Moderators David Reichert and Daryl Paraguya begin the workshop by setting norms.
As a newcomer to the Prague tech scene, Vistaprint is making a splash.
In October 2018 Vistaprint held the Adventures in Agile workshop at their Prague offices. It wasn’t so much the workshop itself that turned heads. Though progressive, the buzz about the “Agile” software development framework has been making the rounds in the tech world for over five years.
What was significant about Vistaprint’s workshop was the unlikely demographic of the attendees. The workshop didn’t look like a typical IT training because of one glaring difference: it was attended by a room full of women.
Adventures in Agile
The Adventures in Agile workshop was an all-day, interactive event to teach the basics of the Agile framework. Moderators Daryl Paraguya and David Reichert stressed that the twenty-four attendees were not going to learn how to do Agile, but instead how to be Agile.
The day consisted of games and activities that gave attendees a hands-on experience of how to use Agile values to problem solve. Sessions such as the break-out discussion How to Make People Awesome took care to use attendees’ real-world problems from work and everyday life so that the techniques would demonstrate their genuine utility. The ladies spoke up about times when unnamed co-workers were “not awesome” and worked on collaborative resolutions using Agile principles.
“I had a great day full of information about an amazing approach to work and life. As for me, I will try to change my position of ‘tool’ to human being. I really enjoyed the workshop,” said attendee Anna Krejčí. The value of human interaction was a theme highlighted in multiple activities. The workshop stressed clear communication and adaptability to team dynamics.
Attendee Lucie Burišin said, “I got a clear understanding of the mindset in an agile work environment and will try to apply it. Especially the value of making people awesome, because in the end people make the difference in each company.”
With the Agile message clearly communicated and a successful workshop out of the way, one question remains for the Prague’s new kids on the block. How did a tech company like Vistaprint make an all-female workshop happen?
Vistaprint’s Expanded Vision
“At Vistaprint, we really care about diversity and inclusion,” says Sonia Ciampanella, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist for Vistaprint’s European operations.
“We believe working with people from different backgrounds and experiences allows our employees to be their best selves at work. It creates an open environment where we can share ideas and thoughts which in turn generates a better workplace”
Known traditionally as a company that provides products for mass customization in local business communities, Vistaprint has worked for years to build a broader vision. With 6,000 employees worldwide and 20 global offices, June of 2018 marked the 1 year anniversary of Vistaprint’s opening in Prague. They started with 30 staffers in their first year and their goal is to double that number by next year.
It’s not enough to stop at helping microbusiness owners live their dreams. According to their Community site, Vistaprint Prague has an expanded mission to “explore unknown tech worlds.” Bringing international experts and hosting workshops in their cutting-edge facility, called the Prague Technology Centre, is part of that larger vision.
“Our aim with the Prague Technology Centre is for it to deliver at the highest level for everyone. This includes our employees, customers and also the community we are situated in. We are always looking to reach all parts of the technical community with fresh ideas and content that’s really valuable. Not only do events such as this workshop help contribute to the Czech tech community, they are great fun to do.” Jonathan Simmonds, Director of Technology and Site Lead for the Prague office.
To make their vision come alive in their new home, calling up a Prague-based group aimed at diversity and inclusion was a no-brainer and Czechitas was at the top of that list.
Outreach with Czechitas
Czechitas is a community of IT coaches, course alumni, and professionals focused on fostering diversity and building female talent on IT teams in the Czech Republic. They do it by organizing IT courses for girls and women in Prague and other major cities across the country. Their mission states the obvious: There are very few girls in IT and they want to “even out the numbers.”
When it comes to IT workshops, “There is so much interest,” said Petra Balášová, Workshop Coordinator and Volunteer at Czechitas. As tech grows on the global scale and IT companies like Vistaprint move to Prague, women are changing careers. They are entering IT from other fields all the time. “Women [at first] don’t think they’ll like it. They are starting from the wrong perception,” said Balášová. She explained that once they get a handle on the basics and begin to explore what IT has to offer, they quickly find success. “These workshops offer a safe environment to discover that potential.”
Being a Good Neighbor
The Czechitas activity calendar functions as a local resource for smaller tech companies without the resources to run their own training and orientation programs. When Lucie Zágrová saw the event registration for Adventures in Agile circulating around her office in Prague, she jumped at the chance to participate. “Within my company, I’m not able to get soft skills training. For me, it’s a great opportunity,” said Zágrová.
Vistaprint is anxious to be a part of that training calendar. Not only does Czechitas give them a way to fill seats in their workshops, but working with Czechitas offers a view of the up-and-coming pool of local IT talent. Lucie Stewart recently transitioned into the IT field and attending the Agile workshop on October 6th was her first field training.
“I loved the welcoming and playful atmosphere of the workshop and the fact that [coaches] Daryl and David are living what they are preaching. I felt safe and valid and I had fun. It’s difficult to say a single sentence about Agile, but the workshop probably confirmed I’m on the right path,” said Stewart. With experiences like Stewart’s, it’s no wonder that the Vistaprint and Czechitas collaboration has taken off with flying colors.
“We are growing here in Prague,” said Senior Technology Manager Paraguya, “so being a part of the community is important to us.” Paraguya, who traveled from the US with Agile Coach David Reichert to co-lead the workshop, reiterated that success in Prague means making in-roads with the tech community in Prague.
At the end of the day, both Vistaprint and Czechitas had a success on their hands. Twenty-four women in Prague were trained in how to be Agile and their experience at the workshop brought them closer together as a community. “It’s cool that projects like this exist,” said Tania Marchuk, an employee at HR software development company ADP. “I’ve learnt how to use modern agile, its values, and basic principles so I will definitely try it in my work.”
By providing valuable training that enhances Prague’s growing tech industry, it looks like Vistaprint will settle in just fine.