I’ve always been very interested in continuous learning and competence development. During the three and a half years that I’ve been with Solita so far, I’ve been able to see the rapid evolution of colleagues’ abilities as the technology they work with evolves at a similar rate. Workmates have also changed their assignments as they learned – the fastest to date was 28 days after they started with us.
In a consulting firm, customer work takes most of the time, and sets some limits on competence development. A topic that frequently comes up in job interviews is opportunities for learning. I knew that we had a good development model, so I tried to find some real, concrete ways that we can expand our know-how.
For this story, I spoke with Solita’s unofficial competence development expert Juha Höyssä (pictured), about how software developers in particular can broaden their skills. But they don’t just apply to software engineers. Many of our practices affect our entire staff – versatility is one of our key strengths.
Skills development culture – 5 concrete methods
Solita has a strong skills development and information sharing culture. Our people combine their passions to develop themselves and their skills, we are curious and we want to learn from each other and together. On the other hand, we also see the development of competence in the company as building market value, maintaining competitiveness and keeping our options open for the future.
We frequently run open discussions, 15-45 minutes long, on various topics. Anyone in the company can arrange such a meeting. Everybody with an interest or relevant experience in the subject gets invited and can participate either in person or via video link. Our people are quite enthusiastic about these discussions – typically, we have at least one every work day.
Some examples of the most recent discussions are:
- Hacker Games
- Chaos Engineering
- Reason-React & ReasonML: Unreasonable intro
- Prestudy concept cases: Finnair & Sandvik
- Clojure spec definitions
- U2F authentication in web services
- Coping at work
- GIS architecture ja technology
- Multi-factor authentication and Yubikey
- Mobile multi-platform development tools: React Native and Xamarin
2. Competence communities
About two years ago, we started in-house competence communities. The idea for each community comes directly from Solita employees and they can be long-term or temporary. Each community has a leader or leaders who liaise with business unit managers, coordinate activities, and encourage discussion within the communities.
The competence community:
- acts as a support channel, offering help and discussion forums to all Solita personnel in their particular fields;
- develops and deepens the expertise of our people;
- makes our knowledge visible in-house and stimulates discussion between different areas;
- has a “help desk” role for everyday problems. You can ask questions about your own project or problems at hand, and everyone in the community can help.
The currently active competence communities are:
- OY Accessibility
- OY Business Design
- OY Business Intelligence
- OY Cloud
- OY Cyber Security
- OY Data
- OY Data + Design
- OY Data Science & AI
- OY Front-end
- OY Functional Programming
- OY Well-being and health
- OY Insight
- OY IoT
- OY Kick Ass Design
- OY Lean & Agile
- OY Business and change
- OY Mobile
- OY Project Management
- OY Built environment
- OY Accessibility
- OY Superior MS .NET
- OY ThinkTech
- OY UX Design
Examples of training organized by the competence communities include Ansible hands-on training (for beginners), FP monthly – automata and formal languages and Google Cloud – App Engine – Hands-on.
3. Seminars, blogs and expert presentations
Presentations and writing are a natural part of competence development at Solita. We encourage our people to share their expertise, not just in-house, but with the whole world. Some good ways to present and share experience are to write a blog, attend seminars as a speaker, or organize community-based meetups. We provide training and practice for both presentations and blog writing.
Solita is a regular participant in technology seminars in both Finland and abroad. Some recent and upcoming seminars include: AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas, ClojuTre in Helsinki, GeekOut in Tallinn, React & React Native 2018 in Helsinki, and Disobey in Helsinki in early 2019.
4. Education programs
The world is changing fast and we want to ensure that our skills develop in step with the changing needs of the world. For certain areas, like Machine Learning Engineering or Mobile Development, we provide longer and more detailed training during work hours with regular lectures, information sessions and exercises. During the program, the students maintain their permanent employment relationship with Solita. Training programs are part of the activities of knowledge communities.
5. Skill development in everyday life
Although we put a lot of effort into the explicit development of competence in our staff, we get a significant part of our continuous education from dealing with the daily challenges that customers present to us.
Check out our work
- Data feels the pulse of demand (Amer Sports)
- The ultimate data platform based on AI (DNA)
- More efficient and safe Finnish rail transport
- Digitalization encounters a small producer
If you would like to ask more about competence development or working at Solita, I would love to tell you more.
At Solita, we are always looking for new talented people for our data and software development teams. Send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org.