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Interview Ben Sedee, aNewSpring

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Parts of the Interview:

 We are currently looking for Java developers

The Interview:

About The Company


What do you like most about aNewSpring as a company?

The company culture. We’re all proud to be part of the company and we’re all very willing to help each other. Help each other grow professionally, help each other if there are problems. All while having fun and with a win-win mindset.
This company culture also shows in our regular company outings. On the last big one we all went to Faro, in Portugal, for a weekend, including the developers from Skopje. It was really nice being together with everyone in the company, we had a great time!

What is the company’s vision?

To help people learn by developing the best learning technology out there. We want to build the best online learning platform out there, for trainers and training providers. The participants of our customers should be getting the best and most personalised learning journey offering they can, anywhere and at any time of their choosing.


Why should anyone join aNewSpring?

To be a part of that amazing culture, for one. In addition, aNewSpring is continuously growing its client base, we’ve recently expanded to Australia for example. Such expansion is always interesting for developers as well, because it means our application is now hosted in multiple regions. To become more resilient and scalable in the future, to keep up with the business demands, it’s up to us to transform the application even further. We have active plans to start using Docker containers and we’re investigating how to “break down the monolith” as they say, to start using more microservices. If that’s not interesting, I don’t know what is?

You as a developer

Why (and how) did you become a developer?

I started out as a developer 10 years ago, at aNewSpring. After high school I went on to study Computer Science at the Technical University in Delft where I graduated in 2013. aNewSpring allowed me to combine my passions for Computer Science and education (I’m also a licensed high school teacher) into a job and gave me the opportunity to finish my studies while working.


What was your biggest development blunder?

My biggest blunder to date (bigger ones are just around the corner, right?) is a mistake I made in a part of the licensing code. Due to that mistake some clients were actually not being charged for the licenses they used, so it could’ve cost the company quite some money… Luckily, together with our Customer Success team we managed to be ahead of the situation and inform the clients. And with the help of two other developers we remedied it (and made sure it wouldn’t happen in the future, of course).
Or would it be that time where I accidentally crashed the whole production server for about an hour during a JDK-update…?


And what is your biggest achievement?

Personally, I’d say my progress from developer to now being the Team Lead. It shows what kind of growth is possible within the company, for those that have the ambition to grow. When it comes to features, I am proud to have been a major contributor to our plus-editor, the tool that the content-creators of the platform use to create their content. It’s pretty flexible for the end-user and heavily used by them.


Way of working

laptop photo

If a developer is not convinced of your ideas, what do you do?

Ask the developer what’s wrong and see if there might be better ideas. We’re always open to new ideas and we strive to have an open and collaborative culture in which everyone can contribute. If that means disagreeing with me, by all means please do, we can only learn from each other, right?


If someone delivers code that needs improvement, what do you do?

Comment on it during a code review. We have code reviews in place for all commits that are done, no matter who does them. So if I deliver code that needs improvement (and believe me, even after 10 years my code can still be improved in one way or the other) someone else will always have a look and comment on it if it can be improved upon. That kind of feedback is always welcome and highly valued; we’re all working towards the same goal of making the best platform there is, and that simply starts at producing good quality code. By and for everyone.


How do you experience working with Macedonian developers?

I really like it. They are really open and honest in their communication, which is what “we Dutchies” get accused of being sometimes as well, so I think that matches really well. They have a good work ethos, always doing their best to deliver the best possible code. They are always willing to help think about the direction in which the teams should be going and to give their input on those things.
Plus, when we’re able to get together, they always seem to know the best places in town to grab a beer after work or go to dinner. I’ve been to Skopje a number of times over the past few years, and they’ve never let me down when it comes to food, drinks, and having a good time.


Are there opportunities for advancement or professional development in your company?

Of course! Just look at my own professional growth, from developer to ScrumMaster and now to Team Lead. We have an active trainee-team and program, where we offer trainees the opportunity to grow to being a junior developer, and beyond. We’re slowly transitioning towards a more DevOps-mentality within the team, which means developers will also need to gain some knowledge on how the various AWS Services work and operate, for which we give the opportunity to follow courses, read a book, do exams, etc.. And of course our bi-weekly “book club”, where we discuss some chapters of a development-related book that everyone has read for that week.

We have implemented a model for professional and personal growth at aNewSpring that’s being applied throughout the company, so it’s clear on all sides what the expectations are and what can be done.


 We are currently looking for Java developers

Macedonian team

What does a long-term cooperation mean to you? / What is your vision for the Macedonian team?

We try our very best to incorporate the Macedonian team into the Dutch company as much as we can. In the daily business, there isn’t even a real Macedonian team, the developers in Skopje are all divided over the different Scrum-teams that we currently have in place. In the long term, I hope to expand the whole development department with some more Scrum-teams, which will mean quite an expansion in Skopje as well. If it’s all up to me, that is…


When people gain experience over the years, will their salary grow as well?

Of course! Can’t make any promises, obviously, but as people grow professionally, so does their salary.


Describe your Macedonian team in five words:

Fun, professional, cooperative, no-nonsense, positive.


How have the developers improved since you started working with them?

I can see the developers I’ve been working with have grown professionally. They have not only simply gained experience, they’ve also gained knowledge of new techniques and achieved some certificates as well. Some are actively participating in our Architecture Guild, the lead for the trainees grew from the Skopje team, we’ve grown a QA-team there. All examples of how developers have grown and improved since we started working with the Macedonian team.


What are the biggest challenges in this job that someone would face?

In general of course the biggest challenge is to keep up with the ever changing landscape of new technologies. Of course we try to accommodate that as best we can and we actively stimulate professional growth, but that would be the biggest challenge.


What do you like best about Macedonia / Skopje?

The food, definitely.


What don’t you like about it? (careful now)

The traffic. I still remember one time I visited Skopje and I found this billboard standing in the middle of the bike lane… In the Netherlands, something like that would be unheard of. As a Dutch person I’m used to riding my bike to work every day, but I wouldn’t dare ride a bike in Skopje to be honest.


What is your favorite movie?

Lord of the Rings, the trilogy


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