowed me to walk this way. When I was dissatisfied with a situation – my opinion was always taken into account. I’ve always had, and still have, the impression that whether it’s the CEO or anyone else from the senior management level, I’m always close to them. I have the opportunity to talk with everyone in the company and influence what’s happening. On the one hand, the company is big and allows developing ourselves, and on the other, I have an impact on what is going on and can try to “fight” for something. Not to mention the previously considered work atmosphere and culture that really suits me.
6/ What are your plans for the following 10?
I certainly want to continue doing what I do now, only better. The team is constantly growing and there are many areas where I can still learn and improve. That’s why I don’t want to settle down. I plan to work hard to be a better manager. Ultimately, in the long run, I would like to move towards the organization of software development processes. Now, most of the teams I manage stepped into existing ways of working and we had to adjust our work to the Client’s methods. I would like to focus on cooperation where we are responsible for the creation of software development processes or even the entire delivery centre from scratch.