Episode 184 – Work Collaboratively with Your Clients to Produce Radical Solutions That Work with Henrik Joreteg

 In Podcasts

Phil’s guest on today’s I.T. Career Energizer podcast is Henrik Joreteg. He is an independent JavaScript Consultant, speaker, and trainer who is particularly interested in the intersection between web and machine learning.

Henrik specializes in building Progressive Web Apps using tools like Redux and React/Preact. His consultancy work has led to him working on projects for firms like Microsoft, Starbucks, and Groove.

Henrik is the author of the popular book Human JavaScript. He has also helped clients like AT&T, Ericsson, and Pacific Northwest National Labs build modern JavaScript applications

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

(00.43) – Please expand on my introduction and tell us a bit more about yourself. Henrik explains that he has been involved in the IT industry for a while, so his career has been varied. Recently he has helped Starbucks with the architect of their progressive web app.

He also now spends quite a bit of time consulting. Recently, he wrote and published the Human Redux Book, a kind of follow up to an earlier book he wrote.

(1.53) – Can you please share a unique career tip with the I.T. career audience? You need to make sure that you are able to continue learning. If your current role is not allowing you to do this, you should move on.

Continually pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a little ensures you continue to learn and stay relevant. It also builds confidence and turns you into a more attractive employee. As a result, finding well-paid work is never a problem.

Be especially careful if you are working for a large company. While working for a firm like that, is all too easy to stagnate and not make an impact. In the long-term, doing this will harm your career and stop you from increasing your wage packet.

At the very least, take on a side project that pushes you. Because you are doing them outside of the confines of your workplace you are free to explore and take your skills in new directions.

(4.15) – Are your books an example of this? Yes, the first one Human JavaScript certainly was. At the time, Henrik had been working on a cutting edge app which included real-time asset tracking transposed over a map. Something nobody else was doing back then. So, he wanted to show the world what could be achieved by working with JavaScript slightly differently.

Writing the book was a lot of work, but it pushed him to develop new skills. More importantly, because he gave the book away free, he was able to help other developers, from across the world, to break through and create exciting tools.

(6.01) – Can you tell us about your worst career moment? And what you learned from that experience. Early in his career, Henrik had a job where he was not given enough work. So, he used some of his spare time to teach himself Python and work on a side project.

Unfortunately, doing this got him in a bit of trouble. Henrik had built a Twitter bot that followed people on the platform.

This activity got him added to a watch list. After about a month of monitoring him, he was called in and spoken to about his internet usage at work. They explained that his work was good, but they had concerns. Henrik was not impressed by the fact that they decided to monitor his activity instead of speaking to him and explaining the issue straight away. So, a month later he left.

His other low point happened when he found himself working virtually around the clock on a collaborative project. At the time, his daughter was very young. So, she really needed his attention. But, he didn’t have any time free to spend with her. He hated being in that situation. At that point, he realized that things had to change. So, he started to take steps to get his work/life balance back.

(9.18) – What was your best career moment? Developing and launching the Starbucks app has been a highlight. Both Google IO and Microsoft built their versions on the same day.

Creating the SimpleWebRTC library was another highlight. He landed several talking gigs off the back of it. For example, speaking at dotJS, in Paris, where he spoke in front of 1000 people.

(10.33) – Can you tell us what excites you about the future of the IT industry and careers? The fact there is still so much to do and achieve is really exciting. Seeing people applying machine learning to old problems is particularly interesting. Henrik is especially interested in the intersection between web and machine learning.

He has a lot of friends who are dentists and doctors. Henrik can see dozens of ways tech can be used to help them to work more efficiently. It is just one example of how much more there is still out there for IT professionals to do.

(12.36) – What drew you to a career in IT? Henrik admits that he kind of fell into it. At university, he studied finance and entrepreneurship.

When he came to start his own business, he realized that every interesting business idea he could think of was web-based. At the time, he had no money to hire developers, so realized he would need to learn how to do some of it himself.

So he signed up for Lynda.com and watched the how to build applications with ColdFusion video. Armed with that information, he built his first web app. Then he landed a job with ESRI in Redmond and was lucky enough to work with the ColdFushion expert Louis Mohan.

(15.34) – What is the best career advice you have ever received? Keep learning, but try not to take yourself too seriously. Stay humble and your confidence will grow. In time you will realize that it is your ability to figure out what you need to learn to solve the problem that is your most important skill.

(16.44) – Conversely, what is the worst career advice you’ve ever received? A lot of people have told him to follow his passion. Henrik does not believe this to be good advice. It is far more important to be doing work that has an impact and enables you to eventually achieve a high level of autonomy.

(17.32) – If you were to begin your IT career again, right now, what would you do? Henrik would probably follow the same path. He would want to continue to be a generalist rather than a specialist. Henrik thinks that being able to handle a whole project is very beneficial.

By taking this approach, you eventually find what you are good at. When you do, you can specialize and make that your passion.

His advice is to take an entry level job, somewhere you can learn. A lot of small companies will give you the chance to get your hands on lots of stuff. Once you have learned everything you can, don’t be afraid to move on to the next opportunity.

(19.12) – What are you currently focusing on in your career? Henrik wants to be more autonomous. He is working to gain more control of his life. His aim is to earn good money, but, still have time to do other things, in particular, with his family.

(20.30) – What is the number one non-technical skill that has helped you the most in your IT career? For Henrik, having a general understanding of business has helped his career a lot. Being able to see things from the perspective of the end user is very beneficial. Understanding how organizations work and people think are both great soft skills to have as an IT professional. They ensure that the solutions you come up with are truly effective.

(21.36) – What do you do to keep your own IT career energized? Henrik works to make sure that he gives every project all he’s got. This approach gets the best results and helps to drive your career forward.

(22.41) – What do you do in your spare time away from technology? For many years, Henrik did nothing much outside of tech. But, for the past few years, he has worked to get back into enjoying outdoor activities. They have a boat and enjoy skiing and camping, as a family.

(23.27) – Phil asks Henrik to share a final piece of career advice with the audience. If you are working as a consultant, don’t set yourself up as the expert. When you do that you hold yourself apart from your client.

Your relationship with your client should be a collaborative one. It is important to become a part of their team. When you do that their problems become your problems. The issues you are there to solve. It also ensures that you stay aligned with the people you are there to help.

BEST MOMENTS:

(3.04) HENRIK – “Staying with a big company, when you’re not actively learning and getting pushed, is an expensive mistake to make.”

(11.43) HENRIK – “There are so many cool problems to tackle.”

(11.45) HENRIK – “It’s fascinating to see people applying new things like machine learning to old problems”

(16.12) HENRIK – “Your confidence doesn’t come from what you know; your confidence comes from your ability to figure out what you need to know.”

(20.52) HENRIK – “At the end of the day, every problem is a people problem.”

CONTACT HENRIK:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/henrikjoreteg

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/henrikjoreteg/

Website: https://joreteg.com/

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