People @ Personio – Let’s #TECH A BREAK with Ilias Foukis

We recently took a break and spoke with Ilias Foukis, our Engineering Manager for Integrations from the Product & Engineering Department.

Ilias told us about the achievement he is most proud of and shared details about his multicultural and ever-growing team. Keep reading to find out how you can listen to him on his very own Agile & Product Development podcast, too! 🎙👨🏻‍💻

What exactly does an Engineering Manager (EM) for Integrations do?

Finding and hiring the right people, bringing them together, and shaping them into a strong and functioning unit is just one of our tasks. In addition to that, an EM must ensure a high technical standard for integration by setting technical goals and encouraging team members to bring their own ideas, so that our solutions are built on a very solid foundation.

In addition to the above, company-wide coordination with other teams and departments and strong strategic planning for the future areas of responsibility of the team and the integrations also matter.

Most importantly, though, is the creation of an environment that not only enables team members to work together, but also reinforces them with one-on-ones, retrospectives, and internal team sessions that allow us to build mutual trust, turning many different people into one unit that can achieve something great together. These events also help us, as a team, to find weaknesses in our processes and to tackle them together and get rid of them. After all, nobody wants to face the same challenges over and over again!

Last but not least, the Integration Engineering Manager works with the rest of the EM Team to improve internal processes and career paths for engineers.

What can you tell us about the Integrations Team?

Integrations is a very international team, as we count members from all over the world! This includes people from South Africa, Ukraine, Vietnam, India, Russia, Brazil, Germany, and Greece. It remains a small tribe, but the team will grow significantly in 2021 👉🏽 We are hiring!

In total, we have eight Developers, one Product Manager, one UX Designer, one Product Expert, one Technical Partner Manager, and one Engineering Manager.

Our purpose is to connect Personio with partners and other applications, to improve our customer’s experience and empower the usage of our core product. We do this by building integrations with other platforms and tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Workspace, and more!

In addition to our main purpose, we want to provide the best possible experience for every company and developer who wants to integrate with us.

What is your favorite part of your work?

On one hand, I would say working with incredible people. Those who bring their great strengths and experiences with them, and help to create an environment that is not only psychological and mentally safe, but combines our strengths to make us a high-performance unit. That part is great! #BeDiligent.

On the other hand, the fact that we can provide value and impact as a team #DrivenByImpact, helping Personio grow by doing engineering work with #CustomerEmpathy on a very high level and of a high standard is one of the most satisfying things I can imagine.

What is a recent achievement you are most proud of?

Joining Personio! It might sound cheesy but, it was my personal goal to join Personio. As a native of Munich, I was (and am still) very proud to see a company in my hometown growing so fast with both an on-point culture and product! Besides that, the team released a Slack integration in a Beta version with the final version being released pretty soon. This will enable every single customer to get status and absence updates in their Slack channels, all based on absences in Personio.

What are your top values at work?

I don’t think it would be authentic to limit to only a handful. That’s because I believe all our core values are ​​important for my job, as they match my personal values. However, I could easy expand on a few:

For example, #CustomerEmpathy is an essential pillar of every customer-facing product as it is to Personio. If you are not customer-centric as a company, it is extremely easy to miss them and, therefore, not create any real value for the customer which then extends to the product.

What we build in engineering is our work and we are responsible for it. #Ownership is therefore one of the main drivers that makes my work valuable and also the reason why I am an advocate of the “you build it, you run it” approach.

And, at the end of the day, one of the most important is #Teamspirit. In my opinion, it is truly the key to success. True to the motto of Richard Branson, who once said: “Take care of your employees and they will take care of your business!” If we all celebrate our success together and feel valued, that will inevitably be reflected in our product.

Any book or podcast recommendations for readers?

I think my best book recommendations are some of the classics and also bestsellers. It is “Thinking Fast And Slow” (Daniel Kahnemann) to understand how the human brain works when it comes to making decisions, “Culture Map” (Erin Meyer) to understand how the cultures we come from shape our behaviors, and “5 Dysfunctions Of A Team” (Patrick Lencioni), which describes the five essential levels/layers of a functional team!

When it comes to podcasts, the first that comes to mind is my own. 😉 It is in German, but the topic is definitely interesting.

Two friends of mine and I talk together about Product Development, agile methodologies, like Scrum and Kanban, engineering, and design from three completely different angles. It’s called #aka Agile Waterfall, and you can listen to it right 👉🏽 here🎙

What truly makes an engineer great?

To me, great engineers are:

🏋🏽‍♀️ People who know their strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly!

🔥 They have deep passion for development and engineering and they want to build something incredible.

🚀 They also strive for collaboration, because they know that they can always improve themselves #SeekToImpove, especially by learning from others.

👨🏻‍🏫 In addition, they know that they can teach others what they learned in the past.

In short, working in a team is both about giving and taking! Things do change extremely fast nowadays, and engineering will evolve even more in the upcoming years. So, being open minded and not set in your ways is also an important path to success.

New joiners August 2020

Does this sound like your kind of team? If you would like to join Ilia’s team check out our open positions and join us in our way of becoming Europe’s leading HR platform.