After reading a number of invitations I learned to predict if I would truly enjoy the time taking an interview and finding out interesting facts about an organisation. Probably the most important factor is a mood of a letter. You feel it with your fibres when an author sincerely loves the company, is proud of it and very excited to let everyone know more. Karin works at Netlight and her letter had all of those.

Netlight is an IT consultancy. “No, not one more”, some of you may say. I already wrote about several organisations which are either IT consultancies or IT contractors. Nevertheless I encourage to keep reading. As all organisations before Netlight is different and exciting altogether.

When a consultant joins a team on customer premises the whole Netlight joins the customer. Consultants are gateways to a great amount of expertise and knowledge hold by more than 600 people working at Netlight. To achieve this the consultants spend a lot of time building large network of connections inside the company.

After signing a contract you get a list of 10-15 colleagues you are advised to have a lunch with. Through a series of lunches you get to know more people and the people get to know you: your interests, your hobbies, your past experience. You get answers to many questions about the company and receive many advices whom you’d better to have a lunch with.

Interactions through lunches is a core element of the Netlight’s culture.

Any time you ask your colleague a question you get a reply or an advice to have a lunch with another person who may know more. Jennifer, one of several Netlighters I talked to, said that you post a question in Slack and in about 15 minutes your have several suggestions and advices. The employees are very open and eager to meet and help each other.

Consultants at Netlight work “alone” at customer premises: in contrast to Futurice or Reaktor they do not form teams of consultants. With such approach in place consultants could work without a face-to-face interactions with their colleagues for quite a long period of time and lose a feeling of the company. To prevent this from happening there are weekly events, mostly organised by employees themselves. Formats and topics are various: from technology meetups to knitting lovers gatherings.

Moving up the career ladder takes place along with an experience growth and a readiness of a consultant to handle more responsibility. It’s important to mention that there are no departments, divisions and even teams at Netlight. Basically they have no supervisor — subordinate relation. When a consultant moves to the next step she is expected to do additional tasks apart from working with clients, like mentoring, education, supporting of her colleagues.

To calculate a salary size they use a salary formula known to everyone. The parameters in the formula are universal but their values differ at each step. The locations of consultants on the career ladder are also public so salaries at Netlight are 100% transparent. By the way, the formula doesn’t contain any parameters, related to an individual performance — only company-wide performance. The consultants on the same career step have equal salaries despite of a number of hours each of them bill clients.

The career ladder has nine or ten steps and the last one is a Partner. Don’t be confused by the name. Partners at Netlight do not differ from employees on other steps but for slightly higher coefficients in the salary formula. The partnership doesn’t bring them safety stocks.

Their compensation is not tied to the performance of their subordinates because there are no subordinates :).

The career ladder model genuinely reflects their business model. It was naturally for me to ask how it works for people playing supportive roles like IT, office care, legal experts and etc.

Indeed, said Jennifer, we did have difficulties in this area. People were less engaged because they didn’t see how their work is correlated with the success of the company

For the supportive roles they ended up with a traditional hierarchical structure with people working in teams and being lead by COO. People in those roles developed a strong identity and are proud of being “linchpins” of the company. Jennifer said,

Don’t get me wrong. The consultants understand the value of our support team perfectly and very thankful for their great job. There are no two competitive camps.

CEO doesn’t play an important role at Netlight. All strategic decisions are done collectively by partners. There are 17 of them at the time of writing. Not sure about you but I would be very interested to see how this process looks like!

Thank you very much, Karin Mosskin and Jennifer Råsten, for organising my visit to Netlight. It was a pleasure to listen to you for several hours and be constantly surprised by how your work.