"Coding as a line of work is only increasing"
– Lennart Højgård Kristensen, Product Manager
After reading one Steve Jobs book, his colleagues call him Lenny Jobs. The start-up junkie has founded two companies and believes there’s one core ingredient to every efficient team.
Hi, Lennart! In less than three years you’ve already been around the block! Starting as support staff, you’re now a Product Manager. What’s happened along the way?
“I started out as support staff at Visma Dinero. After a while, I felt that it was time to do something different. I talked to my boss about it, who asked me to join the product team – which wasn't established at that time. So I took part in establishing the product team together with her and a couple of others. Now I'm coordinating our product roadmap and our backlog of things that we want to put in the product together with the developers. I’ve been able to pursue new opportunities in the company based on what I’ve found interesting.”
What a journey! Development is fast-paced …
“That's basically the way we operate. Everything happens very fast, both in terms of releases and deploying new code multiple times a day.”
And you are currently taking a master's degree? How are you finding the work-study balance?
“I work part-time besides writing my master thesis, but once I’m done with my studies I've secured myself a full-time position in the team. So that feeling of things happening fast is amplified for me because when I'm at work, everyone needs an answer, and then I can take a day off writing before getting back at it again. Which is fun. I like making decisions. They’re doing so many things to please and appreciate their employees, and just making it a safe place to work. That's one of the core values of Visma, to care for the employees.”
“They’re doing so many things to please and appreciate their employees, and just making it a safe place to work. That's one of the core values of Visma, to care for the employees.”
Even if you don’t code, you still manage projects that developers are coding. How are you finding it?
“It’s fun because you get to learn something about code, or at least learn something about the infrastructure and how things work together. I’d like to learn more about it. I guess when I begin working full-time and get my evenings off, I can sit down and have some fun with coding. It becomes increasingly important to understand maybe not the code itself, but the way the code interacts. Also, coding as a line of work is only increasing, so I think more and more people will have to understand how code works in the future.”
How come you’re so close to your colleagues? What’s the atmosphere like?
“We're close, all of us. My best friends are my colleagues, basically. We’re having a lot of fun, laughing all the time. Of course, you have to find the balance between being productive and laughing all the time. But I guess it amplifies each other, right? We have an extremely flat organisation, allowing anyone to talk about anything with anyone. This creates a very good culture to facilitate innovation and an environment where we’re happy to engage with each other. Every Monday my whole team has a quick 15-minute stand-up meeting, where we’re ‘not allowed’ to discuss work. It’s a check-in where we’re like, how’s your life going? We get to be there for one another, and I think it’s important to show vulnerability to connect with your teammates. The bond I have with my team makes a productive atmosphere because you feel that there’s room for you. I think this is underestimated by a lot of employers – how much it means to be able to share your opinions and vulnerabilities.”
What do you like the most about your job?
“There are so many aspects. I’m really happy. I think my preferences have shifted. When I was in the support department, I was very invested in finance and all that, but since I started my master's, I’ve become more interested in leadership and managing people. That’s what I’m going to do once I’ve finished my thesis. I think that having an overview of the people, knowing how people and projects are interconnected and work together, creates a lot of value. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s actually very fulfilling. I’m super excited about it, reading books on personal growth and all that.”
You sound like a true people person! What kind of stuff are you reading up on before your new role?
“I read a book about Steve Jobs where he says that you have to be brutally honest when you engage in teamwork, because it's more productive. That works very well here because we have an informal structure and we’re all good friends. And now, after reading one Steve Jobs book, my colleagues call me Lenny Jobs for fun.”
“Everything happens very fast, both in terms of releases and deploying new code multiple times a day.”
I'd argue being compared to Steve Jobs isn’t such a bad thing… What are your own thoughts about technology’s role in society?
“Yeah, that's a big question. I think I'm going to give you the boring answer. Technology in society can be very beneficial, but we also have to be careful, especially working with AI. Not that I’m an expert in that field, but using AI in products has a lot of ethical implications. Just look at what happened with Amazon Alexa making comments that some people found racist, for example. That's very dangerous. But technology is also very beneficial for a lot of people, especially within the fields that Visma is working in. The things we solve in society are generally things that used to have bad infrastructure earlier, and that’s technology to me.”
Where do you think that you will be in a couple of years?
“I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately! I used to have two start-ups when I went to high school, so I guess I have that start-up drive in me.”
I can see why you’re called Lenny Jobs.
“Haha, yeah! That's also why I love Visma because we have that start-up culture. Almost all of my colleagues either are or have been running a company. For example, one of my colleagues is selling condoms online. It’s one of the biggest Danish condom webshops. People have so much drive in them and they make quick decisions because they are entrepreneurs by heart. They like fast-paced environments. So, maybe I’ll start my own company one day. But for now, I’m in a job that I love.”
So your colleagues inspire you a lot?
“Yes, because my colleagues are entrepreneurs, starters and co-founders. That's their mentality. In that sense, my colleagues inspire me a lot. The mentality to pursue my opportunities both at work, but also personally.”
"I love Visma because we have that start-up culture. Almost all of my colleagues either are or have been running a company."