Heiðdís Rut Hreinsdóttir of Genuity Science is standing in front of a window and smiling into the camera.
Heiðdís Rut Hreinsdóttir. Image: Genuity Science

How this Icelandic software developer is leading her team remotely

7 Dec 2020

Heiðdís Rut Hreinsdóttir, development team lead at Genuity Science, describes a typical day in her working life as she collaborates with colleagues in Iceland and Ireland.

As development team lead at Genuity Science’s Reykjavik base, Heiðdís Rut Hreinsdóttir enjoys getting to balance people management with hands-on project work.

Here, she talks about a typical day in her role at the company, and how she has been liaising with colleagues in Iceland, Ireland and the US during the pandemic.

‘I really enjoy the fact that each day brings its own unique tasks to solve’

What is your role within Genuity Science?

My role within Genuity Science focuses on enabling my team in successfully achieving key results. One of the perks of being a part of a relatively small software department means I get to regularly put on my software engineering hat and be more hands-on in our projects.

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

I really enjoy the fact that each day brings its own unique tasks to solve and no day really is typical. Working within an agile framework does, however, give a certain structure to every day, depending on the day of the week or project cycles.

Each day starts with a stand-up meeting where we quickly review the status of our ongoing projects and identify and resolve any blockers. I will then usually attend a number of meetings on various matters, be it brainstorming sessions on technical problems or reporting on project progress to stakeholders.

It’s important to me to try and get in a quick daily walk. Nothing like breathing in the cold Icelandic air to clear your mind and reset your focus for a productive afternoon.

What types of projects do you work on?

The cohort team is responsible for helping to solve cohort analysis problems programmatically. This means we are involved in all projects that have to do with extracting, transfer and loading of data onto the Genuity Science platform.

In addition, we develop and maintain analysis tools, enabling users to run analysis such as PLINK, SAIGE and SKAT on large datasets as well as exploring and visualising the results on our platform.

What skills do you use on a daily basis?

In a company like Genuity Science, communication is the absolute key. We have a broad range of expertise distributed across our offices, in multiple different time zones, that all need to come together to achieve our combined goals.

In addition, our industry calls for being able to quickly adapt to new technologies and look for alternative methods to problem solving as many of our biggest challenges have yet to be solved.

What is the hardest part of your working day?

Achieving balance between meetings and obtaining deep focus to work on projects is the eternal struggle. Company-wide initiatives like meeting-free Wednesdays have really helped a lot on that front.

Collaboration across multiple different time zones can also be challenging at times. Although I have to say it is oddly satisfying to complete something at the end of your day for someone who is only beginning theirs.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the working day?

I find it very helpful to actively schedule periods of deep focus, where you turn off all Slack and email notifications and turn on the Pomodoro timer.

Miro boards have also proven to be super helpful for productive remote meetings where you need to brainstorm and visualise – especially during these strange times.

And also, coffee!

When you first started this job, what were you most surprised to learn was important in the role?

Being able to quickly adapt, have good communication skills and the ability to think on your feet as you never know what kinds of challenges might be facing you on a given day.

How has this role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?

The team lead role at Genuity Science is very dynamic and is heavily impacted by the project being solved at a given time, so you could say it evolves with each new project.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

I really enjoy being able to work within this exciting, fast-growing field and having amazingly talented co-workers that teach me something new every day.

It is also tremendously rewarding to be able to enjoy the double bottom line; to get to be even just a small piece in the big picture of improving people’s lives through genomics.

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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