Agnes Bury is our Employee of the Month this time. Agnes is from Poland and has been working at OnTheGoSystems since 2013. She’s the master of our Toolset plugins. Answering Toolset pre-sales questions on a daily basis, she has come to understand our users’ needs very well. Even though her ideas and comments may not be initially heard, she still keeps fighting for our clients’ well-being and refuses to take no for an answer on matters that she believes are important. She is a member of the team closest to what actual users will do with our products.
When Agnes was young she always wanted to be a teacher. She tells us:
“When I was doing my homework or had to learn something I would pretend I’m a teacher questioning students. Of course, all the students would be me!”
So already, from a young age, you were probing and testing, paying attention to detail. Users, you are in good hands.
You make me sound as if I was a wonder kid – far from it! When I was at the kindergarten I was forced to eat a roll which I didn’t want. I hid it under my T-shirt but then I had to get rid of it somehow. So I cheated, asking my teacher for permission to go to the toilet. My goal was to find a bin and put the roll in the trash. But I didn’t find one…
So the roll landed in the toilet. Of course, I was smart enough to flush the toilet and I left with that “mission accomplished” feeling. But the roll broke the surface…
…which was soon discovered by the cleaning lady. She told the teachers and then the global investigation began. All the kindergarten was alarmed. Who was the guilty child who did such a horrible thing? Eventually, they figured it out… You can imagine what happened next and how I felt being publically stigmatized…
What made you want to become a web developer?
I always wanted to do something profound like writing a book or at least a short story, but I never did. Instead, my first job as a teenager was berrying. It wasn’t an easy job but it wasn’t that hard either. I would spend a few hours in the forest picking those little blackberries and then another few hours standing in an open-air market to sell them in the big city (I come from a small town). The price we set (it was my aunt who was “managing” it) seemed to be extremely high but to my astonishment, we completely sold out within an hour or so. I couldn’t believe that people were willing to pay such a high price for something that came relatively easy for me. I was on top of the world. But after a few days it got hotter and hotter (it was the middle of summer) and at the same time standing around in the market place was getting more and more boring.
That was when I made myself a promise: In the future, I’d rather stick to learning than make my living doing manual work. I reasoned that since people were ready to pay me for something that doesn’t need sophisticated skills, for sure they will pay for what I could produce with my brain. After completing high school I started my Computer Science studies and at some point, I fell in love with WordPress and decided to focus on it. A few years later I joined OnTheGoSystems.
How has OnTheGoSystems helped you in your career development?
I have improved my English significantly, especially when it comes to listening skills. Working in an international team where everyone speaks with a different accent and there’s no time for constantly asking, “Say it again please”, helps a lot. :-)
And yes, I learned how to work with an international team. Actually I learned so many new things: how to run usability testing, how to record video tutorials, how having great relationships with partners helps a lot to boost your products and how to multitask!!! My biggest lesson has been a significant difference between working hard and actually delivering. They are two different things. At the end of the day only the latter matters…
Tell us about the teams you work closely with – do you get along well? Because we come from different cultures are there occasions when there are misunderstandings or personality clashes?
I’ve been working here for six years now and actually nothing surprises me anymore. I get the feeling that we are all similar. Everyone likes being appreciated, everyone hates criticism. That’s human nature…
I remember in the beginning I used to hate it when people asked me how I felt. It took me a while to realize that when somebody asks, “How are you?” I didn’t need to go into details every time explaining why I wasn’t in the best mood that day and that a simple “I’m fine” would suffice!
What has been your favorite project?
The new site for onthegosystems.com My first recollection of this project is this sentence: “Are we selling a mouse??!”
You seem confused? Let me explain.
The site we used to have a few years ago needed a significant rejuvenation. I took some screenshots from the internet archive to show you how it looked back then:
I was assigned to lead that project.
I still remember the brain-storming on how the new homepage should look and the communication back and forth with the graphic designer who was cooperating with us back then.
One of the first designs featured a big computer mouse. You know, IT… that stuff. The overall design was much better compared to what we had but… I didn’t like it. I didn’t know why but something didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know how to explain it to the graphic designer in a polite way and to ask her to come up with something else.
A colleague from the marketing team when she first saw the design said, “What’s that??? Are we selling a mouse?” I realized then that the OnTheGoSystems site needed to be about the people. That was the turning point.
What advice do you have for prospective candidates?
Don’t be ashamed to chat with other teammates. Yes, it’s more challenging when you work remotely but it helps a lot when you ask your colleagues. You are never left alone with your problem. People like helping out.
What is your proudest moment at OTGS?
Actually it’s right now. I have been testing Toolset by building websites with it for a while now, but now there are big changes in WordPress with the new Gutenberg editor. It’s a completely new paradigm, a new concept. Not only have we managed to make our plugins compatible with the new WordPress editor but we are now shifting our development to use new technologies. The WordPress community hasn’t fully accepted this new approach of building websites using Gutenberg Blocks and it wasn’t an easy decision to invest in it. Our CEO was brave enough to take the plunge with the full backing of our developers and supporters. Our developers have learned the new language and technology so fast! It really makes me proud to work with such great people.
Do you recall any embarrassing moment at work?
Of course! There are many actually because I tend to take everything personally and overreact… For example, when we fail on delivering updates and bugs being reported by our customers, I become depressed. Also when I come up with an idea which I believe is something great and others don’t necessarily share my views and enthusiasm, I tend to react stubbornly. I wish I could be more relaxed and not worry about so many things. I tend to worry every day.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in your life thus far?
You won’t believe it but actually making the decision to join OnTheGoSystems. I was so scared. To work for one of the most famous plugins in the WP industry! To work in an international team! To communicate in English! It all seemed too much for me. But I made it… and I’ve never regretted one moment.
Are you thinking of using Toolset to build your next website but have questions? Never fear, Agnes is here by your side to help you every step of the way.