Alex Litvinenko moved from Moscow to Germany in 2013 to join the IT department which only consisted of a few members back then. He was the first employee in the company without any knowledge of the German language. In 2017 Hitmeister changed its name officially to real.digital and is now part of the retail chain real which belongs to the Metro Group. Today Alex is the team leader of DevOps (Development and Operations) and builds the infrastructure for the online marketplace real.de. In this article he talks about his early days in Germany, about the companies culture and his daily challenges at real.digital.
“When I joined the company, there were seven people in the IT department. We shared one room with the Category Management department”, Alex remembers. “Now we are 52 people, we have our own IT-Office and keep growing. The IT department is divided into seven teams who are constantly working on the improvement of real.de.”
Benefits for foreign employees
Alex can tell from his own experience that the company makes it as easy as possible for non-German speaking employees: “When I arrived in Germany the company helped me a lot. They gave me huge support in finding an apartment and dealing with papers from the authorities. At work all the people where very friendly so I felt comfortable since the first day.”
And there is another benefit for foreign employees: “I think the company is doing very well with the German language courses here.” Alex tells. “We have German lessons where people are divided in different groups according to their level of knowledge. So everybody who doesn’t speak German can learn it. That’s great because it boosts your language skills very quickly.”
The culture of real.digital
As for sports, people are also taken care of: The company rents a football field once a week and offers a special discount in a fitness studio for its employees. So if someone wants to do sports, he has all chances to do it.
But there are also after-work activities. Alex knows that the company organizes team events once in a while: “Last time we went on a treasure hunt in Cologne where we solved different riddles as a team.”
“And sometimes we have meet-ups about different topics in which we are interested in. Arduino, for example: an open-source electronic prototyping platform or Go programming language. The ideas for these meet-ups come from the employees and they do it because they want to. For me, this means we have gained a level where we share our interests and skills with each other and this is exciting. This team spirit is very important for us. So everybody in the IT department knows how we do things and can propose ways to improve our work. I think this makes our team stronger.”
Alex’ daily challenges
To get an idea of what the DevOps team does, Alex compares his work with that in a factory: “I would compare our company with a factory. What is our product? We produce digital changes. Being a factory we have a continuous delivery pipeline. My team takes care of it, so all works smoothly and we can ship within a short time in high quality.” To maintain this continuous improvement, our team looks for more engineers:
“Our challenges are that we are growing in numbers of developers, so we need more servers and we need a bigger environment for the developers to work on different projects. We also have steadily growing traffic on the website. We must face these challenges and make sure that all runs smoothly. Half of the time I work in front of the computer and the other half of the time I discuss proper infrastructure solutions with others.”
real.digital brings new opportunities
In conclusion, Alex tells something about the new opportunities which came up with the merger between real and Hitmeister. “We became a part of the huge Metro Group. This brings us new opportunities like more resources for our work. But most important for us is that we keep our flexibility and freedom in our work like at times of Hitmeister. This makes our company special.
Big corporations often come along with their typical attributes like endless meetings and phone calls. All processes need a very long time to evolve, because all decisions have to be accepted by many different supervisors. This slows down the development a lot.
Fortunately real.digital is different. We combine all good things from both: Hitmeister and real. This means: while we perform well we can decide.”
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