Aleksandra Wojciechowska joined Sii Poland in Poznań as a test and analysis engineer in 2012. Currently, she is the HR Operations Manager in Lublin responsible for the entire area of HR and Worker Administration in the region where nearly 600 people are employed. Thanks to a grant from the Sii Power Volunteers Program, together with the Przed Czasem Foundation, of which she is a co-founder and vice-president, she runs a large social project for families with premature babies. Read how she took advantage of the opportunities offered by Sii Poland created by the company while carrying out its mission of supporting employees.
You started working at Sii in Poznań as an application tester. How did you get into this position?
I’ve spent the last year of my studies at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań as part of an inter-university exchange. When I was planning to move from Lublin, it turned out that I would also have enough time to work. As I had experience in testing applications from my previous job, I applied to Sii for the position of a Tester. I remember spending the last weeks of my vacation in Spain, where I successfully completed the recruitment process 100% remotely. After returning to Poland, I had a conversation with the client and on September 12, 2012, I started working at Sii Poznań.
At that time, the branch in Poznań have consisted of several dozen people, and the back office departments began to develop dynamically. When did you make the decision to change your position?
Just at that moment, after my short experience in testing, I realized that my place is definitely closer to people than IT applications and that the tester’s career is not for me.
It was then that Natalia Buczel, director of the Poznań branch, gave me a chance to prove myself in my back office duties. For the next few months I have been responsible for the reception and office management. Direct contact with people has been giving me great satisfaction and I was getting more and more confident that this is what I’m really good at. At the same time, I also managed my other tasks such as arranging activities for our employees, communication tasks or meetings with candidates pretty well and I wanted to develop further in this area.
And just then another opportunity arose. A branch was to be established in Lublin, which had to be organized from scratch. I decided to come back to my hometown and take part in building a new site.
You moved to Lublin in 2013 – what was your role?
At this time my career path was already dedicated to activities in the areas of HR, recruitment and administration. As the first recruitment and HR specialist in Lublin, I had the pleasure of onboarding all the first employees of the branch. My knowledge of our organization model in Poznań, as well as my previous experience, helped me a lot. After literally a few months, along with the development of the Lublin branch, I was promoted to the head of the local Recruitment and HR department. Working on the implementation of Sii’s mission in the area related to HR is what fulfills me the most.
In 2016, when the recruitment and HR departments were separated in our company, I focused on the HR area. Initially, on behalf of HQ, I was responsible for HR processes and tools for managers and employees such as job evaluation system, Job Changer application and worker rating. From September 2020, I’m responsible for the HR Operations area in Lublin, where I manage a team of seven. Together, we take care of comprehensive HR services for employees in our location: from handling formal issues related to employment, through the area of interest groups, events and passions, to issues related to development, project changes and training.
You are one of those people who completely changed their career path. How would you evaluate development opportunities at Sii?
Sii is a huge and diverse organization that gives you plenty of opportunities. While working in HR for years, I observe careers of many people who have gone through various professional paths, and often those paths aren’t obvious. It happens that people working in the area of HR, marketing or administration work a lot with the Internal IT department on the business analysis of internal applications or are later involved in testing them and, strongly inspired by these tasks, decide to try their hand at being a Power User or Product Owner. Another example – engineers from technical positions in projects carried out for clients, are often promoted at Sii to internal projects or enter the business path, e.g. in sales. And my case shows that it’s possible to change a technical position into the HR area. At the same time, I’m glad that I have this experience of working as an engineer in a project for a client, because it also allows me to better understand the people for whom I currently work and better understand our organization.
Passion and motivation to act are also important. Your case shows that you can transform any experience into something positive that pushes you forward.
I try, because the worst thing is to sit idly and complain that something is wrong and it make us feel down. Opportunities for making things better are at our reach, we just need to take action. That’s why a made a move when I found out that the role of a tester didn’t suit me, and I also have this attitude in my private life.
Our whole world got turned upside down in 2018 when my son, Jaś, was born – over 2 months early. And it wasn’t long till I realized that there was no help for families like ours. Together with other parents of premature babies, we noticed great needs in the area of psychological support (many parents struggle with PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder) or the need for specialist care for premature babies (most medical appointments are private visits). Being on maternity leave, I felt that I wanted to help parents like me! I started working with the hospital where Jasiek was born and established a hospital support group. In 2020, together with Marta Kościk, who has several years of experience in physiotherapy of premature babies, we decided to register the Przed Czasem Foundation. As a two-person team that knows the subject of prematurity from the perspective of a parent and a specialist, we have been successfully helping parents of premature babies from the Lublin region for over a year.
As a person actively looking for opportunities to make a change, in the last call for the Sii Power Volunteers Program, you applied for a grant for the Przed Czasem Foundation, of which you are a co-founder and vice-president. What is the grant intended for?
Thanks to it, we can refund the costs of further specialist visits for premature babies. Parents of premature babies who are under 3 years of age can apply for help. We get feedback from parents that this type of support is a real relief for the home budget and allows them to cover at least some of the costs of private visits. So far, 20 children have received help, and ultimately we plan to help at least 30 children. Although the Foundation helps mainly locally, Sii employees from all over Poland can benefit from the help from the Sii Power Volunteers grant. The first part of the funds has already been used and the second one will be recruited in August.
In addition, together with Sii Power Volunteers, we organize a Family Picnic for the local community. During our event, we will be handing out materials on the subject of prematurity and information on the help available for parents of those little warriors. During the event, there will be attractions for children, plastic classes with a sensory integration therapist, instructions from a physiotherapist on the proper care of a newborn, and a babywearing workshop. Sii Power Volunteers have already helped to promote the Family Picnic and will support the Foundation throughout the event.
In the Sii Power Volunteers Program, we often use the slogan “together we can do more”. How do you perceive it?
Considering the scale of our company – together we actually can do more. But I also feel that thanks to Sii I myself can do more! I believe that this Program is a great initiative and its meaning for our change leaders, social activists and volunteers is not to be underestimated. Especially that at Sii we have a lot of really social aware and engaged people. They work actively for the benefit of local communities, fight for the those in need in their area, work for various NGOs and they know where the help is most needed! The program doesn’t impose specific projects “from above”, but supports and implements initiatives of employees, thus ensuring their full commitment. Thanks to this approach, I personally feel that Sii really supports me and I am proud of our joint activities.
If you want to work at Sii and together with Sii Power Volunteers work for the benefit of society, check out our job offers!