Skip to content

At the moment, VALA is consists of 107 people. These 107 people work within various fields, from test automation to customer management, software development to people operations and test management to DevOps.

Working in a business that is not time- or location-specific, we have to find innovative ways of:

  1. Sharing knowledge and learning from each other.
  2. Getting inspired and motivating each other.
  3. Offering both emotional and technical support to each other.

One of the most transformative solutions to this challenge, have been the communities within VALA, that have been sprouting up like mushrooms in the rain during the previous year or two. These communities are made up of people who share a similar interest, and want to meet up to workshop various topics within the realm of their passion. VALA people can belong to as many communities as they want, and anyone can create a new community around their interest of choice. 

In this three post blog series, we will hear from the brave VALA people, who act as community facilitators. We will hear their thoughts and stories on why the community exists and what the future holds for each community. The three blogs cover the following communities: 

  1. Mhub (Quality Assurance) & ACE (Automation)
  2. DevOps, AI (Artificial Intelligence) & SDC (Software Development)
  3. Bizzcult (Business & Culture) & People skills

In this second post we’ll cover the DevOps-, AI- and SDC-communities


DevOps Community Facilitator Tomi Knuuttila

Hi Tomi! Let’s start off with a philosophical one. Why does the DevOps community exist? 

The idea actually started taking shape when I talked about it with Otso, VALA’s creative director, at the gym in Sörnäinen. I was contemplating an equivalent community of what M-hub was for QA specialists, for people interested in DevOps and software development. I sensed there might be a need and interest for further DevOps related skills and development.

Who is the community for?

Basically for anyone interested in DevOps related topics or tech. Many of the workshops don’t require previous experience, but sometimes we go very deep into a specific topic, and even I fall off the wagon on what the hell we’re talking about.

What emotion does the word DevOps conjure in you?

Somewhat contradictory emotions. I truly believe in the ethos and objectives of DevOps. However, I find it frustrating when it’s used as a buzzword, and the term is used to rebrand something, without actually reconstructing the old ways of working. 

Albeit, the term DevOps is rather abstract, and this can cause difficulty in adapting it.

In your opinion, Is DevOps more about tech or culture?

For me, it’s more of a cultural transformation.

What’s your best memory from the community? 

At the end of last year, we had a workshop hosted together with Siili’s SALabs. It was fun to break organizational walls between VALA and Siili, and hear about the projects SALabs has been working on. 

Food of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

You know me, preferably anything vegan. Kippo has great sandwiches and smoothies.

Drink of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

VALA’s own VAPA beer, duh.

What does the future of the community look like?

Hopefully we’ll have new enthusiastic participants, who are interested in the overall development of the community.

Instead of the community taking place through workshops, it could be more present in our daily work and daily communication between participants. The objective would be that no one has to know everything, but rather, everyone knows who knows what. This way, information and knowledge can be shared more fluently within the company.

Any workshop topics for the future?

I’ve been looking into infrastructure as a code (IaC). I believe there will be a growing need for it in the future, and it could be something the DevOps community delves into at some point.

If DevOps would go on an excursion, where would you like it to go?

DevOps days 2021!

Great, thank you Tomi for your time! Good luck with the revolution.


AI Community facilitator Aku Siekkinen

Hi Aku! Hope your day’s been swell so far. Now let’s begin. Why does the AI community exist? 

The community actually just sprung from my own interest towards artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). I had recently started working at VALA and I wanted to find out whether there were other people within VALA who shared my interests, and possibly wanted to share knowledge on AI and ML related solutions. So, I arranged the first introductory workshop and the popularity of the first workshop actually surprised me. 

Does the community tackle work-related challenges, or is it more to do with participants’ personal interests?

AI and ML are hot topics at the moment in our field, and they have the immense potential to be utilized in the automation solutions we provide to our customers as well. So we ought to be looking into and expanding our knowledge around these, but I want us to do it collectively in a relaxed manner before heading guns blazing to customer meetings.

Before thinking too big, I wanted to create a more relaxed hobby-based community to research the possibilities further. All knowledge is useful and at the very least, this community provides its members with some general knowledge and skills around AI and ML.

Who is the community for?

The community is basically for everyone interested, but at the moment, we are planning on how to approach the community objectives with a smaller core group of people, who are willing to actually start solving ML related challenges, not just attend presentations.

However, after the core group has completed some of the ML related challenges, we can present them to everyone else interested at VALA.

Cool. What would you wish the community to look like a year from now?

Plan is we will have developed some AI/ML solutions and dug deeper into the topics with the core group. We could even already have customer projects in which we utilize the methods or solutions. 

At some point, I’d possibly also like to deepen our cooperation with Siili on the matter, and combine forces in providing AI combined automation solutions to our customers. 

What topics interest you most as workshop topics?

Natural language processing (NLP) is something I’d love to dig deeper into. The field has taken huge leaps in the past couple of years giving promising solutions from which it is possible to develop applications and services.

Reinforcement learning, one of the basic machine learning paradigms, is another topic that I wish to develop my knowledge on.

Wow. Do you happen to have an AI related movie I could watch to broaden my knowledge on? 

Hmm. I recently watched the documentary AlphaGo, which I recommend. It’s about the The DeepMind Challenge Match in South Korea — a Go battle between a legendary Go master and an AI challenger. 

Thanks. Food of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

Vegetarian-based, as it’s been so far. 

What costumed theme would you choose for the AI community’s Christmas party? Options: A. Westworld, B. A.I. Artificial Intelligence, C. Wall-E, D. Blade Runner.

Wall-E themed.

Good call. And lastly, let’s settle this. Who’d win in a freestyle wrestling match, Robocop or Terminator?

Tough one. I’d have to say Terminator. Arnold tends to kick ass. 

And do you have any last words?

We are currently looking for new excited core members to join the AI community, so if all this resonates with you, you’re very welcome to join! 

Thanks Aku!


SDC facilitator Tatu Helande

Hi Tatu! The SDC community is at it’s very first steps but nevertheless, I’ll fire the difficult ones at you. Why does the community exist? 

To get people interested in software development together, and to create an environment where people get to know each other and learn from each other. Would also be cool if the participants had the ability to try out things they aren’t able to do in their current customer projects.

Who is the community for?

For everyone.

Are you required to be a software developer to be able to take part?

No, I don’t see why you should. The only prerequisite is to have an interest in software development.

Food of choice during the community workshop intermissions?

Hmm.. maybe Levant or Daddy Greens.

What does the future of the community look like?

Whatever VALA people want the community to look like and whatever they find useful. 

Does the community have any objectives or internal projects? 

I want to avoid dictating what the community does and which direction it develops into. If VALA people have a need for a tool of some sort, it could be fun to develop it together with the community. 

Best and worst thing about being a software developer?

The best thing about being a software developer is creating and developing things in cooperation with other people. However, the worst thing about being a software developer is ironically that often, you are actually tackling challenges on your own. 

That’s almost poetic. What superpower would you like to have?

I’d like the power to understand all foreign languages.

Good one. If the community would take an excursion somewhere, where would you like to go?

Again, I want to avoid dictating anything, so whatever people wish for and find useful. If people like taking part in hackathons, we could do that. Frontend Developer Love is an interesting looking event taking place in Amsterdam, which could be fun to attend as a group. 

It’ll be interesting to see what shape SDC takes in the future! Thank you Tatu, I’ll let you get back to it!