My Atlassian journey

image2016-2-2 21-10-57Feb 5, 2016 – the G day. It was not only the last working date before Tet, it was also the last day of Atlassian Vietnam. It was the end of around 3 years working to a prestigious company in tech world.

Being a witness

In January 2013, PycoGroup had a new project to bid. The A team of the Company was so excited to study and work on one product belonging to a tech company which also owns Jira – the one software that almost all software companies use. That was one weekend that i went to the office to finish my report, and I met that A team working on the bidding. I still remember how much fun the team was on that day. I could see passion and dedication for something really interesting and promising. The following weeks went on with continuous overtime coding and interviews with client. In mind of a commercial analyst, that was a big project to a demanding client. Finger cross for the winning, as everybody had been working so hard on this.

In the IT outsourcing environment, continuous studying new technologies and products is not only a must but also a way to satisfy the curiosity of those who love technologies.

Being a team member

In April 2013, a dedicated team was formed to Atlassian. That was just a small team of a dozen people. Each team member was given a brand new Macbook Pro Retina (wow). That was my very first Macbook that I ever had in my life. Excitement went first, then frustration followed due to different operating system. The team had its own room, very well decorated compared to other areas in the office. We had our reason to be proud when being part of the project.

The team was bonding very well. There was a series of parties, dinners, and afterwork drinking to host Sydney people coming to build up the team. “Chè khúc bạch” was the most wanted dessert ordered almost everyday. Friday happy hours were weekly set up with beers and foods sponsored by those who just passed probation, or newly hired. Happy hour was up to its meaning. Being the only non-tech person in the team, but I did not feel like an outsider at all. What a good time!

The beginning of the project was the most fun time. The team was small. Everybody stayed closed. All was eager to try to fit in new culture and to catch up with new working methodology.  

atlassian2Being a constructor 

The team ramped up quickly over time. First room was not enough. They moved to a bigger room. Then they got the 2nd room. In the mean time, I took on new task of working with the constructor to supervise the construction. That was a lifetime experience. There were so many details that you would not imagine without doing the job. Just as an example – how thick should the decal strip be to make a girl feel safe when wearing dress and sit down in an all glass room? ?

Then there were office decoration and kitchen utensils to be purchased and set up. Chairs should be here, sofas should to be there. We needed knives, we needed plates, we needed fridges, etc. Purchasing should be the name for my team.

New office was not the only thing in the list. We built a brand new company with new practice and policies, based on PycoGroup’s practice with amendments, a lot of amendments. New investment license was applied. I was lucky enough to receive full support from the authority to get it done with no delay, neither challenge. Then there were accounting and finance systems to set up. Office request flows to define. Policies and guidance were to write. I did feel like a writer, but solely for boring stuff. Who reads policies anyway?

Being the first generation in a company has its moments. I had never thought that i could do these much within just a short period of time. 

Being a manager

This was the first manager position that I had been after the MBA degree. Turning out that it was not like what was told in the textbook. There were more problems to deal with than just focusing on operations and finance know-how. There were the team’s attitude, the professional standards, the motivation and expectation to deal with. There was resource turn over to manage. There was office politics to handle when working across teams and countries. Of course that I did not know everything, and neither did the team. But we managed to learn together, shared the information and experience among us. Believe me, I now know almost all the trick of the purchasing job, as well as remember by heart the accounting system of VAS where the accounts are named after numbers, not words with meaning ?

Considering myself as a people person, disciplines were not something that I strictly applied. I preferred to influence the team for their self-awareness of what should be done. The strictest discipline I asked the team to do was a put a smile on their face when talking to others, regardless of the topic – social insurance, payment reimbursement, visa, work permit,… It worked. We were a likeable team in the office (or as least I think so, don’t correct me if it is not true :)).

There were, of course, always backfires on whatever way we manage the team, but we stood strong until the end – that mattered.

Being a learner

Being the best company to work for in Australia for 2 continuous years, Atlassian is a great company with its own values. Transparent. Client focus. Agile Module. Built products with heart. Play as a team. Be the change you seek. The company itself is like a university with continuous updated courses to learn, not to mention its free library and resources offered to employees.

Being in an BOT model, the goal is to integrate the culture, process and practice of Atlassian to a company operating in Vietnam with its separate legal framework and set up.

Being the financial contact point, the goal is to balance the interest of contracting party and managing party.

Being in the operations team, the goal is to balance the interest of the employees and the budget granted as well as administrative process.

Yes, I have learnt a lot.

There are some easy lessons thanks to plentiful resources available. There were some other lessons that I learned the hard way that I wish it would never happen to anybody. 

Being one of the last people

At the time when I thought that I would leave Atlasssian and started to think about the farewell scene, it was also the time Atlasssian decided to leave Vietnam. I did not to follow what my friends and my family recommended (I am still very sorry about that), I decided to stay until the end.

Regretful?

Yes – when looking at the should-have-been-my next employer doing so well in the market, when looking at my should-have-been coworkers flying around the world. Employment must be like marriage – you do not always catch the best guy available for you as he might not be the one, or the right one not at the right time.

Sometimes but very serious– when dealing with irresponsible actions and results that others left behind for their safe and comfortable landing.

Maybe – but I keep my decision because i know that what I was doing is ethical. That was the right thing to do. Ethical is not always smart, it’s just the way I was raised.

No – when I saw all familiar faces working hard until the end. They did not give it up, and so did not I.

I will the times watching Doraemon or “Ơn giờ cậu đây rồi” during lunch time. I will miss all the time I came in the pantry to ruin the tennis table games. I will miss the happy hours where foods were out within 15 minutes. I will miss all the bonus Highland drinks, or juices delivered to my room as a thank you. I will miss all the jokes and BS that were around the office all the time.

DSC_1541Yes, as much excited as when I stepped into the unfinished office to check the floor and carpet, as much proud as when I held to the banner in the grand-opening day, it was as sad as when I turned off the lights of 2nd floor to official seal the door. I did go with this project from the very beginning until the very end of it. This is part of my life, a very meaningful and worth to remember part.

Goodbye the year of Goat. Goodbye Atlasssian.

Thuy Tu – Admin & Finance Manager – Saigon

3 thoughts on “My Atlassian journey

  1. I like this sentence: “Ethical is not always smart, it’s just the way I was raised.”. Thank you for your post and everything you did for us (employees at VN Atlassian)

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