Building success together: Elevating project results with new talents

Aki Aapaoja

Published 16 Aug 2023

Reading time 5 min

Over the past few years, the IT and software industry has seen a huge demand for talent. Although the situation has eased to some extent, to ensure future skills, we want to support new professionals (i.e. experience in IT projects and industry) on their way to demanding specialist jobs. Through our Talent Academies, we want to give future stars an explosive start to their careers. In projects and customer relationships of the mobility and transport domain, we’ve been successful in getting early career experts for instance into two of our major customers (Fintraffic and Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency) to gain first experiences in customer projects.

As the company grows, the projects and tasks are becoming bigger and more complex. Hence we need diversity, a wide range of experience and a broad range of skills. It would not serve the interests of our customers, our experts, or the domain if only the most experienced experts were to take on tasks and projects that could also be carried out by the new talents. This would also prevent them from gaining valuable project experience. From a domain, domain expertise and business perspective, it is crucial that we can take advantage of people at different stages of their careers in projects.

Solita Talent Academies provide mobility projects and services a huge potential to renew and grow in terms of expertise and quantity. New people with new skills, bright ideas and passion keep us innovative and strengthen our position as a key partner of digital mobility service development for our long-term customers”, says Mikko Varjos, the Director of Solita Mobility.

In the last year over fifteen academians and/or early career experts have been employed in mobility projects. After the Talent Academy period, new, less experienced talents have been able to work on demanding IT consultancy projects, supported by experienced experts. For each of them, we have also tried to find a project that supports their professional development and interests. The approach can also be seen to strengthen the Solita culture, which takes a genuine interest in the well-being, success and development of its customers and employees.

What has it been like for an early-career developer to join the Mobility domain? 

Taru Saloheimo made a career switch from research to programming and joined Solita Dev Academy a year and a half ago. “This has been a huge learning opportunity for me. I have been doing full-stack development from day one. At Solita, I have valued the supportive atmosphere and growth mentality where even a new team member can participate in all aspects of software development. I also feel that the team has benefitted from my previous work experience and my different background. Just bringing a different kind of personality to the team is always a good thing, too. Mobility as a domain has been a good match for me because building software that fills a genuine need in this society motivates me. It’s great to see how my team’s efforts concretely help the customer.”

Overall, Solita Mobility, our customers and the project teams are very satisfied with the contribution, performance and motivation of early career experts, even though sometimes the criteria and requirements set by customers can be demanding. On the other hand, this also acts as a huge motivating factor, as less experienced experts get to see the impacts of their work on the customers’ business. At the same time, new team members often come from diverse backgrounds, which can help bring different perspectives and experiences to the project team. This can lead to a more inclusive and collaborative working environment.

“A new member joining the team challenges the entire team to stop and think about how we arrange our work. Do we perhaps need to adapt our communication style, channels or pace, among others? In general, we need to reflect if the ways we do things still work in the new situation where the team composition has changed. The “crisis” is an opportunity for the entire crew to evolve. As a project manager, I observe the team and team-building process closely. When we had a new joiner from Solita Dev Academy at Harja project some months ago, I was very pleased to see how warm-heartedly the senior team members welcomed someone not only new to the application, domain or even Solita but to the entire technologies, practices and methodologies we use in our everyday work”, says Paula Pippuri, the project manager of HARJA-system.

“Now looking back, from my perspective the onboarding was unbelievably fast and smooth. One of the success factors was certainly that we designated a project mentor, with whom the academians sat closely together for the first couple of months. Most days they were physically together at the office to talk about the customer and the project, do pair coding, and get to know each other. Another key factor was to provide an easy starter task. This allowed our academians to concentrate on one item only and slowly work their way through processes and tasks while observing how the team operates. Quite quickly our amazing academians not only gained robust Clojure skills but became confident to jump into any of the tasks in the sprint backlog and was up to speed in direct communication with the customer on their requirements and needs. I also feel that observing, supporting and helping the academians to succeed on their journey has had a positive spur on the entire team. There really has been a momentum to challenge the old ways to achieve something better collectively and sometimes try something new just for the sake of fun”, Paula continues.

Bringing in people with different experiences and backgrounds is considered valuable and brings many benefits. One of the most important benefits has been the expansion of our knowledge base and by that improving our capability to meet customer needs in the future too. At the same time, we are also able to avoid fragmentation of expertise by allowing, for example, more experienced experts to share their knowledge and wisdom. This also makes it easier to plan rotations and reduce their impact on projects. It is also worth noting that new team members may have more experience or insight into emerging technologies and digital tools, which can be valuable in projects that require cutting-edge solutions.

“We have been pleased to have several of Solita’s early career experts involved in Fintraffic Rail operative system (FIRA) development during the last years. FIRA systems are critical for railway management with high SLA. A new set of skills, energy and commitment is highly valuable in the long-term development and the early career experts have fully filled our expectations”, says Jari-Pekka Kitinoja, Fintraffic’s Solutions Manager.

Overall, based on our experiences having new teammates as part of the project team bring a fresh perspective, new ideas, and a high level of energy and enthusiasm to the project. This can help the team work more collaboratively and effectively toward achieving project goals.

  1. Culture
  2. Mobility