Five Incredible Years in Medellín

Author: Astound Careers

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.

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