Nitor works with their customers to create a better world through digital success stories. In essence, their code comes to life with the people who use it. But people are not machines; our needs change and evolve over time. The digital design takes this into account while adjusting to adopt new technologies and innovations as they emerge. That’s why Nitor weaves agility through the fabric of everything they do: to create solutions that adapt to change.

We talked to Nitor’s Chief Technologist, Mika Majakorpi, about how Nitor as a company operates, what makes their company culture stand out from the rest, recruitment process and more. 


🔵 Every successful company has different principles, either when operating a business or hiring new people, for example. What are the three main principles that Nitor follows when recruiting new talent?

I’d say we are a very quality-oriented organization. In recruitment it used to mean that you had to have many years of working experience in the industry and a degree from one of the best technical schools in Finland to be considered a candidate at Nitor. During the last couple of years, that has shifted a bit and we have realized that not everyone has to have multiple years of experience in order to be highly valuable to our community and our customers. I think we have grown up in that aspect and look more for growth potential in a person, but we are still interested in established work history and great skills from the candidates. 

Nowadays, we also have activities with different schools, educational institutions, universities, where we market ourselves among students. We are still quite selective to hire fresh graduates, but it happens nowadays for certain roles. Historically, we’ve looked for some years of work experience and the skills that come with that experience.

On top of that, cultural or chemistry fit with your to-be coworkers is essential. We try to make sure that during the recruitment process, the candidate gets to chat with people who are likely going to be their colleagues, so we can make sure there’s a fit. Other attributes we look for are curiosity to learn new things, action-orientedness, and a certain kind of pragmatism, which means even if you learned a subject, then the theory does not necessarily match practice. What gets results and delivers software is a pragmatic attitude rather than holding on to high ideals from the academic world.



🔵 There are hundreds, if not thousands, of methods to build a successful company culture. Some might not know that, but Nitor has claimed the first spot in Finland in the Great Place to Work competition two years in a row, which picks out the best workplaces in Europe. What kind of methods has Nitor used to achieve that incredible achievement? 

Our company structure is very flat – today we have around 200 people, and we still don’t have the traditional hierarchy. There are different business units, but that’s it. Involving people is essential. In Nitor, we don’t feed them with top-down things but rather ask people how they see Nitor and generalize from there. There are so many things where we realize that the company needs something new or structure around some topics. People naturally interested in a particular subject come together, figure it out, and that becomes a company policy. With this approach, people feel at home in the company. That is the essence of the culture for me. If you were just given solutions to all problems, a person basically has to choose if they agree with it or not. People tend to agree with rules and policies better if they’ve been deeply involved in setting those.


🔵 How are Nitor’s recruitment processes designed? Different companies use different recruitment methods when hiring people – some companies like their applicants to go through intensive 3-4 rounds of interviews, others hire people just by looking into their faces during the first meeting. What experience can an applicant expect from Nitor? 

I think we are in a group that does intensive rounds of interviews. Based on my experience, that’s the fair way to do it. After all, it’s a big step for the candidate who will be leaving something behind and coming to work for Nitor. It will also be fair to candidates to spend a reasonable amount of time with them before signing the contract. They’ll have a better understanding of what they’re entering into. We like to cover things from multiple angles and have numerous people do the interviews to ascertain that the candidate will be a good fit. One hour interview simply would not be enough. It also allows them to learn more about Nitor from different kinds of people and angles. 

Our interviews have been described as very discussion-oriented, where people get together and chat around pertinent topics, skills, etc. Sometimes, we do assignments during the interview, where people are expected to write code or come up with a design, or whatever their field of expertise is, but that may not be the main point in the interviews. Through the discussions, you get a good idea of how the person thinks, what their personality is, are they going to be curious to learn more things, or are they thinking differently about their position in life. It’s about discovering the candidate as a person and learning about their capabilities.



🔵 Which is more important – skills or attitude? Why?

Skill is what gets the project delivered at that specific time. Looking at the longer term, then I’d say the attitude gets people into more exciting projects, better positions, and so on. It’s a mix of two, of course. I’d even say if the candidate comes in and doesn’t match exactly the kind of skill set that we’re looking for, then it isn’t a problem. Especially if they show a good attitude for continuous learning, problem-solving, and all these things. This kind of attitude helps people keep current skills and learn new ones. Of course, there’s also the attitude about how you conduct yourself among other people. The so-called chemistry fit is also an important aspect for us.


🔵 The difference between the skill and attitude is that you can learn new skills, but it’s hard to learn a new attitude. You might be very skillful at your work, but as a person, it’s not pleasant to be around you if your attitude doesn’t fit the company culture.

That’s a good point. We’re a consultancy company as you know, so at the end of the day, our people must be seen as friendly and team players. Before Covid-19, we did a lot of work at customer premises to give that edge over any desire for the customer to do offshoring or remote teams. Back then, it was crucial. With the current Covid-19 situation, that edge is no longer there because everyone’s remote. Despite that, it’s the moments you get with people, even if it happens over a video call because that’s when you get to show your attitude. 



🔵 Investors usually say they don’t invest in the idea but the team when investing in a startup. How is Nitor investing into their most valuable resource – people? 

We have a lot of things in this aspect. We have something that we call ‘10% time’. The idea is that every person, for one day every two weeks, can work on a personal or open-source project that he finds interesting. This is part of a person’s paid working hours, adding variety to regular work delivered for customers.

We ask that people share their learnings or results from the 10% time, so it becomes this kind of social event, where people share their learnings. We want to make sure that people spend time to keep learning. Some challenges may motivate people to use this 10% time because it’s so open. You could do anything, and people wonder, “Oh, if I’m working on this pet project of mine with a new programming language, is it a valid use case for this?”. We have to keep communicating that, yes, it is a valid use case. Sometimes it feels like people think that a good consultant is working on customer projects and generates income through that. In reality, we have to remind people that they can spend time otherwise, and it would be great if they did because they’ll learn more. 

In addition to that 10% time, you could also take five days a year for conferences and personal training. It’s a more traditional approach where we don’t expect people to share their learnings necessarily. Of course, people attend conferences, and sometimes they feel like sharing it with others, which also works nicely.

Besides personal development, one of the things we have very well is choosing your equipment for work. We call it the Iron Bank, a Game of Thrones reference, but I’m not sure if it translates very well in English. Hardware is called iron in Finnish, and it’s a hardware bank, and it was a great gag for it when Game of Thrones was really popular. Everyone gets a starting budget/balance, and there’s a monthly allowance that you get, and you’re free to choose your work equipment within that budget. The only thing we ask is that you only acquire work-related equipment because otherwise, people might think about it very flexibly and then end up not being able to buy something. Mostly, it’s an excellent system, not having fixed choices for your setup – you can only choose between these three laptops. You can freely select your laptop or buy a desktop computer if that is more suitable for your setup, what kind of a monitor you have, or if you want to use an iPad with a pen, so you can draw your architecture design or whatever. That’s one of the things that people who’ve joined Nitor talk about a lot and appreciate.

One of the crucial things at Nitor that translates into employee satisfaction and customer satisfaction is that we do a lot of work to match people with client engagements where they feel motivated and passionate about the technologies and such. People get to work on things they are interested in, which directly translates into good customer satisfaction because customers see motivated people. These people are willing to go the extra mile to learn something new because they’re working with stuff they’re interested in.



🔵 What makes a great company culture? How would you describe your culture in Nitor, and why or how it stands out from the rest?

Nitor is like a platform for people where everybody has their own goals in life because people who get hired at Nitor have some idea of where they want to end up in life. If we can provide them with a platform that helps them reach their own goals and share that progress with others, that generates a supportive environment for personal development. I see that as a thing that allows Nitor as a whole to have a good culture. It’s basically about enabling people to do what they do the best. 


Check out Nitor’s open positions on MeetFrank:


🔵 What would your top three words be if you had to describe an average Nitor employee? 

Curious, passionate and friendly.


🔵 Finish the sentence – Working at Nitor is good for your career because…

… you get to show your skills in challenging and interesting projects and keep learning new things in a supportive environment.