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Blog Post

Living Our Values: Creativity is in our DNA

Optiva software engineers share experiences working in a creative culture and how it sparks collaboration, innovation, and career growth.

Technical know-how is no longer enough to solve complex problems in software

engineering. You can study every book and know every line of code, but true innovation isn’t possible without a spark of creativity. That spark is what makes a career in engineering so worthwhile. You don’t learn a trade, so you can do the same thing over and over. You learn it so that you can create something new.

W.B. Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” And that fire must be kindled and nurtured. Unfortunately, work environments are not always set up to achieve this. Creativity is not easy to measure or define, so most businesses trust that it will come. But it doesn’t always.

Optiva, we recognize the importance of creativity. As an engineering-led company, we know that creativity needs room to grow to solve problems and create innovative new applications. That means giving our employees the time, space, and tools they need to fully explore their ideas and share them with the broader team. It’s what makes us tick as a business.

Creativity isn’t a box to check. Instead, it’s something that we work to nurture across our entire organization by focusing on three central creative pillars.

Pillar 1: People

When we say creativity is in our DNA, we really mean that it’s in yours. We’re just good at nurturing it and empowering you to use it. Our people are everything, and we work hard to create environments that are open, flexible, and built on trust.

“Optiva strongly believes in trusting its employees to get the job done. Many companies claim to have flexible working, but Optiva follows through. The hierarchy here is also very flat, which means you’ll regularly be in meetings with team leaders and department heads who work just as hard as you on solving problems and getting things done. If you have an idea during a meeting, speak up, and you’ll be thanked for it — it’s that kind of environment.

There is no strict time-logging either, and Optiva is more interested in what you can do than when you do it.

I work remotely, but I feel more part of a team than I think I ever have before. In part, that’s because the company is so open with its staff. Every new employee has access to resources and projects across the whole organization. You can log in and view another team’s project, leave comments, and make recommendations. They can do the same for whatever you’re working on. If you have a curious mind and want to be part of a company that lets you put that curiosity to use, Optiva is a perfect fit.”

– Nikhil Rana, Principal Engineer

Pillar 2: Processes

We’re an engineering-led company, so we’ve thought about processes. Unlike the solutions we build,

creativity can’t be built by rules. So our process for creativity is agile and constantly evolving. Meetings are open forums, employees are given the time and space to think, and when your colleagues recognize a good idea, they’ll help you follow through on it. Even if it doesn’t pan out, the pursuit itself is an incredible learning experience for everyone involved.

“Optiva wants to make life better for engineers. They want to remove the traditional barriers and let engineers do what they do best — innovate, create, and solve problems. You’ll experience that whether you’re working in Belfast, Bangalore, or remote. In our department, for instance, we have an optional weekly session called an “FYI” where we invite everybody to share what they’ve been working on. It could be a project within the company, or something completely different they’ve been working on in their spare time. It’s a chance for engineers to share ideas they think are cool and interesting.

If an employee has an idea, they might kick it up to their department lead, who might kick it up to the CTO. It’s not unusual for the CTO to sit down with engineers and discuss their ideas to see how they might be developed. So, there is a creative process at Optiva, but it’s flexible and open. Otherwise, it would defeat the purpose. There’s no right or wrong way to innovate.”

– Brian Walsh, Software Development Manager

Pillar 3: Products

After people and processes come products. We don’t think creativity should stop at any point during a development lifecycle. The time is always right for a great idea. Even if that idea can’t be actioned in the current project, it can be actioned on the next one.

“As a software architect with a background in microservices, Java, and cloud-based applications, the opportunities at Optiva and the freedom to express new ideas have been intoxicating. Taking a product through to its conclusion isn’t the A-to-B journey you might be used to at other companies. It might start at B, then over G before arriving back at A, but it’s always well managed and ensures that solutions are designed with the maximum level of input from the team.

At no point do you ever feel like you can’t suggest an alternative way of doing things, and for someone working in the dark arts of software engineering, that’s a rare and valuable thing. At Optiva, you’re always advancing, always getting better, always putting one foot in front of the other. If I ever leave the company, I know for sure that I’ll leave a better software architect than when I joined.”

– Umut Sahin, Software Architect

We have teams all around the world. Instead of seeing that as a challenge to overcome like most businesses, we see it as an opportunity for creativity. We’re not limited by geography, which means our employees can interact with a wider base of like-minded creative talent across oceans and time zones. Collaboration, cross-learning, and cross-training all benefit from this, and each new team member has access to the best people and resources.

Creativity is in our DNA, and it’s only there because of you. If you’d like to join our team, check out our available roles and get in touch to learn more.


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