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The Panenco handbook is a collection of sources in which we describe our company's operational principles and highlight our career and personal evolution trajectories. With this document, we aspire to be a transparent environment in which talent can flourish.
(Last updated at 14/12/2021)
Panenco is a dynamic group of people that raises the bar for digital products. We provide services to clients of all sizes around mature product definitions. We connect the dots throughout the entire product development process with a continuous pursuit of quality.
We aim to be much more than a 'role' or a 'job' for people. More broadly, we're a context that embodies product quality. Quality will only be attained by having the best people in their domain working passionately and diligently on bold ambitions.

We recognise that:

  • Outstanding people reinforce each other to grow stronger
  • Quality takes time, steadiness and consistency
  • Great engineering will happen based on mature product definitions
  • Variation in assignments is a positive happening for knowledge spillovers
  • Jobs might be finite, but underlying friendships and comradery last a lifetime

We guarantee that:

  • Everyone in the team will get a personal learning trajectory
  • You have a voice in every decision
  • You'll be freakin' proud of the work you do!

As an organisation we are continuously improving:

  • Transparency: we operate in a flat structure with limited hierarchy. Near-full transparency should be a cornerstone to keep that model functional
  • Internal and external communication: as we work on a variety of product initiatives and in a mostly distributed manner, it's a constant challenge to keep everyone in the loop
  • Operations: we want to be a place where you can focus on the job at hand role without administrative distractions. Do you see bottlenecks in any processes? Please mention and we'll get rid of those as soon as possible.

This document gives a full overview of the daily operations for all people in our Panenco context. As the company evolves, the document will evolve with it. All feedback is appreciated at all times and needed changes will be swiftly processed. We want to be a comfortable, fair and inspiring workplace for all teammates.
0. About this handbook
The story of Panenco - just like its product portfolio - is a continuous work in progress.
Our base assumption is that it will never be perfect, but we will keep perfecting as we move along.

This handbook document aspires to document all the latest information and cultural principles we apply to the whole company. We want everyone to contribute to the content.

Continuous improvement, continuous delivery. Step. By. Step.
1. Our story
Panenco was founded in 2014 by Egwin Avau and Maarten Baeten. Over the years we organically grew towards a highly skilled team of 40+ skilled professionals across 3 locations (Belgium, Ukraine and Portugal). Maarten joined McKinsey & Company in 2018, yet he remains Panenco's biggest fan from the sidelines.

We'll always be holding on to an ideal of "one team many dreams". We want Panenco to be a context in which people can learn, grow, laugh, shine, share, take risks, fail, rise and have fun along the way.

Alongside our core team, we're working with partners from organisations of all sizes. At the core of our existence is our genuine passion for product development: creating something out of nothing, turning ideas into realities.

We take ownership over the entire trajectory from ideation towards commercial validation. We dream of a scaling portfolio of lovable products that reach product market fit and grow well beyond our imagination.

We've always chosen for organic, sustainable growth, and we'll continue to do so. We balance our revenue from services that we deliver to clients while aiming for recurring revenue within our product portfolio.

Most of all, we're a team of genuine professionals who dream big. We aspire to be a context in which many dreams will come true.

Hierarchy in our organisation is limited to an absolute minimum required to do our work in a proper way. Communication lines are open and short. Personal initiative is greatly supported. Product progress is our north star!
2. Leadership
Panenco intends to keep a horizontal structure with a focus on delivery.
The company's leadership currently exists of:

  • Founder / CEO: Egwin Avau
  • Operations manager: Koen Verschooten
  • Product managers:
    • People:
      • Jordi Vandenhouwe
      • Fred Versyck
      • Ruben Opdenakker
    • Responsibilities:
      • Define and safeguard a vision for the product
      • Translate the needs to milestones and a roadmap
      • Handle the day-to-day routines and facilitate the sprint rhythm
      • Manage product budgeting and timesheets
      • Control all dimensions of the product towards product-market-fit
  • Chapter leads:
    • People:
      • Dries Croons / Sebastiaan Viaene / Leslie Jobse (back-end engineering)
      • Oleksander Kanskyi (product design)
      • Vladyslav Chernii (front-end engineering)
      • Thomas Beuckelaers (growth marketing)
    • Responsibilities:
      • Act as a thought leader in a specific domain
      • Preparing demos and learning sessions for the whole chapter
      • Safeguarding the learning and development trajectory of the teammates in their chapter
      • Assuring a quality standard and continuously raising the bar
      • Setting recruiting standards and performing assessments
    3. Operating principles
    Back in 2018, we defined our own set of flavours and dimensions in the product development process.
    We made a fundamental decision to separate 2 dimensions:

    • (Product) operational dimension: fully orchestrated delivery (end responsibility of a product manager)
    • Domain specific dimension: technical or creative principles (end responsibility of a chapter lead)
    We describe our operating principles in the following blog post.
    4. Remote work principles
    We believe you should be facilitated to do your best work in the manner that's most productive to you. Our only objective is a quality objective. Location is of secondary importance.

    We'll be eternally flexible with regards to working from home, but with an underlying time zone requirement that is within 3 hours of Central European Standard Time.

    We expect you to be well-prepared and vocal in the surroundings of our sprint-based model:

    • Planning
    • Daily standups
    • Demo / retrospectives
    At the same time we expect availability and proper communication through slack channels in the standard working hours. Any deviations should be mentioned in the 'alert' channel in slack.

    A region-based approach:

    We currently have offices in the following locations where all team members are welcome at any time:

    • Leuven, Belgium
    • Kyiv, Ukraine
    • Lisbon / Viseu, Portugal
    Coworking spaces can be compensated as part of the salary package in mutual agreement.

    Even though we work remote-first, we don't want to work remote-only. We enjoy being with our teammates around a social dimension as well. Moreover, we are keen on hosting periodic chapter meetings in which case studies or challenges are presented and overall methodology is discussed. We would love to host this in-person with the necessary pizza's.

    Therefore our hiring efforts will still broadly be organised around our main offices (within a 3 hour radius). We want to keep finding this balance between delivery and sociability. This too should remain a key aspect of our culture.
    5. Roles and responsibilities
    We describe our default role and responsibility set in this blog post.

    • We don't believe in strict hierarchy
    • We do nurture end responsibility (delivery / domain specific)
    • We value people taking ownership
    Our specific job functions can be found on our careers page:

    These job listings are written in a generic manner because of a single realisation: we are not looking for 'profiles', we're looking for genuine people who match with our mindset and who love their domain.

    Every teammate carries a responsibility over the well-being, motivation and learning trajectory of others.

    Every product team carries the integral delivery responsibility of their product objectives. All in it together.
    6. Job functions
    Product management:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you define product roadmaps with the product owner and you manage the delivery process
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you have the next delivery sprint (2 weeks) under a tight grip, but you're continuously defining product objectives for the next 6 months. You have a broad take on your responsibilities including setting up customer success, billing and payments, capturing key legal aspects, budgeting, forecasting, ... You're on a constant automation journey towards product-market-fit
      • Technical: you know your way around (visual) prototyping tools and you grasp core DevOps principles. You're able to turn those into daily realities for the technical delivery operations. You can easily assess the complexity of desired features and you can distinguish value creation from spaghetti

    Product design:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you turn product roadmap objectives into clickable interfaces
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you're a constructive part of the creation process, working closely with the product manager and other key stakeholders. You keep the software delivery operations in mind, aiming to reduce technical complexity through simplification in the interfaces
      • Technical: you fully master our chosen design and prototyping toolset. You work according to set-out best practices and principles

    Front-end development:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you turn elaborate product designs into browser-based experiences
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you are the bridge between product design and back-end engineering. You can easily assess the implications of certain decisions that are made and you can activate the right teammates to deliver their side of the desired changes
      • Technical: you have a detailed eye for component behaviours yet at the same time you fundamentally grasp REST API principles and you can interface with back-end developers

    Back-end development:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you turn business logic into scalable APIs
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you swiftly distill data modelling decisions from (changing) functional requirements
      • Technical: you take ownership over the build & run aspects of every product

    Data science & engineering: coming soon

    Growth marketing:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you bring software products into the hands of end users and capture feedback
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you can handle the creative side of marketing while also having the ability to manage key (SaaS) metrics
      • Technical: you work your way around our chosen tooling for onboarding, billing, customer success, email marketing, social marketing, etc.

    Marketing design:

    • Related vacancy:
    • Job essence: you create matching brands and brand books for the technical assets in our portfolio
    • Specific points of attention:
      • Operational: you fully grasp the product positioning and you're able to distill your own findings or questions from here on out. You're detail oriented, but you're able to work in smaller day-to-day increments
      • Technical: you master key tooling in the Adobe Creative Suite and build files that other teammates can find their way around in as well
    7. Career growth principles
    We want you to progress quickly and advance your career. Heck, we're already looking forward to your next salary raise!

    At the same time we consider it to be of utmost importance that skills and compensation are proportionate and balanced. We don't believe in excess or quick wins. We believe that steady wins your personal race into becoming an outstanding professional.

    If you choose substance over perks, the perks will follow naturally.

    We break away from the traditional 'jun/mid/senior' model. We organise all career steps around the product dimension and your abilities to contribute to the product's progress and success. These steps are not to be seen as 'levels', they are merely behaviours and maturity levels that we hope to nurture in all teammates.

    We define 5 main career growth steps:

    1. Traineeship: you're in an active program to take your first professional steps and get familiar with our way of working. You demonstrate a rapid learning curve. Our evaluation criterion at the end of the 3 months will be the progress you can demonstrate. Let us take a de-tour here with an Einstein quote: "The utmost powerful force in the universe is compound interest".
      We strongly believe in the compound principle for any person's learning trajectory. We'll initially assess your core (computer science) knowledge alongside your personal portfolio. A good set of brains combined with an exceptional demonstrable learning pace will bring the world at your feet.
    2. Guided delivery: you're able to create/deliver qualitative product value with active guidance from product managers, chapter leads and other teammates
      - Detailed reviews required
      - Rudimentary reviews required
    3. Autonomous delivery: you take matters into your own hands. You know which topics to raise in daily standups, make trustworthy sprint plannings and you find a path to ship features into production.
      - Technical maturity
      - Operational maturity
    4. Leading delivery: you step up and take on a mentoring role for others to actively shape their learning path and career trajectory.
      - Reviewing others / showcasing technical excellence
      - Mentoring others / dealing with exceptional complexity
    5. Inspirational delivery: you master the people-dimension of the product development process alongside your daily delivery involvement: you find and get the best out of others.

    We strongly believe in continuous feedback throughout the years:

    • Product team feedback (around the sprint dimension): a continuous stream of feedback between the members of a product team (informally on a daily basis and formally during a retrospective). We want you to be direct in your feedback without gloves on (but very respectfully). For the benefit of clarity.
    • Domain specific feedback (chapter based): periodic review sessions with your chapter lead to talk specifically about your technical/creative evolution.
    • Semi-yearly reviews: 2 pre-defined moments per year when formal reviews take place. This will be an open conversation where we don't assess good/bad but rather constructively assess the next steps you should be taking to become a better professional in both the technical and operational aspects.

    We explain our career growth principles in-depth on this page.
    8. Onboarding process
    Welcome to this new step in your professional journey with us. The first few days will contain many practical aspects. We intend to guide you through these in a comfortable manner to get you fully up and running to do what you love to do most.

    General onboarding steps:

    • Day 1
      • HR intake conversation
      • Receive your Panenco survival bag
      • Accounts creation
      • Chapter lead intro call
      • Personal intro of yourself to the team in the next Panenco Labs session: prepare something noteworthy!
      • Become part of our Slack environment
      • Run through our principles and methodology
    • Day 2
      • Get introduced into the product(s) you will be involved in by the product manager
      • Meet your product mates
      • Understand the (functional and strategic) goal of the product
    • Day 3-5
      • Start exploring the product(s) and toolsets
    • Week 2
      • Full speed ahead on creating added value for some product(s)
    • To be completed

    Chapter specific steps:

    • Meet your chapter mates
    • Run through of principles and methodology
    • To be completed

    Product specific steps:

    • Meet your product mates
    • Get introduced to the product by the product manager
    • Understand the (functional and strategic) goal of the product
    • Let's go!!
      9. Offboarding process
      In case our roads separate, we'll welcome you to become a proud Panenco Alumni!
      Naturally, there are a number of practical steps to go through. This sections lists these steps and your formal responsibilities.

      • Knowledge transfer to product mates
      • Exit conversation with chapter lead
      • HR offboarding conversation
      • Return of equipment
      • To be completed

      10. Administrative principles
      • Referrals: when you refer new teammates to join us on a full-time basis, you'll get an extra compensation proportionally to the experience level of the person coming in. This compensation will only be granted if the new joiner stays for at least 6 months.
      • Expenses: reasonable professional expenses will be covered by the company if and only if the proper proof, tickets or invoices can be accounted for.
      • Certifications and trainings: we're willing to invest in formal certifications, e-learning courses, offline courses and language trainings. Arrangements are to be made in writing via email.
      • Travel: required or previously agreed business travels will be fully compensated by the company. All teammates are also welcome at our various offices at their own initiative and own cost.
      • Intellectual property: the IP you create within the product context of your employment will always integrally belong to that product and to Panenco as a company. What you decide to build outside the working hours in your spare time will be fully supported and belong to you personally. We'll be happy to serve as a sparring partner and have you present your personal projects as part of the Panenco Labs sessions. Let's. Learn. From. Each. Other.
      • Contract:
        • Employment contract
        • IP agreement
        • Non disclosure agreement
      • Policies: we are in the process of applying for an ISO27001 certification to demonstrate our highest standards with regards to (data) privacy, security and integrity. In this regard we require all employees, freelancers and other people we work with to comply with a number of policies:
        • Clean desk, clear desktop policy
        • Mobility policy
        • Attendance, vacation and time-off policies
        • Code of conduct policy
        • Travel policy
        • Compensation and benefits policy
        • Data protection
        • Health and safety at work
        • Incident response policy
      • This list will regularly be amended and all relevant people will be notified when needed
        Closing statement

        As an organisation we're constantly evolving based on a single promise: we'll always put the people we work with first and change procedures and principles to accommodate their experience working with us better. We want to stress once more that this document is not an end state, it's merely a starting point.

        We carry a long-term horizon but we're relentlessly eager to leave our mark in this world. Consistently delivering outstanding work is the surest way to reach this objective.


        In case of questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to