Laura Fairchild and the Supervisor Training Course

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

Laura Fairchild had been a supervisor and a project manager at a few different tech companies before she joined Computronix. She says that after she was hired, her first major challenge was “to learn the project methodology here. Computronix just does things a little bit differently.” The challenge was quickly overcome by completing tasks during the course of her job. “The first time doing something was the most difficult, and everyone’s been very great and very helpful. It’s an extremely supportive environment for project managers,” she explains.

That care and helpfulness is something that Laura has come to expect from Computronix employees, and was apparent even in her first interview. Because there’s such an emphasis on thoughtfulness and care towards employees, she found that even though she’s worked as a supervisor for many years, there were still things she needed to learn about being a supervisor at Computronix.

Fortunately, Computronix offers a Supervisor Training course, which Laura was recently part of. She was able to learn the specific roles and requirements of a supervisor at Computronix. Specifically, how supervisors are expected to support their supervisees, “caring for them, challenging them and helping them to grow and develop.” One way that supervisors can do this that really stuck with Laura is to show appreciation for supervisees – both publicly and privately.

Laura recommends the Supervisor Training course to anyone at Computronix who wants a leadership position. As she puts it, “I think if you’re going to be a supervisor at CX, you have to take this course. Even if you’ve been a supervisor for 20 years, you can still learn from this training.”

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

Computronix employees are constantly encouraged and given opportunities to learn and become better at their jobs, and even to move into new positions if they so desire. As part of this emphasis on professional development, the company offers several programs, courses and classes, such as the Emerging Leaders course.

Steven Shorey is a Tech Lead at Computronix, and during his first year with the company he took the Emerging Leaders course. He felt that, although he had been in a few different leadership positions previously, he’d never really been taught the “right way” to be a leader.  He wanted to ensure that he was not only getting projects done but also maintaining healthy relationships with his co-workers in the process. In contrast to other companies he’s previously worked for, leadership at Computronix is “just helping somebody out and taking a vested interest in them.”

He found the Emerging Leaders course to be incredibly helpful and he was able to get a good picture of what is involved in being a leader at Computronix. He asserted that “the Emerging Leader course was very high-level and gave core concepts for how to be a leader.”

He said that he would definitely recommend the Emerging Leaders course to anyone, regardless of whether they hope to become a supervisor someday or not. He described the course as promoting and encouraging a lot of internal reflection and learning how to become more self-aware. As Steven explained it, “it’s something that anybody would benefit from. It’s a very solid personal investment, regardless of whether you want to be a supervisor at some point or not.”

One of the core values at Computronix is growth. That means that we’re always trying to grow and improve as a company, but also that we value individual growth for our employees. This comes through in training, in mentorship and in a desire to see people overcome challenges, improve, learn, and succeed. As our HR Director, Dave Neumann, says, “Healthy people are going to want to learn and grow. And then a healthy company should make a way for people to learn and grow” So, to foster and encourage learning and growth, there is a set of courses we offer to employees, known as CX Academy.  In CX Academy, employees can deepen their skills in leadership, learn to self-evaluate, discover the best practices for a variety of tasks, and more!

The various CX Academy courses provide in-depth training into broad, general concepts such as “how to have difficult conversations” or “how to get the most out of a meeting,” as well as Computronix-specific information, such as the way we manage projects or handle performance reviews. This allows employees to be equipped not only for their jobs at Computronix, but for their lives outside of work, where they will likely be able to use the concepts they’ve learned.

Class instructors are mostly senior staff who have extensive knowledge and experience in the topics as well as a few external consultants that come in to teach on specific subjects that they specialize in. There are also a few books that students are expected to read that further delve into certain topics. The variety of instruction ensures that the courses provide a very well-rounded learning experience.

Computronix is committed to ensuring that the CX Academy itself is being refined and improved, taking student feedback into account to constantly improve the classes and the format. There are also “Refresher” courses, which are shorter courses intended for those who have taken the class previously and just need the updated information from the current year. Ultimately, we want to guarantee that we are providing the best possible learning experience for our staff.

According to Dave Neumann, the key importance of the CX Academy as part of the company culture is that, “Computronix is deliberate in living out our values of learning and growth. We are not just saying that challenge matters to us. We are going to get employees ready to take on challenges and prepare them for that.”

At Computronix, we strongly value professional development, meaning that we want our employees to continually learn and grow and improve at their jobs. We talked to developers Chris Newbery and Eissa Pavo, who shared their thoughts on professional development at Computronix.

Computronix has a strong emphasis on professional growth and development. Employees are encouraged and given opportunities to learn and become better at their jobs, and even to move into new positions if they so desire. One of the ways the company provides learning opportunities is through programs, courses and classes, such as the Supervisor Training course, or the recent Tech Lead Fast Track program. In the pilot Tech Lead Fast Track program, a group of employees were selected who were currently performing in a lead developer or an entry level tech lead role.    The goal of the pilot launch was to help those employees in newly assigned technical leadership roles a firm foundation by learning more about the responsibilities of the position and how to become more effective at their jobs. Three of them – Craig Porter, Jacob Carnegie, and Kevin Nanson – were interviewed, so that we could understand how effective the program was, and how it made a difference for them.

There were a variety of classes and topics covered, taught by various senior employees and leaders. In Kevin’s words, he found it really helpful to “be educated by peers, by people who have actually had that kind of experience.” Craig agreed, saying that the variety of speakers meant that “you got to learn from a lot of people’s opinions or specialties,” creating a very all-encompassing education of the responsibilities of the Tech Lead position.

Both Craig and Jacob found that they really took to heart Dave den Otter’s explanation of the Tech Lead’s primary role, namely that they “Own the Solution.” This means that, more than anyone else, it is the Tech Lead’s responsibility to make sure that “when the solution is delivered to the client, it’s going to meet or even exceed their expectations and requirements,” as Jacob put it.

All three found that the program made them much more confident in their roles and responsibilities. The training “makes my job a lot easier. I’m not flailing, I’m not wondering what I’m doing, I actually know,” explained Kevin. Craig was working as a Tech Lead on his second project while taking the program and he found that “I didn’t question myself the second time. I had more self-confidence.”

These comments from Craig, Jacob, and Kevin are confirmation that this program is on track to help train and equip our next class of emerging tech leads beginning early 2017.

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

It has been 24 years since Chris Stolte first started at Computronix as a student working a summer job. In that time, he has graduated from university, been hired on as a full-time staff, worked as a Developer, a Project Manager, and for the last 3 years, has been an Operations Manager. Obviously a lot has changed, both for him personally and for the company, which is nearly six times larger than it was when he started.

In every project he has a part in, Chris’s first priority is always “taking care of people.” He says that he’s most successful in his role when he’s “Ensured that there are no roadblocks in anyone’s way,” meaning that both the client and Computronix staff have everything they need to be successful.

Chris describes one particularly challenging project several years ago, where he was personally able to make a difference for a client. The original project manager suffered a massive heart attack and passed away partway through the project.  This created a major setback for the project, to the point where “it was almost impossible for it to succeed.” Chris stepped into the leadership role and worked with the client to rework the schedule and the overall approach. Not only did the project end up on-time and on-budget, Chris proudly asserts that “we were able to hold on to our core values throughout.”

Despite his many years here, he shared that he still enjoys coming to work each day and that things still feel new and fresh and exciting. “There’s lots of interesting challenges every day,” he explains, “you’re always able to learn and grow.” For him, there has definitely been a lot of learning. “Everything I know about the software industry, I’ve learned here. I’ve learned a lot about myself. Really, what haven’t I learned at Computronix?”

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

At Computronix, employees are frequently given opportunities to learn and grow and try new things. A common mantra is that “we don’t put people in boxes.” If someone expresses an interest in a certain position or type of work, they are generally given the freedom to explore that interest. Likewise, if a supervisor sees that a member of their team has an aptitude in a certain area, they encourage them to develop that talent, and perhaps even allow them to take on new roles according to those strengths. Daniel Magill is an example of a Computronix employee who was able to do this.

Just six months after starting at the company, and while still a Developer 1, he became a support desk representative for the POSSE product. Typically, support desk reps are at least a Developer 2 or higher, and have been with the company for much longer than six months. However, Daniel quickly proved that he was more than capable of handling the steep learning curve and the new responsibilities that came with the position. He is quick to explain that it wasn’t a solo effort though. When an issue came in that was too challenging for him to solve on his own, he explained, “I could always talk to the product team, and they would give me the information I needed to either solve the issue or to figure out a solution on my own.”

After seven months as a support desk rep, he transitioned back into a development role. Because of the experience with and deep knowledge of POSSE that he gained from that position, he has been able to provide assistance to co-workers when they run into a difficult issue. Many clients have also benefitted from Daniel’s knowledge and skill. He recounts one particular time when a client’s search was taking upwards of five minutes to load each time, and he was successfully able to bring that down to less than five seconds.

From the support he received from co-workers when he personally encountered difficult problems, to the support he now offers others, support has been a big influence during Daniel’s two years at Computronix. Thus, it comes as no surprise that his first thought when he’s asked what his colleagues are best at is simply, “supporting each other.”

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

When Brad Veenstra graduated from post-secondary school a decade ago and began looking for a job, one of the potential workplaces that really stood out to him was a small software company named Computronix. From his initial meeting with the previous CEO, Herman Leusink, Brad says that he could tell that it was “a very down-to-earth, authentic place. It felt like a really natural fit.” That first impression has proven true, and he describes his co-workers as “genuine, sincere people who want to be part of a team.”

He was a software developer during his first few years at Computronix and began to slowly take on more and more responsibility. After five years, he became a Tech Lead, which is the role he still holds today. As a Tech Lead, he is responsible for working with clients to design the system that best suits their needs. For him, it is “very rewarding work,” particularly because he is able to go on-site and see how clients are using the products and how much easier their jobs have become since implementing our business solutions.

At first, those on-site visits weren’t always enjoyable. Brad admits that he’s not an extroverted person, and it took some time and practice for him to become fully comfortable presenting to clients. However, he quickly points out that the company leadership supported and encouraged him throughout the process, saying that “at first, they made sure I had strong leaders along with me, so that I could learn from their example.”

That leadership is one of the things that Brad most appreciates about Computronix. He has a lot of respect for the executive team and the other leaders here.  In closing, he affirmed that “you could have the best job in the world, but if you don’t work with people you respect, it’s not going to be a very rewarding job. And there are a lot of respectable people here.”

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

One of the core principles that Computronix values is learning. Employees are constantly encouraged and given opportunities to deepen their knowledge in a wide range of areas. This could include anything from taking classes on programming or leadership, allowing for on-the-job mentorship, or just assigning people to projects that will require them to develop new skills. Chris Schulz has experienced a lot of this learning during his two years at Computronix.

Within his first year, he was given the opportunity to be a lead developer on a database upgrade for a client. Along with that, he was required to update their website to match the new code. Because he had never worked on websites before, it was a challenge, and it required him to learn and gain experience. However, whenever he was faced with a particularly difficult problem, he was able to consult with his co-workers and the other members of the project team to figure out how to find a solution. Chris described the project as “challenging, but it was a lot of fun.”

His position is somewhat unique within the company, because instead of working full-time with a large client, he serves a lot of smaller clients – seven at the time of the interview. This provides him with a lot of variety in his work, and also allows him to gain experience in a wide range of tasks.

Aside from the learning that happens within his team, Chris appreciates that Computronix allows and even encourages “cross-team working,” meaning that just because an employee is assigned to a specific project, doesn’t mean they can’t help out with other projects. This wasn’t the case for him with past employers. There is also a company-wide social network in place that allows people to post their questions and receive answers quickly. All in all, “It’s just a really supportive, friendly, fun environment to be a part of.”

For our Computronix employee interviews, we sit down with people from all levels of our company and ask them about their jobs, and what it’s like working for Computronix.

One thing you discover when talking to Computronix employees is that many of them are extremely committed to the company. It’s not uncommon to meet someone who has been part of Computronix for a decade or more, working their way from an entry-level job to a management position. Matthew Johnson is a perfect example of that, as he started working here 14 years ago as an apprentice who knew “very little about programming,” and is now a Technical Team Lead, responsible for leading a team of developers to build technical solutions for clients.

For him, the main reason he’s stayed for so long is the people. “I work with some of my best friends at this company,” he professes. It isn’t an empty claim either, as he regularly invites co-workers to his home to play board games and socialize. When asked what his co-workers are best at, his immediate response is “telling jokes!” He laughs at that for a moment, before adding “and we’re really good at innovating.”

People and innovation come up over and over again while talking to Matthew. His passion for inventive solutions is clear as he talks about the work he does, saying that his favorite part of his job is “being able to sit down and create, to solve a problem.” People skills, on the other hand, are something he’s had to learn during his time at Computronix, especially as he’s transitioned into more of a leadership role. It seems that this process of learning was really a joint effort between him and Computronix.

Matthew recalls one time when he was struggling to communicate with his team, and a senior staff member pulled him aside and explained exactly what the communication gap was, and how he could be better understood in the future. Situations like that are common within the company, and “that mentoring time has helped me understand myself more…it’s been fantastic,” he explains.

Ultimately, he’s been willing to go through these changes, to learn about himself and to grow as a person within a workplace context because he believes in Computronix’s vision of respecting, trusting and serving people – both employees and people outside the company. “It means I care about people, whether they’re the client on the other end of the phone or the guy sitting next to me.” It’s not always easy, he says as the interview wraps up, but “It’s a great place to work and there’s a lot of good people here.”