Life of an Associate Engineering Manager and Someone Who Walked From Dublin to Istanbul!
Approachable, helpful, curious to hear everyone's opinions... and sufficiently technical! That is how Ben Klaasen’s team would describe him (or so he thinks!).
And if those traits weren’t enough, he’s also incredibly determined. In 2017, Ben Klaasen took a break from work and walked from Dublin to Istanbul.
“It was one of the most profound experiences of my life and taught me that most people are decent and not fearful of strangers (Perhaps wary at first, but overwhelmingly kind-hearted). I have endless stories of being the recipient of many random acts of kindness, and very few of hostility or unpleasantness. Plus, Europe is stunningly beautiful,” says Ben.
Two years after returning from his travels, Ben joined Workhuman and truly believes that company culture is key to a pleasant environment. “Don't stay at a company that doesn't respect you as a human being, or that doesn't support you and give you opportunities for growth. Some companies have a culture in which good people can have their own instincts for good undermined so that they behave counterproductively to their own, their peers or the company's interests. Learn to spot when this is happening,” Ben says.
Ben joined Workhuman as a QA Engineer to assist in making the company’s existing tech stack more testable and observable.
He aims to improve the speed and reliability of existing automated test harnesses and apply modern testing tools and techniques.
“These empower our manual testers to be able to do better tool-assisted exploratory testing and cut down on busywork,” he said. “It’s a long-running, multi-pronged approach, working collaboratively across our technology teams. Asking questions to shine lights in forgotten corners is a core tester skill,” Ben explains.
“I think I can say on behalf of everyone at Workhuman that no two days are the same. I am extremely grateful to have such autonomy in my role in such a fast-paced environment.
"What I enjoy most about the job is the extraordinarily open, collaborative and supportive interaction I have with my peers and teammates on a daily basis. I can trust that everyone I interact with in Workhuman has a shared goal to grow our company and make the workplace more human.
"Of course, there are the longstanding challenges to solve, which are exciting and complex. As we scale, we update our tech stack, so making inroads into those to make them more comprehensible, transparent and testable can feel like a real victory.
"We practice radical candour. Workhuman has teams composed of people, some of whom started yesterday and some of whom have been here for a decade or since we were founded."
There’s an exceptional level of institutional knowledge available, coupled with an appetite to take calculated risks to make the radical changes necessary to scale our architecture to support the volume of growth that’s occurring. Now, Ben has moved from testing to engineering management.
“It's not a move I ever thought I'd make, but I have an excellent manager. She's super-smart, and very humane with it. I had the chance to try on the role of "interim delivery lead" (delivery lead is the term we used to use for engineering manager) for several months, as the team was growing and spawning new agile squads. I got excellent mentorship and feedback during that period. I felt I was growing and stretching mental muscles I didn't even know I had! I enjoyed the experience - challenges and all - so when the option came up to apply for the permanent position of 'associate engineering manager' I applied, and was successful. I haven't regretted the change in career for an instant. It's a wonderful feeling to be growing in a new direction at this phase of my career.
“From very early in my career, I've been aware of the ethical and social impacts of what software companies build. It's reasonable to think most software is ethically neutral, but it's not. It has a political stance baked in, which is often unexamined. What I love about Workhuman is that we work to build software that enhances the best aspects of human nature. Plus, it turns out there's excellent social science research that shows that (who'd have thought it?) saying a public 'thank you' to people makes them more inclined to be engaged and to want to reciprocate.
"Workhuman has a very promising future! Even before the pandemic, it had hit the Zeitgeist, with companies large and small discovering that treating employees well and recognising the work that they do is a great way to retain and nurture talent.
"The world of work has changed over the past few years, and I think Workhuman is even better placed to capitalise on that, facilitating moments that matter between employees and among teams, and enabling meaningful, structured conversations for career growth and development.
"Workhuman has a truly unique culture. We have interesting technical problems to solve, amazing growth and mentorship opportunities and we're building a product that makes the workplace more human. It's an inspiring place to work!” Ben says.
Without our humans, it’s just work.
We. Are. Workhuman.