Mentoring Digital Transformation with TYPO3

Categories: Community, Association Created by Mathias Bolt Lesniak
Tymoteusz Motylewski
Tymoteusz Motylewski is a TYPO3 mentor. “It is very satisfying,” he says, and tells me the story of how he started out on the other side; being mentored by others in the TYPO3 community.

“That’s where my career started. People answered my silly questions on the web forums. They were helpful and friendly, and after some years I realized I had reached a level where I could help them back.”

Now, himself a TYPO3 Core Team member and head of development at Polish agency Macopedia, Tymoteusz sees mentoring others as a central part of his contribution to the CMS: “Helping others learn TYPO3 is building the community.”

Building National Competence in Rwanda

As he tells his story, it becomes clear to me that his mentoring is not limited to Poland—or even Europe. His most recent mentoring experience, in collaboration with the TYPO3 Association, brought him to Central Africa with Alina Fleser and Daniel Homorodean.

“We coached a team of ten people from the Rwandan government’s web team. They were responsible for relaunching some 200 official websites for the government. Together, we established a great workflow and got the team on track, and the first few TYPO3 websites went live not many weeks ago.”

Handling projects of this size and impact can be a challenge to anyone, and Tymoteusz’ work went beyond TYPO3, covering best-practice infrastructure, security, deployment, and project management.

Digital Transformation with TYPO3

The work Tymoteusz does is supported by his strong altruistic philosophy. To him, enabling mentees to work independently combined with the freedom given by open source software averts dangerous dependencies on money or external knowledge.

“I try to give people a stick, not a fish, and during the sessions I ask them to do every practical task themselves. As a mentor, I only give instructions—even when I feel the urge to start typing on their keyboard myself. This is important to me. You can find many development aid programs that help, but that also make people dependent. Creating dependence is the wrong way of helping.”

Tymoteusz sees Rwanda as a touchstone for a type of mentoring that will not only grow TYPO3, but spearhead a digital revolution: “Rwanda is a leading country for digital transformation and a good example in Africa. If something works out in Rwanda, we show it can work in other countries too.”

Mentoring Means Community Growth

While listening, I am thinking how mentoring is a sign of health and vibrancy in an open source community. Once you are good at something, you should share your knowledge. Everyone has once been a beginner, but it can be hard to remember how vulnerable and exposed lack of knowledge can make you feel.

“Mentoring gives the satisfaction of seeing people grow their competences,” says Tymoteusz. “We have to build documentation and materials to lower the entry barrier and allow people to self-teach. However it won’t replace the direct personal contact that mentoring gives. Helping each other is building the community.”

He points out that mentoring is not only about knowledge sharing. It is also a sign of quality for the entire ecosystem: “In Rwanda, we taught more than just the CMS and showed that the TYPO3 community is also about getting things done. This builds trust in the community and shows there are people behind the technology who empower you.”

During their visit, Tymoteusz and the other TYPO3 mentors helped kickstart the Rwandan TYPO3 community and organize the first meetup in Kigali.

The Proud and Humble Mentor

Tymoteusz says he has been involved in many communities throughout his career, but he found the TYPO3 community to be the most true, humble, and helpful. “It doesn’t spout nonsense at you, and it’s open and friendly.”

And how does he look back at mentoring in Rwanda? “I am proud of it,” he says. “It was a big step for the entire institution. Now they’re building, modifying, and maintaining their websites on their own. They have not abandoned anything that we set up. They managed to adopt it and TYPO3 is living on in Rwanda.”

More About the Community Expansion Committee

Proofreading: Tony Lush