Portrait of Samuli Kostamo

The level of responsibility given to an engineer seems to be significantly higher here compared to my previous employers.

It was autumn 2019 and I found myself in the middle of a complicated company demerger separating my then employer from the parent company and bringing a lot of uncertainty to my career furthermore removing all the international promotion possibilities from my future. Couple of my former colleagues had earlier joined Framery and tried to lure me in as well. One of them tried again just when I had started to think about the possibility of switching lanes.

There were no open positions in Framery R&D at that time, but I decided to give it a shot. When a total of 2 out of 2 of my former colleagues working here assured me that Framery was hands down the best company they’d ever worked for, I felt that I just had to see it myself. So, I applied. I tried to sell myself to a complete stranger via email with no open job description, to an industry I had absolutely no track record in and to work on a product range I was completely clueless about.

In short, I vaguely laid out all my key assets and outlined two requirements for my future employment:

  1. While I am applying for a mechanical designer position, I am not looking for a monotone, 9-5 technical drawing rubber stamp job.
  2. For the sake of my employment and the results the employer gets from me, I need challenge.

And boy what I got. Two days after the email, my phone rang, and our People & Culture team wanted to meet. I met them and the R&D management and shortly after that had a meeting with our CEO Samu and Head of Products Lasse. In a week from the initial contact, I had signed the contract. Aside from the insane speed Framery made the decision about my employment, what really struck me in the process was that we spent as much time discussing my competences for the job as figuring out whether I’d really fit the team and company as a person. It was full 60 minutes of Samu and Lasse gouging my personality and trying to get me to be as introspective as possible about my behavior as a part of a team and in different social settings. After a year spent working for Framery, with so many different people, I can attest that this part of the interview process is both crucial and works wonders.

The Framery R&D process is undoubtedly the most aggressive approach to research, development and productization I’ve ever taken part in.

From the get-go, working at Framery has been a dynamic, challenging and rewarding experience and throughout my first year as a Framerian, my responsibilities as an R&D Engineer have been on a steady upward incline. It was made sure that I knew all the right people, was familiar with the product and especially the company culture. As soon as the introductory phase started to fade out, I was given my projects with full personal responsibility. Being trusted like that often promotes productivity and drive, and it did that for me too.

The insanely rapid growth of the company, and thus also Framery R&D means that employee career paths are on a fast track as well. Since new teams emerge frequently and the combination of product and market know-how can rarely be bought in this business, it often makes more sense to fill in the new positions by advancing the existing employees’ careers. While turnkey recruitments of specifically skilled professionals are still frequently made when necessary, from my perspective it seems that people switch roles in-house much more often compared with my previous employers.

This happened to me too. Early on, I made it clear that I’d like to broaden my perspective when it comes to designing complete products. I’m inherently interested in the broader design scheme and it just so happened that the design subsets I ended up being responsible for, had interfaces with most of the major components of the pods. Somewhat accidentally I ended up becoming familiar with the components outside of my scope and this led to an increased amount of co-operation with the other R&D Engineers and being able to brainstorm solutions with them but also having a say in the design outcome they produced. I immediately knew that this was going to the right direction. During the feedback session of my 6-month trial period we discussed about my future, and I carefully expressed that I’d like to become a Chief Engineer somewhere in the future. Six months after that timid suggestion, it happened.

As soon as the introductory phase started to fade out, I was given my projects with full personal responsibility. Being trusted like that often promotes productivity and drive, and it did that for me too.

Framery is about brilliant people and great company culture. While the personal responsibility given is huge, that does not mean you must work alone. Help and advice is eagerly given whenever needed. People truly work towards shared goals and no one is driving their personal agenda by trying to keep their innovations and knowledge to themselves. I personally like to stress test my own ideas and brainstorm new ones with others. This works especially well while working among such a talented group of openminded and cross-disciplinary people. The Framerians across functional borders are very solution-oriented and instead of focusing on mistakes we focus on the positive. This all stems from understanding and accepting the fact that people will make mistakes, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. When mistakes happen, we don’t blame anyone but rather try to analyze what we learned from that attempt and what we should do next. Getting selected as the world’s 46th best workplace for innovators doesn’t happen by chance!

The Framery R&D process is undoubtedly the most aggressive approach to research, development and productization I’ve ever taken part in. This does not only mean tight schedules, but also that everything we do must strive for excellence. The high-speed, high demand atmosphere has forced me out of my comfort zone right from the beginning. I’ve had to accept that I can’t do everything alone and there are people, that are better skilled for some tasks that are involved in my projects. I’ve had to learn how to understand my own limitations and delegate tasks that aren’t effective use of my time since someone else will do it better and faster. In regards to time management, I’ve become much more skilled in juggling between different meetings, prototyping, R&D work and everything that inevitably happens in-between.

Aside from the organic personal development, my desires for personal academic development are often inquired by my superiors. Whether I want to learn and understand more of acoustics or personal time management, Framery supports me in finding the correct means for me to learn. For sure I have developed my competences more by just working here, but I love the idea that in case I wanted to enroll on a C-programming course, and it would only be distantly beneficial in my work, I could – as Framery fully supports my development!

When I applied to Framery, my biggest concern was whether the design and development of a furniture could be complicated enough to be interesting. And the answer is yes, IT CAN. In new product development engineers often lean towards the manufacturing methods and approaches they are most familiar with and that already sets some rules for the scope of possible implementations. When conceptualizing a new solution for a specific function, there are no rules for the allowable implementations. I say this knowing, that every engineer inherently realizes that there are limitations that arise from the functional requirements and legislation when it comes to selecting the manufacturing approach. My point is that the limiting factor is never the fact that no one has ever done that before. I’ve had to adopt so many different design approaches for different manufacturing methods that I’ve lost count in a year spent here. If you’re looking for variety, you’re in for a treat! Partly because we boldly do things nobody has ever done before, there is something for everyone when it comes to mechanical and electrical engineering topics. The responsibility areas are built around your own expertise and roles change shape as you develop.

Although the work is challenging and demanding – and hours are often long – Framery does everything to make my life at work as pleasant as possible.

The level of responsibility given to an engineer seems to be significantly higher here compared to my previous employers. This means you are responsible for producing a design for a component or an artefact, that fulfills the set requirements as well as implementing it with the supply chain and the supplier. This also means that you get to call the shots. While you are encouraged to share and stress test your ideas and solutions with other engineers, your expertise is trusted and your opinion over the design is highly appreciated. At Framery I’ve never been in a situation in which my solutions would have been vetoed without explanation just because someone higher up says so. People will challenge you here, but they will also respect your argumentation.

My favorite Framery value is the pursuit of happiness. Although the work is challenging and demanding – and hours are often long – Framery does everything to make my life at work as pleasant as possible. When selling happiness to customers, you first need to make sure your own employees are happy.

Samuli Kostamo, Chief Engineer

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