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We The People - André Santos

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope your week has been as interesting as ours was, here at Fidel. In case you missed all the excitement, let me give you a little hint. Google launched a new Google Pay experience this week, and we were particularly happy for them.

If you've seen last week's interview with Katherine, you probably know what I'm doing here. But just in case you haven't, I've come up with a way to get to know my new colleagues here at Fidel, through an interview series title "We the People at Fidel". I've sat down this week with Andre Santos. I've asked him a few questions, trying to get to know him a little better. Join me on this journey, and let's see what Andre had to say!

A: Tell me a bit about yourself.

Hi all, my name is André, and I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in early 1985. Since fairly young, I felt a passion for anything and everything technological. This always growing passion was probably the reason I followed a computer science education that always kept me engaged, and even motivated me to pursue a doctorate. These academic years gave me time to dig deep into engineering areas I was incredibly interested in. Further enthusiasm for this field came from realising its infinite possibilities for creation and innovation. That led me to join several different organisations throughout my professional career, where I was able to produce both consumer and enterprise tools and products. Fidel is where my journey is at right now, as a Senior Backend Engineer.

A: Why did you join Fidel?

André: Fidel came into my life in a fortunate stroke of serendipity. I was interested in a new professional challenge and was scouting for projects that could spawn my curiosity. I got introduced to Fidel one day, and I have to confess I was not much interested in the fintech industry. And as such, was not really taken to the Fidel opportunity. Funny how things change. As the recruiting process advanced, I got to meet members of the team. Which gave me more details on what Fidel was doing, how it was doing it, and most importantly, what it would be doing in the future and how I could help. It grew on me. I got increasingly interested, passed the tech-challenges, discussed ideas and ultimately accepted the proposal to join Fidel.

A: What’s the tech stack you currently use?

André: Currently, at Fidel, there are several sets of tech-stacks. Still, mostly the focus is on a full-stack JavaScript environment tailored to the AWS cloud infrastructure. Daily backend development gets you mostly involved in JavaScript and TypeScript, with a Serverless mindset and leveraging on an AWS-first infrastructure based on lambdas, DynamoDB, SQS, SNS, Cognito, and many, many others. There is a “right tool for the job” mentality, which means you also find some Java and Objective-C around. This stack can and for sure will adapt as time goes on and as our technology radar picks up something better or more productive.

A: How does a typical day look like for you?

André: My workday routine starts by checking any nightly events for any pressing issues. Mornings continue with the daily standup meeting and any follow-up meetings to discuss specific tasks that require brainstorming. Afterwards, its programming time! I strive to always have a plan of what I want to accomplish during the day, plan which I define the day before. I usually try to combine issue, feature and tech-debt tasks whenever possible, which gives me a sense of moving forward in more than one dimension. Depending on the weekday, there might be other engineering meetings in the afternoon. Pull request reviews, and pair programming sessions also appear scattered in between tasks. More towards the end of the day, I try to read and investigate ongoing topics that we have on the table so that I can reflect on the day and thus adapt and plan for the next one.

A: What are some of the most interesting technical challenges you’re solving?

André: Being at Fidel for a little over two months now, the initial challenge was getting acquainted with all of Fidel’s ecosystem. As the onboarding progressed and I got more comfortable within the multiple services and features, I got increasingly involved in more interesting challenges related to refactoring and creating new microservices, and tailoring sets of card network processing tasks to specific infrastructure regions. In a bigger picture, as a company, the incredible continuous growth translates technologically into additional challenges of scalability, reliability, availability, you name it. These, thankfully, lead to not one, but several “next technical challenges” to solve, which is incredibly motivating, both for myself and for the whole team. Not having these challenges would not only be dull but would probably mean the company was not being disruptive enough. And we for sure don’t want that!

A: How do you keep up with current trends and advances in software development?

André: Personally, I am very curious about multiple fields within software engineering and as such, I try to follow a large set of tech-related sources. This translates into reading, reading, reading. Sometimes it is overwhelming because of the fast rate at which technology advances, but I try to do my best. Good triage is essential. When a particular technology, such as an architecture, library or programming language catches my attention, I usually invest some time on a side project where I can try it out. Since joining Fidel, I added a new source to my set, because as a group, the engineering team is also very keen on sharing new topics of interest.

A: Any tips for people that want to join you at Fidel?

André: Sure. I would suggest starting with reviewing the fintech industry to gather domain context and knowledge, namely on players, digital payments and trends. This will help understand the concepts that will be present in your daily work regardless of the area you might be directly involved with. More specifically to the engineering area, I suggest reviewing cloud architectures and patterns tailored to AWS, ins and outs of full-stack JavaScript development, and other general computer science topics that will be useful in discussions, such as scalability, availability, APIs, and microservices.