Taking Karina to coffee

Meet Karina Paula-Freimane, Emergn Scrum Master! She proves you don’t need to be extrovert at all to be a rockstar at this occupation and actually enjoy that, even though communication plays such a huge role. You just must be very good at time management and also not to forget to recharge yourself. How is she doing that? Spending her weekends on wheels – going on adventures in her caravan and exploring Latvia with her family.

What’s your role at Emergn, and how long have you been with the company?

I am a Scrum Master, and joined Emergn 3 years ago. To be honest, during my career many people have been curious to ask what the Scrum Master is doing. So, shortly speaking, it’s a servant leader for the development team, with the main responsibility to remove any burdens standing in the way of the team to deliver the right product, at the right time, in the most effective way.

What do you think is necessary for someone to do during their first year at Emergn to be successful here?

I’ll speak about the scrum master position, as it’s obviously the one I know the best. So, for a scrum master to succeed at Emergn or any other company, possessing an empathy is essential. To understand others, tolerate different opinions, and to be willing to help solve their challenges. Also, other soft skills are important, especially communication. However, you don’t need to be an extrovert. For example, I’d rather call myself an introverted person, but with the right attitude and effective time management I can genuinely say that I enjoy this role.

Outside of work, what’s one thing people should know about you? An interesting hobby, a unique passion, etc.?

It’s always been traveling that I’ve enjoyed the most. And the more active, the better – hiking, diving, you name it! Also, during the lockdown and travel restrictions me and my husband found a way to go on adventures. Last autumn we bought a caravan and now each weekend we spend it outside the city, exploring Latvia. There are so many wonderful places for caravans to camp in Latvia, mostly at the seaside, by lakes, and other beautiful landmarks. I especially recommend all the beaches between Riga and Estonia; they all are amazing. Another cool thing about traveling with a home on wheels, you always meet other families with similar interests, especially kids who are the ones who will make friends on every step they go.

If you were a piece of productivity software, which one would you be and why?

Ok, so this one is easy for me. I would be a Feedback Form. It’s awesome for the development team to hear the feedback from the end user after the product is launched. The team is putting in so much work, energy, and time to create the right product for the customer, so it feels like our precious baby whom we have cherished so much. So, instead of relying on feedback we receive from other channels (as our clients mostly are not the end users), we can reach the end user via these forms.

What’s the most exciting challenge in the work you do?

It’s all about the communication between people with different characters, mindsets, and professional experiences. Teammates will not always be on the same page, different opinions arise, which is great, as it fosters growth. Still, it’s all about how to effectively manage the disagreements. So, for me as a scrum master, it’s very important to find the right key and trigger for each person, to make the teamwork a success. And when I say success, I mean people enjoying what they do and who they are with, and actually having a smooth workflow, with no struggles because of the miscommunication. I see them smiling during daily stand-ups, sharing their ideas and thoughts with no burdens in their way.

I have worked in many teams, some of them were local, some international. Now it’s a team with amazing people from Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, Portugal, and Romania. I can certainly say, for a scrum master it’s much easier to work in an international environment. The reason for that – they already come to the room with much more empathy because they are aware of the different cultures, backgrounds, and experiences. So, by default they are trying to understand and find the real reasons for teammate’s arguments.

What’s one way you live out The Emergn Way? What does it mean to you?

For me personally, the principle “we care for and invest in people” is very important. Also, it correlates with Agile principle: “Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment and support they need and trust them to get the job done”. We cannot build anything without the right people, who are motivated, and keen doing their best to exceed the expectations. When being motivated, people bring their best to the work. They are proactive and generate great ideas. I honestly can’t imagine how it would be to work for a company that doesn’t work according to this principle.

Emergn is a global company with employees all over the world! If someone were to visit Latvia, where would you take them?

There is a place in Latvia, by the Baltic Sea, called “Veczemju Cliffs”. There are huge stones in the beach and the water, there are sand caves, and a lovely pine forest in the dune area. It’s not enough with spending one day there, you must enjoy the surroundings slowly, with no rush. So that would be one weekend spent on this spectacular place, cooking on fire, watching the sun rising, and going into the sea and having fun together.