• In #TECTalks

    #WomenInTechnology – Talking to Anamaria Sfîrlea

    Did you know that only 5.31% of IT Specialists are women?

    Gender imbalance in the workplace was a problem that has been debated since the beginning of the century. Now so many women are working, that it is quite rare not to see at least one woman in every domain.

    Women are very remarkable in what they do. They stand out through their hard work, ambition, perseverance, and amazing results. Our colleague Anamaria is like that. You may have met her in a previous ClujLife article. She juggles between being a developer at TEC and attending master’s courses at the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics from Cluj-Napoca.

    For Ana, school always came first, she didn’t think for a moment to get a job while attending college classes. At the end of year two, she did an internship, but it was during the summer. She joined the TEC team in the fall of 2020, during the pandemic, after a well-deserved summer vacation. She started looking for a job with the desire to work with different technologies, but she felt so great during the technical interview that the technology stack wasn’t all that important in the end.

    My mother is a teacher and she raised me and my brother with the idea in mind that school and education are the most important things. I’ve always seen school as a job. Even if I didn’t get paid, that was my job and I had to take it seriously, I had to give everything I could, because otherwise I couldn’t be happy with myself. My work schedule is flexible, and this helps a lot with school. There was always understanding if I needed to take an exam or attend an important course. And this was made clear to me from the very beginning – that the company values our education and us completing our studies. For now, I want to learn as much as possible, to expand my knowledge related to the practical part of my job. In college I receive a lot of theoretical information, but it does not compare at all with what is happening in my actual job.

    At the beginning, Anamaria was assigned to a big project. She learned, tried to integrate, and to understand how things work. She told us that she felt very quickly treated as an equal, not as a “new colleague”, and the worries related to the fact that in TEC people work mostly remote disappeared after the first week. Initially, she was slightly stressed that she did not know her colleagues, that she would not know to whom to turn to in case she needed help, but she immediately realized that many were aware of this and they contacted her, offering to help her. Later, Ana was assigned to a smaller project, about which she spoke with great enthusiasm.

    The project is exactly what I wanted – a project from scratch, where I can go through every development stage. And a junior developer rarely has this chance in a company. I learned a lot while having to solve problems and through many knowledge-sharing sessions with my colleagues. Me and another developer  started this project, along the way we were joined by two others. Now that we finished this project, when I look through the code and see things I implemented, my heart grows. I like to think that I have an essential role in the team I am part of.

    In the months spent at TEC, Anamaria realized that the human side is very important in the work environment. Having the experience of an internship in a corporation, she was pleasantly surprised to discover that here, the focus is mainly on people. You would think that this is a default thing in small companies, like this one, where there are about 40-50 people, but you would be surprised that things are not always like that.

    Unlike large corporations, where procedures matter a lot, here people come first. The work environment at TEC is dynamic, challenging and I didn’t get bored in all the months I spent here and I didn’t get to consider my work a routine. I am a sensible person and if I feel stress or pressure from others, I can’t cope anymore. It is important to have people around me in whose presence I can feel comfortable, especially since there are days in which I talk more with my colleagues than with my family. If you decide to join us, you can expect very friendly colleagues, willing to help you, but also a place where you can learn a lot about what IT projects mean.

    Of course, the conversation with Anamaria could not end without touching the main topic of this article, what it is like to be a woman in the IT field.

    I was really amazed when I saw how many women are working at TEC when I arrived. I also remember my first call with the project management team – only women were present. It’s a general perception that the IT industry is male-dominated, but it’s not. IT is not a place of discrimination, nor have I ever thought of any difference for us as women.

    Even though studies show that only 5.31% of IT specialists are women, in our company there is a rate of 43% female developers.

  • In #PeopleBehindProjects

    The UNTOLD and Neversea Partnership – Behind the Scenes of one of the greatest events

    The sixth edition of the Untold festival was concluded not too long ago, here in Cluj-Napoca, and we are happy we got the chance to be there with them every step of the way, still. We started our collaboration in 2016, and since then we took over the In-Town platform, UNTOLD and Neversea websites, and everything related to access and data sync – online check-in, top-up, presales, digital marketing, and integrations with other platforms. Perhaps some of you read the article published in Cluj Life about our event platforms.

    Marius Lupou, the project manager who handles the UNTOLD and Neversea client shared insights regarding the challenges we had to overcome so we could keep delivering performance. What he was saying back then was:

    The first UNTOLD festival was held in 2015. After this first year, the conclusion was drawn, there was huge potential and a decision was made, to start working on our own ticket sales platform. In 2015 and 2016 the access was made through colored wristbands; we couldn’t stick with them if we were to grow, as those wristbands could be easily taken off and shared with somebody else, which builds up to huge financial losses for the organizers; there is also a certain strictness regarding participants safety that could not be covered by a wristband like that. This was the improvement for 2017 – we replaced them with RFID wristbands (Radio-Frequency Identification). Around the same time, we launched the online top-up platform, and gradually, we added other functions to it, like the auto top-up. The whole platform was developed over time”

    In the matter of Untold highlights, a big achievement for us was definitely the festival record we set in presales 2019 when we had 15.000 tickets sold through our platform in 30 seconds.
    The question Marius answered many times was “How come it didn’t crash?”

    Why didn’t it crash, Marius?

    On our platform, once a user enters the landing page, all he has to do is to select the number of tickets, to check the terms and conditions, and then he’s gone – no additional data processing. All his information – email address, name, phone number, banking information, and so on, is filled in weeks prior, so when the user logs in to buy tickets, he can complete the purchase in a few seconds, as he’s already registered. Furthermore, before the presale campaign, we also made a video tutorial on the platform, showing every step one must follow in order to get a ticket.”

    Up to this point, we didn’t catch Marius enough during smoke breaks, in order to hear his complete feedback on how the latest edition of UNTOLD festival went technical wise, but the overall feedback we got so far is that everything went smoothly, and everyone is happy with the result; – which completes the event streak we had in our company these past couple of months. See you next time on #PeopleBehindProjects.

  • In #PeopleBehindProjects

    #PeopleBehindProjects – Talking to Marian Sababei

    It’s not a secret that we are fascinated every time we have the chance to speak with and about our people, the #PeopleOfTEC. Today, we would like to introduce you to one of the #PeopleBehindProjects: Marian Sababei, TEC’s Project Manager, responsible for financial matters and HR Department.

    Maybe some of you remember him from the ClujLife article.

    Being a project manager, the nature of Marian’s work enables him to see, feel, and understand the company statistics at a completely different level. The best part of it is that he also witnesses first-hand how the numbers are translated into the daily reality of the office. But, first of all, let’s take a quick look at him as a person and as a professional.

    What Does it Take to be Project Manager?

    Certainly not what one would first imagine. Marian graduated Automation and Computer Science at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. He was always good at math, so it was the obvious choice. But, he also owns a degree in Cartography from the Faculty of Geography, within the Babeș-Bolyai University. He never intended to practice in this area but was simply passionate. His professional journey started in Timișoara, continued in Târgu-Mureș, now taking him to Cluj, at TEC.

    “After graduating, I joined a corporation where I discovered many things and held various positions over time – SAP consultant, IT Project Manager, Head of Retails Solutions. But, after about 12 years, I realized that I would need a change: I wanted to see how life in a smaller company feels like, as a Project Manager. It was a major shift for me. During the first 3 months I just blamed myself for leaving my old job. There were many differences I didn’t expect and couldn’t foresee. After a while, it hit me: I realized that my experience in the corporation could be very useful when it comes to workflows, administrative processes, and HR.”

    The Big Picture

    As Project Manager, you always need to keep an eye on the big picture and to be crystal-clear about what you’re looking for in the people that will someday be your colleagues. According to Marian, things are and need to be kept pretty simple, you know.

    “We’ve always looked for people who are smart and willing to work. The rest can be learned. Even when it comes to the interviews we conduct and the tests we give when we’re searching for a new colleague, we place great emphasis on logic. Of course, we also look at the technical skills, but we are very much looking for people who think for themselves and who can be part of a team, where we all aim in the same direction. We are constantly searching for people with whom we know we’ll enjoy working. After all, we spend a quarter of our lives at work, so we need to at least make sure we feel good around each other. Attitude matters a lot. You may be the best technical person out there, but if you don’t have the right attitude, we probably won’t be able to consider you as our colleague, for the simple reason that you won’t fit-in with us.”

    Women or Men in Technology? Both, Because They’re #PeopleOfTEC

    Marian joined the TEC team in 2018 when the company was 3-4 years old. It was always about a natural, organic growth, in which the distribution of people in TEC was naturally balanced, says Marian. During that period, quite a few women decided that they want to become #PeopleOfTEC and eventually became part of our team.

    “Even if it is not generally accepted, there are positions for which women are more suitable than men. Why? Because it’s in a woman’s nature to be more industrious, to own a finer sense of observation, or simply to cope with some tasks better than a man would. At TEC, there is this balance between genders, and that is a must for us, as we need to cover a wide range of skills when working. The advantages of a gender-balanced team are numerous, but the most important thing is that the number of conflicts of any kind decreases, and, as a man, you’ll take on an additional responsibility when it comes to how you behave and how you talk when something goes wrong.”

    Why to Become a Part of the #PeopleOfTEC?

    Now, you might wonder whether you should consider becoming one of us, one of the #PeopleOfTEC? Or perhaps why should you consider TEC as a future employer?

    “TEC is a place where you come to grow. Any new ideas are welcomed. Nobody cuts your momentum as long as there is no negative impact on others or projects. #PeopleOfTEC are encouraged to implement the new things they come up with, not just launch ideas. On top of this, there are the certifications and courses, where our colleagues have all our support. We also offer days off in addition to standard leave for them to learn and invest as much time as they need or feel, at their own, steady pace, in their professional development. They want and need to have nationally recognized knowledge, to be up to date with the latest news in the field. This is also a reassurance for us, we know that we have competent people from several points of view. I would also add the openness that you will find here – both when it comes to management and colleagues. We never had a corporate structure, we don’t wait for our manager to tell us what to do, we keep the communication open at any level, and we constantly offer each other feedback.”

    If things stated earlier above did not yet convince you to consider becoming one of the #PeopleOfTEC, I see myself forced to mention that we recently moved into a new office, looking better than ever and with every perk you would need. But it’ll be entirely up to you if you’ll visit it or not – your living room might as well be the place you do your magic from. Are you ready? View our openings.

  • In #TECTalks

    How to keep employees engaged in pandemic times

    The past year was very unpredictable for many companies. Most of them found ways to adapt to the new conditions, and their projects thrived, as well as the industry they operate in.  We believe that the vast majority would agree with the fact that work from home improved our work – personal life balance. Not going to start a debate on that, as we would better share some insight on how we, as the HR department here at TEC, managed to stay connected to the team and also address some of the concerns that appeared during the time we couldn’t have our water cooler discussions or smoking breaks together.

    eNPS

    We kept hearing about eNPS and how big companies use it to make sure everyone’s happy. So, we thought we should give it a try; not because we didn’t have enough “forms for employees” ideas, but because we didn’t have one so short; not at that time, anyway.

    Let’s go over a brief description of what eNPS surveys are

    The employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) is based on a 0-to-10 rating of how likely an employee is to recommend TEC Software Solutions as a place to work, with 0 not at all likely and 10 extremely likely. eNPS scores range from +100 to -100.

    eNPS

    Then, depending on the rating you’ve been given, you need to find out what are the core strengths of the company and the areas that can be improved.

    The most important factor with this survey is that it is anonymous. On one hand, this fact provided us with many good jokes, but, on the other hand, we also got some great, honest replies and suggestions for improvement. Both outcomes gave us, the HR, purpose during a time when there was only so much paperwork to do.

    Of course, we did not achieve great success with the eNPS at first, but we decided to stick with this survey and send it twice a year, in June and December, and compare the scores. This quantitative data,  together with the open answers, helped us get a better understanding of the team’s perspective.

    These new insights, paired with a few ideas we got from past surveys, led us to a series of informal events split into 5 modules, covering all there is to know about the one core “ingredient” in improving any human interaction: being more emotionally intelligent. We had several other activities that came as suggestions through eNPS as well, ideas like game nights, team building activities, and even all staff events both for work updates and socializing.

    How are eNPS and ISO linked?

    This year, we got ISO certified, and since ISO’s mantra is continuous improvement, we adopted the same mindset.

    Then, we took this approach and adapted it to our context. It already feels like we’ve come so far, but we need to keep measuring our improvement, as part of the quality management system.

    Any improvement can be easily measured when it comes to numbers, but how would one measure the overall satisfaction of our team members? How would the management acknowledge that maybe some decisions were not taken in the employees’ best interest? The answer is the eNPS, because it tells you if your team members would recommend the company as a potential workplace to their friends.

    Thus, we decided to use the eNPS score as part of ISO documentation, and keep improving it as we developed our understanding of what’s concerning our colleagues and discovered its potential.

    Currently, our main objective in regards to the eNPS, is to improve the response rate, as our last eNPS dropped to a 47% response rate. The score is, however, almost excellent and we think that, as we increase the response rate, the score will get even more meaningful; we’re looking forward to our eNPS in December.

    Also, we learned that the only way to make this survey work is to focus on the things that we can control, such as organizing the recommended events, certain coaching sessions, and so on. The point is, these surveys helped us be consistent with things that are not that popular, or had a rough start- so rough that you could easily decide it’s not worth the energy invested.

    Receiving good feedback from one person in that regard makes our job so rewarding. What comes next? Us coming up with new ideas, or old, there is no point in reinventing the wheel, that satisfy people’s needs in regards to the work environment, communication, and basically, everything that an HR department has a relative amount of control upon.

    Alexandru Olariu Human Resources Consultant

  • In #TECStories

    The future starts now – Grooming tomorrow’s software developers

    At TEC we’re all about continuous improvement, especially when it comes to our personal and professional development. This mantra also comprises an open mindset and the commitment to help the younger generations in their quest of discovering and beginning the right career journey.

    This year, it was Ioana’s, Timotei’s, Lucian’s, and Sergiu’s chance to get a taste of the life of a software developer. From recruiting and until their last day in the company, they got to work closely with our HR and Software Departments, represented by Gabriela and Bogdan, as they teamed up to build a vacation planner web app for TEC employees. The best part of it is that all of us had a blast while at it.

    This being said, let’s jump straight to their experience as interns.

    Ioana – teamwork makes the dream work

    This internship experience at TEC was one of the most amazing ones so far, not only because I got to learn and develop myself, along with my teammates and colleagues, but because I discovered a new family, where everybody helps and supports each other. Nothing was a competition, and everyone did their best in order to accomplish the goals and to help others grow.

    Timotei – enthusiasm is the first step

    As my first internship, I didn’t really know what to expect. I started off being confused and anxious, but at the end, I left more determined and more energized than ever. Describing my experience at TEC is something that’s hard to be put in words. Here, people are smart, kind, companionable, and the level of professionalism is top-notch. I gained invaluable knowledge, made friends, and had great fun. Thank you, #PeopleOfTEC!

    Lucian – hard things are hard

    Hi, I am Lucian and I was one of the 4 interns at TEC during the summer of 2021. I am currently attending a 3-year bachelor’s degree at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom. At the time of enrolling into this internship program, I have just completed my second year of studies and I was looking to gather as much relevant work experience as I could over the summer.

    I feel like I want to speak about my intern experience as it was the time I developed the most in such a short period of time. The #PeopleOfTEC welcomed me into their office and made me feel at home for the whole duration of the internship. In the 8 weeks I worked here, I learned about many programming principles and programming languages. All of this with the help of the amazing employees working here, who are not only friendly, but also enthusiastic about their craft.

    Me and my colleagues managed to make a web app during our time at TEC. This app is now in use at TEC and it has been such a great motivation knowing that we are working on a project that will later be used by real people, people we know.

    I guess that what I am trying to say is that I would recommend working here to anyone. The employees are really nice people, the experience was great, we learned many things, we managed to practice what we learned and we become better developers overall.

    Sergiu – sometimes you win, sometimes you learn

    I thoroughly enjoyed my internship this summer at TEC: Digital Agency and have acquired very valuable experience.

    At the beginning I was reluctant when it came to taking part in an internship, but this one changed my point of view.

    The project me and the other interns have worked on has been practical and accessible and has helped us learn new things and work with state-of-the-art technologies.

    The people and the atmosphere at the office were also really welcoming and any help required was granted to us without hesitation.

    Overall, my experience as an intern at TEC: Digital Agency was an unforgettable one and really got me wanting to work with them as soon as possible.

    In the end, everyone involved in the project felt like the 40 days these amazing people spent with us passed with the speed of light. We always try to find what is best in people, and, with Ioana, Timotei, Lucian, and Sergiu it was extremely easy to do so.


    Never stop learning!

  • In #TECTalks

    Onboarding: a hassle made fun

    Onboarding has always felt like an out-of-time, out-of-place phase. You got over the interview phase (phewww, 😌) and now you don’t really know what you had let yourself in for. You have to sign a lot of papers, agreements, you don’t actually produce anything and you need to meet a lot of people that you can’t always see-through, especially if you first meet them online. Don’t worry, we know how that feels and it’s our priority to help you blend in and get in with us.

    Onboarding-a-hassle-made-fun

    Besides the predictable medical check-outs, laptop receptions, document sign-ups, ISO instructions, health and safety at work, we try to stretch our arms open towards new hires, both as future colleagues and as future friends. As a newcomer, we invite you to read the stories of your colleagues on the company’s blog. Most of them left breadcrumbs for people to connect at a deeper level, talking about turning points in their lives, people that made an impression on them, passions, hobbies, dreams, goals, and about how they ended up working at TEC. Another thing we do is to have you meet Diana, our English communication reference. She’ll help you brush up on your English and soft skills, prepare your vocab for small talks, and ultimately sketch your profile to open parentheses for others to click with you. 

    Even if we are flexible and people can choose to work from home, we’ll try to lure you to the office with goodies and good coffee to get to know you face to face.

    If this does not persuade you, the feedback from our colleagues might:

    “I am constantly learning something new every week, I am evolving and I can get as involved as possible in the project”

    “One success story to share would be the process of implementing a platform dedicated to our department (BambooHR). An implementation that, through a lot of communication and good organization, was a breeze.”

    “Starting at home is really a challenge. A challenge to talk every day with people you don’t know and haven’t seen in your life, to share long hours with them, and talk to them about work-related issues to personal life. Luckily people here are very nice and tried to make me feel “at home. ;)”

    All in all, the onboarding process should go smoothly, especially using the BambooHR tool that has checkboxes for all the steps you need to take along the way. 

    Join us, let’s write stories together!