Xpand and General Assembly have been in partnership and successfully creating relevant talks and events for technology, digital and data professionals. One of the sessions of GAs Career Lab was How to Build an Amazing Development Team. We were grateful for our guest speakers on our panel Jakub Downar, Head of R&D - Finantix; Artemis Mendrinos, Senior Manager, Digital - Accenture; Ted Kuo, Head of Development, Zalora; Francois De Serres, Head of Digital - Palo IT.
It was my first time to be a moderator for an X:ED event and I must say, they made it easy for me. They were all very successful in their fields but they were humble and generous in sharing their ideas and experiences. I have experienced working with the 2 of them as my Hiring Managers so it would be great to get more insights on what goes into their heads in creating their development team.
So how do they build an amazing development team?
For Jakub, it's understanding first what is the end product; what do they want to really build and achieve. It's important to know the methodologies and technologies which will complement the objectives.
Ted highlighted the culture and communication for the team he is building. He likes to give freedom to engineers to use what they feel is necessary for the products. Francois shared on leadership, continuity and taking risks in learning new things. While Artemis highlighted technology changes and finding value on new things. These are only bits and pieces of what they have shared during the discussion. They might have different processes and priorities in building the team but if there's one point that was common among them and has been mentioned all throughout the event PASSION. You can have all the latest technologies, a well-defined product and seamless processes, but if the people in the team don't have passion in what they are building, you are bound for nothing. The heart of the development team is the people. If you can't find passionate people to help you build that amazing team, it will be atrocious. And it's obviously the hardest part of building the team.
So how do they make sure they find the right people apart from the very thorough technical interviews and tests? They talk. They discuss on their motivations, curiosity, what they want to achieve, personal projects, aptitude in learning and comfort zones. On the other hand, they also emphasised to never hire under pressure. Never compromise and be careful in bringing new people especially if the culture is already in place.
Building an amazing development team isnât always an easy one. You may already have someone available to you or you may need to build a totally new team. There will be fires to extinguish decisions to make and deadlines to meet. But it's always important to have a good strategy in mind. It will always be a learning process for everyone because not all methods are perfect. But as you go along you try to modify and improve to suit the needs of the team and culture. Amazing teams aren't built overnight. But it is also not impossible.