03 Mar Aspire to Tech: Senior Software Engineer at Maximizer
Career Spotlight – Alejandro Nagy
What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?
My title is Senior Software Engineer, and the company I work for is Maximizer. I am in charge of creating the architecture and design and setting the technical details and specifications for migration from an old product to a new product. I recently moved to Metro Vancouver, and I have been in this position for about a year.
What makes your job interesting? What is the most fun? What is the most challenging? How does your role help drive the company’s success?
There are two main parts that I find interesting. Constantly learning new things is part of the job. There is always something new to learn, which I enjoy. I have always liked to learn about how things interact and work together.
The other part is problem-solving. Just like there is always something new to learn, there are constantly new problems to figure out and solve.
As a senior engineer, I enjoy the freedom to choose how I get things done. I can try new methods that I have been looking at and I have not been able to use before, which is fun to me. I don’t have to just write code for eight hours a day and can focus on the bigger picture. I mentioned before how I enjoy problem solving, well now the things I find fun are finding out how to support 100,000 concurrent users or figure out how to get one of my micro services from my isolated databases, but without spending too much in storage. It is a different kind of fun.
I would say that’s the most challenging part of job is communicating with my team. I am a technical person who thinks analytically. I like to speak bluntly and sometimes people incorrectly interpret that the wrong way. But every person is different, so it takes real effort from me to adjust and communicate the information properly to push my team to get the results we want.
As per my contribution to the company, my role is broad, but user experience is the area that I effect the most. When I design a piece of software, I build it from the architecture point of view, to have a certain performance, to support a certain number of users, to have certain number of features. I have cost in mind, I know the team that I have, how long it will take to complete and so on. But at the end of the day, I want the users to sit down in front of the application and enjoy it.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?
At my current role, I would say my time is spent 50/50 between product meetings, where we discuss new features and how they are going to be implemented and supporting the development team in designing solutions for the features that we discussed in the meetings. I also do things like creating documentation and diagrams necessary for my team to understand the problems we are solving. Occasionally, I will work on a proof of concept, or PoC. That’s when I run the necessary tests to ensure that my idea will work the way I imagined it would before I hand it off to the team to work on.
Tell us about your career history? What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?
In 2006, I actually took a course on software development. My older brother who was already a developer, convinced me to follow him, telling me it was the best career I could pick for my future. Later that year, I got my first job as a junior developer. From then on, it was just about learning and with every position that I got and I had the opportunity to grow slowly. I spent 2-3 years as a junior then 3-4 years as a semi-senior developer, and now I am a senior developer.
When I had about 10 years of experience, I moved into a junior architect role. In that company, they called it software designer. That’s when I started doing independent contractor work for companies abroad and later became a lead architect, a year ago.
Where might you go next? What’s your next role? What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?
If I continue down that same path that I want to, I would say becoming a Development Director or VP of Engineering. Eventually my goal is to become a CTO. That’s if I follow the corporate path.
My next role is probably Head of Development or VP of engineering. What motivates me is that I want to gain as much experience as I can, and experience in different areas. This might be a misconception of mine, but I feel like I can only be your leader if I have been in your shoes before and I fully understand your role. I wasn’t a technical leader until I felt like I was strong enough as a senior developer. I was not an architect until I felt strong enough as a technical.
I am also interested in having my own business one day. I don’t see myself as an employee until I retire. I want to get to the highest level, and I believe that being in a CTO role would give me the tools I need to start my own company eventually – with a business partner of course. Someone to take care of the business side of things while I focus on the technical side of the business.
Any final words of advice, or advice for young people?
One mistake that I made, which made my career journey more difficult and made it take more time, was that I did not get a university degree. It’s very different depending on where you are in the world, but where I come from, Argentina, it’s expected that you should get a degree.
I chose not to, because the engineering degree wasn’t completely aligned to what I wanted to do back then, and that caused me to have to do much more work than other people, just to get to the same position. So, my advice would be to never underestimate the value of education. However, I am proof that it’s not impossible to get by without a degree. It just takes more time and more work.