Currently based out of New Zealand, Zoltan Debre is the Principal Software Engineer here at WorkTango. He is a key part of the outstanding team of developers WorkTango has put together, and is passionate about building solutions that make people’s lives and the world a better place.
Continue reading for a breakdown of his voyage to WorkTango, his role and the things that keep him busy outside of the (home) office.
Give an overview of your journey to WorkTango
Zoltan’s passion lies in software development and building solutions to problems – which he started off doing at the age of 12 by building accounting software for his father! He is always on the hunt for his next challenge and in 2021, was actively looking for an opportunity with an organization in Canada. He eventually wants to move to the country permanently, but the first step was to land a job.
Zoltan’s most recent employer was a large bank, but has had previous experience at startups and was keen to get back to his roots and join an organization that was in the midst of significant growth, and one that made an impact on the lives of people every day.
When on the hunt for his next opportunity, Zoltan found WorkTango on LinkedIn through the Principal Software Engineer job posting. After combing through the website, he was excited to see the value WorkTango brings, and the big names they support.
“In previous roles, I would receive surveys and fill them out but I was interested to see what it was like from the other side. WorkTango has an interesting technology and I was excited to learn about it, and improve it.” – Zoltan
As a software engineer, Zoltan is always hungry for a challenge and loves learning new things. The position at WorkTango provided him both and was in an industry he hadn’t worked in before which forced him to step out of his comfort zone. Zoltan applied to the position, underwent the interview process and came out the other side as an official member of the team.
“I could see myself growing at WorkTango, so I was happy to come aboard. When you have a tool such as this, it brings attention to important feelings or aspects of your work and life. It’s getting more and more important.” – Zoltan
The need and value for employee engagement tools is only growing and getting more important. To keep up, you need a knowledgeable partner to build a solution and strategy that’s right for your organization.
For more information on WorkTango’s software and services, download the paper to the right.
What makes you the most excited about working here?
In Zoltan’s experience as a software engineer, there are a few red flags to watch out for in organizations.
“There are a few levels of maturity in organizations – from junior all the way up to director or senior management.
A junior role, with little experience, promises a lot in their solution but doesn’t think about the long-term or lasting impacts resulting from the way their solution is designed.
In an intermediate role, you have the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t but the problem is that you think you can solve everything yourself, and build solutions from scratch. This isn’t maintainable at all.
A senior role will research and try new technologies with an opinionated solution to ensure it’s maintainable. There needs to be documentation so onboarding and knowledge-sharing are easy. You are architecting your solution.
At WorkTango, we are always problem-solving in the mentality of a senior role and ensure the longevity and performance of any solution are maximized.”
According to the software engineer, in WorkTango’s case, they also recognize the Pareto principle (80/20 rule) and implement 80% of the solution with 20% of the work. WorkTango experiments and thinks before diving into the problem.
This is a big benefit to being on a high-performance team, but the real value is realized through the tens of thousands of employees and managers that leverage the solution.
WorkTango’s problem-solving ability, strategy and value they deliver to their customers make Zoltan excited to be a part of the team.
If you could change one thing about your role as a Software Engineer, what would that be?
WorkTango has seen significant growth over the last couple of years and as a result, is moving out of its startup roots and into more of a small/mid-market organization. With that, the company has increased responsibility due to the growing number of clients and is taking on more product improvement and collecting more customer feedback than ever before.
Principal software engineer Zoltan states that “Right now, the focus is on solving the problem, but the team has more responsibility with more clients so, our focus needs to shift from ad hoc decisions to solution architecture. Investing in frameworks or tools that more people can understand gives us the freedom to focus on important tasks.”
He also adds “This makes it easier to onboard other developers and brings them up to speed quickly. New hires might also have past experience with the tool, making it even more seamless and finally, you don’t have to think about the underlying technology.”
At a high level, Zoltan would like to move towards a more holistic, sophisticated solution architecture. “But these things take time, money and resources to complete” he emphasizes.
One thing Zoltan does not want to change is the culture. He enjoys the cross-team collaboration and the flexibility WorkTango gives him to troubleshoot and work in a way he feels is best. WorkTango has established a top-notch culture and Zoltan would not want processes or procedures to get in the way of that.
If you want help creating a top-notch culture, or just want to start (or build upon) an employee engagement strategy, schedule a demo below to talk to us!
What’s it like working for a Canadian company from New Zealand?
Everyone’s had their fair share of remote work struggles, but imagine being in a completely opposite time zone and country! The principal software engineer has experienced just that.
“Working remotely isn’t the exact same if you are in a different country like I am. If you’re in the same time zone, city or office knowledge sharing is easily facilitated – even when you don’t realize it’s happening.”
This is a struggle Zoltan and the team are doing their best to overcome. Recording videos, meeting notes and thorough documentation of processes makes things easier for all parties involved. Zoltan knows what transpired while he was away, and vice versa.
“It’s important to share thoughts, conversations and especially decisions if they took place over a water cooler talk or in a more casual setting. Remote work is difficult for some, but WorkTango is doing their best to make it seamless.”
Zoltan and the team are working hard to increase collaboration and communication within the organization to make working from New Zealand easier. But aside from small remote work arrangements, Zoltan says the experience has been more than he anticipated and loves the work that he does every day.
The software engineer did reiterate “I love working at WorkTango, the culture is amazing, the people are intelligent and the work they do is meaningful.”
Zoltan has plans to move to Canada in 2022 with his wife and dog Mango. Soon he will be right in the midst of work chit-chat and banter.
What advice would you give others looking to join WorkTango from abroad?
“Be the passionate researcher type who is constantly learning. I don’t think we can emphasize this enough; this job lends itself well to those that are willing to and seek out trying, learning and experimenting in new ways.”
Not only did Zoltan highlight the importance of begin a lifelong learner, but he also touched on one’s problem-solving ability and how it influences your everyday life – including work.
Zoltan explains that whether you’re buying a house or doing developing software, you don’t have to worry about what the exact final solution will be from the beginning, be agile and take it one step at a time. “What agility means in real life is breaking down large problems into manageable pieces. You can solve almost anything this way and it’s key to our development process. ”
Besides proving that you can learn and solve problems, Zoltan recommends doing your research – just as he did – before applying. This is the best way to get a sense of what the organization is all about, their values (or virtues) And what problem they are helping the world to solve.
If you come prepared with questions, familiarity with our product and service, a lifelong learner mindset and sprinkle in a little industry knowledge – you’ll be difficult to turn away.
When you’re not working, what keeps you busy?
As a Principal Software Engineer, Zoltan confesses that he’s a “typical geek” and enjoys strategy games, science fiction movies, reading and mentoring others.
“I like learning, researching and experimenting. It’s important to be open when teaching and it helps me to understand and think in a different mindset.”
Outside of a professional setting, Zoltan’s ideal weekend starts with a brunch and barista flat white in an oceanside cafe, spent in the beautiful New Zealand nature hiking; and enjoying a night out with great food, jazz music, and craft beer.
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