Meet Szymon Bernatowicz, our Project Manager! He started working at our company over 2 years ago and often shares his insights on our blog. How has it changed since then, and what is he doing now? All the answers and more in the interview of My Applover Path!
Thank you for finding time for this little interview. We know how busy you are! Let’s start with the beginning – how did you get a job at Applover?
I was searching for a new job very precisely – a Project Manager at a technology company, ideally a software agency. At the time, several offers looked interesting, and Applover Full-Stack Digital Agency was one of them. What caught my attention at Applover were the company’s values, and, from an outsider’s perspective, it seemed like an exciting company to work for where I could learn a lot.
Without thinking too long, I replied to the job ad and sent my resume. After some time, I heard back from Magda from HR, the current COO. The first stage was an interview. Later, if my memory serves me correctly, there was a recruitment task. I think it went pretty well, considering where I am. A few days after submitting the assignment, I got a phone call with feedback and an offer to work together. The whole thing went on in a delightful atmosphere, and I recall it very well.
Did you always think about a project management career path?
Not always, but I’ve always been more or less involved with it. I started at a creative agency in 2016. I gained experience working with people and B2B clients for several years. What mattered most to me was working with people and being responsible for a project from the beginning to the end.
Later, from digital marketing, I started to be drawn more toward new technologies and software development. A place where web, desktop, or mobile applications are developed seems to be a hit, so it couldn’t be anything other than a development shop. However, I had in the back of my mind a dynamic position where a lot happens and where I could use my soft skills – and this time, it couldn’t be other than the position of Project Manager. So everything subconsciously led me to this lucky path, and I’m happy with that!
What do you like most about your job as a Project Manager?
First of all, I love the fact that I can work directly with great specialists daily. As a project manager, I’m in close contact with people from different projects, which allows me to use my knowledge to the fullest. Additionally, I enjoy working on multiple projects simultaneously. I think it’s a matter of dynamics – I like it when a lot is happening. As a result, I never get bored at work 😀
What project was the most challenging here for you and why?
It seems to me that no single project has been an enormous challenge. I would be more likely to say that the many different, smaller or larger situations provided the most significant challenge. The most exciting thing is how several of these “challenges” accumulate simultaneously. I suppose you could say that the project dynamics put my abilities to the test 😀
What does a typical project manager’s workday look like?
It’s difficult to describe a typical day because each day looks different. However, there are indeed a few common elements that make up each day or week.
I first start by looking through my email inbox and Slack. At this point, the prioritization of tasks for the day begins. I catch and organize the urgent tasks and those that are less urgent but equally important! Then, in the morning hours, daily project stand-ups are held – short, maximum 15-minute meetings of the entire project team to exchange information on who is working on what, what problems they encountered, what solutions they propose, etc. There are also planning and retro meetings on selected days. You can read about them in my other blog post here.
When the previously mentioned meetings are over, it’s time to move on to Jira updates. It’s also an excellent time to take care of the tasks we listed during the email and Slack review. These tasks are broad – from preparing a summary of new features for the client to addressing design comments in Figma to writing technical specifications. I once again ensure that all tasks for the day have been completed, all messages have received a response from me, and that, generally, “there is progress.”
How do you prioritize tasks in a project?
Just like in prison, we start with the biggest ones. But seriously, it’s not rocket science – we start with the biggest and most pressing tasks. We focus on eliminating the most complex tasks or problems first. After that, everything seems more straightforward, as if it were “downhill.” Then we move on to the simple but pressing ones. Last are the tasks that require our attention, but those that can be taken care of “quietly.” But in the end, many different and usually strange things happen along the way, which mixes up our plans; that’s how it is.
What, in your opinion, is the most important thing in your job as a Project Manager?
I described this quite comprehensively in the article on the top 5 essential skills, so I encourage you to read it, and in general, nothing has changed for me on this topic. In my opinion, the most important aspects of my work are:
- work organization,
- good communication,
- proper prioritization of tasks,
- attitude to solving problems and looking for solutions,
- making the right decisions.
What tools do you use in your projects? Do you have any that you prefer better?
We use many tools throughout the day, each of which has a slightly different role.
The following are the most commonly used:
- Jira – manages the team’s work and controls the workflow
- Slack – communication between employees, an essential tool when working remotely,
- Google Meet – mainly for organizing Daily Stand Up’s, planning, retro, and client meetings (demos, statuses, etc.),
- Gmail – communication with clients who prefer more traditional channels,
- Passbolt – security first,
- Figma – mockups, designs,
- Google Workspace and Confluence – all docs, specs, excel, etc.
Do you have any plans or challenges that you await in the near future?
From day one, I planned to develop technical skills in parallel with soft skills. Recently, I’ve been particularly interested in programming in Flutter. I’ve already learned the basics – I’ve made some views and basic features, but that’s about it. I hope that I will be able to show off something more in time.
What advice would you give to people who want to start their career in IT? Maybe you can share your favorite knowledge sources?
I think it’s challenging to choose one-size-fits-all advice that will suit everyone. However, if I have something to advise people who want to go in this direction, ask yourself if this is something you want to devote yourself to. If the answer is yes, do everything you can to make it happen.
And read the books, for real.
So what did you read recently that could be a fine book recommendation?
Maybe not in recent times, but I strongly recommend The Psychology of Money. Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness, by Morgan Housel.