A career in technology is always a rewarding one, but with all the different paths you can take it can be a confusing career to kickstart.
To help, we brought together a wide range of technology leaders from across the Nordics to discuss their career and share their advice for those starting out.
Johan Laurelli is the Head of Product at Eniro, providing digital marketing services to Nordic SME’s. Starting his career studying computer science with a focus on development, Johan became a Developer working in the entertainment industry creating interactive services and consumer games.
Following the dot com boom, Johan was appointed by SEB, the Scandinavian financial bank put up internet services for customers, to work on community services as a developer and later a technical product manager.
Johan’s career, which has spanned 20 plus years, has seen him move between gaming and finance which both share similar traits in that they’re transaction services and both require a professional to be able to scale products to make a difference.
Taking Johan’s experience and project portfolio into consideration, we were keen to ask him for his advice for those starting out on their journey through a tech career.
Tasks are the lifeblood of work. They keep us busy in our day-to-day and help maintain critical business functions. They can also be a bit of a roadblock for younger professionals looking to move away from individual contributions and towards more responsibility. There is a way, however, to turn those often-benign tasks into massive points for your CV and development.
Referencing Tom Peter’s classic management piece Project50, Johan believes that those who can turn their tasks into projects are the ones who will be successful in their career.
“You want to take your bread and butter tasks and turn them into something that actually sparklers. You are able to focus fully on doing that one piece, whether it’s something that is standard delivery, or if it’s a new thing like transforming a product – What would make this a wow project? Do your stuff well, and understand where you contribute. If you do that well it turns into a positive spiral. It also inspires you to have the attitude to excel in everything you do. With this mindset on opportunities, you will be able to contribute and learn as well as be seen as an attractive enabler on the market.”
Vlada Ivankova is the CPO and Interim CTO at Flowbox. Moving from her Native Russia to Stockholm five years ago, Vlada – who describes herself as a ‘product person.’ – entered the Stockholm market through Betsson Group as a Product Manager. After feeling the pull of a start-up working environment, Vlada joined Detectify as a Product Strategist. After a long and successful journey with Detectify, Valada joined Flowbox and has been with them for six months now.
Vlada, who can only be described as an incredibly motivated self-starter, believes wholeheartedly in the power of self-education.
“I think tech is one of those areas, which develops so fast that even if you have a relevant degree, it’s going to become obsolete pretty fast. So, if you want to continue growing you have to continue self-learning, you have to have this natural curiosity that drives you to just casually go and read about or know new technology, new product, new trend in the market, like whatever field you’re in.”
Melvin Rosario is the Strategy and Business Governance Lead at PL 5G Ericsson. Having been working with global company Ericsson for the past decade, Melvin has had the opportunity to expand his career across many different verticals, including skills and geographies.
Right now, Melvin’s current role as head of strategy within the product line for 5G, he is working mainly with different aspects of the strategy including the implementation and commercialisation of 5G opportunities.
For Melvin, curiousity is key in an industry that is constantly evolving and constantly changing.
“The speed that technology evolves at is so fast that you need to keep yourself updated. When you are working in the tech world, It is important to stay on your toes and paranoid about the next changes in your industry. One way to do that is to identify what are the most relevant analysts of your area right and try to follow up on what they say and be critical about what they say and create your own judgement about it. So either if you are in telco or gaming or any other aspect of technology that you always have some relevant analysts in that sub segment of the industry, so keep it up with that.”
Christian Said is an experienced consultant working out of Stockholm. Currently working with Trafikförvaltningen as a product owner working on the transport systems ticketing and payment systems. Previously, Christian has worked on projects for Scania,Telenor, Swedish Cancer Society and start-ups.
Progressing into product and the higher ranks of development and engineering require a technical professional to have a lot more than just technical knowledge. Communication skills and leadership skills are just two examples of skills a technical professional will have to develop if they want to reach the leadership levels in the technology space.
Christian recommends starting your development of these skills as early as possible by working with business and strategy as much as you might technology.
“From early career level, it is focusing not on business, or technology exclusively, it’s trying to combine those two into one. That’s really, really important. When you find the role or developer role within your company try and get close interaction both with the tech team, as well as with the business and the customers as well. Learn how to solve problems, as well. Learn to break stuff down because you need it if you ever move to the product side.”
Graduating from KTH in applied mathematics and industrial engineering, Anna started off in IT consulting before forming her own company – with a consistent amount of freelancing on the side where she performs a number of roles from proct management to architecture. Her true passion, however, lies with product development. Anna also has her own website, annaleijon.se, where she publishes content continuously, usually on the topics of tech, freelance and self-employment.
Recently, Anna has been working in the recruitment space looking for developers and tech people for her own companies. Among them, her company Roawr AB and her tea company Téamo. One area she pays particular attention to when it comes to recruitment is the side projects – the little side hustles that technical professionals have that can distinguish them from the rest of the pack.
“If you have developed anything on your own, if you are driven and business-minded around what you need to build in order to deliver a side project from start to finish, that tells me a lot about a person. Just have that curiosity and that business mindset, that is what’s really sticking out.”
Starting in in-house business systems, Marika moved towards product owner roles and operates as a freelancer in that space. Marika has spent the last 2 years furthering her knowledge by studying at various universities across Sweden. Finishing her studies in June, Marika will be using her knowledge of the freelance market to help her find the perfect role in product.
Marika, who has to find her own projects on a regular basis, believes in finding something that motivates you.
“there are many possibilities within tech. So many journeys are different. So I would say, try to find what is really motivating you, and try different things and keep on learning.”
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