Beyond the cubicle: A Romanian’s perspective on Danish working culture
What is it like working for a company with strong Danish roots and offices all over the world? Senior Software Developer Gianina Stefan shares her experiences in navigating cultural diversity and exploring the many opportunities for development.
Meet Bucharest-based Gianina Stefan, a runner and keen traveller plus Senior Software Developer and Scrum Master at Systematic’s Library & Learning business unit, where she helps create software for libraries across Europe. With offices in 11 countries across the globe, the Danish software company houses a mixed bunch of dedicated colleagues – at the moment, Gianina’s team consists of Danes, Poles and Romanians.
“In an international team, you get the chance to explore other people’s views. Both in terms of the personal and technical aspects and also regarding leadership style,” Gianina explains.
“Romanians often say ‘Give me a task, and I’ll solve it’, while Danes enjoy collaboration more, and have a structured way of working together with, for example, Scrum.”
In Gianina’s experience, diversity is a great tool for coming up with new ideas and challenging the way things are done.
“Also, it’s much more fun participating in Christmas parties, onboarding games and coffee chats when you never know what crazy traditions and stories your international colleagues have up their sleeves,” she says, smiling.
No hierarchy – just software
However, in a diverse company filled with cultural differences, there are many definitions of ‘the perfect job’ and what it means to be a good colleague. Therefore, it can be challenging to create a workplace where everybody thrives and feels included.
“There is pretty much no hierarchy in my department. We’re all just there to build great solutions together,” Gianina says.
She has previously worked in the USA. There, the office was divided into small individual cubicles, which somewhat reflected the preferences and values of the company and its employees.
“Each person was very focused on their own tasks. A bit like Romanians!” she laughs.
However, when she started at Systematic three years ago, there were no such physical barriers. In the Romanian office located in downtown Bucharest, Gianina sits right next to her manager. The office is open-plan, and regardless of position and seniority you can swing by anyone’s desk or send them an email.
“Yesterday, for example, I fixed a bug, and I just asked a tester if they had time to look at it. There was no question of having to ask your manager’s permission to book this person for a meeting a week in advance. Just 15 minutes, and it was done. That’s why I really appreciate Systematic’s open culture – it’s far more time-efficient, and it heightens the quality of everybody’s work,” she says, and continues:
“We often travel to bring the teams together in either Denmark or Romania. These visits focus in particular on aligning our efforts and goals to keep the projects on track.”
A place to grow
One of the things that really impressed Gianina when she first started at Systematic was how massively the company invests in its people. Socially, definitely, but especially professionally and personally.
“There are lots of opportunities for development, such as working on challenging and diverse projects, attending courses and just generally having a culture that supports learning and growth, where everybody is expected to pitch in with ideas and opinions,” she says.
Soon after she started at Systematic, Gianina told her previous team leader about her experiences at her new workplace. Drawn by the culture and opportunities for growth, her former colleague decided to also apply, and now works in Systematic’s Defence business unit.
“You are shown the trust to try out new things, while at the same time you can always seek help when necessary. It’s a very safe environment to develop and grow, to apply your knowledge but to also learn new things,” says Gianina, smiling.
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