"I try to ignite the flame in people"
– Jan Strandbakke, Head of Development
The Head of Development describes writing his first code as a magical experience. His team has quickly grown from 16 peers to 110 – and reveals what triggers him most as a leader.
Hey Jan! You're leading 110 developers – what's it like?
“It's a lot of fun. I really love my job. I started in one of the Visma companies, Tripletex, in 2016. Back then we were 16 people in the development team. Today we’re 110. You can say it’s been a steep growth. As a leader, I try to ignite the flame in people and make it interesting and fun for them. I want them to, for example, nail a domain and then come say that ‘hey, today I delivered a great salary module in our products.’ A lot of what I do is trying to keep the great people we have.”
What a journey! So how do you keep the brilliant minds in your team engaged?
“The modern technology we work with is really important both to keep and to hire great people. So we have to emphasise the modern technology stack we have. We have to communicate that it’s really interesting to work with, like ‘You’re building your own character professionally when you're working with React, AWS, and future-proof SaaS software.’ We work fast, using continuous integration and continuous delivery, which is a lot more fun for everyone. You can join us straight from university and already in the first week you’re fixing a bug or a small feature in production that real customers have started to use. Our team is full of young talents. To see them grow into team leaders and tech experts is so cool. I think that’s what triggers me the most as a leader, to see people take responsibility and run in the more or less right direction.”
“I think that’s what triggers me the most as a leader, to see people take responsibility and run in the more or less right direction."
You seem like you really care for your people! In your opinion, what are the main ingredients to building a great team?
“We’re very team-oriented. I believe trust is vital when looking at teams. As leaders we have to be on top of this. We must have trust as our baseline. Trusting teams to make wise decisions. And if they make the wrong decision, we have to say that it’s perfectly okay. That's part of the risk picture. That's part of moving fast. Or as I often put it: if things are never failing in production, we’re moving too slowly.”
Your passion for tech truly shines through when talking to you. Have you always had an interest in it?
“Yeah, I was the kid who got a stereo or a radio control car and began to screw and look at its inside to figure out ‘how is this working?’ So, I broke a lot of stuff… Later I started playing video games, gradually starting to look into ‘hey, how was this actually made?’ Long story short, I ended up studying computer science and electronics. And I loved it. After programming the first time I thought to myself ‘this is magical, by writing code I can make things easier for people.’ Then I was sold.”
“After programming the first time I thought to myself ‘this is magical, by writing code I can make things easier for people.’ Then I was sold.”
How would you describe working in a small company that is also a part of something bigger?
“It’s been great to become a part of the Visma family because they trusted us from the start. They said ‘just continue with your magic’ and we did – which has proven to be a really good investment. We’ve kept our culture and startup mindset in a big corporation. Visma has a flat structure, with great trust in the individuals and teams to move fast and make quick decisions. If you want 15,000 employees to go fast forward, you need to have distributed control.”
How do you think that Visma affects society?
“Well, we’re digitising Europe now. That's what we do. In the Nordics, digitalisation has come far, but in the rest of Europe there’s still a lot to do. And this is where we come in, helping companies and individuals by automating their processes, and taking away paper and manual work. Being a high tech company with great people and steady growth, the future looks really bright – both for Visma and for society.”