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Saab Australia

  • 1,000 - 50,000 employees

Caitlin Kramer

Caitlin Kramer studied Robotic Engineering (Honours) at Flinders University and is now a Graduate Engineer at Saab Australia.

7.00 AM

The alarm goes off

Despite how ridiculously comfortable I am, by this time of morning my bedroom is filled with natural light. The brightness of the day and my favorite soundtrack score playing (my alarm tune) motivates me to roll over, turn it off and get out of bed. 

Normally I would get up much earlier than this, but working from home has allowed me to be more flexible, and at the moment I need to be as well rested as possible. I have settled for a consistent wake up time (even on weekends) and I find this helps me get up straight away on work days. 

I pick some music on Spotify, place on my noise-cancelling headphones, and wander into my office. Still in my pajamas I log onto my two computers: one for Saab and the other for the company I’ve been contracted to. 

There are three work email inboxes I need to monitor, so at this point in the morning I like to double check I haven’t missed anything important or urgent. I don’t read any of the new or existing emails; but I list any important things I want to follow up and estimate the urgency of emails I need to read, reply to, and/or send. There is little point sending any now, because there isn’t many people at work yet, but this quick analysis shows me I can catch-up and send out all the emails I want to within 20-30 minutes. I really don’t want to spend longer than that, because emails are a tool for me to do my job, not my job. 
I then check my calendar’s to make sure there isn’t any meetings I had forgotten about. Sure enough, there is a Saab Social Club monthly meeting.

10.30 AM 

Wondering where the last month has gone, I wonder back out of my office and proceed with making breakfast.

7.45 AM

I officially start work

Now fed, washed and dressed, I sit back down at my desk. I am now in work mode. I know that I am a morning person, so this time in the morning is where I feel most efficient. None of the emails I considered earlier were urgent, so they can wait until after my meetings. Instead, I’ll focus on the work I need to get done before the sprint ends next week.

My team works as close to the ‘Agile’ approach as we can, and we are still refining our processes; but at the moment, every fortnight we allocate the next fortnights worth of work. So today, I know exactly what is expected of me to complete and by when. At the moment, I feel pretty confident I can get it all done because I helped estimate and refine my allocated tasks. I know both how to do the work and where to seek examples if I get lost. 

Yesterday I was dealing with a bug in my code which I just couldn’t fix. I was getting quite irritated and flustered in the afternoon because I just wanted it to work, so this morning I spend a few minutes clearing the waters.

With some music playing beside me, I recreate the problem and step through the code; trying to pinpoint the exact point where my code is breaking. 

Yesterday, in the heat of the moment, I had been randomly trying anything I could think of. Now, I have given myself some time to try and define what the actual problem is. That way, even if I can’t solve it this morning, I will be able to explain the problem the best I can during the daily team stand-up meeting. In the past I have found talking through the problem has often helped: either I realise my mistake, or someone in my team experienced the same thing and know how to fix it. There are always exceptions, but my gut feeling is that this bug is a simple misunderstanding on my part (which can be the trickiest problem to pin-point). 

9.00 AM

Getting back on track

After cleaning my code, stepping through it section-by-section and researching the error messages; I find that my code was breaking earlier than I realised. So the problem I had been hacking and slashing to fix yesterday wasn’t the problem at all. Luckily, this was a simple misuse of a variable. I had assumed I could use it in a way I couldn’t, but it didn’t break the code there, it was only when I was using it later that the errors were cropping up. 

Feeling satisfied that my code finally compiles properly again. I sit back and reevaluate where I am at. Originally, I had been hoping to get this work into review yesterday afternoon. As it stands, there is one minor feature I want implemented before I can do that. It’s not a problem, I can get that done before stand-up.

Before I knuckle down, I take a few minutes to prepare for stand-up. Since there is no longer anything blocking me, the main points I need to discuss is what I achieved yesterday and what goals I intend to achieve today.
I write a couple quick dot points about yesterday, including the brief hold-up I resolved this morning, then take another look at my work load. 

If I get this feature done, then my work will be in review straight after stand-up. That means, I need to find something else to work on while it is being reviewed. I am not yet sure how busy the rest of my team will be today, so there is a chance it won’t get reviewed until tomorrow. In that case, I need some work that will carry me through the rest of the day. 

Looking at my allocated tasks, I see there is a refinement I need to do. I check it out a little closer to see the work described. It is similar to some other work I had done in the past. This will make the refinement easy, I will just have to do a bit more digging into how it is different. The refinement is estimated to take a full day, now I reckon I can get it done in less than that.

There is also another code development task, but I decide that I will hold off working on that until my current work has been reviewed and completed. 
Checking the tool our team uses for reviews, I also find that two minor reviews from other team members are waiting for me. I had missed them because I was so caught up with the bug this morning. 

They are the priority before stand-up. So I list my goals for the day:

  • Complete two pending reviews (before stand-up)
  • Finish final feature of code, and put work into review
  • While it’s been reviewed, do refinement

Satisfied I am back on track and prepared for the day, I am ready to move on.


9.15 AM

A bit of Dancing before Reviews 

Having been sitting for a while now, and feeling pretty good about the morning, I notice the current music playing will be perfect to dance too. I get up and practice some if the tricky steps I have been learning during my ballroom classes.

The song ends and my heart rate is up. I realise this is a good chance for a quick stretch. I have been trying to look after my posture, but sitting all day at home (and with no one to see me) I find I can spend hours slouched over without moving. The work I do is very much in the head, so I easily forget my body. 

Sitting back down, I look through the reviews. There are a couple things I have never seen before, so I do some quick researching and it all seems to check out. I notice a few lines which are unnecessary or could be simplified, and leave some comments for the reviewee to fix.
Looking at the clock, I have cut it a bit fine, but there is time to get some fruit and an iced tea from the fridge before stand-up.

10.00 AM


Majority of my team have chosen to continue working from home, so our daily stand-ups are done online (and sitting down).
Technically, the meeting should only go for 10-15 minutes, but today the team got a little side-tracked. Which is a good thing, because since we are not working in the office together, this time is great chance to bounce ideas off each other and banter. 

I found out that the team will be pretty busy today, so there is little rush getting my review ready. It probably won’t be finished until early tomorrow.
The discussion also highlighted some work we want captured as part of the next sprint, none of it related directly to my work, but it is important to keep an idea of what everyone else is working on. This is so I can keep up with the development of the project as a whole, learn from what others are doing, and offer my ideas and insights when possible.

For instance, today my team lead was talking about some performance issues he had spent yesterday working on. He was planning to park the work in favor for more priority development, having only picked it up because he thought it would be a quick fix. I recalled I also had a similar component with a large amount of data that I was working on a few months ago. The same performance issues had been bothering me then, and I recalled I had found a library which helped. I mentioned it, and he asked if I could send him some details.

So in the few minutes before the social club meeting, I sent a quick email pointing him to my code which uses the library and an online summary of the library on the internet. 


10.30 AM

Social Club meeting

I remotely join the Social Club meeting. As a committee member I help organise social events for Saab employees, and these meetings are a chance to talk through upcoming events, new ideas, plans, and financials. 

Currently, I have been organising an Adelaide Fringe event and all the tickets I have bought have been allocated to RSVP’d members. I made sure the invoice I sent had been paid and asked how to check member payments, since I am still new to the club and haven’t run many events yet. 

We also have escape rooms and wine tasting events coming up, which are maxed out, so some time was spent planning the next array of events to hold and what we can afford. 

11.00 AM

Meetings are done!

Now that the meetings are finished, I spend time with my emails. A few more have come in over the morning, so I read through them and send out new ones as planned. 

I also have a support request being processed for me, so I use this time to also check that and make sure it isn’t being held up by me. 

11.30 AM

Early lunch

Already hungry, I realise this is a good point to go have lunch. I am overdue for a grocery shop, so rather than making lunch I take a 10 minute walk to a local sushi place. I decide to eat my lunch at the oval and enjoy sometime outside. 

I also use this time to catch up on some news on my phone (since I haven’t been watching any lately), and with nothing new of interest, I spend a few minutes in the moment. Focusing on my breath, the sounds I can hear and the feeling of the sun on my skin. 

Back home, I prep the last of my ingredients for dinner and set them in the slow cooker. I am not going to have much time to cook tonight, but that won’t stop me having a nice curry!

12.15 PM

Back to work

Back to work

Back at my computer, I get to work on the last feature I want to finish. As expected it doesn’t take me long. 

Before I start the review, I spend a few minutes going over my changes. My informal self-review found a few commented lines of code and left-over work I hadn’t intended to leave in the final code. So I go back and clean up things further. I also take some additional time to also improve its readability. 

Having looked at some of my older code this morning to help my team lead with his performance issue, I noticed that months later the code wasn’t very easy to read. I took me longer than I would have liked to work out how I was using the library.

I took this as a hint at add a few more comments to my current changes and ensure the naming conventions I am using are clear and aid the overall file’s readably. 

Now happy with the work; I officially start review, update the status of my allocated work, and let those involved with the review know it is started. 

2.00 PM

Onto the next work

Before officially starting my refinement task, I take a moment to do some more stretches. 

The task itself is as straightforward as I thought. I write out a concise description of the task and outline: the expected workflow; acceptance tests; and documentation changes required. There is a simple template we follow so that all the tasks follow the same outline and ensure thorough research and planning.

I look into the code base and also some further online research so I can gain a better understanding of the points within the task I wasn’t so clear about.

While doing this, I gain a few different ideas on how the work can be done, and what the end product will look like. I have a rough idea on what I like best and would find the easiest, but I outline the options I have found within the refinement task and tag both my team lead and our project head. 

At this point I am happy with the refinement. I cannot finish the task because I am waiting for my teams input on the options available. Once I have that, I will update the refinement task to reflect the decisions made. But, that is all I can do for now.


4.30 PM

Rapping up my work day

Checking the clock, I realise it is time to knock off. I like starting early because I can finish a little early too. 

Before I sign off and shut down my computers, I give a final check to my emails and tasks. One of my team members has reviewed my code and left some comments for me to address. The other still hasn’t looked.

I make a quick mental note that tomorrow morning I need to look closer at my review and update my code based one of my reviewer’s findings. I also notice a new email which seems important, so I quickly respond to that. 
And like that. Work done. 

5.30 PM


I drive to my weekly viola class. These one-on-one classes are something I look forward to every week. Music has been something I have always enjoyed listening to, and finally, over the last year I have been learning how to make it myself. My teacher loves that I picked viola of all the instruments. 

I asked her for some music from a soundtrack I am loving at the moment, it is a little above my ability, but she prints it off anyway. We look over it. There is still so much more for me to learn.

Heading home

6.30 PM

Dancing! Now, to drive to dancing class!

I have just started dancing within the last month to trick myself into exercise. Gyms haven’t work for me. I found SA Ballroom out of chance; learning formal dances being of interest and looking for something local. What is great about the classes is that they are teaching me how to do the dance, not a choreography. 

So a bit like viola, the head can only do so much. This is a chance for me to be in my body and feel (rather than think). Trying to think through the steps will only get me muddled and foot-tied. Instead, I have to feel the music, trust I can keep time, and respond to whatever moves the lead throws at me.
I like to attend the group class, but I also have a private class straight after, so this is why I started dinner at lunchtime. 

8.45 PM

Home again

Having returned home, I have a small dinner (the house smells amazing) and put the leftovers in the fridge. That will be lunch tomorrow and on the weekend. 

Because I have been obsessed for the last week, I turn the PlayStation on for a quick game to “wind down”. Truthfully, it could keep me awake all night, so I set an alarm.

10.00 PM

And that’s all folks! 

After a quick rinse in the shower, I head to bed. I do a slow yoga practice to deepen my breathing and prepare my body for sleep. Noticing the moon out my window makes me smile and I lay down, letting my body do its thing so I can keep going tomorrow.