Vincent, Full Stack Developer

- Full Stack Developer

Vincent, you moved from Belgium to Munich and started your career at collaboration Factory one year ago. Why did you join the company?

I was looking for a job in a dynamic environment where I could work on an innovative product, so I applied at collaboration Factory. During my first interview, I was impressed by the dynamic team and its healthy thrive to succeed. Though this is not unusual among startups, collaboration Factory convinced me, because it was also able to offer a certain level of maturity in its product. I instantly felt connected to the team and the rest is history :)

What are your core responsibilities as a Full Stack Developer in our Engineering team?

At collaboration Factory, we work in dynamic micro teams. They usually consist of two to four engineers with different competences and know-how who are working collaboratively towards the same goal. While the goal is clearly defined, the team is free to define the execution process from design to implementation. Teamplay therefore plays an important role in the whole process: Each team member is considered equal, which makes proposing or opposing ideas as much part of the core responsibilities as the actual implementation.

As a young company like us, micro teams can be created ad hoc in order to reflect and work on current priorities. I’ve had the great opportunity to explore and be part of different teams (e.g. Cloud, Performance) at collaboration Factory. Currently, at the Performance team, my core responsibilities range from analysing the platform to proposing and implementing solutions.

What does your typical day look like?

Upon arrival at the office, I usually have a morning chat with my colleagues and finish up some stuff from the day before. After the daily meeting with my team, the day usually consists of peer-programming, issue crunching and meetings or reviews with other engineers. I prefer working at the office because of the productive environment, but there is always the option to work from home if I wanted to.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your role? What’s most rewarding?

Our software cplace offers ready-to-run solutions with a growing set of apps. At the same time, it is a very dynamic and customizable product that can be tailored to our customers’ needs. On top of that, as part of our Shared Source Model, we give full source code access to our community that can extend the platform to their specific needs and projects. This possibility to highly customize the software can make it especially tricky for us to implement performance improvements, because small changes in the core can have wide implications on the software.

This analogy makes it easier to understand: If you run a bakery, clients can only do a number of things, such as: ask for info, give you money for a bread, accept the bread. With cplace, the people that want a bread can mix the dough, they can use the oven, even access the registry and potentially take the bread themselves. They can use things from our internal kitchen, so if we were to change the oven, we need to make sure that the usage of the oven is exactly the same as before.

But finding and successfully implementing new performance improvements is quite rewarding on its own. That, together with just being able to joke around with the great colleagues is probably the most rewarding part of my job.

For people who want to learn programming – what languages can you recommend?

What programming languages to learn depends what you want to achieve. If you want to work with cplace, Java is a must. However, I think Python is a nice language to start learning as it offers a clear syntax while enforcing some good practices. It also allows you to write short, elegant code for code challenges, where you’ll quickly learn to love the beauty of a simple algorithm.

You introduced our beloved cplace "coffee date" – an initiative to get to know your own co-workers better. How did that come about and what was your experience like? Do you plan other cplace networking activities soon?

In a fast-growing company with multiple locations like collaboration Factory, it is easy to get disconnected from different teams and colleagues – even though our company is regularly offering weekly and monthly company-wide meetings. To keep and encourage the connection between all our colleagues I established the cplace coffee date!

This is how it works: With the claim that "everyone has 15 minutes for a coffee break", a randomized algorithm sets up a weekly "date" between two colleagues via mail. How the coffee date is carried out depends on the individuals. The meetups so far tend to go from a little further than the typical elevator-talk to longer lunch breaks and after work get togethers, resulting in better personal and team connections. With our company’s "Just Do It" mentality, it’s quite easy to introduce company-wide concepts (and with cplace, it’s easy to implement).

And, yes to networking activities! With the recent success of our newly introduced board-game night, I hope many more will follow!

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Limitations is what makes us human. And it’s those limitations that make life so interesting. But if I have to pick one, I’d choose superhuman intelligence. I believe that most problems can be solved, but just lack the right perspective. Having expert-level knowledge across all fields (like those sci-fi scientists) would be a game-changer.

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