Tomek, how long have you been working at JCommerce?
– I’ve been here as long as the current CEO, Piotr Zyguła – since 2005.
How did you end up at JCommerce?
I used to work for a company that got into financial trouble, so I started looking for a job. JCommerce was looking for .NET developers and I decided to apply. I remember that my skills were verified by the CEO at the time – Marcin Perłak. The company’s headquarters was located in Kraków, and there was a second office in Świętochłowice. Marcin Siemieński and Piotr Zyguła were just in the process of creating a development department here, in which I was one of the first two team members. We started with smaller, internal projects, which eventually became larger and more significant.
You started as a .NET developer and now you are Head of Delivery – what was your path to this position?
Yes, I started as a regular developer, later I was promoted to senior developer, and finally I was assigned the role of Technical Leader. I held this position for a long time and I was responsible for the entire .NET at JCommerce. Nowadays this would be the role of Technical Solution Manager, the difference being that I was still running projects. As there were more and more projects, after a few years I was offered the role of Project Manager. Unfortunately, this would have meant I had to give up programming. Later, the roles of Competence Manager and Delivery Manager – responsible for international projects – arose. And so, after working for a year as a Delivery Manager, I became Head of Delivery.
Have you been thinking for a long time about accepting a promotion which means giving up programming?
I think I still am! (laugh). It’s difficult and it’s still within me. Somewhere this technical mind is still inside me and sometimes even wants to improve some things or say: “I could do it better”. While making this decision, I thought it was the way of things. I also asked myself if I would like to do what I am doing now in 20 years’ time. The answer was: no.
To move forward, I would have to try something else – for example, become a Business Intelligence specialist. Or – accept the promotion.
In your view: was it a good decision?
In retrospect, I think it was. Especially because by changing roles, one’s viewpoint changes. In the eyes of developers, apart from approving timesheets, the Team Manager does absolutely nothing! And I used to think so too. You can see more and more with each role. The question is: “Wasn’t the view more pleasant before? Because sometimes ignorance is bliss. However, it is a very interesting experience that can be translated into other aspects of your life.
What is the role of the Head of Delivery in terms of contact with a client?
As a general rule, the Head of Delivery has no contact with clients, as this is in the scope of Delivery Managers’ responsibilities. Nevertheless, it is true that the HoD participates in meetings with key clients or indirectly supports the processes of creating estimations or building new teams.
How does technical background affect contact with a business client?
Technical experience is highly valuable in dealing with clients as it gives you the opportunity to fully understand their needs or to propose a suitable solution without the necessity of engaging third parties. Importantly, it is also much easier to identify project or business risks. To sum up, thanks to this knowledge, we don’t promise the client that we can implement something that is impossible or inefficient.
Do you have any advice for people who want to go far in their careers?
Oh, advice! Yes! First, everything in time. I know a lot of people who want to be Project Managers of massive projects shortly after graduation. Experience is very important in the IT world, as with age you see a little more and you make wiser decisions, especially if you have a good rapport with people.
Hard and strenuous work is also important, because to achieve success in something, you must be really interested in it. It’s not like the company will teach you everything and you will be an expert. Your own initiative is required. There is so much material available on the internet, and people sit there and say: “I am not familiar with this technology because I haven’t been to any training for it”. When I hear something like that, my blood starts to boil!
And the more technology you know, the more you expand your worldview. It is useful during conversations with clients, thanks to which you will be able to propose solutions that meet their requirements. And figuring out what the received wisdom is in IT at the moment is very difficult!
Why is that?
When I started programming, both in Java and in .NET, there was one way of accessing the data, one way of presentation, and that was it. If you had learned it, that was great. The entire certification path consisted of 3 exams. Now there are probably 6 paths for 6 exams. You can mix everything with everything. Every database with every backend and with every frontend. And that’s why you need to read who recommends what, because you are unable to deal with all the possible combinations in your projects.
To sum up, I think that two things are important: patience and self-education. This is an absolute guarantee of success. The best of the best are those who get rewards for being engaged after hours.
This is the most important question now – what is it that motivates you to continue working at JCommerce?
You know what… that’s a good question! Because I feel good here. I like the people and the atmosphere. I have to admit that I have made good friends here and everyone has always been honest with me. I have always been listened to and my requests considered. That’s probably what everyone expects from their employer.
Thanks for the interview!