Sep 22

A bespoke title for a bespoke job

Hello, my name is Sophie, I am Captain Coder for TheCodingMachine.

Two years ago, an opportunity to work at TheCodingMachine made itself available. TheCodingMachine, a tech company, was looking for a Captain Coder. 

Without having read the description, you couldn’t have imagined what kind of position it would be. Mostly requiring soft skills such as communication, curiosity, dynamism, adaptability, good english & many more skills. Intrigued, I decided to give it a chance, knowing very little about technology.  David Maechler, a lead project manager at TheCodingMachine introduced me to the opportunity. He introduced me to  Nicolas Peguin, one of the 4 partners of the company, we had a great connection. When he told me the story of the business model of TCM, I felt like there was something  I could offer to the company.
Graduated 11 years ago with a Master degree in Communication, I traveled around the world and experimented with different type of positions in my career. The last one was as a freelancer in Image, production & arts. I was also involved in a startup project for 2 years.

Understanding the importance and the role as a former freelancer I affiliated easily to my present position. Managing a community of freelancers, and becoming their referent echoed as getting involved into the technology world with the app project I had in the past. This is when I started digging into the concept of Open source. 

Open source put a spell on me! It’s pretty fascinating when you actually think about it as a NOOB ! A community of developers all over the world contributing to various projects … for free ! Having millions of users participating in the growth of a tool, technology, plugin, boilerplate, … Impressive! 

Back to the story of TCM and this finding, it seemed obvious. Another world to discover for me : challenge accepted! 

The link with the business model of TheCodingMachine seems pretty clear; the idea was to work with a worldwide community of contributors performing in addition to their inside team, the building of powerful & relient applications.

This is what Coders is.

The question should be, who is behind coders ?
Denis, Benjamin, Mario, Wayan, Dave, Hugo, Abigael, Mykola, Uchenna, Humphrey,…

All those human beings in Coders are our community of freelancers with whom we work on our web projects everyday. 
Who are those freelancers? Where are they living ? How do we recruit them ? What’s their position at TCM? What’s their ambition for the future ?
This was my challenge. Create and federate this community.

The idea appeared to me, like an epiphany : what about empowering freelancers. What about being part of a company that values humans over the rest.Gain productivity and build up a powerful community with real humans from all over the world. Reminds you of something ? *Open source!

Finally, I accepted the challenge of taking over this ambitious project. It was already in place but with no specific process, and no one leading the project. 

I presented my vision of Coders to the board of directors. 

My main idea was to find the right match for each project, each team & each coder. As well as working on a long term relationship to make sure the teams have positive & successful experiences with each other. Through experience, make sure that their skills will grow while working with us. As well as they will bring their knowledge to the teams and projects.

Build everything from scratch and convince the collaborators that it can work. The tagline of coder became: Let’s code together! 

What are the benefits on both sides of this business model ?

  • Gain productivity
  • Experience growth in collaboration
  • Working hours are decent for both side
  • Management skills
  • Multicultural experience growth
  • Teaching skills
  • Technology awareness
  • Communication skills

Giving access to TheCodingMachine culture of work; by their choices of technologies, process of management, tools is a great opportunity for these freelancers. Coming from Ukraine, Nigeria, China, Kenya, Russia, Poland, Portugal … This worldwide community is real proof that diversity is our asset. We don’t care about where they are from, we care about their skills & their values. Working with like-minded people should not be a dream, it is a TCM reality.

How do we do it ?

  • Communication : We use different types of communication tools to keep in touch with them everyday to make sure we are all in this together. My main goal everyday is to ensure we are not losing track of communication for the good of the collaboration. Creating a group of motivated people communicating better and better with their teammates.
  • Contract : We built a platform where we have contractuals components to assign to freelancers. That is the legal guarantee they will have work and get paid. As well as confidentiality policy for every mission.
  • Transparency : these values are part of the onboarding process : we prefer transparency and healthy relationships. We always pay well and on time. We actually pay every week to ensure the well financial being of the freelancers. I lead the financial part of the collaboration. 
  • Mutual respect : It takes two to tango. It’s a collaboration, and like the dance if one person is not moving in the right direction, the other person cannot perform. We learn how to collaborate in an equal way.
  • Group integration : as the coders are not sharing the open space like us, we need to integrate them into our routine. For example, every Friday morning we organize Tech Talks which they are all invited to. We give access to our tech blog content all written in English, as well as our technical presentations.
  • Self assessment : as part of our human resources, we invite them to do a self assessment at the end of each year in order to receive and give feedback on their year and work they have completed.
  • Post Mortem feedback :  after every project, we realize Post mortem to make sure we learn from our mistakes, good actions for the good of our projects. We define different aspects of the project including the collaboration with the coders.
  • Invitation to Paris : the idea is to invite every year one coder or maybe in the future several, so they can come visit the office, work with us and discover Paris. The Covid-19, didn’t help to make it happen this year but hopefully soon we will be able to. Stay tuned.

This model is very ambitious and only started. We can see now a defined role emerged, Chief Freelance Officer. With this crazy year, it seemed like natural to be able to manage the relationship between your collaborators and make sure everyone is following the same direction. If you happen to be curious about the subject, please come by our office or just come talk to me s.maechler@thecodingmachine.com.
You are also welcome to visit
https://workadventu.re/ come say hi and visit our different spaces.

 

Sophie Maechler
Captain Coder