Everyone can choose a project that they enjoy, says Jiří Balcárek, Director of Adastra's Telco and Retail Division
"We are driven by new technologies, so people must not be afraid to learn on their own, to try something themselves and convince their colleagues, to educate the client and deploy something new and be able to support it. Most of the time, these are unexplored things, and you have no one to ask about their experience," says Dagmar Bínová, who leads the Big Data & Data Science team at Adastra, in the Adastra podcast.
Ivana Karhanová: She leads the big data team. She is a mom of two boys who, like her, have analytical brains. At Adastra, together with forty other people, they build data platforms for clients, analyze big data and create various applications to process it. All with one goal: to find and show them the next business in data. Dáša Bínová. Hi.
Dagmar Bínová: Hi.
Ivana Karhanová: Dáša, what specific projects are you working on for clients?
Dagmar Bínová: There are a few more projects. We work in banking - for Komerční banka, in production - for Škoda Auto, but also for other customers, for example, in the telco sector - for Vodafone, T-Mobile.
Ivana Karhanová: What specific projects are you working on for them?
Dagmar Bínová: First, we supplied them with big data platforms for big data. And now we are somehow maintaining those platforms - developing them, adding more functionalities to them, actually expanding them so that they work in the IT ecosystem so that they work for all the businesses that can then use the data from those data platforms.
Ivana Karhanová: What does a person have to know if they want to become a full-fledged member of your team, and what do they not have to know, and what do you teach them?
Dagmar Bínová: It's not about what they need to know when they join us, but rather their mindset. It's more about what he could learn in a year or two and whether he is willing to work on himself almost constantly because the technology we use is changing quite a bit. We use a lot of innovative technology, so what we would have delivered to customers five years ago would have delivered largely differently today.
Ivana Karhanová: You have to be willing to keep learning. What else do you expect from people?
Dagmar Bínová: Well, I expect them to have a certain amount of independence because they often go to our customers as individuals, so they are there quite often on their own. We rarely have a senior person supervising our junior employees. Everyone on our team just has to be mature enough when we send them to a client like that.
Ivana Karhanová: When a junior newcomer joins you, how long does it take to get to the client for the first time?
Dagmar Bínová: At first, he goes on his own for three months, but usually for about six months.
Ivana Karhanová: And if he starts, he's new, and he needs the help of a more experienced colleague, how does your team work in this case?
Dagmar Bínová: In our company, we have a quite elaborate way of joining, which means that usually a person joins us and from the very next day he has a mentor, a kind of Buddy, who is available almost every day for some consultations, help, advice. And they regularly meet together once or twice a week for a longer period, maybe an hour, and they make some kind of plan of what the individual has to learn. It also depends on what profile he or she is coming in with. The plan is different for everyone. Plans are not made in advance, but they are made to suit each individual. And the mentor accompanies the newcomer for at least three months, usually longer. It can be for six months. For some, it can be nine months.
Ivana Karhanová: How are you doing with home office and office work? Do you allow people to work completely remotely, or do you require them to be physically in the office from time to time?
Dagmar Bínová: In the covid era, we managed to work remotely perfectly, but the social ties took a bit of a beating. So we prefer to meet people regularly at the workplace at least once a week. If possible, maybe twice. But since we're consultants, we also go to customers, where we have to show up once or twice. So we spend a third of our time here at Adastra, a third at the customer's place, and a third at home, but it's not the same every week.
Ivana Karhanová: How are you doing with the part-time jobs? I guess we should add that you have been at Adastra for 15 years and are part-time, even though you manage the big data team. How are the others?
Dagmar Bínová: Well, I belong to the minority. Of course, even though my part-time job is close to a hundred. I've been gradually increasing my allocation here, and my kids are growing up, so it's also easier to juggle now. The others are mostly working at 100 percent, but we also have students here who maybe start at 50 or 60 percent of their time and gradually increase it, depending on what their studies allow or how well they can write their thesis. We try hard enough to allow them to choose a similar topic in their thesis to the one they deal with here at work so that it is easier for them to write their thesis. There's just a synergy of topics, so it's possible to accelerate the students to come to us full time.
Ivana Karhanová: How do you have it in your team with education?
Dagmar Bínová: We are a competent team, so we invest a lot in education. We use many public courses, and we also have a subscription to a publishing house where we can read and study professional literature from books. And we also have cloud learning platforms where they can create a lab and train skills on that cloud lab. We also have our servers in the server room. That's an on-prem platform where we learn and prepare before bringing something new to the client. We try everything out when we want to install something new for them. We practice in our lab. So that on-prem lab with those servers in the server room serves as a learning lab for us, and we do a dry run there before we go to the customer.
Ivana Karhanová: Does your team speak Czech together, or do you use English? And what nationalities do you have in your team in general?
Dagmar Bínová: Our nationalities are slightly mixed, but the team is mostly Czech, so we use the Czech language. We currently have two Belarusians, one Slovak, and two people of Russian nationality on the team.
Ivana Karhanová: You said people must not be afraid in your country. What could they be afraid of?
Dagmar Bínová: They must not be afraid of coming up with something new. New technologies drive us, so they must not be afraid to learn on their own, try something on their own and convince their colleagues of it, educate the client, deploy something new, and support it. Most of the time, it's unexplored stuff, and you don't have anyone to ask about their experience. So people just can't be afraid to do new things with us.
Ivana Karhanová: Thanks for the interview. That was Dasha Binova and her big data team.
Dagmar Bínová: Thank you.