Niko Rissanen shares what it is like working for Woolman

Story of our Senior developer Niko

Background: Master's degree in English, System specialist, Senior developer, Full-stack Shopify developer. 

I am Niko. I have a master's degree in English, and humanities interest me. Ever since I was a young boy I’ve been developing games, putting together hardware, software and code. Towards the end of my studies I realized I wasn’t going to work in the field of languages and that I was missing programming. I found a summer job at the University as a research assistant in the math optimization department. We were working with a visiting professor, using machine learning and evolutionary algorithms to optimize industrial processes with Python. That was super interesting, and I learned a lot about working as a programmer in a mid-scale project under a professional team and environment.

Then during my university internship in a small publishing house I learnt about the industry, their ICT environment and got to work with their WooCommerce store. This was my first experience in e-commerce and maintaining legacy PHP code was a pain, especially without prior expertise in the area and having no other developers to ask for guidance.

A tech support role felt natural 

After Uni, I really wanted to find a job in programming. I thought my skills were on tinker-level at best, so I applied for a tech support position at the University. In the interview I was told that I was overqualified and my recruiter recommended me to apply for a software engineer position. The interview left me bedazzled, but made me happy and gave me confidence. Having studied humanities I was lacking IT networks, so I started talking to my friends and there was Pyry. Pyry was working in Woolman support and said they needed help with backend and integrations. Shopify seemed simple and clear on the surface, but I wasn’t familiar with terms like ERP, CRM or WMS, which I was going to integrate to Shopify. However, Ruby language used in the integration backend looked easy enough to get into after my previous experience with Python, Java and C# from other projects.

In just a few weeks I was discussing with Woolman people and within a month I started work in the support team.

Why did I choose Woolman?

I already knew a little about work in the support team and this matched my interests. Then in the discussion with Petteri, Woolman COO, I felt that this was a company which was riding on waves of a tech-innovation and this hooked me in. Even though we work with a simple, straightforward Shopify platform we are also developing new tech and apps. I also felt that I could learn and develop my skills further in my work. Most of all I felt that I would not be limited to a position. I could learn more, steer towards what interests me next and I would have the freedom to develop my talent.

What’s your career growth like?

When I first started I was a System specialist. I was maintaining and overseeing integrations and working on customer tickets which made me search for answers and learn. The confidence that I gained from work brought me joy. I have a strong will to improve things when I see room for improvement and I was encouraged to do so. Even though Shopify is well documented, not all our internal work was, and we began to develop our documentation and best practices within the team. Taking initiative I also became a part of a group that develops our Developer playbook - guidelines for our work. 

In the support team we realized that customers needed more help in theme development, meaning front-end work. I was curious to develop my stack towards this direction and started mastering Javascript & Liquid constantly learning new things. I had lots of help from my colleagues Erno and Ville, who helped me grow into a new job title, Senior developer. Next I started to work with our bigger customers who have the need for more demanding back- and front-end development. 

When I joined Woolman in early 2020, we were 30 and over the next two years, during the pandemic we grew to 90+ people. Our team is one of the fastest growing teams and I got involved in onboarding. Our humble support team evolved into Continuous Services and we developed our onboarding process, to ensure that everyone has the knowledge, personal support and access to learn. Now our whole team takes part in onboarding. Woolman is a community where you are encouraged to take responsibility, and I value this. 

What is your career growth looking like?  

I am headed for new challenges again, and this time I am going to work more on projects. In the upcoming months I will work with a big customer on developing a new storefront to deliver a renewed brand experience they want for their customers. This includes implementing a new search engine API for optimized customer experience. I see myself now learning to become a “Full Stack Shopify developer”.

I am looking forward to working together with our customers and developers on building the best solutions that Business owners and Service managers define for business goals.

What would you tell a new employee about Woolman? 

  • You need to have curiosity to learn, the ability to ask why and the mindset to find out answers for yourself. As a developer you need to be interested in learning new technologies. The industry and tools are rapidly evolving - there needs to be room in your toolbox for new tools.
  • With Woolman things change -most often very fast. With constant change we avoid unnecessary bureaucracy. We invent best practices for new challenges. We’ll set up a new daily, kill a weekly, start a Slack group -whatever works for us best for that purpose. We also end practices that are nonfunctional and cause irritation. 
  • You don’t need permission from anyone to improve things, just say your best ideas out loud, start working and engage others!
  • In our team you will need to manage and prioritise your own work together with the service/project managers, but there may not always be a clear list of tasks organized for you by someone else. It is encouraged to take initiative, learn new things, and set goals for yourself. How do I want to develop my skills next? Suddenly you will have a great idea for a development which would benefit the customer’s business and would help you learn something new - bring it on!

With Woolman, you are not left alone. You will always get help. We work hand in hand.

Mareena Löfgrén, Brand Manager, Woolman