How We Thrive with Remote Work

This article is a helpful guide on how to effectively manage remote teams for all those who work with distributed, remote teams. The article covers the topics of what the remote-first approach is, what the advantages and disadvantages are of working with such teams; what strategies and tools Astound Commerce uses to manage distributed teams.

What is the Remote-first concept?

Remote-first means working remotely is the default. There could be remote employees and those who work from the office, and both are 100% equal. The company provides employees with all infrastructure and environment/administrative support.

At Astound Commerce we have been working with distributed teams for over a decade. Our delivery offices are in Ukraine, Colombia, Slovakia, India, Bulgaria and Turkey. That means engineers assigned to the project can be from any of these locations, and teams are built of people from different countries, speaking different languages.

Working with and within distributed teams isn`t easy, and as of last year, many companies have faced this matter.

Let’s look at some pros and cons of working in distributed teams:

Pros:

  1. More hiring opportunities. You are not limited by one location and can hire engineers with the required qualifications from any part of the world.
  2. Working from anywhere without damage to the project. Performance and team velocity stay on a high level.
  3. Flexible team staffing. You can engage any specialists you need, for certain types of work, from any office, when you need them. You have access to a complete pool of company resources.
  4. As the year 2020 showed us, remote-first teams have higher stress and risk resilience.

Cons:

  1. Lack of transparency. Insufficient transparency of the processes, estimation, aims, and the contribution of each employee to the project and to the overall work of the company.
  2. Narrow communication channel.
  3. Less involvement in the project.
  4. Time difference inconveniences.
  5. Language barrier. At Astound, we set English as a communicational language for all the documents and official communications. It is convenient, as anyone joining the project or the company can easily access all necessary information. Fare to note; there are still some miscommunications because English is the second or third language for most of the team.

How to set the processes within remote-first teams?

A detailed description of all processes is essential for the remote-first team. It gives each team member a clear understanding of what the company and a team lead expect from them, where to find the answers to certain questions, and how to handle issues if they occur.

Tools

I just want to point it out and give a quick recommendation—try to standardize the tools you use, minimize as much as you can, and make a standard Jira ticket-flow for all the projects in the company. It is more convenient for team members and makes them more productive; as they switch from one project to another—all the tools stay the same.

Example: In Jira, the status “resolved” may mean completely different things in various companies and even projects. For some engineers “resolve” can mean the task is ready for testing, for others—the task is ready for a code review, or the task is completed and can be closed. There are many options that probably will be misunderstood and might cause issues. To avoid this, settle on one specific meaning for the “resolved” status.

Onboarding

To make everything work properly, you need to set a clear onboarding process. At Astound Commerce we pay close attention to onboarding. For every newcomer, we have a timeline, a step-by-step guide of what needs to be done/learned on the first day, second day, first week, second week, and month. Each new member gets a mentor who helps to go through the onboarding process. Usually, a mentor is not the HR or a Team Lead, but a colleague with the same level of authority, who has been working in the company longer. It may be a crucial thing, especially in given realities and in remote-first teams.

Example: If you are a newcomer, working in the office, every time you have a question — you can just ask a colleague sitting next to you. But if you are a newcomer working from home or any other place and you’ve got a question, who will you address? This is why we have mentors.

We use the same approach for every person joining a project. There is a checklist in Confluence with detailed info for every project that every newcomer must complete.

The checklist comprises:

These well defined processes don’t only make the team members’ onboarding smoother, but they also give a project manager/team lead an understanding that if a team member has completed the checklist — they know most (all) of the information needed to start working on tasks.

How to build a team?

Onboarding is just one of the multiple tools used to turn an employee into a teammate. But building a team, instead of just a group of engineers, takes more steps and techniques.

Promotion

Why is it important?

I’ve witnessed a lot when specialists working in the company on-site or in a distributed team (more often with distributed teams) felt themselves invisible: couldn’t see the ways to grow, or didn’t know the path to receiving a promotion. In most cases these people are likely to leave, having got an offer for a higher position with better payment from other companies.

To avoid these situations, we have a transparent promotion process:

Communication

Communication is important. We all know that – we hear it everywhere. But what is really important – it’s organized communication.

I know people who work remotely and communication in their teams is just chaotic. They spend a lot of time on meetings they do not need, meetings that are completely unnecessary, just because their managers told them to do so. That leads to a loss of time.

In our team, we have a set number of tools for each communication, which helps us not to squander our time. For official mailing we use emails; Slack — for instant communications, where we create groups we need for a project, separate groups for engineers; for video calls, we use Zoom. And, by video calls I mean video calls, where everyone has their cameras turned on, so you can see the people you are talking to, whether it is your colleagues or clients, which makes communication more efficient.

Meeting notes

One of the key things to do after every group meeting — take notes. Write everything you agreed on: who does what and when. People may get interrupted during the meetings and may miss some important information. Notes help to follow up on all the discussions and agreements, so everyone has a clear idea of what’s next.

TIPS

Summarizing everything written above — here are suggestions that may improve your processes. You never really know unless you try.

In order for remote teams to operate smoothly and bring results, the company needs to have a clear set of tools, instructions for projects and ensure equal conditions for all team members. For project managers, it is important to set up the correct communication and build a relationship with the team.

At Astound Commerce we’ve been learning how to conduct the work in distributed teams for years. This experience helps us now to create a healthy and productive environment for each member.

If you want to become part of our team, send us your CV. (or >> check out open positions in Astound Commerce!)

We want to meet you in person!

Harnessing Tech Talent in Izmir

Astound Commerce, a leading digital commerce specialist, opened a few new offices around Europe and Asia back in 2019. Izmir, Turkey, was one of the selected locations due to its high potential in the field of technology.

With more than 3,000 successful projects for world-renowned brands such as Adidas, Louis Vuitton, L’Oréal, Puma, Ray-Ban, Neutrogena, and many more, Astound is determined to provide exemplary ecommerce solutions and customer-driven experiences for clients around the world. And with the İzmir Team’s contribution, the company upholds these goals.

Continue reading the following article to discover more details about Astound Commerce and it’s team in İzmir.

The initiative to open a new office in İzmir was brought up by the first employee of the Turkish team, Ozan Kulahci, who believed the company would derive benefits from building a strong team in this location.

“İzmir has much potential to explore in the field of technology. An international company, such as Astound Commerce, which functions on a world-class basis and aims to achieve the highest standards, could profit from a location with such high talent pools,” Ozan shares his thoughts. Doing what he loves at Astound, building complex and challenging ecommerce solutions, he knew there were more people in his hometown who shared this passion, which drove his initiative to open an office in Izmir.

Opening an office on the edge of the pandemic’s beginning proved troublesome. Safety measures had to be taken into consideration and the newly opened office was closed till further notice. However, with determination, the team of six Astounders continued working remotely. In the course of a year, the izmir Team already brought five big projects to a success; three with international fashion retailers—Boohoo, Accessorize, and Monsoon, and one with Halfords—a global retail store of hiking and vehicle equipment. “All of these projects were greatly enjoyable, as they required different approaches and allowed us to work with new technologies and people across the globe,” notes Ozan, “however, the first project was the biggest one for our team“.

The first and the biggest project came from Al-Futtaim, a large multi-industry company. Through this project, the izmir team undertook the challenge of collaborating with diverse, global brands, such as Toys“R”Us, M&S, Kiabi, ACE, and Homeworks. This experience allowed the team to work with cutting-edge technologies and build solutions for people of very different interests and cultures. “This was something that they’ve worked on the longest, but it was a rewarding experience, as working on a multicultural project helps the expansion of one’s perspective and skill,” Ozan tells us.

Astound works with a variety of platforms, however, most of the projects mentioned above were built with Salesforce; as Astound is a close partner of the company, with more than 15 years of Salesforce Commerce Cloud (SFCC) experience, Master and Platinum statuses and over 400 SFCC sites launched, Astound’s developers are known to build supreme solutions on SFCC. Many of our developers have already received SFCC certification, and the company continues to encourage others within the team to receive it too. Halil Can Ozcelik, Web Developer of the izmir team states, “it is a very important opportunity for my self-development, which the company provides, that I am able to apply for the SFCC Developer certification. And best of all––I know that I’ll have the necessary support from my management to do so.“

“At Astound, we help people grow and make sure everyone’s contribution and efforts are rewarded. It is important for us to see our employees interested and engaged in what they’re doing, alongside feeling appreciated for their efforts. Keeping the motivation levels high––that’s our secret to success! We have several implemented processes that help people advance further and gain the recognition they’ve earned,” notes Burcu Cosgun, an HR Specialist and Office Administrator of Astound Commerce in İzmir. One example of such processes would be our promotional process, which allows Astound’s team members to apply for promotion once they feel ready. After undergoing some technical and practical examinations, the request and performance are reviewed by management, and once approved—the person receives a promotion. The other process is the semi-annual performance review. This one automatically applies to every employee, every six months their performance and compensation are up for review, and in an earned case—they receive a promotion.

These processes are set in place to make sure all Astound employees receive the recognition and appreciation they deserve. And thanks to the collaborative culture of Astound, no challenge feels insurmountable. “The working process and culture at Astound Commerce is extremely professional and well-designed; the people are always here to help and support you when needed, you never feel alone when facing a challenge,” says Halil, “I also love working in a multicultural environment, communicating with people across the globe, who always have a lot of interesting insights and tips to share; that’s an advantage!“

“I’ve been working at Astound Commerce for three years now, started as a Senior Developer and became a web development lead, alongside a country manager, thanks to the supportive atmosphere and growth opportunities Astound provides. Till this day I am noticing the advancement of both my soft and hard skills on a daily basis. I find challenging projects more and more exciting; finding solutions to certain problems with collaborative and supportive people feels like an achievement both for me, and the team. This is what drives us all here at İzmir Team towards further development and achievements,” states Ozan Kulahci.

As the world is slowly but steadily recovering from the pandemic, Astound Commerce in Izmir has planned for 20 people to join their core team. Those 20 Astounders shall be teaching, coaching, and supporting newcomers, which are intended to be around 100 people in the years to come.

“At the Izmir office, we are experiencing the excitement of growing, despite the pandemic. Currently, we are considering opening our second office as we aim to recruit more people to join our team and share the passion of working on complex, yet exciting ecommerce solutions for the brands worldwide. I’d say that the main reason we never lack motivation is the way Astound Commerce makes every team member feel valued for their efforts and provides support for continuous personal and professional development. As an HR professional, it is great to feel a part of such a company and be able to directly contribute to the motivation and welfare of our team members,” notes Burcu.

Baris Dirim recently joined the team as a talent acquisition specialist, “It was very nice to feel trusted right from the beginning and receive the support needed for a productive onboarding. Without any strong supervision, I am able to work independently and feel welcome to express my thoughts and opinions; the environment allows anyone at Astound to freely express their ideas and contribute to any processes, be it a work structure, salary, or anything else. It is very evident that people here feel valued and respected,” he shares his first impression.

Astound Commerce is a leader in the field of ecommerce with over 20 years of experience, achievements, and teams across the continents of Europe, Asia, and North and South America, all actively collaborating and building ambitious solutions for worldwide brands. We have an objective and work towards becoming the world’s leading digital commerce services and solutions brand.

If you see yourself in this company, working with the Izmir Team and others across the globe, wanting to achieve new heights in your career and advance your skills to a cutting-edge level, head over to our site and apply for a position you’re interested in.

Astound COO/CIO Talks Delivery in Medellín

In June, it’s been five years since the Medellin office was established. So, we had a conversation with Ilya Vinogradsky, our COO/CIO, about what makes this team and location special and how Ilya envisions the future for this second largest Delivery location.

The office in Colombia, Medellin, was opened in 2016. How did you settle on Colombia as a new Delivery location? How did it all begin?

In 2015, we made a strategic decision to open a new engineering office. Eastern Europe had already been covered by that time — we had offices in Ukraine, Slovakia, and Bulgaria — so we needed to select a new location. Due to the time zone, convenient to work with North American clients, we started to think in the direction of South America. I began my research and soon came to the conclusion that large countries like Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina weren’t an option since lots of tech companies had already occupied the market. Next, I looked at smaller countries like Costa Rica, Uruguay, and Paraguay, and it was the other way round— too few potential candidates could be found there. So eventually, I settled on three mid-sized countries — Colombia, Peru, and Chile.

The more I researched them, the more I understood that Colombia would be a good choice. It was an up-and-coming country making significant investments into the IT industry. There were not that many tech companies there yet, but already good infrastructure, so we could invest our resources and energy there and create a team.

I was recommended to open our office, particularly in Medellin, and got introduced to an account manager at Agencia de Cooperación e Inversión de Medellín, a government organization that helped companies enter the local market. She and I had a few Skype calls, and soon Omar Jabbour, our general counsel, and I arrived in Medellin to meet her and the local legal, accounting, and tech representatives. We liked the city very much and decided to conclude our search and open the office in Medellin. Thus, in the summer of 2016, our first Colombian teammate, Juan Pablo Roldan Uribe, joined Astound Commerce in the new office.

Now, five years later, do you think you made the right choice back then, selecting Colombia?

Absolutely. Colombia has proven to be rich in skilled tech talent, and over these years, strong, experienced developers, designers, QA engineers, business analysts, and project managers joined us and have taken part in delivering solutions for our major clients. The Medellin team, now with over 70 people, has been an indispensable part of many of Astound’s projects.

What major projects have the Medellin team worked on?

Our project teams are distributed and multicultural. When assembling a team, we don’t aim to have them all working in one location, instead — we want their skills to complement one another so that each of them can bring their share of skills and experience to the project. This also benefits the team members — they learn from the global Astound team and grow both as people and professionals.

So, I can’t name particular projects that the Colombian team has worked solely on. But, some of the major ones that they have been part of were (or still are) for clients like El Palacio de Hierro, Grupo Charly, L’oreal, Urban Decay, Under Armor, Toys R Us, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Pepe Jeans, Puma, and TOMS.

How do you intend to further develop this location? Any talent acquisition plans? New offices opening?

Over the past year, the adoption of digital commerce has significantly increased. Our company has experienced considerable growth in demand for our services. We are well positioned to take advantage of this opportunity and leverage the tech talent market in Colombia. So yes, we plan to and have been expanding our current team.

As per the offices — with COVID-19, it is hard to say when we will be expanding our physical space. Sooner or later, we plan to move the team to a new office in Medellin, as we did in Kyiv. But again, it’s hard to be specific about the time.

The pandemic has changed the way we work and our attitude towards offices in particular. Once the initial quarantine restrictions were lifted, some team members realized they would like to keep working from home. So, now we work wherever we feel most comfortable, be it home or office.

With many team members working from home, are you now looking for remote talent?

Yes, for now, we are also searching for remote team members — and not only in Medellin. There are already several people working as remote specialists in Bogota. We are looking into other Latin American countries as well.

What level of experts are you looking to add to the team? And what positions?

Any level and all kinds of tech positions. New clients keep coming in, so we need project managers, QA engineers, JS developers, UI/UX designers, and business analysts to put together new project teams. And, now we have a significant number of people in Colombia who can coach and mentor junior specialists and assist them in learning our processes, adapting, and also feeling free to share their own ideas.

We’ve been open to hiring junior specialists, actually, for quite some time now. In 2019, we conducted JavaScript and QA BootCamps — two-month training programs with a focus on practice. They allowed us to discover potential talent that would be a good addition to our team. As a result, thirteen people joined Astound as trainees and have been working as junior specialists ever since. Some of them have been promoted to more senior levels.

Since we are in the active hiring mode at the moment, we are planning to conduct another QA BootCamp in September and a JavaScript Boot Camp in October. Actually the registration for JavaScript Boot Camp will be open by September 12. All interested individuals are welcome to apply!

In closing, have you got any words of inspiration for our Colombian colleagues?

Our Colombian office is strategically important for Astound. We will continue making significant investments into expanding our operations here. With the growth of the company overall and specifically in Colombia, each of you will have new exciting opportunities for personal and professional development, as well as for building new meaningful relationships with people around the globe. Thank you for your loyalty and commitment to our company, our clients, and each other. I hope to visit Colombia as soon as the pandemic guidelines allow me to do so.

Five Incredible Years in Medellín

The leading digital commerce specialist, Astound Commerce, expanded in Medellín, Colombia back in 2016. Since the founding of the company in 2000, Astound Commerce has provided more than 3000 ecommerce solutions to the world-renowned brands, such as Louis Vuitton, Adidas, L’Oréal, Allergan, Golden Goose and many others.

With much potential in the field of technology, opening an office in Medellín was a strategic decision to reach new talents. 5 years later, the team of approximately 70 experts have proved to be crucial to Astound’s success; they have been a part of project teams that provided exceptional solutions to major brands, like some mentioned above and Grupo Charly, Urban Decay, Ray-Ban, Oakley, Puma, TOMS and more.

The following article will speak in-depth about the team of Medellín, their work, growth and collective achievements.

Gradual Growth

The story of the Medellín team began with a small community of six Astounders, gathered in a compact government-owned co-working space of RutaN. The team members were drawn to Astound’s reputation and cultural diversity, allowing all to exchange knowledge and experience across the continents. The dedicated team engaged in various initiatives right from the beginning. While closely cooperating with each other, they built solutions for various brands, allowing the team to grow in skills and expertise. The team expanded and built up their expertise by working on projects for clients like Skinceuticals, Shu Uemura, Saloncentric, Oakley.

Jose Julian Betancur Nieto, who was one of the earliest employees at Astound in Medellín, says that over the years he has grown in many ways as a developer and a person, thanks to Astound’s cooperative atmosphere. “My stay in the company has overfilled my expectations. I have grown in many ways as a developer and a professional, mostly by the code review with my colleagues.”

Creating digital commerce solutions to deliver the best possible experience to consumers is something the team at Astound Commerce (AC) Medellín has been passionate about from the start.

“I want all those applications working perfectly in different languages, like Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, or for all kinds of devices that exist right now, and here at Astound I can put that love of perfection to use: facing challenges every day — how to adjust to new requirements, leverage new approaches and technologies, and code for new screens, like those touchable ones in the stores where a customer can test clothes with augmented reality” Julian comments on his everyday work.

At the moment, he is involved with Luxottica, the world’s largest manufacturer in the eyewear industry. The project encompasses creating an application, allowing consumers to entirely customize the products they’re interested in. “For this project, I have the opportunity to learn and work using a new technology for me (React-Redux)”. These kinds of projects pose an invigorating challenge to the team, requiring them to follow a high standard of coding, giving them the chance to further advance within their expertise.

Each successful project, that the team is a part of, receives a positive feedback from the clients, enhancing the company’s reputation and resulting in attracting new clients. Often, a new client means the team will have an opportunity to learn new technologies and adjust to new requirements, which advances the overall skill of the team and their capabilities.

“This is a never-ending learning experience, I have improved a lot of my skills, communication being one of them, which is an important skill to have in this kind of work environment. Sometimes, what comes naturally to you, might be foreign to others, there are a lot of things out there and it is important to be adaptive, especially when working with such an immense team. In terms of hard skills, I realize that there is something new to learn every passing day; with every new lesson, there are two more to get. For the moment, I am still learning the most I can from the SFCC, web technologies, and Quality Assurance on a daily basis.” Dixon Labarrera, a QA Engineer was actually one of the participants of a QA BootCamp, a training program that allowed anyone outside the company to learn the basics of Quality Assurance in practice for 2 months. Those who successfully passed the final tests could be, like Dixon, offered a trainee position at Astound.

It was after some time that the team had built some expertise and confidence and was ready to organize such capacity-building programs as BootCamps. The company launched JS and QA BootCamps, engaging people outside Astound and allowing them to network and learn from our experts. Such training programs allowed the participants to get certificates and, in case of successful passing of final tests, even join the company.

“Participating in the BootCamp was a life-changing opportunity and experience.
I come from a non-software/computer science background, have a mechanical engineering degree, so even though at that time I had some basic knowledge of programming, JavaScript and web development were not my strongest skills, therefore, the BootCamp was a golden ticket to improve my technical expertise and get my first IT job in this awesome company,”
 says Jose D Cardona, a Web Developer at Astound Commerce.

The well-structured methodology of the BootCamps, conducted by expert developers and QA engineers, helped the attendees to learn the in-depth concepts of JS and QA. “I have grown my hard skills of the QA profile which allows me to work with the technologies required to develop our ecommerce websites” notes Andres Morales, a QA Engineer at Astound Commerce. The project work and mentorship from Senior colleagues helped the trainees advance their skills and even exceed their limits. Jose D Cardona, who joined Astound Commerce through the BootCamp, grew from a Junior developer to a Middle one in under a year, and his current goal is to successfully get promoted to a Senior developer by the end of this year.

Medellín will host another BootCamp in September for the QA Engineers. Keep yourself updated with our social media profiles to not miss out on an opportunity once announced. Apply, or spread the word among your friends that might be interested.

Career Advancement

Astound Commerce cares for both the personal and professional progress of its employees, and so we provide all the necessary features for you to improve your skills and progress further in your sphere of work.

“The company motivates its team members to succeed by investing in their career development. I have regular calls with my Functional Manager in order to discuss any personal or career development topics, and I am receiving performance feedback and coaching accordingly. I also have a performance review every 6 months.” notes Jose D Cardona, a Web Developer at Astound Commerce.

With goals set in place, each employee is given an opportunity and support to reach their objectives and develop, and with a 6-month performance review, the management ensures all the Astounders have a possibility of career advancement. This system, alongside the training events, are set in place to make sure all of the team members reach their full potential. Astound Talks webinars are a good example of such events, they aim to build capacity within the company and share knowledge between our speakers and team and the experts outside Astound.

The active investment of resources in these activities proves beneficial for the growth of Astounders in all necessary aspects. The team members find points of improvement on a daily basis, and with the supportive team and management at hand, they are able to excel in their careers.

Juan Pablo Roldan Uribe is a good example of such progress. He began working as an Office Manager in Medellín, in under two years became an Engagement Manager, and currently is a Project Manager of AC Medellín. “It has been a learning experience since the start for me,” he states. The cooperative atmosphere of Astound Commerce allows all to exchange experience and knowledge, leading all employees to grow both in professional and personal aspects. And with frequent involvement in diverse challenges of various complexities, posed by the needs of our clients, the team members find exciting opportunities to learn from and grow.

Astounding Culture

Our team members benefit from the cultural diversity in the company, which brings professional diversity too, allowing for a healthy and progressive exchange of knowledge, approaches, and ways of thinking. We give the freedom for you to work independently and reach out to your teammates for support when necessary.

“The most important thing at Astound – is people, astounding people. Everyone is willing to support you to succeed, regardless of their position in the company. You are welcome to reach out to them at any needed time. Our team struggled at times with different challenges, but that is not something that will prevent us from moving forward as a team, since everyone is focused on doing their best, that’s why this company astounds” comments Felipe Chaves, Project Manager at AC Medellín.

Aside from strong teamwork, at Astound Commerce our Project Management Office has created an Astound Way Solution Framework (AWSF) to ensure a smooth work on projects. This system allows the team to match the needs of our clients by combining Solution Development Life Cycles (SDLCs) with different Process Models, making sure that all kinds of projects are delivered in an optimal and timely manner. “It was nice to see that we have this great framework, where we can apply the necessary processes for every project, according to its specific characteristics” Felipe Chaves expresses his thoughts, “we have been also provided with great communication and project management tools, which allow us to productively work remotely”.

Astound’s 1000+ B2B, B2C & B2B2C satisfied clients received their project handled at a high-quality thanks to the above-mentioned practices and a strong cooperative atmosphere of Astound Commerce. With such a collaborative space established, all employees feel confident about their role and are provided with the necessary communication and support at all stages of the project. “I have never felt alone at this job, but part of an excellent company with great colleagues,” continues Felipe.

Astound takes care of the work-life balance of the team. Often the company hosts local and global entertainment events, like Astound Walking Challenge or EURO-2020 Forecast Tournament, for the team members to enjoy the time with their colleagues.

“Having a rich life in professional and personal aspects is something I like the most at Astound. My work here is valued and respected; I can learn anything from coding approaches to new cultures at Astound. This is a place where I can construct my life according to my expectations” says Julian.

The flexible schedule allows all Astounders to enjoy a well-balanced professional life. Working from any remote destination enables the team members to enjoy the comforts of their own choosing and pursue their hobbies, as long as the work requirements are met. You can view more about the culture of Astound on our Instagram page.

The team now consists of 70 members, working from a large office in 808 Empresarial, in the heart of Medellín, or from any comfortable, remote destination. “I very much enjoy the atmosphere, my colleagues, at Astound create in Medellín. The working conditions are excellent, we can work from the office and from home, wherever we feel comfortable” states Carlos Arcila, Project Manager at Astound Commerce in Medellín.

The team now welcomes new members on board of AC Medellín, aiming to reach new heights and progress further with new projects.

A Year of Success in Ahmedabad

Astound Commerce, a brand of a vast cultural and professional diversity, opened an office in Ahmedabad, India around a year ago. The office, being located at the business landmark – Mondeal Heights, gives an advantage to all of the employees to the main urban and commercial hotspots of the city. The office soon became an environment of both personal and professional advancement to all the members of the Ahmedabad team.

‘’Most IT companies trust India for their outsource expansion, happening both due to large talent pools and extensive experience in technology on the market’’ states Deep Vora, Director & Senior Solution Architect at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad.

THE AHMEDABAD TEAM

With an ongoing ambition for growth, the Ahmedabad team currently has a strong arsenal of specialists. Ranging from Web Developers to Solution Architects, the team actively expands their expertise by welcoming new members and conducting training and certification activities.

The members of Astound Commerce work daily on projects of various industries. From fashion (Louis Vuitton), sport (Adidas), foods and beverages (Golden GooseM&Ms), cosmetics (L’Oréal) to pharmaceuticals (Allergan); the wide range of opportunities allow our team members to work with technologies and solutions they are truly passionate about. With more than 20 projects based on the SFCC platform under their belt, Ahmedabad team continues to contribute to the global success and progress of the company.

BoggiCalvin KleinPumaToms and many others are among those 1000+ satisfied clients of Astound Commerce.

All projects and initiatives are successfully delivered under a prolific use of Astound Way Solution Framework (AWSF), developed and sharpened by our Project Management Office (PMO). AWSF is a combination of multiple Solution Development Life Cycle (SDLC) and different process models. This system allows us to match the diverse needs of our clients by combining SDLCs with the supporting Process Models, ensuring projects of various complexity are delivered optimally and on time. Consequently, everything is well set up in the company and every employee is confident about their job, understanding all stages of solution development and their role in the final result.

THE COLLABORATIVE CULTURE

The employees of Astound Commerce in Ahmedabad value a cooperation with a team of diverse cultural and professional backgrounds. The company stretches its geographical extent through several continents, in 12 different countries, focusing on clients around the globe.

With more than 1200 employees company-wide, everyone has something to learn and teach; in Astound Commerceteamwork based on integrity, respect and passion will always result in shared success. People in the team managed to advance their expertise due to active collaboration and open knowledge-sharing practices.

I work with a lot of people from different cultures and having seen from what angles my colleagues look at tasks, I started thinking in a wider spectrum. My way of approaching the problem has improved and I can think of a lot of scenarios now.” tells us Deep Vora, Director & Senior Solution Architect at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad.

Opening a little more than a year ago, the Ahmedabad Team managed to start their work even during the restricting pandemic.

‘’As much as it generally is challenging to establish a strong sense of community and cooperation during the pandemic, Astound Commerce showed genuine interest and support in our wellbeing, resulting in a successful teamwork.’’ Juhi Trivedi, Web Developer at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad.

With a strong sense of community and responsibility, alongside a foundation based on a mutual vision, the team manages to persevere through the challenges. Establishing a strong team during the lockdown and remote cooperation stands as a strong example.

‘’It certainly enhances your career prospects when you cooperate with people of such vast and diverse experiences as the ones in Astound Commerce,’’ notes down Udit Shastri, Web Developer at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad.

And with the flexible schedule, anyone at Astound can work from anywhere, at any time. Most employees enjoy their hobbies effortlessly. Taking a walk during a sunny day, enjoying a breakfast at a cafe or at a picnic, all is possible if the job expectations are met. Take a look at our Instagram page to get some insider information.

‘’With Astound, I can create a schedule most suitable for my personal and professional needs. This flexibility allows me to balance work and life very well, sometimes I’m even surprised how many things I can get done during the day!” states Juhi Trivedi, Web Developer at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad.

THE JOINT ADVANCEMENT

The company management and leadership encourage their employees to advance their skills, and through Astound Academy various training programmes and activities are conducted. Most of our employees are SFCC certified developers, ensuring high-quality project and product development and delivery.

The online Astound Talks | SFCC Community Webinar conducted a few months back, was a knowledge sharing event for the external audience. It is aimed to unite the community of SFCC experts – Developers and Architects – who are interested in the industry-leading cloud platform. As Astound Commerce has a fairly long history of cooperation and partnership with Salesforce Company (15+ years of SFCC experience, Master and Platinum statuses, 400+ SFCC sites launched), such webinars are one more opportunity for knowledge exchange and meeting top-notch experts. Astound Commerce frequently conducts training sessions, which allow other IT enthusiasts to become specialists, giving them an opportunity to join our team.

Astound Commerce cares about the professional growth of its employees; The leadership establishes a set of goals each six months both for the team and independently for each member. Keeping such a progress system in mind, and with a good lead and guidance, the team members manage to reach their full potential at Astound.

The performance review and promotion process in Astound Commerce is a good opportunity to dive deeper into concepts of JS & SFCC, and a cross-cultural exchange on these technologies helps to broaden one’s horizon.” mentions Udit Shastri, who got promoted from a Middle, to a Senior Web Developer.

The company also excels at personal advancement, through active cooperation between the team members, who are ready to assist each other and share useful experiences to benefit the work process and progress.

Aside from conducting training and capacity-building events, the team also often enjoys teambuilding and entertaining programmes, such as online Zumba Dance Classes, and self-development trainings, such as Theoretical & Practical Sessions of Health and Fitness.

THE CONCLUSION

With more than 1000 B2B, B2C & B2B2C clients company-wideAstound Commerce strives towards further achievements. And the team of Ahmedabad became an indispensable part of that goal.

The team currently welcomes new members to join their ranks. An opportunity for all to progress in both soft and hard skills, alongside advance in their career prospects.

‘’The working culture Astound Commerce offers, yields great benefits for both personal and professional growth,’’ states Ronak Pandya, who serves as an HR and Recruitment Specialist at Astound Commerce Ahmedabad for a couple of years.

If you would like to take the next big step in your career, apply to Astound Commerce’s open positionsJoin a global brand from Ahmedabad, India. You can be the next driving force of a positive change in our success.

Cultural Diversity Makes Us Stronger

Astound Commerce is a home to talents of various cultural origins. People of six different ethnic backgrounds often have to become a close-knit team to work together on a project. And, while sometimes understanding each other takes time and patience, our different mentalities and temperaments seem to complement one another in our work for clients. Our differences become our strengths, ultimately contributing to successful results.

However, getting along with people from all over the world is a skill that needs nurturing. And, if you are confused as to where to start, go ahead and follow these steps:

1. Accept the difference

We are all different, yet we often expect everyone else to be like us. And if they don’t do the things our way, we assume there is something wrong with them. If you start communication expecting the person to be just like you, most likely you will face some misunderstandings. While, accepting that we are different and that we actually do things differently may lead to discovering we have lots in common.

2. Show an interest

Most of us ­appreciate people who show an interest in our culture. You may not know a lot (or anything) about certain cultures, and it’s totally ok. Just let people know upfront that your knowledge is limited but you are eager to learn more. Moreover, showing an interest will not only help you start conversation, but also avoid stereotypes and find the common ground easily.

3. Be patient

Yes, we use English for cross-cultural communication. Different levels of English proficiency can impact the level of understanding and the quality of talk in general. Subconsciously we are seeking communication with the people we understand well, and we are likely to overlook those whose English is not as good (or as bad) as ours. So it should be our choice to be equally patient with those who speak differently:
– speak slowly and encourage participation of people who are not confident about their English,
– and don’t be shy to ask for clarification while talking to native speakers.
Remember: everybody wants to be understood!

4. Listen to understand

We often listen to somebody and don’t hear what they are saying. We either interrupt, present our view right away or even jump to wrong conclusions. If you’d like to understand a person from a different culture, let them finish their stories to learn more about their experiences, to hear what conclusions they drew and how those experiences made them feel. And only after that you are welcome to share your opinion or a similar experience. This scenario is extremely helpful, so try it out!

4. Find similarities in being different

Even though we are different, it doesn’t hinder us from having lots in common. There’s a chance that both you and your colleague can’t live without music and yes, the music you like can be different. You might read different books, but treat literature with the same passion. You can share love (or hate) for sports or wish that today was already Friday and still have different plans for the evening. You are from different cultures, but might have the same problems. And this is what helps us bond despite our differences. We are all different, but a little bit the same no matter where we come from.

“The search for understanding our cultural diversity makes us strong, because it reminds us that we are humans, that sometimes trust takes time and patience, but with respect and clarity in our common goals, we gain that transparency and affection, and that makes us thrive.”

Tatiana Jaramillo
Project Manager, Colombia