June 16, 2020
One fine day in April, 2020, a new chapter in my life started. Armagan Amcalar reached out to me. He asked me whether I had time for a chat and that he had something exciting to share with me. As an avid networker and fan of Armagan’s work there was no question of not having that call. On the contrary, I was super curious and eager to hear more!
I arrived kind of early and awkwardly wobbled around the food offerings. You see, I live with severe food intolerances and it’s challenging to find options from pre-made food that I am able to digest. While I was indecisively hovering over the table, Armagan approached me with his signature gait and confident stride.
I had watched the first installment as a video beforehand as to be prepared for the content of the second meetup. So I immediately recognized him. Reaching out my hand (mind you, this was pre-Corona!) I greeted him with an enthusiastic “you’re Armagan, right?”. Him being him, he smiled his broad smile and proceeded to engulf me in a cloud of welcoming vibes. We started chatting about the course, his background and what motivated him to help so many students get into tech. It would be an understatement to say that I was impressed.
We loosely stayed in touch over the following months. When I became a People Lead in Engineering shortly after, Armagan’s likes on my tweets soared. It felt like we were kindred spirits. Him being an engineering manager at Wayfair, me being a People Lead at Signavio. Slightly different perspectives, the same challenges, aligned outlook. Armagan might never realize this but his likes and messages encouraged me immensely. He became a low-key mentor and cheerleader for me.
So when he got in touch I didn’t hesitate one bit. Apart from the fact that I relish regular exchanges with people from my network I felt like we would have a fruitful exchange. And boy, did that prove true. We arranged to have a call on a Saturday evening. I vividly remember that the weather was not bright on that day, but the mood was.
In the call, Armagan unveiled his next project to me - Coyotiv. With his experience as an engineering manager, team leader and product enthusiast, Armagan had a vision. He wanted to change and challenge how we look at engineering at the moment and help make it better for future generations to come. In short, he was about to set up an engineering hub.
How can you adequately describe fire in the eyes of a person? To this day, I feel it is an absolute challenge to encapsulate someone’s passion and dedication in mere words. Armagan is such a person. He can capture your dedication, to say the least.
Ultimately, and that was the kernel of the call, he wanted me to come on board to support the growing expansion of Coyotiv. The company was to get started with a bootcamp and first products and bit by bit expand its client rota and offerings. For me, there was no doubt in my mind. I had to get with it!
There were many things that stood out to me at Coyotiv, with two taking center stage. First of all, the company is about diversity. We all know that diverse teams increase innovation and thus, the bottom line. Going forward, I don’t want to work in an atmosphere where that is not part and parcel of everything a company does. Armagan lives and breathes diversity which is evident in the team he has gathered. But more on that later. The other aspect that I care about is the potential of change in tech. We see what is going wrong and we need to flip the switch. Urgently. Armagan and Coyotiv embody that for me. Principles are good when they work for those who apply them. If they don’t, who’s keeping you from going a different route?
From that epic day forward, I have been supporting Coyotiv as an advisor. As it is the case with startups, you tend to work on all levels - strategic, operational, tactical. From strategy design to redacting texts on the website, I immersed myself into the adventure.
What stood out even more for me, though, was meeting the Coyotiv team. Armagan has this seemingly magical knack for assembling astoundingly qualified people. My perception on this comes from the point of view that they have all had amazing careers so far and bring talents to the table that I didn’t even know humans could possess. Yet the most magnetic aspect is that all of them are genuinely wonderful people. They all show respect on eye-level, mutual appreciation and humour. The latter point, to me, is probably decisive in a way.
Over the course of the last weeks, I had telephone calls with project managers who move people and budgets from an unimaginably challenging standpoint. I talked to CTOs who rose through the ranks quickly because of their people gift. I met product managers who give triathletes a bad name. I heard the story of programmers who taught themselves and are now becoming experienced craftspeople. They are what makes Coyotiv.
Coyotiv obviously comes from coyotes and they can be solitary animals at times. Nonetheless, coyotes form smaller packs and support each other, especially during hard times. In our shared calls - where we play a game called “2 facts, one lie” - I have found my coyote pack. And I can’t wait to continue working with all of them.
Currently, we are on the brink of starting with our very first coding course. We define it as “school of software engineering”, as we base it on the principles of craftspersonship. Learning is a journey, just like the coyotes’ travels, and we support our students in acquiring the skills they need to be successful out there in the tech world. We bring in our expertise and experiences, and coach everyone to forge their own path. This is chapter 1, and there are many more chapters to come. Stay tuned.