Generalist software architect Insta

17 - 6 - 2020 - Career stories

Search for creative work led to the software industry

Mark Stenbäck enjoys the versatility and flexibility of work at Insta. Working as an architect is also more productive when working at your own pace.

From a junior developer to an architect

During my career, I've seen several companies from start-ups all the way to big international companies and everything in between. For the first eight years, I focused on software development. In school, I felt I was a creative person who couldn't sing, act, or draw, but I was pretty good at writing, so the software side felt like a sensible way to bring out my creativity. Coding hasn't been the thing for me, though; in order to work as an architect and use creativity, one still must first know how to program - one must understand what the work is about and how it is done to be able to tell others what we are going to do. So I started with a junior developer and progressed from it as my skills developed.

Back then, at worst, spec could come on post-it notes. Most of the projects ran into difficulties because there was no proper understanding of what we really needed to do. I started thinking that if no one else is doing the specification properly, I will do it myself. For example, I began to find out what the project was really about, what requirements and interfaces were involved. I tried to understand the needs of users and stakeholders, identify the risks, what information should be handled in the system, and, in general, what kind of overall solution the customer would need. With that, I eventually became the person who was first asked to talk to the client. In the same way, I ran into Scrum and Kanban, because the project's success requires not only good specs but also a well-functioning process and, of course, a little more.

Mark Stenbäck .

Proudly generalist

I started working at Insta Digital, then Intopalo Digital, in the autumn of 2019. I have been studying for a Master's degree and got acquainted with Intopalo in a course led by them on the Secure Development Lifecycle (SDL). Security matters have been a kind of common thread in my career. In my work with definition and development, I've tried to get a grip on them as I ponder how the systems I have developed could be attacked against so that they could be protected accordingly. With Intopalo, the idea eventually crystallized, and when they seemed to have quite a few projects related to the field, I decided to apply with an open application; I justified well why I should be hired and got in.

I see myself as a generalist; my expertise is wide-ranging, but on the other hand, it is not always as in-depth as that of those specializing in a particular area of ​​expertise. I joined Intopalo to specialize in security projects, but as a generalist, it has been easy for me to be involved in very different projects whenever needed. As a result, at Insta, I have been involved in diverse projects and roles, from software architect to security consulting and from leading a development team to overall architecture work. After 20 years of doing a little bit of everything, jumping into a new project is quick. Everything can be learned and taught, if not otherwise, then by staying even a few steps ahead of the others.

Development of things and yourself at your own pace

In the software industry, however, the pace can sometimes be too fast. In previous organizations, I tried to talk a little bit about not running yourself to the ground and taking care of yourself. Like many other people in the software industry, I came to learn that the hard way with two burnouts. At Insta, I have been well able to regulate my pace of work. In the software sector, it should not matter where and when the work is done, as long as it is done as agreed by the agreed time. The mind needs to be in the right state in creative work to progress smoothly. Thus, if the mornings seem heavy, you can sometimes work in the evening and even at night and in the morning sleep longer if there are no meetings or other agreed obligations. The rule of thumb is that these things can be flexible to enhance one's well-being, as long as it does not interfere with other people's work.

When you get to work at your own pace, you don't get so stressed. It also allows you to have more free time. My dog takes me for a walk every day, but there is also time for activities such as reading and small home projects and, of course, computer games, which I've been playing since childhood. This summer's project is to learn aerial photography with a drone, which provides an excellent excuse to go to national parks and other places of interest.

Insta Digital is different from the organizations in which I previously worked. Everyone takes responsibility for their own work and shared matters when there are no supervisors. Here you can do a lot and truly grow to your full potential. You can't just passively wait for someone to tell you what to do. When activity and initiative are encouraged, there are better than usual opportunities for personal and organizational development.

Mark Stenbäck

Mark Stenbäck

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