About toilet paper, DevOps and 582 banks

    Now our team is working on one project, and we have been discussing a lot for two months now, what makes us, as an employer, different from other companies? What can stand out from one of five hundred and eighty-two banks (as of August 1, 2017) operating in the Russian Federation? Five hundred and eighty-two organizations with similar goals, Carl!

    It is not news that banks have long been involved in the battle for IT-minds, and Rife (Raiffeisenbank) is no exception to this story. We, like everyone else, need developers, analysts, testers and a whole set of IT experts who are being chased by recruiters.

    Who are you without a cool mission?

    “We take money from some and give it to others, but in the process we earn” - so I formulated to one of my friends the answer to the question “what is your bank doing?”

    It seems that with such a positioning, we can never win the battle for the minds that we are waging with trendy youth companies and their inspiring missions:

    Yandex: help people solve problems and achieve their goals in life.

    Mail.Ru Group: create the best services for communication and entertainment.

    Google: conveniently organize all the information in the world and make it accessible and useful to everyone.

    Facebook: give people the opportunity to share their lives with others and make the world more open and united.

    Inspires? Oh sure. That sounds cool.

    Raiffeisenbank defined its mission as follows: the leading universal bank in Russia for all who value quality.

    I am sure that we are far from being on the list of 582 banks that decided that they want to be universal and focused on quality. What then sets us apart from everyone else? Why do we believe that we can fight on equal terms for the best minds?

    We are inspired by our mission. But still she does not explain how we differ from other banks. There is another wording that we often use: a bank of comfortable entrepreneurship. But this does not fully reveal the essence of Rife.

    The essence is not immediately visible and is manifested in small things, in conversations, joint tasks, difficulties that the company solves. Here and there you begin to see a key difference.

    For me personally, this is a bank in which freedom is the main driving force .

    Standards and autonomy

    Five years ago, I decided to go to the bank, without having before that any experience in the banking sector. Most of the acquaintances twisted a finger at the temple: “This is a place, bureaucracy and continuous politicking.” And the only argument “for” was something like “well, at least you will earn money”.

    Not the most inspirational start? I decided to take a chance.

    Our bank of sample 2012 and now - two different organizations. Then there was much more than a mess, we were unrealistically slow and, frankly, it was a rather uncomfortable environment for work. There is no point in describing how everything looked in the past. But now, when they ask me “why go to you, and not to ... (substitute any name of any organization, it doesn’t matter, fashionable, large, foreign or state)”, I reply: because we have freedom.

    More than 10 years ago, I began my career in one of the oil and gas projects, which was run by a famous Dutch company. Cool experience, cool company, but only there were standards FOR EVERYTHING. Literally every step has been standardized on all sites around the world. You will laugh, but even the thickness of the toilet paper was regulated.

    Raiffeisenbank - from a completely different test. The specifics of this group of companies (unlike most of the global structures I know) is the maximum autonomy of national units. There is a small set of basic standards, mainly related to business processes (for example, credit policy), and the rest of the approach to "doing business" is determined by the local leadership independently. Most of the tasks in the company are set in the format “how would we achieve the result X”, instead of the usual “we need to do A, B, C, so that everything becomes good”. When there are no common standards, we come up with our own, but only where they are needed.

    Freedom - so what is it about it?

    Freedom is the right of people to think, act and speak freely without hypocrisy ”(c) Jose Marti

    Why is freedom so important to me personally? It seems to me that without freedom of action it is impossible to cultivate honest responsibility within the company: any opinion, decision, idea can very likely be taken and hacked by someone from above. And gradually you stop seeing the meaning in the conviction of these "other people." Freedom is not anarchy; in any case, you exist within the system. But free systems differ from those regulated by the volume and number of obstacles that the employee encounters on the way to achieving the goal.

    Want some examples? I have them.

    How we implemented CI / CD

    Without any long preludes, a couple of guys (not at all top managers) rolled into the DevOps Days conference in the USA, recharged with ideas, brought them to the bank, briefly addressed the management, and after that a year and a half campaign began. It was necessary to choose a stack of tools, somehow introduce new ideas into the culture of the company, make friends of the team, and at the same time not lose good practices. As a result, we built a CI / CD pipeline for most of the applications developed at the bank (we'll talk about this in the near future, or maybe we will get together and make an open mitap). At the same time, they did not register any project, did not assemble a steering committee, did not build all sorts of diagrams, and did not carry out dozens of approvals. They played everything according to the principle of a classic venture: they believed in the guys, allocated funding and released them. As a result, we got a motivated team,

    More examples?

    Which of the banks here in the last year or two have tried to introduce the role of Scrum-masters? Do you know what kind of hype is now in the country on this subject? Suddenly everyone guessed that the Scrum-masters should still be distinguished, and no, our developer Peter will not be able to earn extra money by the Scrum-master in his spare time. The companies finally realized that this role was valuable, and everyone abruptly rushed to look for people. Not the easiest story, judging by what is heard at conferences and forums. Basically, either the companies are trying to hunt Scrum-masters for unrealistic money, or they are buying them “as a service” from a pair of well-known companies.

    How did it look with us? One of the colleagues (“product manager” in the then terminology), who used to be a Scrum-master in his life, came to the leadership and asked for funding for an experiment: to create his own school of Scrum-masters and recruit young people with a suitable profile in it (we were interested psychological education) and lack of experience in banks and knowledge in Scrum. He did not draw a single slide to sell this idea. The principle worked out "okay, try, if that, you can quickly jump off." Quickly organized a “funnel of recruitment”, as a result of the dozens of afflicted, we have 9 “schoolchildren” left. The training itself was also organized in a cool way - not a boring set of trainings, but gamified classes. We will tell you about this in detail.

    Three months later, we received the first group of trained Scrum-masters, which are really useful for teams.

    Well, another example, from a completely different field: a year and a half ago the word "fintech" in Raiffeisenbank was known only to a couple of curious people. In reality, we had no relationship with the fintech startup market. At some point, the company decided to take a closer look at the market as a whole, and some startups separately. One of our colleagues became interested in this topic and almost single-handedly dragged us into a party of innovative banks. Last year alone, we spent 11 pilots with fintech startups, learned how to integrate them into our complex world and test their hypotheses in just 3 months. But most importantly, this girl was able to generate interest in fintech among all representatives of the banking business.

    Why us

    I can throw these examples for a long time, but the essence boils down to the following: in our IT department there is enough freedom to create and create unusual solutions without bumping into the strict boundaries of standards and bureaucracy.

    And yes, we can have lunch for more than one hour, come to work not at 9, go in casual style and even with multi-colored hair, and we value the team and the good mood of the employees more than anything else.

    I happened to work in different companies. And in high-tech fashion-youth, including. Everyone had something cool. In each, one could learn something. But I have not seen such a level of freedom as in Rife.

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