Ongoing development is my driving force

He’s been with MakoLab since 2013. Like many of our staff, he’s followed an interesting career path which has led to him now managing a team of almost fifty people. Meet Dominik Smajek, Head of Quality Assurance! Insights talked to him about what assuring quality means in practice, how to manage a group of that size and whether or not it’s possible to become a fruit-grower and gardener from one day to the next…

You’ve been with us for almost ten years? How do you do it

To me, being with one company for a long time and continually doing the same thing is not a good thing. So I always do what I can to change something and learn something new. During my first two years at MakoLab, I was involved in project management. Then I led the team of mobile developers for a while and I’ve been running the QA team for four years now. For three years, I had two departments under my wing! And here’s an interesting fact… before I joined MakoLab, I actually collaborated with the company as part of a client’s team. In fact, it was as far back as 2010 that I had an idea about how to streamline QA at MakoLab! Those experiences and my familiarity with the company is very useful in my everyday work.

Is it easy to switch jobs like that?

It’s really something of a challenge. In particular, when I made the leap from managing project deployments to creating in-vehicle mobile apps, I tumbled into deep water. To be honest, if I’d known what I was signing up for at the time, I’d never have gone for it. The bar was set high. I had to learn how to work with programmers, study the work environment and familiarise myself with the technology. But I don’t give up that easily!

When you took over managing the QA team, there were only ten people on it…

…and now there are almost fifty! That happened when automatic testing was becoming widespread. To tell you the truth, we were a bit behind the times on that at MakoLab back then. Now we’ve made our own framework, which gives us an edge over the competition.
When I took over as head of the team, I wanted to build something more than a testing department. I wanted us to ‘do’ quality, to make sure that the actual production process was at as high a level as it could get. Having experience as an IT administrator and a development manager meant I had hands-on knowledge of the challenges facing the team. And having ‘been there’ as a client, I knew what was needed from that side, too.
Despite the level we’ve succeeded in achieving, our ambitions go further. I think the fact that we set the benchmark high for ourselves helps the entire company to develop.

So, how do you manage a team of that size?

What I look for in people is an approach to work that’s similar to mine. This isn’t about sitting out your time, but about ongoing development. When you surround yourself with people like that, they’re their own driving force. I’m also well aware of the fact that, if they weren’t here, then neither would I be. They’re my inspiration.
Another thing I try to do with the team is build the culture of developing in the role of a member of staff. We all walk the same path, from junior to ‘regular’ to senior. Other people help us and teach us along the way and, with time, we ought to pass on our knowledge to younger people. We have to work in the team, but we also have to learn to hand responsibility over and delegate tasks to others.

Well, I can confirm that the culture of exchange is alive and kicking in QA! You’ve even set up your own in-house training programme that’s open to every member of the team.

That’s right. And it’s certainly working for us!

Do you enjoy your work?

Testing and keeping a firm eye on quality is a bit of a thankless task, because we’re not creating. You have to wait a long time for the fruits of our work. If you look at it later on, then moments do come that confirm we’re doing a good job. The work demands that you keep up with what’s happening in the business. In theory, we’re doing the same thing all the time, but everything around us is changing. That constant change gives me job satisfaction and so does the potential for development. And MakoLab is a company that allows you to develop.

What do you do in your free time?

I was expecting that question and I even prepared an answer… “Free time? What’s that?”… Seriously, though, family and the things I love doing! I try and read about something new every day. I love all things automobile, and not just the classic, hydrocarbon-based form, either, but innovations in the worlds of hybrids and electric vehicles, too. Sadly, something that’s worrying me more and more is the fact that changes in the field are increasingly being dictated by people who don’t have the foggiest idea about the automotive industry or how to proceed with transport or, taking it a step further, with energy…
Well, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t digress!
As an adult, I discovered that I have a passion for history, so I delve into the history of our world and our continent, to help me understand why the world around me is the way it is and not different.
And recently, I’ve been turning myself into a fruit-grower and gardener. And doing it at the double! I’ve already planted twenty trees and I’m tackling grape production.ą

We’ll let you into a secret! Our Quality Assurance team is still growing and the search is on for people who want to learn and to share their knowledge and experience with others. 

12th May 2022
5 min. read

Kamila Braszak

Employer Branding Specialist

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