Posted in Development, Work Styles

Reflections of a new Powershop software development manager

Hi, I’m Emma and I’m a software development manager with the team here at Powershop.

My role is a little different around here compared to the technical focus of developers. I am one month in and would like to give you a fresh insider’s glimpse into this special place. What does that look like in practice? What impact does it have on how people work? I have condensed these into five things that have resonated with me in these first weeks.

I’ve been a Powershop customer for five years. I hadn’t previously been excited about electricity, let alone paying for said electricity. A colleague had recommended Powershop when I moved house. Everything was suspiciously easy and awesome. My interest as a conscious consumer grew into a professional interest in following years: their mobile app kicked ass; they did fun, playful, smart things in the tech community; people smiled with their eyes when they talked about working at Powershop. Something was going right here, and I wanted to find out more.

When a role as development manager came up, I was pretty interested to see behind these pink doors and see what some of this magic was. They talked about building people, not things. A culture they pay attention to. Never settling. It’s power to the people. Here’s how I see that in practice.

We value perspective.

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I don’t work as a developer. We have more than fifty people who do. My contribution in turn brings a different perspective to the table. In the same way, we’re stoked to be involved in Summer Of Tech and working with interns. We learn as much from their creative insight and hard work as they might from our software delivery. There is equality on the floor: our CEO is a few standing desks away, the CTO will join you on lunchtime runs, our General Counsel has a brilliant sense of humour, our head of brand will have you fizzing with the impact of colourful connection. People are recognised and appreciated for diversity, for perspective, for openness.

We have fun together.

Pink Day at Powershop

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I could tell you about the coffee culture, sausage roll morning teas, knitting sessions, family nights, ping pong table, lunchtime trail runs, shared kettlebell workouts in the nearby park, cake on birthdays, pink beanbags, Powershop T-shirts worn with pride, Baylands brewery beer on Fridays. But while that social network is part of the platform, it’s not our purpose, which leads me to:

We work hard.  

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There is both technical elegance and robustness in what we do. The actual work sets your mind alight with excitement and opportunity. This is one-on-one conversations, this is excited hand waving in meeting rooms, sketching ideas and making them happen, pair programming, connecting minds in code review, rolling up sleeves to help your colleagues collectively solve a 13-point story, gathering six laptops in a room and leaving with a plan, meshing business impact with delivery, understanding how to better connect with real people using our products. It is Hack Days for two days a month (“10% time”) to work on your own projects. We build beautiful things and we invest in doing it increasingly well.

We foster an environment we’re proud of.

Within the first couple of days of being here, I was hearing teams and people saying: I feel valued, I’m proud of what I’m contributing, I feel like I can ask as many questions as I need to, I’m writing beautiful code, I feel at home here. New starters join the “Devtrain”, which is several months of learning Ruby and about exactly how the Powershop delivery team work together so effectively. We care about people as people and invest in community in the long term. We remove barriers. It’s our job to make this a connected, creative, high-performing place to work that has impact.

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We have purpose.

Powershop is the little electricity company that could. Our customers are both the reason that we’re here, and our future. A few of us took a road trip over to the Masterton call centre HQ. This brought us even closer to the real people, and the real reason we’re here. We’re in Australia and New Zealand. We’ll be in the UK before long. It’s giving people options. A little bit renegade. Abhorring mediocrity.

This is a place that is committed, authentic and doing it’s best to keep doing the good things. It looks different. It makes for a different environment. It aligns us to the purpose and why we’re building. Making things better.