Nortal Spotlight: Villy Salem

by Nortal Cloud team, October 12, 2020

In honor of the Nortal 20 Year anniversary in October, we interviewed Villy Salem, one of our globetrotting Senior Software Engineers that has worked in both Estonia and the U.S. office. Learn about his experience about working across different countries and cultures in the interview below.

How long have you been with Nortal?

“I have been with Nortal for two years. I was in the Estonian office for over a year and the U.S. for about seven months.”

Why did you want to move to the U.S. Nortal office?

“I wanted to try working in a different environment. Nortal offers excellent opportunities for working abroad and it would have been a shame not to take advantage of that. I have been interested in the U.S. work culture for awhile since it’s pretty interesting. One of our big projects I am working on is only in Estonia, Lithuania, and the U.S. so I wanted to be able to see it across different countries.”

How has your experience working in the U.S. differed from Estonia? How have the experiences been similar?

“I happened to arrive a couple weeks before the pandemic forced everyone to shelter-in-place, so it has been a pretty different experience for me because I have never worked from home for this long. Otherwise, the company culture is similar in people’s lighthearted attitude and a close-knit team. Seeing the similarities between the locations makes me feel good that I work at Nortal.”

What is your favorite part of your day on your current project?

“I like to be able to focus on a single problem at a time for a good portion of my day, which usually happens in the early morning or early evening. Taking the time to diligently plan, analyze, or report on a project is my favorite part of the day.”

Which technologies are your favorite to work with and why? 

“I really like to work on different areas of software development and being able to alternate between technologies. As time goes on, I find it more refreshing to switch around the tools I work with since there are endless technologies to explore within the field and I want to continue growing.

Overall, I prefer backend development and Java because they are pretty strict compared to some other languages. This means that you can’t deviate too much from industry-accepted conventions. For this reason it is also a great language for beginners.”

Which traits do you think are the most important for success in transferring office locations?

“I think you have to balance between being flexible and adventurous. You have to be prepared to spend a long time from home by putting a plan in place that will help you stay in contact with friends and family since time zones vary.”

What does an ideal project look like for you?

“An ideal project would be where I am able to work on a variety of technologies. I think one of the most interesting parts of my job is designing and integrating different technologies within one project. In terms of location, it’s easier to have everyone in one location, but Nortal is good at the hybrid delivery model.”

What’s your favorite Nortal memory?

“I remember one time in 2019 when I was attending the Nortal Gala in Tartu, we had a live singer and they spent the evening playing songs that Nortal employees had requested. One of the most requested tracks was “Sandstorm” by Darude. Surprisingly, the band performed the entire thing so that was pretty fun.”

What are some successful tactics you have been using to stay in communication with colleagues in a different time zone in Estonia? 

“It helps to be flexible in terms of working hours because if you are having to attend meetings with offshore people there isn’t going to be a perfect time that suits everybody. Even if there is a good time, availability is usually short so these windows have to be really efficient. It also really helps to keep colleagues updated and write hand-offs so everything is communicated.”

You can learn more about Villy on his LinkedIn and find out more about life at Nortal on our website