🏡 City: Dresden ➡️ Essen ➡️ Barcelona
💼 Job title: Lead Platform Engineer
🔮 Languages: English 🇺🇸, German 🇩🇪, Spanish 🇪🇸
👣 How do you commute to work? Walking whenever possible
✈️ Travel dreams: Non-stop train travel between Barcelona and Germany
🍔 Favorite junk food: Tequeños
📌 How has the Engineering team evolved since you joined in 2017?
When I joined Stuart in 2017, we were around 30 engineers. I remember being one of eight backend engineers working closely together with our other teams which at that time were Front-end, Data, Mobile, DevOps, and QA.
Now in 2021, I count more than 120 members! Due to that massive growth, our structure looks different now. We now have a Platform department (which I am part of), a department for Infrastructure, Applications, and Solutions with the great support of our QA and Agile teams. As you can see, we’ve made quite a few changes to support our growth. But what hasn't changed since I joined are our values and the empowerment I feel being around such great and inspiring colleagues.
📌 What does a workday as a Lead Platform Engineer look like?
As a Platform Engineer, our job is to build and scale the Stuart platform. It’s basically the group of technologies that power Stuart and empower other teams to innovate for an even better delivery experience.
To focus, we work in cross-functional teams. They include all skill-sets needed to accomplish a common goal aligned with the business domain that each cross-functional team is committed to.
In these teams, we come up with solutions to problems, shape them and finally implement them. Each of those stages requires a different set of skills, so I find it a great way to grow personally. (We have lots of examples where engineers discovered their secret talents in project management or public speaking.)
Besides that, we also perform regular exchanges across team or project boundaries, which can happen through meetings, workshops, or even mini-conferences and off-sites every once in a while.
📌 Can you take us through the programming languages you use in the Platform department?
Inside the Platform department, the main languages that our apps are written in are currently Ruby, Scala, and Elixir. Those languages are chosen on a case-to-case basis depending on the purpose and requirement of each application. But obviously, we wouldn’t be Stuart if we didn’t explore new technologies. For example, last year we had a meet-up about the Crystal programming language and it was certainly interesting to see the motivation behind it. We also have different people with different interests in other programming languages such as Rust for example.
Adding to that, we welcome everyone to grow personally and professionally by running initiatives such as our Elixir Academy (2020), Python workshops (2021), regular StuTalks around various topics, or our all-you-can-watch Udemy subscription.
📌 How did the Platform department manage the shift to remote work?
(I secretly hoped for this question!) Internally, this topic really found its momentum during the first lockdowns throughout Europe. The majority of the Platform team has always been working remotely—which means that we were already proficient at handling the majority of our communication asynchronously. Of course, that didn't mean that we were used to being locked in our houses... It was a challenge for us as it was for everyone else.
During the first months, we ran internal workshops with teams that were used to always working at the office in order to support them throughout this difficult time. They genuinely appreciated our mentorship programs and we think that it had a great impact on the whole company in quickly getting adjusted to the new circumstances and growing stronger together.
📌 If you had to start your career over, what would be your career path?
For example, I think I could have dropped out of school a little earlier because I don't think that the school system supported me to grow. But who knows—it probably also taught me a pretty good life lesson.
What I want to say is that in retrospect I could come up with things I would have done differently but for me, that's a fundamental element of growing. If I look back, everything makes sense and had to be this way. Every mistake I made and every step I took out of my comfort zone rewarded me later on.
📌 What was your most thrilling experience?
Skydiving! There was that one day that I saw a video of someone skydiving and I wondered how I would feel 4km up in the air when the door of an airplane opened. My friends couldn't believe me when I told them that after watching the video I suddenly really felt like doing that. So the day after I signed up for a tandem skydive for the same week. Let me tell you, at that moment you forget all your day-to-day life. It’s amazing, do it!
📌 What is the nerdiest thing you do in your spare time?
I have a checklist for everything that I might do more than twice. 🤓
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