Meet the Team: Q&A with Clara Gila
I am a combination of a Research Engineer and a Software Engineer at Hadean. Because of the stage of the company Hadean’s at, my attributions are quite varied. This keeps me on my toes and I can hardly remember two weeks that looked the same. A job at Hadean does not give you the “opportunity” to get bored and I believe that is a good thing. Amongst things I’ve been doing recently, I can recall helping improve the performance of our engine (Aether), breaking down the requirements coming down from Product in order to come up with a technical description for a new feature, looking into different verticals our tech can be applied to or integrating EnTT with our engine. What I love the most is that even though my job changes so much, the majority of my time is still spent coding and coming up with solutions for different hard problems, which is what I came here to do.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The trust people have in you making important decisions. The size and structure of Hadean means that every developer’s decision on design and implementation counts massively towards the success of that slice of the codebase. Another thing that goes hand in hand with this which I love is that we have a no blame culture, everyone is doing their best and in case something slips between the cracks, we all focus on solving the issue together, not on who introduced the regression. Lastly, but potentially the aspect that came in play most when I joined, is that the job itself focuses on an interesting area in computer science, distributed systems. In this field, it’s hard to find a fun and fulfilling job that deals with hard problems outside academia.
You joined Hadean fairly recently and of course, during the pandemic. What led you to this role and how did you find settling in?
After my masters, I was looking for something challenging, research related in a field similar to distributed systems that would not require me to have completed a PhD. I found out about Hadean through my thesis supervisor and after talking to Mimi, the head of Ops, I never looked back; Hadean seemed to be a perfect fit. Settling in was surprisingly easy! I’m not going to lie, it is still surreal that I have only seen a couple of people from the company in person, but because everyone is so open and happy to chat, I’ve never had a problem with remote work. It can feel a bit disheartening to start your first “real job” during a pandemic, but people at Hadean made me feel like I was part of the team from the beginning and the mentorship provided helped me get up to speed with my job in record time!
What top three skills or traits do you think someone needs to pursue a role as a Research Engineer?
Inquisitiveness is a good one to have because most times a researcher needs to make connections between seemingly unrelated ideas and the best way of doing this is by asking questions unapologetically. Resilience is a close second as it is often the case that several approaches do not work and keeping spirits high while bashing your head against a hard problem is key to not giving up. On the other side, knowing when to stop pursuing a fruitless path is equally important because there is always the temptation of delving into detail further, instead of keeping the work timeboxed and reiterating on its priority given new information.
What are some of the most exciting challenges you face day-to-day and how do you overcome them?
The frequent changes in priority between different projects, tickets or work-streams is something that I personally find challenging as switching the context between multiple topics can take time. However, that’s what keeps work interesting and given that new challenges are what drive people towards innovation and new opportunities, it’s also something I’ve learned to appreciate. Because of this, I’ve learned things I did not expect to in the past few months or so, including how to effectively work as a self-organising squad, mentoring, cross compilation and onboarding new engineers, to name a few.
How would you describe Hadean’s culture?
Hadean’s culture is based on trust. Everyone trusts each other that they are doing the right thing and making the right decisions after investigating all the options. People are given the room to grow on their own, but whenever something is unclear, everyone is more than happy to help – we value being open and asking questions as we strongly believe in the “there are no stupid questions” idea.
What would you say is the most fulfilling part of your role at Hadean?
It’s probably a sum of small things, really. Seeing a feature I designed or implemented being released to the customers, looking at a problem and figuring out an elegant solution for it straight away, learning sneaky tricks in performance analysis or beautiful design patterns from more experienced devs, code compiling without any warnings or errors first try… It’s always the small things that come naturally while growing in areas one would and wouldn’t expect from such a job 🙂