ArticleMarch 20, 2023 · 6 min read time
As Nitor Sweden’s first employee, Software Architect Rudolf Grigel has seen the company go from being a start-up to having a brand new office in Stockholm, where everyone can meet and catch up. According to this Slovak Digital Engineer, it’s an ever-exciting journey as he loves technology – as long as it’s not mundane.
So Rudolf, you’ve been with us for quite some time now. How did you end up at Nitor?
Long story short, as a student at the University of Zilina in Slovakia, I had the opportunity to participate in an exchange programme in Finland. That was the moment I got charmed by Nordics for the first time. After my studies, I got to work for a Finnish company in Poland. The company was setting up a project in Stockholm. They told me that there was an open position for 6 months. Sure, why not, I thought. The project got extended and then extended again. At that time I met some Nitoreans for the first time and after about a year of working together, I got into more serious talks with them about possible cooperation.
You were the first employee at Nitor in Sweden. Tell us about this journey, how’s it been so far?
It’s super crazy, in the beginning we had one small room rented in a shared office space. We were just four guys in Stockholm, three Finns and me. Slowly, Nitor Sweden grew and now we are a team of over 20 Digital Engineers and have recently opened our very own office. It’s a very exciting journey, that’s for sure.
Coming from Slovakia, how would you describe working for a Swedish company that has its headquarter in Finland?
Well, even if we all belong to the same company, I’d say that Finnish people are more direct and act faster, whereas Swedish people always want to discuss different topics more and want to know everyone’s viewpoints before making a decision. There is a good balance at Nitor and diversity is one of the things I love about our culture.
What is the best thing about Nitor?
To be honest, there is not a single thing. I was drawn to Nitor from the start as I liked the professional, helpful and knowledgeable people. I would describe the culture as ’freedom that comes with responsibility’. I experienced a more traditional workplace environment before, with rigid job titles and structures. In Nitor I have never experienced the need to ask for explicit permissions or chase some higher-ups to approve things.
Nitor doesn’t have a traditional middle management, and we thrive in the flat organisation. It doesn’t mean that employees are left alone. Support is always available, and mentoring and coaching models are in place. Everyone can be involved in developing the culture and organisation processes. We have a great community in Stockholm, and watching it grow and evolve has been great.
What have you been working with recently?
We are encouraged to raise our competency in cloud technologies by getting various certifications, attending conferences and related events – by doing so everyone benefits. At this point I have already spent a couple of years working with AWS so it was an easy decision to validate practical knowledge with theory by getting associate level certifications (developer/solution architect).
What’s the beauty of working as a Software Architect?
I myself am very into efficiency and personally dislike doing meaningless and repetitive work. If something is repetitive, I try to make sure to automate it. I specifically enjoy code archaeology, or so-called code and system forensics. Systems often break and it is up to us developers to make them work again or understand why they broke down in the first place. If something goes wrong it’s such a great satisfaction to understand why, when and how exactly it happened.
And what are your strengths as a Digital Engineer?
I’m very pragmatic and like trying out new things. One of my favourite quotes is ’let’s just do it and see what happens’. I like that phrase! I’m a very hands-on person and I do not enjoy meetings or discussions that end up actionless. I rather try new things out and I’m not afraid of getting my hands dirty. This mindset makes it always fun to work.
Autonomy is also one of the things I love about Nitor – here I can get more of that as I can affect which assignments I take on. As long as it's benefiting all three – me, the client and Nitor, picking assignments is pretty free. The employees at Nitor, Digital Engineers, are pretty self-directed.
It is always fun to overcome challenges with Rudolf! He tackles them systematically, and nothing feels impossible. He knows how to present tough concepts, even to a simple person like me.
- Mika Kekäle, colleague
One thing I know you like a lot at Nitor is the employee benefits. What are your favourites?
I like the idea behind certain benefits, like the fact that we are given a budget to buy our own equipment such as our own computer, peripherals, ergonomic chair etc. When I heard this the first time I said to myself: "Oh my God, this is brilliant". Because why hire engineers and dictate what tools we should use? A great example of a bureaucracy-free organisation.
Besides the many benefits we have at Nitor, I also really like the Nitor Core time. We can use 10% of our working time on education, projects, development, testing and so on. We are encouraged to share our learnings and it is also exciting to hear what other people are working on. I have for example used the Core time to experiment with indoor radar technology.
Oh, have you? What did you do as a Core project?
I was interested in low maintenance and easy-to-set-up indoor location system that could be used to track positions of movable objects or people in an environment like an office or a gym. I was mainly focused on testing bluetooth low energy and ultra wide band technologies.
It turns out it is quite complicated to precisely locate objects in space due to various factors like measurement inaccuracies, signal noise, hardware limitations or speed of light. This project is only in its early stages and I hope to explore possibilities more in the future.
That sounds so cool! It has been such a pleasure talking to you, Rudolf. Last question, what are your goals this year?
I’ll try to focus even more on education and learning. We have a self-educating culture and Nitor doesn’t pressure you to go in any specific direction. Technology is evolving so fast and therefore it’s important to be up-to-date. That is why we get to go to conferences and organise a lot of sessions like hackathons and code camps to share knowledge. It’s just great!
Thank you so much, Rudolf. We hope that you’ll stay with us for many years to come!
In this campaign, we’ll introduce Nitoreans in different roles. Every Nitorean is a Digital Engineer: a pragmatic and solution-oriented helper who doesn’t settle for assumptions. Instead, they take one step further to seek the right questions and even better answers.