The second question (read the first) asked me to describe “How I contributed to something bigger than myself and what I learned from it”. This was my answer:
After completing my Master’s degree in 2006 I applied, and was hired, for the post of “Senior Web Specialist” at Uniblue Systems Limited, a Swedish software company based in Malta. For Uniblue, I was circa employee number 24. For me, it was proper full-time employment number 1. I formed part of a 2-person Design team and our job was to develop Uniblue’s products and business online.
‘Senior’ in my title was superfluous: I was the only web specialist around. However by the time I left Uniblue earlier this year [in 2008] we had created and justified the scope for growing the team to a much larger one. The company itself grew to about a 100 employees and, having been one of the earlier employees I saw close up the growth and changes the company was experiencing while shifting gear from ‘start-up mode’ to a more corporate environment. I am proud of the fact that my team was crucial in generating and sustaining significant company-wide growth in sales, web presence and image.
I learnt a lot about corporate culture and intrapreneurship during this time. Probably the most significant thing I acquired was a much more refined and skilled approach towards teamwork and the inevitable negotiation that this often requires. In particular, most of my projects were multi-disciplinary, bringing together individuals from different departments, typically advertising, sales and engineering. I often found that making an effort at clarifying and aligning everybody’s expectations very early in the game smoothed the road ahead considerably.
In hindsight, they now seem like obvious lessons. However the simple things can sometimes be the hardest ones to learn.
Why this is still relevant to me today:
Three years ago I thought I had learned something about dealing with people and personal relationships (professional or not). I did and those lessons have served me well. What I realise even more acutely today is how much more there still is to learn.
Or, rather, that while I may have improved some interpersonal skills, I seem to have only scratched the surface. I don’t actually know how much more there is still to learn: I just look around me and see so many areas for improvement and so many people from whom I can learn valuable lessons.
An even ‘obviouser’ lesson perhaps.