Charles CallawayTechnical writer User Guide NetEye

Could you describe your job at Würth Phoenix

As a technical writer, I'm in charge of creating the software user guide for our NetEye product. This principally requires working closely with software developers as they write code so that the user guide is always correct, complete and up to date. I also work with support staff and consultants to ensure that specific causes of customer confusion are addressed in future updates, and with product managers to plan for upcoming projects, since we work on a periodic release schedule.

Could you give me a short description of your daily activities?

Our developers work with the Agile methodology, which among other things institutes a set of methods like the Kanban and Backlog Refinement for maintaining control over and deciding on priorities for ongoing software projects, and a series of fixed meetings like Stand Up and Retrospectives to ensure that problems we face are fully addressed.

The day usually starts with one or more of these meetings, followed by work on the highest priority tasks of the day. For me that's usually seeing how the devs have designed a solution and putting that into words which users will understand. Late in the afternoon we take the time to address problems stemming from outside our group. And then there are always emergencies that turn your day upside down!

What aspect of your job is the most fun?

As a native English speaker in a world of Italian and German speakers, I get to both teach and learn about multiple languages all day long. And having interesting and playful colleagues only makes it better.

It's Monday morning... but nevertheless you´re happy because...

Well, besides the fact that I'm an optimistic, always happy person in general, I know that the work I do every day is going to appear in a final product that will help other people do their jobs better. There's something tangible that I can point to. So for me, Monday is the same as Friday and every day in between.

What's your recipe for a great work-life balance?

Keep them separate! But mainly, plan ahead. Emergencies at work, the kind that take time away from your personal activities, happen most often because there was a problem that you could have addressed, but either didn't or forgot to. You also need to properly estimate how long your work will take. A lot of problems in software development stem from overpromising, since you definitely know how much time you should be at work each week.

What does living and working in Bolzano mean to you?

I work in Bolzano (a German speaking area), but commute almost half an hour from farther south, where they speak Italian. Driving that much is not my favorite part of the day, but the daily view of the Alps is fantastic. My Facebook friends who don't live here are rather jealous when they see pictures of me hiking and skiing with the caption, "Just 30 minutes from my front door!"

The best ever highlight for you at Würth Phoenix was...?

Planning, leading, and implementing an internal project with a small group that we then presented at our monthly business unit meeting. Better than the presentation was that we automated away an utterly boring (but important) daily task that nobody missed doing manually when it was gone.

What career did your parents wish you had followed?

My parents never put pressure on me. I always did well in school, so I think they were happy to let me do my own thing. Education in general was more important than doing anything specific.

Your boss is...

Thoroughly knowledgeable about every single technical aspect of the projects our group works on. It's also great that he's accessible and willing to hear your opinion out when you disagree or have an alternate solution to a problem.

What thrills or inspires you? In your job? In your daily life?

The best aspect of my job is seeing the concrete results of my work and knowing that it helps other people. Maybe "thrilling" isn't the best word for it, but it's definitely a great feeling.

The nicest compliment you've ever received at work was...

My favorite is the simple "Great job!" no matter what the language. Sometimes it's not even words: the German tradition is having everyone in the room knock loudly on the table (instead of applause).

Würth Phoenix is different, because...

There's a lot of thought and planning put into decisions here. It's great not having to redo work you've already done. There's also an emphasis on being trusted to do your job the way you see fit as long as you show you can do it, but with significant support and training available when you feel you need it.