Building a Stronger Team

It’s time to delve into the depths of knowledge sharing and software. And try to figure out why we bother organizing our own three-day conference and fly in our developers from all over Norway.

“There are fundamental changes in IT every single year, so in order to stay relevant you have to constantly learn something new. We want Equinor Developer Conference (EDC) to be an arena where you can both learn something new and share your knowledge with your colleagues,” Pål Grønås Drange tells us.

He’s one of IT’s leading advisors, with an emphasis on competence building and knowledge sharing. With great responsibility comes great power, so naturally he’s the head honcho and chief organizer of EDC.



"It's far too late for us to say that we're outdated and need to learn something new in 5 or 10 years time. We have to do it now."

Pål Grønås Drange

Pål Grønås Drange belives that software developers have to continually evolve and keep learning

And in order to update yourself you might have to look out into the outside world to find people with the right talents or skills. But just as important is looking inwards at your own experiences. 

“We’ve hired a lot of IT graduates recently and it’s especially important that we make sure they’re a part of the discussion. We have to find out and talk about what’s worked previously and what hasn’t worked. It’s about communication,” Pål says.

While he might be the head organizer, he’s far from alone working on EDC. All of Software Innovation’s leading advisors play a role of sorts, either in the organizing committee or the program committee.

“We want to make sure that we have a programme that caters to our daily work, but also give an opportunity to learn more about completely new topics in longer sessions,” Thorvald Johannessen tells us.

Photo of six men smiling while sitting in a sofa during EDC 2019
Meet the brains behind the EDC operation: Pål Grønås Drange (left), Thorvald Johannessen, Øyvind Rønne, Lars Kåre Skjørestad, Jørn Ølmheim & Kristian Flikka.
(Photo: Torstein Lund Eik)

Equinor Developer Conference '18

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3 Conference Days

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5 Talks & Keynotes

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165 Participants

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8 Workshops

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19 Presenters

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5 Language Sessions

Happy Little Coincidences

Where the aim of the keynotes and talks were to be useful in current or upcoming discussions in the company, the workshops were to give them the chance to learn something new.

“We tried to create a theme for people to learn more in, which this year was about API’s, product development, design thinking, agile and more. The aim was to give people the opportunity to follow a set “course” in subjects that are connected to each other,” Thorvald says.

But the speakers were also completely free to discard that completely and choose whatever you like. 

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“Usually, all of our speakers and hosts say that they had fun doing it. Also, the sense of community grows more when we’re a bunch of colleagues working together and having fun creating a conference like this one."

Thorvald Johannessen
 

Most of the posts on the conference programme were held by Equinor’s own people, who wanted to share their skills with others. The organizing team tries to stay up to date on who’s working on what and then ask them directly.

“It’s becoming easier and easier to get people to host a workshop for each passing year,” he says.

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Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like playing with LEGO. It also helps to get into a design-thinking mindset. Photo: Marte Lien Leangen/Equinor
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All parts of the Omnia Radix team were hard at work helping out during their workshop. Here, Jonas Sørensen is helping workshoppers. Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor

Nothing makes you feel like a kid again like playing with LEGO. It also helps to get into a design-thinking mindset. Photo: Marte Lien Leangen/Equinor

All parts of the Omnia Radix team were hard at work helping out during their workshop. Here, Jonas Sørensen is helping workshoppers. Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor

Creating a Community

One very popular workshop this year came to be by pure coincidence when Thorvald visited the Stavanger office.

“I was standing by the coffee maker and discussing 3D-printing with some colleagues. Then, Carsten walked by and someone told me he’d been doing a bit of it. So I simply asked him if he would hold a workshop, and he agreed to do it right then and there,” he says.

Who’s Carsten you ask? None other than Equinor’s Vice President IT – but he wasn’t asked because of his title or standing, it was simply coincidence.

“We didn’t have that more “physical workshop” that day and really needed it. That was the reason I asked him. But the fact that our own VP agrees to do it tells me that he thinks the conference is important. I’m really happy that he agreed to do it,” Thorvald says.

Our VP IT Carsten Falk Hammershøj explains the importance of spending time to improve yourself. (Video: Torstein Lund Eik)

After all, everyone in Software Innovation have the opportunity to spend up to 20% of their time on gaining new competence. You can do it either through learning from others or sharing your own knowledge with your colleagues.

During the Developer Survey presentation at EDC Carsten was clear on his expectations around actually using this time to expand your skills.  

"We have to work as one unit and it's crucial that we developers have an arena for communication and discussions. We need to lower the bar for reaching out to each other, which I believe we achieve with EDC."

Pål Grønås Drange

It’s not cheap to host 165 people over a three-day conference but Pål believes that it’s worth it, and not just in the long run. One of EDC’s biggest advantages are the discussions and talks that happen outside of the conference rooms.

“When the “smalltalk” happens is when you might learn about what your colleagues are struggling with or what they’ve accomplished. They might be problems your team is facing or a problem that your team has solved, and in turn you can help each other,” Pål says.

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The informal and casual conversations during a conference can be a welcome break from lectures and workshops. Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor
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Taking someone else's instructions of a LEGO figurine and assembling it from that can be a challenging task. But Pier (left) and Dag Frode seemed to really have the hang of it Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor

The informal and casual conversations during a conference can be a welcome break from lectures and workshops. Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor

Taking someone else's instructions of a LEGO figurine and assembling it from that can be a challenging task. But Pier (left) and Dag Frode seemed to really have the hang of it Photo: Torstein Lund Eik/Equinor

Working Towards a Common Goal

Software development may be a relatively small discipline within Equinor but that doesn’t mean it’s not an important one.

“There’s a lot of digitalization happening these days and many have rather strong opinions about it. This means it’s important for us to be taken seriously as a discipline. Which is easier to do when you’re a larger group helping each other on a common goal,” Magrete Torland, Sector Manager of Software Innovation, says.

She hopes that the other attendees share her experience of this year’s EDC as a fun and interesting event:



“I hope that everyone left the conference with a little boost and an extra bit of motivation. Both in terms of the social aspect and in terms of their work. Maybe they even got inspired to work in new ways?"

Magrete Torland

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“I had a lot of fun at EDC and thought there was a good mix between technical workshops, talks and social settings. I hope I wasn’t the only one who felt that way,” Magrete adds.

If you’re regretting not making it to this year’s Equinor Developer Conference there’s no reason to fret. The EDC committee is already working on raising the bar even further for next year.

Maybe we'll see you there?

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People

Meet the Software Innovation team that made EDC 2018 a reality.

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Pål Grønås Drange

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Øyvind Rønne

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Thorvald Johannesen

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Jørn Ølmheim

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Kristian Flikka

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Lars Kåre Skjørestad

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