06 Dec 2021

From fast dribbling to agile sprint. The soccer player who learned how to code

”The soccer player who learned how to code” is the first blog post from a series about people without whom IT Teams could not exist – IT Teams Astronauts. These are stories about us, about what captivates us into this fascinating industry, what motivates us professionally and what makes us move forward. Iulian played professional […]

”The soccer player who learned how to code” is the first blog post from a series about people without whom IT Teams could not exist – IT Teams Astronauts. These are stories about us, about what captivates us into this fascinating industry, what motivates us professionally and what makes us move forward.

Iulian played professional football at a B series Italian team. At the age of 19, an accident put an end to his sporting life and obliged him to a career change. Passionate about technology, he enrolled at the Politehnica University of Bucharest. He quickly went from dribbling to programming, learning how to code with passion and perseverance during each new “training” session.

Iulian, what’s your background in IT Teams? What drew you in, and what made you stay?

I worked for 12 years in a pharmaceutical company as a programmer involved in the development of internal business applications, but back then I wanted to work in a fully tech-driven company. Why? I was not a simple programmer, but rather a full-stack one, being used to constantly contribute with ideas and refining the business logic of the applications that I was working on it. I wanted to do more and needed an atmosphere that would stimulate me professionally as part of a team of like-minded people where I would be able to develop and get out of my comfort zone.

The opportunity arose through a part-time project with IT Teams. At the pharmaceutical company, a colleague from a non-IT department referred me to someone in the HR department at IT Teams. That’s how I found out that an IT company was looking for a programmer who knew Drupal for a project. It sounded tempting, so I went through the interview  process and started this collaboration which brought me both the openness I wanted and some extra income.

The initial 6 months period of collaboration with IT Teams was a positive experience that convinced me to make the move to a tech company. I liked the professional approach to their daily routine, the emphasis on hard and soft skills, and also the tone of voice that was professional and friendly at the same time. For me, it’s really important to know that the employer respects me as much as I respect him, which is not the case in all areas of activity. Thus, I finally made the professional change I wanted.

What keeps me in IT Teams?

On one hand, there are my colleagues from whom I have always had something to learn, and on the other hand, there are a variety of projects. For me, it’s important to have quality people around me, because I like to get inspired and be permanently challenged with tasks or projects that make me think and get creative when it comes to finding a solution. It is also important to be assigned to projects where I am constantly learning new things.

What satisfies you both professionally and personally?

The IT industry is a fascinating field in itself due to the speed with which it’s evolving. For me, however, the B2B environment in which I work at IT Teams is very important. I’m more than a programmer. I am in direct contact with clients where I am involved in every aspect of the services that are to be offered. I have the freedom to make recommendations as well as advise them in choosing the necessary technology. Moreover, I can always reach out to my senior colleagues if there is an area I am not familiar with. In an IT company, you are surrounded by smart people who inspire you from a personal perspective as well. I like the fact that I can work remotely and that I have time to take care of my family and travel.

What about your professional development in recent years? What were the main things you learned in IT Teams?

I don’t believe in the formal learning processes of reading a textbook and then applying what you have learned works every time. I prefer learning on the job and seeing how things are done instead of someone only explaining it to me. IT Teams offered me the environment where I gained a lot of knowledge through my co-worker with whom I collaborate on various projects. I strongly believe that this is how I developed new technical skills and progressed professionally. Working at IT Teams has helped me a lot develop customer interaction skills, especially when it comes to international customers. I learned how to communicate with them according to their culture, mentality, professional profile, and approach. I always felt treated like a professional, regardless of whom I’ve spoken with, and during this time I had the opportunity to interact with several people in the top management of some large companies or the diplomatic area. Working mainly with international clients, I also understood that for them I represent a part of Romania and I like to believe that due to my communication skills, attitude and results I contributed a little to the improvement of Romania’s image abroad.

What was the most captivating/ challenging project you’ve been involved in?

During my time at IT Teams, there were several projects I would have worked on for free. One exciting experience was with a client from Israel and the thrill came especially from being part of a great team. We had time to think, and during the meetings we engaged in discussions, work scenarios and possible directions in which we could develop the project, which was very exhilarating. Working in such an environment becomes a pleasure.

How do you see the soft skills-hard skills ratio and what are the elements that bring a higher value to a team?

In IT Teams we are all good on a technical level, this is why I believe that empathy and communication become the elements that bring value. Teamwork is difficult without soft skills and I would dare to say that, for harmony to exist in the team, even the way you breathe is of the utmost importance while interacting with others. I think we need to be able to talk and listen because this is the only way we can understand and make ourselves understood. At this level, we all have something to learn, especially since the pandemic has severely limited our interactions, and communication(mostly online) is vital for a mutually beneficial relationship.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’m 33 years old, I am from Targu-Jiu, and before working in the IT industry I played football at a professional level. I trained at Marius Lăcătuş’s school, and as a junior, I played for Poiana Campina and Steaua. I played for a B series Italian football team called Modena. However, a serious accident cut short my sporting stint and was forced to make a career change. Luckily I’ve loved technology and programming since I was a professional footballer, so I signed up for the Politehnica University of Bucharest, which I later gave up and got a job. My first PC was a 486, and the first programming language I learned was Turbo Pascal. I like to play FIFA on my PlayStation, but I also enjoy other sports-related games. I don’t like shooters or social media.

As a footballer, I mastered my discipline and rigor, but also a practical way of learning. In order to learn how to dribble or code I don’t like to immerse myself in books, but I seek to analyze everything that needs to be done and practice it myself.