Cooperating with different teams to tackle long-standing issues
As a part of Quipper's engineering team, I work as an engineer - writing code for our product, and as an engineering manager - managing the web developer team in Jakarta office.
One of my tasks as an engineer is solving technical issues that are reported to us through our Customer Support team. I’ve been tackling tasks of this kind from the time I joined Quipper last February, 2018 up until now. Even though solving these reports can get very tricky at times, they should still be regarded with high importance since they affect the performance of the company.
Back then, there was one long-standing issue which has been bugging our users and even internal staff for quite some time. All other engineers have been assigned to projects already and are focusing to meet their teams’ goals, so I decided to tackle the issue. Once I started investigating, I realized that tremendous efforts have to be done and it would take more time than initially intended to solve this problem. There was no doubt that I needed other engineers’ help!
Communication is the key, especially in this case, so I initiated discussions with engineers from different teams, explained why solving this issue was necessary, and asked for their cooperation. As a result, these people agreed to give their attention and support even though they still had tasks to attend to in their own projects. After all, despite the fact that we are assigned to different projects, we are all still one team.
I was told that one of the reasons why I was selected as an MVP was because I cooperated with other teams and tackled issues with a high sense of ownership and responsibility. Through my experiences as an engineer, I’ve learned that when I ask for support from others, I should do my best to work with them closely, and to trust and empathize with them throughout the whole process. The issue that we tackled was a really tough one, and we might even have not solved it completely yet. Nevertheless, I haven’t lost faith yet because I believe that there is no problem that cannot be solved!
Becoming an engineering manager 8 months after joining Quipper
Eight months into joining Quipper, I became an engineering manager.I was handed over the role of a person who was previously managing our team remotely from Japan. The plan had always been to pass it to someone who was seen fit for the position and was directly working in the same location and tasks as the team.
Even though I was told that the reasons for me being chosen were my coding skills and attitude, I did not feel that I had the necessary qualities to become a manager. Thinking that there might be other engineers in Quipper more suitable for the role, I did not accept the first time it was offered to me. Actually this was not the first time it happened as I had the same decision when a similar leading post was suggested to me in one of the companies I previously worked for.
The experiences that I had accumulated built my skills as an engineer, and I never had the chance to play the role of a manager of a team. Back then, for me, enjoying work and becoming more experienced as an engineer were more valuable than getting a title.
However, as I worked everyday at Quipper, I began to feel the need for engineers to acquire management skills as well. This realization made me question myself, “Why don’t I learn management?”. Eventually, I accepted the engineering manager position.
Starting to realize what is necessary to be a manager
Being a manager requires a different set of skills from being an engineer - how to lead the team, how to communicate with members, and so on. As a manager, I feel that I need to improve my time management, prioritization, and communication skills.
What I have been focusing on ever since I started managing is sharing my motivation to the team. When I was not yet managing, I was dealing with my own tasks only. Now, I need to think of how to properly and fairly distribute tasks to the team. What I consider when deciding assignments is to choose tasks that are both enjoyable and challenging for a member. Challenging tasks always give everyone opportunities to learn new skills.
Another difficult point of being a manager is that when taking actions and making decisions, the perspective of both the team and the company has to be considered. When one opposes the other, I have to find a point where we can compromise and adjust.
This role is definitely far from easy. When I fail, I strive to keep on improving myself. This is how I am learning management.
Working on our products with high ownership
Leading the team during the project planning phase and technical discussions was another reason mentioned to me on why I was chosen as an MVP. I have not been aware but it seems others have valued my mindset and behavior with a thought that “someone needs to play that role”.
There are currently 8 members in the team and we all work with respect for each other. Though I am the manager of the team, I ask for opinions from members and initiate discussions about the product. I am building a relationship where we can keep learning new things and skills through communication and discussion.
Products are like children for engineers. Members deal with each product they are working on with ownership. As an engineering manager, I may be seen as a person-in-charge , but I think it would be better to say that each member working on a product is a person-in-charge for that product.
My passion towards education was born from my experience
I deeply believe in Quipper’s vision - “Distributors of Wisdom”, and it has become my source of motivation towards work. My passion comes from the mission to provide education to all students. If we work with this mission in mind, the sense of responsibility naturally develops in us.
About 10 years ago, I had to give up graduating from university for some reasons. That experience made me think that students should not let their opportunities for education go. Ever since then, I told myself that when an opportunity to work in the educational field comes, I will surely grab it.
I’m very proud of my work when I hear about the achievements students have made with the use of our service. When I hear such news, I can feel how my work has been providing good influence to our users. This is not only limited to Indonesia; I believe Quipper influences students all over the world.
Improving skills to be a step closer to our goals
I really enjoy working at Quipper and I hope this joy continues for a long time. As of the moment, my plan is to still keep on working in the educational field. Apart from that, I have thoughts of working overseas as well.
There are a lot of things that I’ve learned here in Quipper - team management being one. By further improving and utilizing my skills and experiences as an engineer, I hope to contribute to the realization of our mission. It would be delightful to see these efforts lead to an increase in the number of users and overall improvement of Quipper’s services.
* The business (including business name and business description), people and titles introduced in the article are those at the time of the interview. It may be different at this time.