An Insider's Guide
We’re changing the face of insurance by delivering technology that's shaping the future of the property and casualty industry. As a global team of 2,400, we’re providing insurers with the tools they need to take care of their customers.
As we each master our craft as individuals, we’re empowering millions of people. But what does that really mean? What makes working at Guidewire different? What are the standout benefits? And how does a career with us stack up, compared to other software companies?
An insider’s guide
Who better to give us the inside track than one of our brilliant software engineers who works in our Krakow office? We asked Marta Kondratowicz to tell us more about her own journey with Guidewire, her team, and the culture here.
When Marta joined us at the end of 2017, there were a number of reasons that made the company stand out for her, as she explains, “It’s a lot about people, it just seemed like a place where I could grow – and the people here I talked to were great.”
Refreshing and different
It was our interview process that also impressed and surprised Marta, “As well as the expected script about being a great place to work and all the benefits, the team at Guidewire were also comfortable telling me about challenges… about the things that weren’t as good as they could be, and what they were doing to fix them. Nobody ever does that.” She recalls, “It was the honesty and openness that was refreshing and different.”
A flying start
Not long after joining us, Marta spent two weeks training in our Dublin office, then a further business trip took her to Paris, and again back to Ireland.
Marta has now been with us a little over two years and already travelled extensively with the company, “I spent six months working at Guidewire’s offices in San Mateo, which gave me the opportunity to get out and see California too.
Luckily, Marta loves travelling, and particularly enjoys exploring new places and meeting people. She’s also an avid photographer, “I’ve been to the East coast of the US; New York City, Washington and Philadelphia, and travelled round Europe, visited London many times, and Barcelona.”
Marta’s six-month secondment in our San Mateo office in California was a great opportunity to understand and embrace the culture. And she thinks the ongoing relationship with the team she worked with over there is a real help to her work here in Europe.
Taking ownership/Heads in the cloud
Now Marta is back in the Krakow office, she is working with a team of software engineers and developers who are responsible for building the Guidewire Cloud PaaS called Atmos. This involves coding and testing various Kubernetes and AWS resources and services that comply with Security and Network requirements. Insurance Platform in the Cloud and many other Guidewire tools run on top of Atmos. Under the hood, Atmos is built on top of AWS supported by Kubernetes and Terraform.”
Our teams own every aspect of the software development lifecycle, such as the architecture, code, quality assurance, as well as deployment and upgrade strategies.
Your opinion matters
One particular lesson Marta picked up almost immediately when she joined the company is not to stay silent.
“I learnt very quickly not to be afraid to speak your mind. It’s easier, if you’re not shy. You might be wrong, you might ask a question that seems stupid, but it’s always better to ask the question, than not know. At Guidewire, I feel you can do that.”
A great place to grow
For Marta, Guidewire is the perfect place for a software engineer to master their craft. That’s because of the people around you.
“The people you work with are so important, it’s great we have super-smart people here. I feel like I’m always mastering my craft not matter what I’m working on.
“I have an amazing team, I can learn from them every single day. I get lots of opportunities to grow, and improve myself here. In IT, you can’t stop learning. The products change, technology is always changing, the opportunity to grow is very important.”
“Here in our Krakow office, there are 100 people. I’ve worked in places where there are over 1500. So you’re not just a face in a crowd, and you can put name to a face, in most cases.”
Freedom and flexibility
Flexible working also makes a big difference for someone like Marta and sets our culture apart. The freedom to decide where you work means she can effectively work from anywhere in the world.
“Obviously being in close contact with my team is vital, but the ability to work from home, from a coffee shop, or a different space, helps the process. Guidewire’s location is great – we’re very close to the city-centre and you still have a parking spot, it’s only a simple thing, but can be important.”
The journey to Guidewire
Raised in Przeginia, a small village 30km north west of Krakow, it was Marta’s mother, a primary school maths teacher at the time, who was the major influence on her taking up computer science. As Marta recalls, “Maths competitions and puzzles were a big feature of my childhood.”
After finishing high school, Marta studied at Europe’s second oldest university, the Jagiellonian University in the centre of Krakow. Up until choosing a university, she had set her heart on being a lawyer, but it was her passion for maths and logical thinking that steered her towards IT.
“I felt drawn more towards computer science rather than law” Marta says, “but for a short while I did consider studying both IT and law together!”
In her third year at the university, Marta took a three-month internship writing simple games using Unity and C# at Moonlit Games, a Krakow-based independent games studio.
Upon graduating, Marta worked at Sabre Solutions, where many of her fellow graduates also began their careers. While she was there, Marta completed her Masters degree in Computer Science from Jagiellonian.
Global power and reach
As a key member of the team, Marta likes to know that the products she’s developing are empowering people in their work too, making their job easier, as well as being used globally, “Our technology won’t just be used by one or two people, it will be used by a lot of people. As soon as I joined the team here, I was working on a project building an Insurance Suite country layer from scratch for France.
“Right now, I’m working on dev ops for in cloud storage services platform, for storing archiving and accessing content at scale, and building maintaining the infrastructure for cloud deployment.
A challenge like no other
“We’re using cloud features that are still in development in AWS, we’re already adopting them to be used in Guidewire software. The move to the cloud is exciting, with new technologies and features that are still only emerging. This isn’t just our future; it’s everyone’s future. I feel like we’re building the future.
“One thing is for sure, things always change. It’s exciting and challenging to know that we are inter-dependent on each other, you can feel a lot of people are depending on you and your work. That is really exciting.”
Perfecting people skills
When she was younger, Marta spent many years volunteering at the Alma Spei Children’s Hospice, supporting children with terminal illnesses, and their families. As well as being extremely rewarding, Marta feels this helps her with interpersonal skills like listening, communicating, patience and flexibility. What other qualities does Marta think a software engineer needs to succeed at Guidewire?
“Logical thinking is key. You don’t have to be the 100% perfect coder, it’s a lot about how you think, and how you come up with ideas to solve a problem. Also how you communicate with your team to relate your solutions, listening, sitting alongside, and getting input from the wider team.”
A passion for learning
As everyone here is encouraged to challenge themselves, we asked Marta in what other ways she is supported to hone her own skills.
“I love the fact that we get opportunities to learn; we go to conferences, we can work from anywhere. It’s the simple things. And for me a great benefit was when I lived and worked in California, I experienced a different country, a different continent.”
Marta continues, “We’re definitely always learning from people you working with. We have internal meet-ups, and a personal development budget to push yourself and learn – I feel like I’m expanding my skills here every day.
“We are given access to the LinkedIn learning. These are video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills. It’s a kind of personalised, data-driven learning experience.
“The people here are open, everyone is willing to help you. There’s a great social element to the team, we know each other as friends, as well as colleagues. We get out and socialise with each other, as well as work together. We are very much a community.
Not all heroes wear capes
“We have a Hero of the Quarter award, and Hero of the Year Award where you can nominate a member of your team and their work is recognised and rewarded. In the past, people have won a fun experience like mixology lessons, and even been awarded stock in the company.”
Marta is also part of the SFI Academic IT Festival organising team. Now in its sixteenth year, the international IT festival is for students in Krakow. Three days packed with workshops, lectures and speakers, it’s an opportunity to share knowledge and make new connections with the growing IT crowd.
A bright future ahead
In the past, Marta says she’s had a tendency to work too much, but now, she feels she’s got her work-life balance just about right.
“I have ambitions to be in a management role, working more with people and driving the direction of the team and projects. I think Guidewire is definitely the place to do this, when the time is right.”
Finally, we asked Marta what’s so important about mastering your craft, essentially, why does it matter? For anyone thinking of joining Guidewire, she had some invaluable advice.
Mastering our craft together
“In IT, you’re learning your whole life. I’m always exploring about new technologies, the technical details, refining my people skills, working with different personalities.
“You’re not doing it by yourself, you’ve got other people around you. We work in teams for a reason, to learn from each other and solve problems together.
“It’s vital to make to things work first and then improve and perfect later; it makes a big difference having the support of your team around you, great people you can ask any question, which I certainly have here at Guidewire.”