A series of interviews with Springest’s product development team
Like all tech companies, at Springest we love our developers. We just can’t get enough of them. If we were a corporate, we would give them a parking space right next to our office entrance. That’s how much we love them.
We can’t have enough of them either – we are constantly on the lookout for new hires to enrich our team. We look for a certain set of skills but we also look for a certain mindset. And this mindset can be hard to pinpoint. What is it that makes our developers choose Springest? And what is it that makes Springest choose them?
Buckle up. In this series of interviews I will try and answer those questions.
Jorge (32 years old)
Madrilene mathematician, anti-authoritarian artist
You are the only developer I know that sounds like the Puss in Boots from Shrek.
You told me this before yes. I love that cat.
How does a mathematician from Madrid end up as a developer in Amsterdam?
After graduation I was not attracted to typical math jobs. For example, I liked education, but I did not like the Spanish education system. It’s too controlling, too strict, very top-down. I was attracted to starting a tech company so I did an eight-week bootcamp where I learned how to code and I got my first job as a developer.
I came to Amsterdam because I wanted an adventure. I had lived in Spain for all my life, so I thought: why not try somewhere else? I talked with my girlfriend and I started applying in different countries. I am an only child, so I didn’t want to go too far. We knew Amsterdam and we knew we liked the city. I also got the best offer here. So we moved and I started working for Catawiki.
What was that like?
I worked there for 1,5 years. At the beginning it was amazing. The office was new and everything was starting. The team was new too; we all came from different places and we’d go out together after work. I had great colleagues there and I learned a lot from them. But at some point the working culture changed and I felt less of a match. I was not in a position to change anything, so I figured I needed a place with a different approach to management and strategy. I knew Springest because Ruben had contacted me in the past. I had also heard some good things from friends. So I sent Ruben a mail. “Hey, let’s talk”.
It sounds to me that, in general, you just don’t like to be managed…
Unless managers do what I think they should be doing of course. But I can sense what you’re getting at. Yes, I love Holacracy. It takes some time to get it and you have to invest in it. But when you do, I think it’s amazing. If you don’t like employees to make decisions by themselves, it’s best to have managers. But if you want to be flexible and get the most out of your employees, it works very well.
Apart from that, do you find working culture in Holland very different?
The Dutch are known for being direct and honest, but also independent. They don’t mind others too much. I have found quite the opposite here. Most Springeteers really care for each other. I feel like people care about me. I think that is not very Dutch. So when you ask me about the Dutch culture, I don’t know what to say. I haven’t experienced a lot of it.
What have you been working on lately?
A new feature called Learning Tracks. The main reason we are building it is to help corporate customers to be compliant. Some companies need their employees to regularly get certification proving they have kept their skills up-to-date. We try to make that easy for them. It has some complexities, but the fun part is that it’s new, so I have to build it from scratch. That is always easier than when you need to extend something that already exists.
Does that make you feel extra responsible?
Of course. Even though others will be contributing to, I am the main developer for this project. This feature will be my fault, or my win. That is how it feels to me.
It sounds like you take real pride in your work…
Of course I try to be proud of the work I do. I try to improve myself. And I try to improve my surroundings. It is not only about getting the work done, it’s about getting the best out of myself and improving everything.
Everything! But one important thing for me to improve is knowledge. I admire people who have it, probably because it is something I lack. I don’t have a proper computer science education and I started working quite late, so I don’t have a lot of working experience. I have so many holes compared to colleagues my own age. So that is something I am always trying to chase. You can’t copy deep knowledge.
What are you proud of?
In some cases people have told me that I am clear. And I agree with that. I am organised. When I come with an idea, it is clear, it is structured and it makes sense. That is important if you want to be able to extend and maintain code. It has to not only make sense for you, but for every developer. The code you write today is going to be maintained for years by others.
That sounds like poetry.
And it’s very sad too, if you consider the legacy you leave. You, you will write an article and it will be visible. But the code I write, no one is going to see, except for a handful of developers. Even if it is very good, no one knows. Van Gogh could hope that his talent would be recognised in the future, even when he was starving during his life. But with code, that is just never going to happen.
You are very dramatic…
I also did some art before going into coding. Mainly storytelling. There is an amazing place in Amsterdam where everyone should go: Mezrab, The House of Stories. A great experience. Everyone loves a good story, whereas coding can only be appreciated by very few people. If I were not a developer, perhaps I would have been an artist. But for me it is quite easy to be happy. I can find joy in many things.
Curious to know more about Jorge? Check his website.