Following on from our recent meeting with 4C US software engineer, Ryan Campbell, we talk to 4C North America Board Member and Senior Vice President, Mikael Edqvist, who is based out of Washington DC, on the importance of building teams.
Mike, tell us a bit about your background.
I have been with the company since the early days; before it officially became 4C. I started in 1999 by developing code for an early version of Exonaut®. It was a great group of people and a great project to be working on – and that hasn’t changed over 20 years. During this time, my main responsibility has been to develop 4C internationally through different management and business development roles. In 2016, I moved to Washington DC to establish our US subsidiary and team. It has been a really exciting time for both me and my family, who also moved with me.
4C has been operating in the US since 2016 and is well established in Europe. What can somebody joining the company expect?
A dynamic and exciting environment. We try to operate as small teams within the company to keep our teams innovative. People are challenged on a daily basis and given the support they need to succeed. We have an open culture, where staff members understand “I can always ask, and I will get help”. We empower our teams to make decisions and work in an agile way to meet objectives and feel fulfilled at work.
Our customers expect us to go above and beyond, every day, and our teams do a great job in supporting each other to find ways forward. This often leads to new solutions, which broadens our reach and opens up new opportunities for 4C as a whole.
What else makes 4C stand out among other companies?
Our people. It’s as simple as that. It’s a real pleasure to work with the talented people we have at our US locations in DC and Orlando, as well as our teams based out of Europe. We’ve got a good mix of experience, dedication and the know-how to tackle the exciting challenges that lie ahead, but we can always do better, so we will continue our quest to build an even more perfect team.
We are a caring organisation. Last year, when we had a major contract that got restructured and COVID-19 hit hard, we made it a top priority to keep our staff safe, keep operations going and also contribute to society through, among other things, our crisis management experience. I am very proud that we came together as a company and did not furlough a single person for a single day. We actually grew our team.
We decided to share our internal COVID-19 planning publicly and this helped many organisations that took inspiration from our models and templates. We made a difference in society, something that matters to a lot of our staff.
You set a high bar when it comes to bringing in new people. Tell us more about that.
We do – we want engaged and highly motivated people. We’re developing a new and critical product that will contribute to national security by enhancing the training delivery for US forces. Therefore, our pipeline for getting people in comprises of multiple interviews and one or two tests. Those that succeed, will become part of a skilled team that operates in an agile environment where “defining the box” is more important than “staying in the box”.
Working on military contracts puts certain conditions on employees. Are there any specific requirements to be a member of the 4C North America software team?
The US Government market is a demanding market, and we are seeking US citizens, so we vet all our staff. We do the same for our staff in the UK and Sweden. In fact, it’s a requirement from many of our clients, and if there’s one thing we take very seriously at 4C, it’s protecting our clients and their data.
Beyond this requirement, what characteristics do you look for in team members?
We want people who strive to do their best. I would say this is more important than individual skillsets. Of course, we are looking for the right level of experience – most likely people who are smarter than those of us working here today! But anybody who joins us has to be a team player. We are building teams to win, and to do so we need people who can collaborate and enjoy working in this type of environment. For example, we have stand-ups every morning with US and European team members.
Is it the same for senior staff?
It’s equally important that senior staff are team players, but they need to balance the delivery with coaching junior staff members. As a company, we value the work/life balance and recognise that to ‘run a marathon’ with us, we need to include the families of staff in that race. Sometimes we work really hard to get things done but we need to pace ourselves and take breaks. Our goal will not be reached in a single sprint, it’s about endurance and this mentality has to be managed by our seniors.
What types of technology/innovations will people get to work with at 4C?
Right now, we are in a really exciting phase in our development, as we are re-architecting our solutions. It is a transformational process as part of our 2023 strategy and we have accelerated this work based on the speed of transformation required in the US.
The one key aspect is scale. Our technology supports thousands of users across the world at any one given time. This requires a high degree of reliability – creating a resilient and secure codebase is key. More and more of what we do requires big data collection, which we do using modern cloud technologies, such as Kubernetes, Kafka, Spark, Hadoop. We host our own 4C Kubernetes cloud for our clients, for example. Finally, we are also implementing machine learning & artificial intelligence as part of our solutions. There are some great challenges ahead for talented and dedicated team players.
What would you say to somebody interested in joining the 4C team?
If you like the idea of building a better future and having fun along the way, you should join 4C North America or any one of our sister companies in the United Kingdom or Sweden.