Managing dream teams

Marianna Chekurova, Head of Frontend Development at Telia in Finland

Marianna Chekurova is leading teams that are developing online and mobile app services at Telia in Finland. Her role is to put together a dream team for each project and introduce new, agile ways of working. For each new team she puts together, a new method or process is implemented, often inspired by team members. So essentially, she is creating dream teams and innovating our ways of working every day.

“I am leading a team of tech professionals who are building our new online and mobile app services. It is my job to find and put together the perfect team and then lead us to success. But it is not only about making sure our projects are successful, it is also about making sure that every team member grows both personally and professionally. And it is of course my role, to make sure we have a lot of fun in the team.”

Team spirit and motivation
“To stay ahead in our industry, people must enjoy working here, and for that reason I invest a lot of my time in team building and creating a great team spirit. That means removing obstacles and encouraging people to bring new ideas for improving the working methods and also technical aspects – in that way, people will always feel involved and part of the solution.”

We need to be fast, but being smart is even more important
“Agile ways of working is a method a lot of companies are using today – and the development is going really fast. My role at Telia is about being part of taking our agile ways of working to the next level. At the same time as we are developing our projects, we are evolving our ways of working. We do this by bringing in outside people with new ideas to our internal teams. And I try to source people internally that have experiences that can improve our ways of working together.”

Part of changing the development culture
“Exploring and implementing new ways of working is not only a tactic to improve my existing teams, it is part of a bigger scope, where we constantly try to evolve our development culture at Telia, and it is great to be and feel part of a greater context even when we work on very focused projects.”

Self-leadership is part of the solution
“My goal in all projects is to lead as little as possible, instead I want all team members to act as self-leaders. To do that, I need to trust people and ensure that everyone have clear goals – that’s when self-leadership works best. I hate micromanagement myself and I believe that specialists are able to solve problems much better than I can. As a team, we talk a lot together. Sometimes, all I need to do is to show the direction, and the team will find their way fast.”

Keeping up
“I am always keeping up with technology and how it evolves by going to tech meet-ups and engage in online communities. It’s my way to secure that I understand what we are doing and how far we can push our projects. But I am never on the same level as the other team members, who understand the technology on a deeper expert level. In addition to keeping up with technology and how it offers new opportunities, I keep on developing my leadership skills, mainly by reading books and articles on the subject.“

Develop both deeper and wider
“Right now, I am doing a course in programming to improve my knowledge and better understand the potential of the work my team’s work. But in my role, I need to look beyond people and technology. I need to understand our business and the financial side of our services is structured. But also, how our organization works and how my team contributes to our common journey. Basically, always be a few steps ahead of what we are implementing to understand where the world is heading.”

I only have one problem
“The challenge for me is that I get excited about a lot of things at work and I want to achieve so much but to be successful, I need to prioritize. Still, I love the fact that I am able to go after my dreams and help my team to be successful – time after time – when we are chasing after all the opportunities we have right now.”

Telia has been working in agile ways for a long time, and we are continuously improving our methods and processes to become even better. To us the main reasons for agile ways of working are that we achieve a higher engagement in our teams and we improve the quality of our work. With the transparency of agile ways of working comes a higher focus on what’s important, and we can easier predict the end result of the projects we work on.

My key advice to other leaders

When putting together a team, make sure you get the right mix:

1. What knowledge people bring to the group
2. What experience people bring to the group
3. What energy people bring to the group

Facts

Education

I have an MBA in Information System Management from the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Finland.

Life before Telia

Working almost a decade as Software developer, Technical Project Manager and Product Owner at MTV Finland (National Broadcaster).

Life outside work

Most of my free time I spend with my family and friends. Besides that, I try to do some sports like running and yoga. I love arts and beautiful places, and for that reason I love to draw and travel.

Family

I am married and a mother of two dragons (10 and 8 years). We also have two smaller furry, Persian dragons.

Something you didn´t know about me

I have a terrible memory for names, but I am very good at recognizing faces. To improve, I always secretly create an imaginary “clone” for the new person I meet. It is crazy, I know.