DevOps engineer Margus Nõmme, who has been with Holm for just over two years, says it is highly unusual in banking for someone like him – a specialist in such a narrow field – to be separated from the upper echelons of management by just one line manager. “The almost non-existent hierarchy and multi-level management structure here in the company are indicative of the trust they have in their staff,” he remarks. “Everyone knows what’s expected of them and does what they do to the best of their abilities. I really enjoy working for an organisation that takes that approach.”
Margus’ job is to ensure that the bank’s IT infrastructure operates without any hitches and that everything its software developers produce is delivered smoothly and error-free to Holm’s clients and employees.
“Whenever I’m asked to describe what I do, I like to say I’m a sort of modern-day plumber,” he explains. “Ordinarily the fruits of my labour go completely unnoticed, except when something goes wrong, and then panic and drama ensues! If I do my job properly, then it’s easy for developers to do their bit and our clients get to enjoy a self-service site that’s responsive and problem-free.”
Margus says that although his work generates only a limited amount of added value, he sees on a daily basis how it helps shine a spotlight on the value created by others. “For example, I sometimes see ways we could make savings in certain areas of our work if we introduced new methods or technology,” he explains. “In an ideal world it would always be me who found out first when something went wrong. By the time users were coming to me complaining that it wasn’t working the way it should, I’d be able to say to them, ‘Yep, I know, I’m on it’!”
Learning in the line of duty
Margus says the relatively short time he has been with Holm has taught him a lot. “The bank has a lot of history behind it, but our working culture in the IT Department and the technology we use are entirely modern,” he says. “Some of the solutions and the tech used in Holm were pretty much new to me when I started here, and in those first few months I had to learn my way around them quick-time. But I’ve found that’s how I learn best – by being up against it. The bank was making the switch to its new platform just as I joined, and that was a really intense learning curve.”
Technology has always fascinated Margus. His first encounter with a computer came in the late 1980s, and while he has spent 10 of his 25-year career outside of IT, computers have always been one of his hobbies.
“I know it’s not the case for a lot of people, but I can honestly say I really like my job!” he smiles. “It’s just as exciting and challenging as ever, because IT is constantly evolving and every new solution brings new technology and techniques that see me grow professionally. Holm recognises and appreciates when you do good work, too, which keeps you motivated.”
Establishing team culture
Margus says he is very proud of the fact that Holm is constantly growing and that he is playing his own part in it. “Here in the bank a lot of importance is attached to making sure that every newcomer fits in,” he explains. “It’s not just left up to fate in the hope it will happen organically. Both the new recruit themselves and the team they’re joining have to make an effort to ensure the settling-in process goes smoothly, brings out the best in the newcomer and leads to the best possible outcome for the bank.I’ve never experienced that sort of team-building in any other place I’ve worked, and I’m really glad to be part of it here in Holm.”
A sense of unity and team spirit can be fostered even when working remotely or in a hybrid format, Margus says. Since he is based in Tartu, most of his day is spent alone at his computer – and yet his work plans and the fulfilment of his goals are very closely linked to what his colleagues are doing.
“Working from home suits me just fine,” he says. “It gives me flexibility in planning my work and home life, meaning I can take my kid to kindergarten or go and pick them up from it, take the dog out for a walk and work in the evening – sometimes even at night – if I need to, provided there are no interruptions and I can focus on complex, time-consuming stuff. I’ve never found the lines blurring between the two. If I take a break to stretch for a minute or have a cup of coffee on the terrace or in the garden, I never get distracted by ideas of tidying up or mowing the lawn or whatever. The only downside to working from home is that lunch takes ages when you have to make it yourself! Especially when you have other mouths to feed as well as your own.”
Margus says he still goes into the office from time to time, because he likes getting together with his colleagues for a chat in the kitchen. “You often solve problems a lot quicker and more effectively face to face than you do by messaging back and forth or setting up a meeting on Teams,” he notes.
Playing games to clear the mind
Although Margus keeps his work and private life very separate, he frequently finds himself at his computer in his free time as well: he is a passionate gamer, as well as a player of board games. His undisputed favourite, which he has been playing for more than 20 years now, and regularly for the last four or five, is Dungeons & Dragons. You also have to watch what you say around him when it comes to board games, since he has an impressive collection of more than a hundred, with every possible extension and add-on. A dozen or so new games tend to appear on his shelves every year.
“You’ll often find me in the sports centre, too, knocking about with other amateurs on the volleyball or badminton courts,” he reveals. “They’re both fast-paced sports that demand a lot of concentration. They leave you with no time to think about work or half-finished jobs and things. Which is why I like them!”