Inside ProDev: Unruly’s Software Engineer Ina Tsetsova on remote working, open source and stuffed toys

Next up in our ‘Inside ProDev’ series we sat down with one of our Software Engineers Ina Tsetsova to find out what a day in the life of an Unruly developer looks like. 

Q: Hi Ina, first of all, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do here at Unruly?

IT: Hi! I’m Ina Tsetsova and I’m a Software Engineer here at Unruly, currently working in our Shared Infrastructure team. The team started by taking over infrastructure projects that didn’t have an owner, and were getting pretty out-of-date. Now we are steadily improving things, instilling best practices, and spreading infrastructure knowledge!

Q: How did you end up at Unruly?

IT: I went to a couple of XProlo events and was blown away by the energy there. The speakers were engaging and the content was stellar. I quickly became curious about the company and its culture. As luck would have it, I already knew a couple of developers working at Unruly. I grabbed a coffee with each and tried to figure out if the company would be a good fit for me. It was, and here I am!

Q: Tell us about your day-to-day experience in the Unruly Pro Dev team?

IT: It is unique! We do a number of things differently than other organisations. For one, we do trunk-based development, and we deploy multiple times a day. Visitors to the office might see a lot of stuffed toys around, but they aren’t just for decoration. They are all deployment tokens and each has its own meaning. We take XP values and practices to heart, we do test-driven development, and we pair on everything that gets pushed into production.

soft toy in the Unruly office

As developers, we also have more ownership of our stories and practices. We do our own research, we talk to stakeholders, and we propose work for prioritisation. We’re very collaborative. If you choose to pair all day, every day, you probably enjoy working with people a fair bit.

Q: What draws you to the type of work you do?

IT: I care about making things better and having a tangible impact. The team I’m currently in enables me to do just that! We are in the same room as our stakeholders and deeply care about removing blockers for them. We also help to automate away the repeatable and manual tasks that get in the way of delivering business value quicker!

In my team, we’ve split the type of work we do across different strands. Mine is about ‘Reducing Toil’ for the rest of ProDev. That is ‘toil’ in the SRE sense of the word – work that is manual, automatable, of no lasting value, that doesn’t scale.  Everyone in our team owns their strand, and mine really aligns with my values. This really helps me feel productive and happy at work!

Q: What have you learnt during your time at Unruly?

IT: I’ve learned so many things! Some highlights have been learning to work with Linux, understanding site reliability engineering practices and ideas, and getting to grips with the infrastructure.

I’ve also gained a lot of auxiliary skills like improving my presentation and interviewing, communicating with stakeholders, running effective meetings, visualising work progress, researching stories, collaborating, giving feedback – the list goes on!

Q: Tell us about any side projects you’re working on.

IT: I want to contribute more to open source as our team has already released multiple open source projects. One of them is a set of Puppet modules for a base Centos 7 configuration.

It’s made me look into open source outside of Unruly. There are so many interesting projects available, and some of my favourites listed are at opensourcediversity.org. It’s a great place to look for first-timer issues! I’ve just completed my first pull request to one of the projects listed.

Q: It’s the weekend: what are you doing?

IT: I read! I read books about fantasy, magic, environmentalism, self-improvement and tech. I also spend time with my husband outdoors. We go to nature reserves, have picnics in parks, or just sit on the balcony and listen to podcasts together.

Q: What kind of challenges do the developers at Unruly tackle?

IT: Work flexibility is a somewhat of a challenge. Things like remote work and flexible hours are fairly new at Unruly and will take some time before they become frictionless. Part of the challenge is because we pair all the time and we’re all collocated. Therefore a lot of our knowledge is either on white boards or shared in person. It’s something that Unruly has been supportive of experimenting with and it’s definitely becoming easier. As a result it’s perfectly common now for me to do my 20% time from home and dial in if necessary.

Q: Describe the Unruly developer culture in three words:

IT: Thoughtful, curious, and kind.

Q: What music do you listen to whilst working?

IT: We don’t really listen to music at work, because we’re pairing virtually all the time. You’ll almost never see a dev with headphones, unless they’re catching up on their admin work. As for my music, I enjoy songs that fall under acoustic, folk or alternative metal. I have a small but growing collection of songs. I also purchase my music either directly from the musicians or from ethical music sellers where the majority of the revenue goes straight to the artist.

Want to join the Unruly family? You’re in luck, we’re hiring! Check out our job page for the latest roles!

Meet some other members of the ProDev team!

We’re carrying out a set of interviews with our ProDev team to find out what a day in the life of an Unruly developer looks like. This week we sat down with our Agile Coach Qaiser Mazhar to chat about his agile journey, becoming a father, and his love for gardening!

Q: Hi Qaiser, first of all, could you introduce yourself and tell us a bit about what you do?

QM: Hey, I’m Qaiser Mazhar and I’m the Agile Coach at Unruly. I’ve been here for almost six months. I coach teams and individuals at Unruly to harness the benefits of agile principles and practices through a variety of ways including games, workshops, catch ups and meetings. I’ve also been known to write a line or two of code!

Q: How did you end up here?

QM: I found out about Unruly a long time ago when I attended XP meetups at the old offices. I used to also see Rachel Davies, Unruly’s former Agile Coach, at conferences and events.

I heard about the Agile Coaching role at Unruly through a headhunter. I was due to start at a different company shortly after hearing about the role, but when I found out that it was for Unruly, and that Steve Hayes had recently become the new CTO, I knew this was an opportunity too good to pass up! Steve worked at Goldman Sachs around the same time as me, which is where I discovered that Steve was an agilista.

Working at a company where the founders built agile into its DNA is really rare. I’m excited to see what we can achieve!

Q: Tell us about life before Unruly…

QM: I’ve always been a big techie at heart! I started my career off as a software engineer at Goldman Sachs where I helped the company navigate the 2008 financial crisis using XP and lean practices.

From Goldman Sachs I moved to Rightmove where I worked in a split role as a Technical Lead and Agile Coach. I helped Rightmove transform their legacy tech and practices so that they were fit for the future. This was one of the most challenging, but rewarding experiences of my career to date. Echoing Rightmove parlance: in Agile, I had found my happy!

With success in digital transformation, I decided to take on a bigger challenge and so I joined Marks and Spencer as an Agile Coach and Delivery Lead. There was always amazing value to generate from supporting and growing multiple development teams, to improving communications between departments and supporting leadership teams. It wasn’t just any job, it was an M&S job!

Q: You’ve been on quite a journey! What draws you to this type of work?

QM: Working in a place where you can take a real-world problem, and turn it into an opportunity to create something that can improve the lives of millions of people on a daily basis is something I’ve been consistently drawn to in my career.

Moving from a Developer to an Agile Coach was a difficult choice but being able to support individuals, teams, and the wider business with their short, medium and long term challenges is incredibly rewarding. Working with everyone to cultivate a safe and sustainable environment where all Unrulies have a clear purpose, a pathway to mastery in the things we do, and the autonomy to get on with the task at hand is a continual process of improvement that is so varied that I am always learning and growing.

Q: How would you explain your job to your grandparents?

QM: I help my friends at work to discover and experiment with things that could help them work together better, delight our customers more often, and grow as a company in the long term, whilst having fun along the way.

Q: Tell us about something you’ve learnt while working here?

QM: I’ve learnt that not every fridge in the office is what it seems! (Editor’s note: Qaiser’s right, some of fridges have special properties!)

Q: Do you put your skills to work outside the office?

QM: I’m a London Java Community Associate, which is the steering group for the largest Java community in Europe.

Q: Got any side hustles?

QM: I used to have a side hustle in the recruitment tech space before joining Unruly. Becoming a new father and the fast pace of my day job meant I had to put that to bed.

For fun, I am considering creating an open source android app that combines elements of multiple productivity techniques alongside agile and lean practices. It’s on my to do list!

Q: It’s the weekend: what are you doing?

QM: My wife and I spend most of our weekends running after our son at activities and events! I love catching up with friends and family over coffees and dinners, and at home we’re keen gardeners so we spend most weekends working on our veg plot.

Q: What kind of challenges do the developers at Unruly tackle?

QM: There are always so many great ideas that our developers could be working on. As we grow parts of our business, some of our teams focus around scaling up our services so we can meet the increasing demand for existing services. We have teams that are focussed on thinking about future opportunities in areas like machine learning and big data. Then there are others building new features in existing services to break into new markets. It’s all very exciting and I’m always blown away by the things our developers do in their 20% learning time too!

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?

QM: Working at Unruly during a time of massive growth is really interesting as an agile coach. Helping our teams scale, but still retain agile values by figuring out new ways of collaborating, prioritising and delivering value is really fun.

Q: And finally, what music do you listen to whilst working?

QM: I’m usually working with other people around the office but when I do have my headphones on I’m listening to Chillstep.

Want to join the Unruly family? You’re in luck, we’re hiring! Check out our job page for the latest roles!

Meet some other members of the ProDev team!

Scaling up your start-up can be a roller coaster ride. Once your company grows beyond 15 or 20 people, different behaviours, processes and practices are needed to avoid complete and utter chaos. This can be a painful transition, but with the right team in place, it can also be a LOT of fun.

We currently employ 160 Unrulies around the globe and are on the hunt for more awesome people to join us as we scale around the world. While every business is different, I’d love to share my experiences with you and show how the power of teamwork helped us to transition from scrappy start-up to successful scale up.

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Suarez being banned for biting another player, hosts Brazil being hammered by Germany 7-1 and former champs Spain falling at the first hurdle – it’s certainly been a World Cup to remember.

But as Germany return home as heroes, it’s worth remembering that the men in shin pads and boots were not the only star players battling it out over the last month. Brands and their agencies have also been in the thick of the action.

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Digital media veteran joins Unruly to lead new product evolution and drive forward programmatic and native social video capabilities

NEW YORK, NY – July 14, 2014 – Marketing technology company Unruly today announces Kenneth Suh has joined its executive team as Senior Vice President of Global Business Development. Suh, who is based in the company’s New York office, is responsible for developing global partnerships across programmatic advertising, native advertising and digital media to help drive business growth and innovation within the company’s product offerings.

According to eMarketer, 85% of companies are currently using a programmatic approach to media buying, and that number is expected to grow to 91% in the next two years. Suh’s responsibilities will also include Unruly’s further expansion into native advertising, which will contribute more than 40% of the $10 billion spent on social media ads by 2017, according to BI Intelligence.

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Inspiration and exhilaration key to engaging audiences in South-East Asia, say global leaders in social video marketing.

SINGAPORE, LONDON — Advertisers in South-East Asia for the first-time ever will be able to predict the virality of their video ads before they are launched, thanks to a new tool launched today by marketing technology company Unruly.

The global leaders in social video marketing first launched Unruly ShareRank™ in January 2013 to help marketers in the U.S. and UK predict the ‘shareability’ of their video content. Versions aimed at Brazilian and German markets have since been released. Unruly has now trained the algorithm specifically for countries across South-East Asia, so it can predict consumers’ emotional responses to branded video content throughout the region.

ASEAN advertisers using the predictive technology will be able to identify the psychological, social and creative triggers that drive the success of their video content in various territories across the region. More importantly, they will also know the earned media potential of their video ad before they have spent a penny on media.

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Unruly has been named among the top 50 fastest growing digital companies in Europe for the second time.

CTO and co-founder Matt Cooke joined leading entrepreneurs and business leaders from across the European digital scene for the invitation-only event at the GP Bullhound Summit:PARIS last week.

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42% of video shares now happen in the first 3 days of launch; Unruly launches in-stream format to help advertisers cope with increase in pace.

The percentage of shares a brand video attracts online in its first three days of launch has almost doubled in 12 months.

That’s according to new research by marketing technology company Unruly into the lifecycle of a viral video. Unruly’s Social Diffusion Curve, which measures the speed of social diffusion for the top 4,000 videos across the social web, was first launched in April last year and found that a quarter of the average online branded video’s shares occur in the first three days of its launch.

A year later, that percentage has almost doubled to 42%, making the first few days even more crucial for marketers hoping to make their ads the talk of the web. The average percentage of shares on the day following launch, when the most shares usually happen, has also almost doubled from 10% to 18% over the last 12 months, while shares in the first week have also risen from 37% to 65%.

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Today, Unruly has been issued the JICWEBS Digital Trading Standards Group (DTSG) Good Practice Principles kitemark following verification of its brand safety policies and practices by independent industry auditor ABC.  The aim of the Good Practice Principles is to inject greater transparency into the UK digital display market, ultimately giving brands greater reassurance that their advertising is more likely to reach the right audience and is not associated with content that could jeopardise brand reputation.
As a JICWEBS approved Verification Provider, ABC supplies the online media industry with a trusted and robust currency on which media space can be bought and sold. For more information on ABC UK’s Verification Service please go to: www.abc.org.uk/dtsg.

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