My journey begins in Lesotho, a landlocked country that is completely surrounded by South Africa, this is where I was born and raised. I moved to South Africa to further my studies and came to hear about Thoughtworks during a meetup in Johannesburg. I knew right away that I had to be part of it. In March 2014 after going through the interview process I joined Thoughtworks as a graduate developer. The thought of joining the company alone was exciting but when I soon discovered that I would be leaving for India to join other graduates from Thoughtworks offices around the world I was thrilled. I had never been to India before, all I could do was count the days and soon enough the day finally arrived.
Upon arriving at the airport in Pune, India, I received a warm welcome from a fellow Thoughtworker called Amol. He escorted me to an apartment which would be my home for the next five weeks, and there I met other graduates from across the globe. I have to admit that at first, arriving at Thoughtworks University was a novelty that had me feeling slightly uneasy, as most of the graduates arrived in groups and I was the only person from the Johannesburg office. However, I soon began to realize that Thoughtworkers have a lot in common, due to the interviewing process we all go through, and within a very short time I was made to feel at ease and had made some new friends. We were all equally filled with anticipation and excitement of the experience that lay ahead of us. My own personal experience gave me a deep understanding of the companies values and the unique culture of Thoughtworks.
Social and economic justice
The first few days were focused on orientation and ensuring that we were all familiar with the environment we would be working in. After the orientation we met our trainers and had to set goals which we would achieve during the program. One of our goals had to cover social and economic justice or as Thoughtworkers say “P3” which represents our third pillar. This did not only help me to understand how important social and economic justice is within Thoughtworks, but to familiarise myself with some of the initiatives taken by Thoughtworks, and how I can contribute towards making a change, by being a part of these initiatives. We visited Maher a haven of hope, which helps destitute women, children and men from all over India, offering them an opportunity to have a higher quality of life. It was one of my goals to revisit this place during my stay in India and offer my skills. Extensive research, on issues surrounding discrimination and inequality, was conducted, with the aim of finding the most optimal solutions for Thoughtworks to address these issues. I could not help but feel a true sense of belonging, that feeling one gets, no matter how old you are, of coming home. A feeling of being in the right place, a part of a program that was striving to make the world a better place.
Each day brought new challenges, and it often meant leaving my comfort zone. I had to be flexible enough to learn new technologies and be willing to fill various roles. I wanted to contribute to my team, and I wanted this to be evident. Feedback is embedded in the core of Thoughtworks culture. I gave feedback and received feedback regularly which is imperative for growth because both my strengths and weaknesses became very apparent. The professionalism displayed by my colleagues made this evaluative process useful and it was amazing to me how much fun we were having while being productive at the same time.
We had a project to work on as a team which was to us, a clear representation of some of the challenges we would face when we got back to our regions. The purpose of this was to get us to understand agile software delivery and that delivery is a team activity. Regular feedback was given on how we responded under pressure and our ability to keep commitments. This was a vital part of TWU because it not only got us to implement Agile software principles and practices but it also prepared us for future projects.
What intrigued me most is how Thoughtworks business is based on a three pillar model. The three pillars are to run a sustainable business, to drive software excellence, and foster social justice. The common term amongst Thoughtworkers is to refer to these as P1, P2 and P3. The first pillar is about making sure the business is financially viable. What I like is how Thoughtworkers are given a sense of ownership when it comes to this, by understanding that it is the responsibility of every individual to make sure that we run a sustainable business. P2 or Software excellence, which I’d like to believe is what we are known for, is about not only delivering excellent software but improving the software industry as whole. P3 is in simple terms about making the world a better place and not just making a profit. What was even more interesting is how these pillars are seen as the foundation of how decisions are made. This helped me to understand that every single pillar is integrated in every decision that is made.
If you take different people across the globe and put them together in one place, what do you get? A cultural experience so rich, it stays embedded in your memory forever, a story to tell to my grandchildren one day. From the day we arrived we were all filled with excitement and no one really knew what the coming days would bring. We had team outings where we would just have fun and relax. We went bowling, touring, played karaoke and even danced together. All these activities brought us closer together and created life time friendships. It’s hard to think of a word to describe the experience but I’d say it was an awesome experience one I'm grateful to have had.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.