After relocating from Tampere, Finland, to Hamburg, Antti works in our IT department as a Senior IT Infrastructure Engineer alongside his colleague, Hertta, our Senior Canine Advisor. Being with FREE NOW for some years, Antti talks about work, fun and how to deal with the crazy pace of a tech company…
What surprised you the most when you joined FREE NOW?
The sheer velocity of work! A lot can change in six months, which is as exciting as it is demanding. I have an enterprise background, which can have very slow project cycles so I had to get used to the pace of work and how quickly everything can change. For example, in my old job, you could go on holiday midway through the project and return to minimal change. This is not the world of FREE NOW!
My experience in larger companies and in research (I have a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience) gave me the perspective that to be able to deal with the pressures of rapid change, we needed to create stability. In my role particularly, I create this stability by ensuring that our Cloud and backend services are resilient by building on the potential of change into the design. This means that as an IT department, our work contributes to a scalable infrastructure.
Interestingly, you left FREE NOW and then returned- what made you come back?
I found a new role with different tasks and responsibilities, left and after six months, I returned to the team. During this time, I kept in touch with the team; we hung out as friends, went for beers and then I accepted an offer to return to a new role (which was not available when I initially left). Above all, I came back because I love my team; we are a bunch of teenagers yet I also feel that I have more of a fatherly role within the team as I try to advise them against making the same errors from my own experience. Not only did I want to work with talented people and an awesome team, but I also wanted to be in a challenging environment too.
What are you passionate about?
I love football. Craft beer tasting is brilliant. Cars are awesome too. I enjoy spending time in nature as well- in Finland, the cities are compact whilst the countryside is sprawling, which means you are more likely to see a moose than another human if you go for a stroll. All of this keeps me balanced between work and life and means that I have a natural interest in urban mobility.
What unique skills do you bring to FREE NOW?
I am a really fast learner and can comprehend complex concepts and see the interconnections between them. I am a generalist; my role is not that specialized, which is a strength as it means you need all-round knowledge and transferable skills.
How have you developed professionally and personally at FREE NOW?
Professionally, I have become adaptable by changing the way that I work. I adapted by minimizing some of my perfectionist traits and became much faster at getting stuff done. I have also become more sociable which has allowed me to acquire an absolute gem of a skill; using humor to bring people together. It helps to keep a team united, especially when tackling different topics.
How would you describe the culture at FREE NOW?
At FREE NOW, we have a culture of open communication- this includes your boss as well! I also like the multicultural environment, people are enthusiastic; positivity drives productivity and creativity here.
As we grow as a company, it will be a challenge to keep this culture. Before, we were a lot less structured because we were smaller and it was easier to manage. Here in IT, we play a big role in maintaining this culture as we touch every department. We can actively maintain and strengthen the FREE NOW vibe in our day to day work by reflecting the cultural values in how we work and how we treat our colleagues.
To keep our current culture, my top tip would be that everyone takes their job seriously, works in a structured way and learns to say ‘no’. Learn how to prioritize, in a way that no one gets hurt. You don’t have to be mean about it- just challenge yourself about why you can’t do this project or why you can’t help this person out. We can also consider more ways to automate services, so we have time to interact with people and get to know them on a personal level.
My motto is to work hard and be structured so you have more time to have fun.
Are you interested in working in a similar environment? Check out our opportunities available in Hamburg and across Europe here.