This was my last week at OLX Group. After close to three years (the longest industry job I’ve had), I will soon (from March) be embarking on a new journey. In time, I’ll share more about what’s next for me — try and stop me, I’m quite excited. However, for this week, I’d like to muse a bit on a few things I’ve learned over the last few years at OLX.
One of the first things I wrote when joining OLX was “Why I joined OLX Group” which made me instantly loved by our talent acquisition team — they shared this post with many candidates. I just reread it, and all the reasons still stand. OLX has been an excellent place to be. For me, an extremely fertile mid-station. I care a lot about working for a company that positively impacts the world, and OLX is one of them. For those aren’t familiar with OLX Group, it runs a number of classifieds sites (think craigslist, but prettier). It’s a place where a lot of used goods find a second life.
Or, as my oldest put it when asked at school what his father does for a living: “My dad sells second hand junk.” That about sums it up.
OLX was the first place where I needed to step back and properly think about what the role of engineering manager was about. My first writing on this was So, You Want to be an Engineering Manager and The M-Word. Later, functioning as a manager of managers, I supported a number of people in their engineering manager journeys, sometimes from first steps. And if you want to teach, you better think it through properly yourself. And one of the many things I’ve learned is that, for me, the most effective way to do this is to write about it.
I wrote about aligning and defining success; experimental approaches to get there; picking the right problems to solve; goal setting; lots and lots about feedback; how to make decisions and how to structure them; about how to be heard and the importance of ethos; how to get a seat at the table; ownership; coaching; and judging people and their actions.
As I said, it has been a very fruitful time these last three years. It has also been a hectic and tough one for various reasons. I learned a lot about the job and about myself. Ultimately, it became clear the best way forward for me would be a fresh start, a different role, a new challenge. And it’s coming.
So that’s it. Another chapter of my career closed.
As weird as this may sound in this context, I can still recommend OLX if you’re looking for something new, and they’re hiring. Writing about “fertile mid-stations” a while back, of course, was no coincidence. There’s a time and place for OLX in many people’s careers.
We had an internal campaign focusing on OLX’s purpose a few months back. Below is the story I shared. It’s somewhat dramatic, my apologies.
“Hello! Is this ad still valid?”
Around 9 years ago, me and my wife moved to Poland. Initially, we rented a place in Poznań, but after about half a year found an apartment to buy on otodom (OLX’s real estate site). Since we ran low on cash, and wanted to add some character to our place, my wife spent numerous hours exploring OLX and ultimately found the table. And thus, my wife sent the message above ☝️ to the seller, as is OLX tradition.
The table was still available.
We drove our car to the seller’s place, and entered the second-floor apartment. It was a bit dark, and as a friendly lady and her son let us in, it was immediately clear where we had ended up: her recently deceased mother’s place. The place was filled with old, communist decorations. Old drawings, old chairs. And there it was: her beautiful, round, wooden table. It clearly showed its age and history, which was exactly what we were looking for.
Me, my wife and the lady’s son together managed to manoeuvre the table down the narrow stairs to where our car was parked. However, quickly, we ran into a problem. The table did not fit the trunk of our Honda Civic. We flipped the table; it didn’t fit. We looked if we could detach the legs; we couldn’t.
“No worries,” the son said, “I have a larger car, we can load it in there and I can bring it to your place.”
“But we live on the other side of town!” my wife responded.
“No worries, if you just drive there I will follow you, and bring the table to your place.”
And so, we drove in caravan cross-town, into our garage where we unloaded the table. We were extremely thankful.
For many years, the table was the center of our apartment.
We ate our breakfasts there, we ate our dinners there. We sat around it when friends and family visited. When our first son was born, the table scaled along — since the table could be expanded in the middle. Over the years, the table added a lot of additional “character” — that is: stains we couldn’t fully remove.
However, when our twins were born and demanded their seats at the table as well, we realized our time with the table needed to end.
My wife put up the table for sale on OLX.
Within days, we received a message.
“Hello! Is this ad still valid?”
“Should we mention they bring a large car, so it will fit?” I asked my wife.
“No worries,” my wife said reminding me we had upgraded to a much larger car, to scale with our family (we had bought a used Ford Galaxy on otomoto— OLX’s car site, when the twins were born).
“No worries. No matter what, the table will find its way.”