We interviewed our Lead Analyst, Piret Freudenthal, to offer some insight to the life of an Analyst at Cybernetica - and some recommendations for those who would like to apply.
Piret, thank you for taking the time for this interview today. Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your journey at Cybernetica?
Thank you for inviting me, glad to be here. My journey at Cybernetica started already in 2005 - in fact, I was the first Analyst ever to be hired. Before that, the roles were very dynamic and people tended to fulfil several roles. My job description was the first to be officially titled as “Analyst”. I started from tax and customs systems and have stayed in this field ever since, carrying out countless projects over the past 15 years - although, to broaden my horizons, I have participated in projects in other business domains as well.
What a long journey, I am sure you have had unique experiences over the years. What do you consider the most important projects for yourself?
Definitely my very first project ever - it was the year after Estonia joined the EU, so we had to overhaul the import and export systems. That project went live in 2006 and is still one of the most important ones for me to date. In fact, we are currently rewriting the same system to take advantage of new technologies and offer much better performance (the increased performance requirements stem from the new legislation that will bring much more transactions in the customs systems).
You also had the opportunity to be part of the transition to the eurozone, correct?
Yes, joining the eurozone was a great historical milestone, but in terms of our systems, I would rather emphasise July of 2009, when we went live with the overhauled systems for transit, entry and exit.
This all sounds exciting and full of great societal impact - but how is it skill wise? How do you manage to keep variety after 15 years?
There is great variety in the skills I get to use and in the projects at hand. I started as an Analyst in 2005, when people tended to fulfil a plethora of roles - we were far from employing testers or release engineers, so I got to expand my experience. The situation has changed immensely over the years and now we employ different people for the key roles in the project and assemble project teams accordingly. I can be more in-depth in my role as the Lead Analyst, but I still have a good understanding of all the different roles as well.
How do you feel about your contribution to the development of the roles? Have you been able to voice your opinions?
Absolutely - from the very beginning I have been able to voice my opinion and I still do. I feel as if we have clearly defined the roles to be efficient, but as an Analyst, I still have to be very dynamic and have a certain fluency in between all of them. I don’t think it’s necessary to be rigid here. For example, in the past two years, I have also had the opportunity to be a project manager, do a lot of coordination, be the Lead Analyst for our business domain.
There is a lot of flexibility coming through your examples - do you think this is a valuable personality asset to have as an Analyst?
I think flexibility and, moreover, adaptability, is very important at Cybernetica as a whole, not just as an analyst. If you notice something that isn’t working properly - or could be working more efficiently - speak up, and you will be heard. There is a strong culture of freedom of thought and opinions are exchanged freely, even if not all of them get to manifest. We urge everyone to take a broader view and see the project as a whole, and to propose ideas how to make the processes better on a constant basis. We are proud of the way we do things – the „tried and tested“ Cyber way – but we take even more pride in understanding that things can be bettered, always, like tempering steel. We believe that merging the new approaches with our long-term experience creates the best result.
We have been talking about several key strengths, but could you emphasise some that are particularly important for a Senior Analyst?
I think the expectations vary a little between a new hire or from an internal hire. When hiring someone new , we expect them to share their experience and know-how, to get a fresh look on the way we do things. Even if not all of it is always immediately applicable, the discussion over fresh approaches still offers a lot to us. I think this might be our most important expectation. Otherwise - we are looking for active thinkers, people who engage immediately and show a lot of initiative. We see a lot of potential in free thought and the role it plays in the general betterment of things and we are quite happy to experiment with new approaches.
What is the feedback from new Analysts hired at Cybernetica?
Most say that the approach towards analysis is rather different at Cybernetica. We are very keen on the correct terminology, for one (Cybernetica is the ward of the Estonian tech vocabulary - ed.), our documentation looks different at a glance - these are the first things that people notice. There is, however, a conceptual difference as well – which is why senior level experience is recommended for applicants. Elsewhere, the approach to analysis tends to be simplistic and vertical with the use case documents describing user interface elements and the corresponding database fields feeding those elements in the same sentence. In Cybernetica, we try to apply a horizontal or layered approach where different models are created based on the business logic and requirements. It makes for a more consistent analysis overall.
How close to that do we expect the approach of the new people joining us to be?
We are rather looking for a symbiosis between their experience and our approach; we don’t expect any familiarity with our way of doing things - even though it is obviously a plus. We put a lot of effort into training people when they join - before that, we just expect to see what kind of approach they have, not whether it is ours. In the test assignment, we mainly evaluate how the person tackles a new task for them. They are probably going to have a similar approach in the everyday working life, so it is important for us to see how they think.
What do you think makes an Analyst a good Analyst?
That is a very good question - it can, indeed, sometimes prove to be elusive. I believe that a good Analyst is able to grasp the bigger picture, to understand things on a conceptual level, yet has an eye for detail and can go in quite deep . It is important to be able to change gears, so to speak, to pick the right level of abstraction according to who you are speaking to. Interpersonal skills are important as well - not just general communication skills, but the ability to understand the customers’ needs, to communicate on a deeper level. Since the Analyst is a key role in the team, teamwork skills are also incredibly important.
In conclusion, what are your recommendations for Analysts who are seeking a position at Cybernetica?
Have an open mind - be curious, look for new approaches, explore ways to become better and help others get better. Be engaged – try to have a deep understanding of what you do and why, and be open enough to be able to ask your colleagues if it becomes unclear. Be innovative and engage in discussions, think of new ways to do things.
If the position of a Senior Analyst looks exciting to you, find out more and apply here.