🏡 City: Barcelona

💼 Job title: Engineering Director

🎓 Studies: Computer Engineering, Multimedia Engineering, Master in Mobile App Development

🔮 Languages: Spanish 🇪🇸, Catalan and English 🇬🇧

👣 How do you commute to work? 25-min train ride and 20-min walk

✈️ Travel dreams: I’d like to cross the Atlantic in a sailboat ⛵️

🎬 Favorite film: Star Wars, the original trilogy 

📌 How was the shift from a big organisation to a smaller one when you joined Stuart in its early days?

When I first joined Stuart, the team was really small. There was only one other Frontend developer, Jimmy, and about 15 engineers in total. We are now more than 130! The screening interview I had with the recruiter happened on a terrace in Barcelona and wasn’t formal at all: we had a beer and we just discussed the position. The second interview was done in a small group, with the CTO and the Principal Engineer. It felt like a small family, very homey. 

Another thing that was different is that the company’s culture and processes were not yet well-developed at the time. For example, the onboarding welcome ceremony that we have now, where the person who joins is asked a couple of questions about herself, is something I brought to Stuart from my previous work experience. The small group of people that we were back then took charge of building the company’s culture little by little. I remember a time when the meeting rooms didn’t even have names! We ended up having a brainstorm and decided to name the rooms after the Balearic islands. That tradition has lived on and now all meeting rooms in all three floors in Barcelona have European island names.

Naoise Frontend team
Naoise with his colleagues from the Frontend team, back when they were just 3

📌 Where would you place Stuart on the tech map in terms of innovation?

I think we are very cutting-edge. On the mobile front, we were the first people to use Flutter, which is a technology to develop native mobile apps, both for Android and iOS, from the same code base. Flutter is from Google and it was so new that the project manager for Flutter at Google became interested and had a series of meetings with us. So the Mobile team gave him feedback directly and we had that open line with Google in that sense, because we were using new technologies. Same thing with Frontend—we started working with React way back when it was the new kid on the block. We had to build a lot of our own frameworks to use because there was nothing available. We created our own server-side rendering and form controllers, and then, as the technology evolved and new open source solutions became available, we integrated them. We also contribute to that same process, so if we do something that can be open-sourced, we open source it; or if we can contribute to open source libraries that we are using, we do that as well. 

📌 What does the future of applications at Stuart look like?

Stuart’s business is growing at a fast pace: we’re expanding to new cities and countries and we’re signing new big clients. The frontend and mobile applications are the face of Stuart that users experience first. So obviously, as Stuart grows, the applications will grow with it. This means taking on new markets—like hubs or groceries or non-urgent delivery—and more clients, which translates to different use cases. So the apps that we already have will continue to develop and adapt to the expanding needs, and we may create new apps. As we expand in new countries, we need to integrate new solutions that take into account different currencies, languages and other complex systems. We are building a technological platform in an industry which is ever more important in a post-pandemic world. Pretty exciting.

📌 As a department, how do you ensure that the team is always in constant development, up-to-date or even pioneering in terms of programming?

For me, constant learning and self-development has to do with being passionate about your job. I try to pass this on to the teams I manage. I always tell new joiners that work is most of what we’re doing in our waking hours, so we might as well enjoy it! But this mindset, that constant learning is fundamental, comes not only from the Engineering department but from the company as a whole: two of Stuart’s values are being humble and empowered by responsibility. 

Learning is part of our culture. We have a TIL (Today I Learned) Slack channel where people share and discuss anything new they learned; but most importantly, we also have a budget allocated to it. We have access to Udemy Business courses, a full access to the O’Reilly digital library, budget for conferences, etc. There's our Stuart Academy,  an internal learning platform that offers, among others, soft skills training, an ambassador programme or an internal mentoring programme, so all Stuart employees can grow and reach their full potential. I think the mentoring programme is the most important part of this project. It’s a win-win situation because once you’re very experienced as a senior developer, you actually enjoy showing other people how to grow—and when you're a junior with very little experience, you get this free mentorship inside the company. 

📌 What have you learned about yourself since joining Stuart?

I've been at Stuart for more than five years, which is a lot of time in the tech field. What I’ve learned about myself is how to become more confident in my skills and how to organize myself to get stuff done. Also, in the past, I had joined companies with very good, talented developers—and I considered myself a good developer and an expert in my field. But when I joined Stuart, everybody was so smart that I wasn't the best anymore. So another thing I learned is pushing myself to never stop learning, to always be ahead of the game and finding the motivation to grow technically.

More recently, I’ve transitioned from purely programming to a leadership role. I'm super-geeky and quite an introvert, so there has been a learning path from being in the corner in front of a computer by myself to managing multiple teams. Suddenly, you have people who are depending on you and that you need to keep inspired. I have had to learn how to manage and how to have difficult conversations. 

📌 What is one crazy goal that you want to achieve within your lifetime?

It's not too crazy—I just want to have a nice house with a nice garden, family, friends, animals, and sunny days. That's my crazy idea for life!

Naoise barbecuing
Naoise barbecuing in the Barcelona office terrace with Gaudi's Pedrera in the background

📌 What advice would you give to your teenage self?

Mine Bitcoin. I honestly think that from my teenage years until now I’ve done pretty great and I was able to learn from my mistakes. But if I had told myself to mine Bitcoin and sell it in 2021, I would definitely have a house and a garden and everything!

We’re hiring 🚀 Check out our open positions here!

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