My thoughts on engineering, working for a techie CEO and why kids should learn programming
November 4, 2020
Luiz Felipe Garcia Pereira is a senior software engineer on the Page Builder team at Shogun. Before joining the company, he dabbled in front-end and mobile development, created the first Android application for Baixaki (1.5 million downloads in the Google Play Store!) and specialized in Ruby in past software engineering roles.
In this Q&A interview, Luiz talks about how an early interest in computer games sparked his career in tech, the significance of working for a CEO who’s also a software engineer and the dangers of perceiving technology as “magic.”
Luiz joined the team in February 2020.
Q: How did you get started as a software engineer?
A: I started pretty early when I was about 15 years old. I’ve always loved games, especially computer ones, and this led me to wonder how they were actually built.
On my 15th birthday, I asked my father to get me the book “C/C++ for Beginners” as a gift. After that, I was pretty certain this would become my career.
Q: Nice! Were you largely self-taught?
A: I guess you could say that. I went to college and got a degree in the field, but I feel like I learned the most from doing my own projects. Because I got started a bit early, college was somewhat easy for me, so I did a lot of projects on my own, mostly related to games.
As a result:
I didn’t come out of college like a deer in headlights with zero real-world knowledge, and
I didn’t miss out on a lot of the more theoretical side of software development that you don’t always get when you’re exclusively self-taught.
The combination of being self-taught and getting an official education provided me with the best of both worlds.
Q: You’ve worked in a couple different specialities throughout your career, mostly from home. Since this is “Remote Life,” tell me: What do you like and dislike about remote work?
A: I like the amount of time it gave back to my life, just by removing the commute. The flexibility to move my schedule is also a game changer for me. I don’t see myself ever going back to an office willingly.
What I dislike most is the lack of a separation between work and life. Since a good portion of my entertainment also comes from the computer, there’s not a lot of distinction between work and everything else, aside from mentally making a note of, “Hey, my day is over now.” It takes some discipline — and even some rituals — to tell your mind to stop working in the background.
Q: What do you enjoy about working at Shogun?
A: I really like how everyone around here is treated like an actual human being! At every other job I’ve had, it was very clear that I was an employee first, then a human. At Shogun, it feels like everyone is genuinely interested in “the person,” which makes the job even more rewarding.
On the technical side, I absolutely love how much the teams are always trying to improve. And we’re not afraid to be self-critical. Many companies simply turn a blind eye to issues and never make time for engineers to actually fix problems. Here at Shogun, we’re critical of our own decisions and rules, which in turn leads to growth for everyone.
Also, I think it’s very important that engineers are the ones making engineering decisions. It sounds so obvious, but many companies let business people decide on technical matters.
Q: Do you think Finbarr’s (Shogun’s CEO) experience as a software engineer helped influence this working environment?
A: Finbarr was the first CEO I encountered who actually walked the walk. And some of the code he wrote still lives in our codebases, believe it or not!
Many CEOs claim to be “technical,” but they’re a tech power-user, at most. Because of Finbarr’s background, he knows exactly how it feels to be an engineer churning out code day-to-day. So, I think he used that to make sure we have an awesome environment for people who love to code.
Q: Tying your career back to learning about computers as a child, do you think society should do more to foster this interest in kids and teenagers?
A: Absolutely. It’s a shame we don’t do more of this already. Kids these days are using technology almost every single day, but unless you actually teach them about how these things work, they stay magical.
As the famous saying by Arthur C. Clarke goes, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And when things are perceived as magic, people can very easily be abused by those who possess this knowledge and wish to do so.
Programming should be just as important as math, if not more so. Technological knowledge ends up being practical knowledge, and pays dividends the more our society relies on it.
Q: What advice would you give to a prospective software engineer?
A: If you want to become a software engineer, now’s the time. The internet is absolutely full of resources for you to learn about any area you want to specialize in. Do some research, pick topics that interest you, and read about and try them out.
Once you’ve settled on an area of interest, read the theory, and then build as much software as you can. In the end, nothing beats experience, so the earlier you start, the earlier you will make mistakes and learn from them.
Q: I can tell how much you love technology throughout this interview. What do you like most about being a software engineer?
A: The fact that it “pierces the veil” of magic behind most things we use today. Once you understand that everything comes out of a few basic ideas around ones and zeroes, it opens your mind to everything else that was built on top of it.
It never ceases to amaze me how much our world relies on software.
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