A Day in the Solstie Life: Dot Potkonjak, Functional Principal

When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I help enterprises identify their digital strategies and deliver solutions for their customers. I could also say that I come to work every day and build cool stuff with smart and inspiring people who have become some of my closest friends.  

I have been at Solstice for more than five years, and I started out in a quality assurance (QA) role for one of our biggest clients. Then, I moved from testing into a product analyst role, helping define interactions and requirements, before I became the team’s scrum master. I love that I’ve had the opportunity to try out multiple roles because it’s helped me understand the day-to-day struggles that people in different disciplines face. This understanding truly enables me to be more helpful and empathetic to the team’s needs.  

As a scrum master, my role is to make sure my team is happy and has everything they need to deliver intuitive designs, quality solutions, and meaningful client research. Every day is novel and serves up its own unique challenges, which is one of the reasons I love what I do. 

 

7 AM: Alarm goes Off

Snooze.

7:30 AM: Alarm goes Off (Again!)

Okay, I’m up. I make coffee and listen to a podcast while I’m getting ready for the day. My current podcast rotation includes The Dropout, The Moth, and Dear Franklin Jones

9 AM: Arrive at Solstice & Plan for the Day 

I try to be heads down before my first meeting, so I can finalize and prioritize my to-do list for the day. I have been known to be a little crazy about my color-coded to-do lists, but crossing off an accomplishment is one of my favorite things. (You can’t see it, but I just crossed this item off of my list!)  

9:43 AM: Head to Stand Up 

I walk past the IT-iki Bar on my way to morning stand up. Solstice has the best IT team in North America — probably in the world.

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9:45 AM: Stand Up

Every morning, my team meets for 15 minutes to talk about what we did the day before, what we plan to do today, and any blockers we might have that are keeping us from getting our jobs done.

As a scrum master, eliminating blockers for the team is one of my key responsibilities. During this time, I identify what I can do to take any burdens off of the team and how I can help them out if any problems arise. We make this meeting a little more entertaining with a daily question. Today’s fun question: “If your pointer fingers could shoot out condiments, which two would you pick?” I’m not sure that everyone likes this question as much as I do, but I did learn that one of my teammates considers dish soap a condiment.   

10:30 AM: Sprint Planning

At the beginning of our project, the team implemented an effective design and product refinement process in which we worked with the client to define a feature and then talk internally about how to technically implement everything.

By the time we get to sprint planning, we hope there will be no surprises or changes to our plan, so it’s usually a quick gut check to confirm the team is comfortable with the workload for the next two weeks. We pride ourselves on never going over 10 minutes. (Seriously, they time me.) 

10:45 AMMore Coffee 

Enough said. 

11 AM: Team Demo

Every two weeks, we sit down with a larger group of client stakeholders to walk through everything that was delivered in our last sprint. We answer any questions that they might have and get feedback. This is the time to show off the great work the development team has done, and the demo lets the client see the product come to life a little more.

12 PMLunch

Our team is split between our Chicago and Buenos Aires offices, and at the beginning of our project, we made a few team agreements — one being to avoid scheduling meetings over each other’s lunch breaks, which is one of my favorites. Although sometimes working through lunch is unavoidable, it’s nice to take time to reset and catch up with the awesome people who work here. Today is a monthly birthday lunch, and The Café is packed.

1:30 PM: Team Retrospective

At the end of each sprint, we take an hour to talk through what we think went well and what we can improve. Without fail, someone draws a giant, obnoxious shark on the whiteboard to remind us to think about things we should watch out for. Everyone has time to talk. Then, as a team, we come up with three action items for the upcoming two weeks so that we are constantly improving. This week’s items include planning a team outing, making team laptop stickers, and adding one round of review to every pull request. Things are going pretty well, but then…

2:30 PM: Dentist Appointment

3 PMSocial Committee

Social Committee promotes the growth of relationships across countries, offices, disciplines, and teams to advance our extraordinary culture. Today, we are talking about how to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day and Bring Your Kid to Work Day. This year, Bring Your Kid to Work day falls on the perfect date — April 25. “It’s neither too hot nor too cold; all you need is a light jacket."

 

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4:30 PMTeam Meeting

Once a week, the whole office comes together to discuss updates, celebrate recent wins, and watch teams’ recent demos of work they’ve done. Today, the meeting’s theme is spring break, so leis and grass skirts are everywhere. Our new hires walk around with a beverage buggy to offer beer, wine, and LaCroix to the masses and to introduce themselves. 

5:30 PMCommute

After wrapping up a handful of things and catching up with a couple fellow Solsties, I hop on the Blue Line toward home.

 

6:30 PMSettle In

Depending on my day, my nights can look really different. Now that it’s starting to get nicer outside, I try to avoid just settling in with Netflix (although I am rewatching Game of Thrones). Some evenings, I take woodworking and figure drawing classes. Tonight, though, I think I’ll cook dinner for my friends or take a yoga class before heading to bed.

 

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Dot recently moved from HQ in Chicago to join our NYC office. Do you want to work alongside Dot in one of our global locations? Check out our careers page for more information and to apply.