Career Insight: Interview with Ayoub Gacem
“The variety of projects and technologies at Zühlke is amazing. It feels like a colourful bunch of flowers, with tons of different options and lots of opportunities to learn.”
When Ayoub Gacem, Advanced Software Engineer at Zühlke, joined our team three months ago, he decided to begin his Zühlke journey with a challenge. When he was offered a range of customer projects to choose from, he went for the one that presented him with the biggest learning curve.
“I hadn’t fully mastered the technologies used in the project yet, nor did I have much experience with DevOps Engineering, which was an essential aspect of the project” says Ayoub, “but the client was open to this setup, and I saw an opportunity to grow that I did not want to miss.”
Insight in brief
- Learn how Ayoub mastered his first challenge right after joining Zühlke.
- Discover how Zühlke supports the development of its employees.
- Find out what Ayoub recommends to new colleagues starting at Zühlke.
You dived headfirst into a challenge when you started at Zühlke.
How did that go?
Things started right away. Maria, our project manager, took me in on my first day and told me everything I needed to know about the project: history, technologies, mindset, the customer and the business case, project setup and how the team was working together. I quickly realized that I had made the right decision. From the way she talked about the project and the culture at Zühlke in general, I understood that the people and their development were given great importance in this company. That´s why I felt confident that, with the help of my teammates, I would be able to tackle the challenge.
Did you have any fears or concerns before starting the project?
For sure. I was a bit scared, as I was about to go out of my comfort zone, jumping into a new topic. I wasn’t exactly in my area of expertise. I’m trained in Java Development and was about to become a DevOps Engineer. I wasn’t sure how I would perform and how the team would react. But Maria assured me that both the team and our long-time client had agreed to this setup, as they knew that people who can learn something in their projects are highly motivated to deliver great value, which not only helps to retain an engaged team, but also supports the client's vision in the long run. Plus, I figured that as Engineers, learning is part of our daily work, so I just went for it.
How did it go?
I was happy to find that the team was really supportive. My teammates did, and are still doing, a great job in helping me become more confident with the tasks at hand. They help me understand the architecture and the requirements. They accompany me through my tasks, providing explanations and pointing me to documentation and all kind of support. I am lucky to benefit from their experience and their willingness to share their knowledge.
Can you tell us a bit more about the project?
I work as a DevOps Engineer on a digital service platform for a customer who needs to set up and monitor the infrastructure for his services to run smoothly. We are currently working on an automated solution for switching between active and inactive clusters. The solution needs to be designed to meet high availability requirements, which is not an easy task, but a great challenge for us. And I am learning something new every day: from Kubernetes to Azure DevOps, Pipelines, CI/CD and plenty of other tools.
What do you like most about working on the project?
I really like the way we work. As the team has been working on the project for some time now, it has become fully self-organised. All members of the team participate in all tasks. We don't have a specifically assigned area within our defined role but instead get the chance to pick different topics that interest us. Every time a new sprint starts, each team member decides what task they want to take on. We have Scrum meetings every day where we talk about the progress and where we need help.
Has that always gone well so far?
Surprisingly, yes. I think this is because, despite all the freedom and the aspiration to grow personally in the project, our focus remains on how we can bring the biggest value to the customer. Even though we can pick and choose our tasks, we want to do so reasonably. When I see a complex task with eight story points, for example, I’ll usually decide to leave that to someone more experienced to make good use of the time and customer budget.
What did the rest of your onboarding at Zühlke feel like?
Everything went really smoothly. On my first day, I was warmly welcomed at the office by Silvija, our Office Manager here in Munich. She walked me through the premises and introduced me to my new colleagues. I was happy to find my office ready with all I needed to start, including a great welcoming card that made my day :). I also met my Zühlke Buddy, Matthias, who helped me with my hardware setup, explained a few practical things and organized a team lunch where I could chat with my new colleagues.
What's a Zühlke Buddy?
Every ‘Zühlke Newbie’ is assigned a ‘Zühlke Buddy’ who helps them settle in during the first few weeks. To me, this was very precious. Having someone who is dedicated to getting you started and supporting you is a great help. Even now, three months later, I still consider Matthias my buddy, as he is always happy to talk and answer my questions, and even became my career coach.
Why did you decide to join Zühlke in the first place?
I chose to join Zühlke mainly because its good reputation seemed to be in step with the reality lived. The amazing variety of projects and technologies at Zühlke excited me the most. It felt to me like a colourful bunch of flowers, with tons of different options and lots of opportunities to learn. The number of employees was also one of the parameters I considered; it was important to me to join a company big enough to attract interesting projects, yet small enough to keep things casual.
What would you recommend to new colleagues starting at Zühlke?
Have fun, enjoy learning, and don’t be afraid of new topics. The team and colleagues will always help you. As long as you remain open minded, stay curious about new tech stacks and are ready to learn from the team, everyone will be there to help you grow.
What´s next? What are you looking forward to?
My new personal challenge is to improve my German in an intensive course, which I am really looking forward to. I'm also excited about exploring more of the Zühlke world; getting to know more people and participating in events and get-togethers, like the ‘Bier um Vier’ on Fridays or the ‘Table Soccer Tournaments’ here at the Munich office. And I’m particularly looking forward to participating in the famous Zühlke Camp, where everyone from the organisation gets together for a few days, socialises, and tinkers with new innovations.
Ayoub is an Advanced Software Engineer and joined Zühlke in June 2021. He holds a Master of Science in Computer Software Engineering and is trained in Java Development. In his current customer project, he is working on a digital service platform as a DevOps Engineer.