From start up to scale up
As startups grow into scale ups, and beyond, there can often be an interesting struggle between staying true to the organization’s founding identity and innovating for the next stage of growth. At Peakon, we approach this dilemma by evaluating how well candidates align to our company values during the interview process. And at the leadership level, we especially look for past accomplishments to see how individuals live those values.
In that context, there may not be a stronger member of our leadership team than Chief Technology Officer Anne-Sofie ‘Fie’ Nielsen.
Fie leads everything in our Engineering department – from maintaining our current systems to building new ones, as well as cultivating a culture for the more than 30 members of her team. One of her biggest tasks for the future is going to be hiring so she is looking for able and ambitious Engineers to join her to ensure Peakon’s product offerings are best in class and that the culture in the Engineering department aligns with our company values.
The Peakon Talent Acquisition team quizzed Fie on her approach to Engineering at Peakon, and her vision for the team.
What drew you to Peakon and what are you most excited about for the future?
I really fell for Peakon’s culture and values; Peakon is such an inclusive company to work for. I’m very impressed by the amount of care that people show for each other, and how much everyone values what we each bring to the table. It’s really not the “one-size-fits-all” culture you see in some other workplaces.
For someone like me who is interested in leadership it’s also very exciting to be working on a product that ultimately helps leaders become even better at their jobs. Peakon enables the voice of the employee to be truly heard, understood, and acted upon. I think many engineers are driven by wanting to make an impact on the world, and it’s very meaningful for me to work on a product that makes such a significant impact on workplaces around the globe. We all spend a very significant amount of our time at work, and having positive, rewarding experiences at the office really translates into quality of life.
What is unique about Peakon’s approach to engineering?
Our approach very much reflects the core company values. A prominent one for us in the engineering team is “Build for tomorrow, today”. We live this value by creating a product that is always enjoyable for our users, but also something that we can continue to build upon from a technical perspective. We support that by doing things like building out our large automated test suite, and allocating time for technical projects that either support developers in working more efficiently or improve quality and maintainability of the product to scale to an even larger user base.
I have to mention another of my favorite Peakon values too: “Serious, not seriously”. We’re very serious about doing a great job and making sure that we have an amazingly skilled team. But I believe that work is also supposed to be fun, and we should be able to make friends and enjoy ourselves while we do what we do best.
Throughout your career what have been your keys to success?
Always think about the bigger picture. So when someone gives you a task, try to understand the context around it: How will it be used? Where does this fit into what we are trying to do as a company? What will it need to do in the future? This doesn’t mean over-engineering stuff, but understanding what are the right trade-offs to be made.
I’ve also not been afraid to stand my ground on what I see as important, whether that’s from a values perspective or in relation to a technical or product-related decision. I think people respect that.
What’s the secret to success when building an Engineering team?
The classic response is: “Hire the right people”. While that is very important, I think we as leaders have a huge responsibility for the culture we build, which is more than just the sum of the people.
It’s about creating an environment where everyone can be their best self, giving them autonomy to use their skills and best judgment, and supporting them when things are difficult. It’s making sure that people have time and energy to spend with their loved ones, and also to make friends at work. I don’t see those things in opposition to being ambitious with your work; on the contrary, I think people perform better when they feel good about all aspects of their lives.
Fie’s department at Peakon is currently hiring for roles in multiple locations globally.