Richard Markiewicz is an Software Developer at Ayuda Media Systems, Montreal, where his main responsibility is as lead developer on BMS Digital.
- Describe your personal work space.
We have an amazing, funky office overlooking the waterfront in old Montréal. It’s a very open, welcoming space; everybody gets a nice big desk and ergonomic chair. The kitchen – with espresso machine – is kept stocked with free snacks and drinks at all times and we have an amazing games room that makes all my friends jealous. Lots of differences have been settled over a game of XBox or table hockey!
- How do you get to work?
I only live a few miles from the office, so I get on my bike – rain or shine. We’ve started to head into winter now – as a British expatriate, the Montréal winters have definitely been a tough adjustment – and soon the snow will force me to abandon my bike for the subway. However, I’ll be straight back on it as soon as Mother Nature allows. Traffic conditions mean the commute isn’t exactly relaxing, but I love being able to get out in the fresh air as well as do my part for the environment.
- What is an average day like?
I get up at about 6 a.m. and head straight to the gym or out for a run. I love that quiet time in the morning to get my thoughts ready for the day. and the workout means I’m super-energized by the time I get to the office, just in time for breakfast and coffee. I try to spend as much time as possible writing code – working on features and enhancements for BMS Digital. As part of a small team, no day is ever quite the same and, often, I’ll be drafted to work with our quality assurance and development teams on other Ayuda products or R&D projects. After the office is time to relax: my evenings usually consist of experimenting with a new recipe (I love to cook), yoga and – like a true Montréaler – watching the ice hockey.
- What is essential to you being able to work happily?
My workstation has to be ‘just so’ – and I feel very lucky that Ayuda provide dual monitors, choice of keyboard and mouse and any accessories or books needed to get the job done. My headphones are indispensable: I can shut out any distractions and focus completely on the task at hand – or sometimes I just like to rock out. I also have to keep plenty of healthy snacks on standby.
- How flexible are your working conditions?
I’m a real morning person and often arrive in the office before 8 a.m. – I love that peaceful start to the day. The other benefit is that I have the flexibility to head out a little earlier in the day. Sometimes, though, we really fulfill the programmer stereotype – it’s easy to get ‘in the zone’ while working on a new feature and suddenly you look up and it’s 2 a.m.! In which case, you definitely won’t be seeing me before lunch the next day. The strange thing about this job is that, like a lot of creative roles, your productivity can happen on a strange schedule. Ayuda really lets us use that to our advantage.
What do you think your employer looks for in its staff?
Really, I think the key thing is the desire, ability and humility to better yourself. In the software industry, everything moves so fast that it’s just not possible to be a master of every new technology. Personal character is everything – a really exceptional programmer will never claim to be the best, because he/she is always looking for a better way.
- What suggestions do you have for your company?
Keep doing what you’re doing! Oh – and extending the weekly croissant breakfast to two days of the week instead of just Friday wouldn’t hurt!
- Do you have any frustrations you would like to share with us?
Even on a smaller development team, it’s not always possible to follow everything your colleagues are working on. Once the product reaches a certain size, it’s impossible to know every single aspect inside out, and that can be a little frustrating when you want to be involved in everything! Of course, the flipside is those great surprises where you discover a cool new feature in the product that you didn’t know existed.
- What do you like best about your job?
We get to work in a great part of town, in a fun environment – it makes me wonder how people can be inspired to do great work sitting in gray cubicles. I consider the team here to be truly world class, but, more than that, everyone has such a great character as well. The best part? For someone fitness obsessed like me, the sponsored gym membership is a great perk!
- How open is your company to new ideas and suggestions?
In terms of the products we develop, they’re very much steered by customer feedback as well as internal discussions. It’s not uncommon for everyone to get involved in impromptu brainstorming sessions over a new feature, product idea or problem that needs solving.
- How much responsibility have you been given?
In a smaller organization like ours, everyone is expected to take on a certain amount of responsibility. It’s really one of the things that make the job so satisfying – being held accountable for the work you perform gives a great sense that you are making a difference to the company, rather than just acting as a cog in the machine.
- How green are you and your company?
I try to live a very healthy lifestyle and I think that helps my carbon footprint: I don’t own a car, I’m a vegetarian and I do my best to eat local and seasonal produce where possible. In the office, everything is electronic and we use very little paper. Of course, recycling is second nature at home and at work. I also like to think that the work we do is beneficial to the environment: great desktop software and digital signage means efficient workflows and less paper!