Meet the Team: Q&A with Clara Gila

What is your role at Hadean? What does an average week look like for you? 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 […]

Laura Nigri May 28, 2021

What is your role at Hadean? What does an average week look like for you?

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 🙂

Has the Pandemic had a negative impact on your job ?

For the past, nearly six years now, I’ve worked as a remote worker. I was rather fed up with constantly moving around from job to job city to city in the games industry and when I moved to Germany I felt I had found my home and no longer wanted to keep moving so I decided to try working remotely. I actually found I loved it. Technology has reached the point where we don’t need to commute to the office everyday and create unnecessary pollution now the internet and the cloud exist. 

Hadean, thankfully, supports remote working for many roles across the company which I am extremely grateful for.

So to answer the question I love remote work and therefore haven’t been affected by the pandemic, it’s business as usual. I’ve also appreciated the support I received in getting the correct equipment bought for me to enable me to do my job to the best of my ability.

How would you describe Hadean’s culture?

Like a family. Unlike any other jobs I’ve had, as I’ve already mentioned, life at Hadean has been exciting and motivating. 

A rich tapestry of highly intelligent individuals with a plethora of knowledge, in so many areas of the business are always great to talk to at social events, which the company tries hard to involve us all in. Even during the Covid pandemic Hadean didn’t cancel events; they made them fun and inventive even when we were all in a lockdown and in our homes.

What top three skills or traits do you think someone needs to pursue a role in Marketing at hadean?

  • Speed is priority. When the company needs something done it needs to be done quickly and effectively.
  • A range of skills. Some might say be a jack of all trades and a master of none is a bad thing but at Hadean we need to move in many directions and have the skills available to fulfil any brief that lands on my desk
  • A thick skin. Obviously not everything is instantly accepted as the “final solution” – not every concept makes it into the public domain. You cannot feel like this is a failure, but rather learn and move on from the experience. An often cited quote within Hadean is, “it’s okay to fail, but fail forward.”

What are some of the most exciting challenges you face day-to-day and how do you overcome them?

The work is never monotonous, there are so many new challenges here at Hadean that work life is never boring and you are respected for working through a problem and coming up with the answer.

I myself have had the opportunity to work in three departments, at Hadean, in the three years I’ve been here. I would have never had that opportunity at other companies I’ve worked at in the past. I was in Marketing then the Research Department, a Product Manager and then finally back to Marketing. Hadean allows you to identify your “genius zone” and I am very thankful that People Operations helps you to grow and improve as the company grows. It’s a unique experience for me.

What would you say is the most fulfilling part of your role at Hadean?

I have a supportive network of colleagues around me that treat me as their equal. 

I am an individual who gets bored rather quickly and enjoys bouncing around between many different pieces of software. At Hadean I have all the tools and support I need to try different things in order to best complete my work.

The higher level management provides assurance, enabling you to discover new opportunities and skills that you may not have even known you had – ultimately guiding you towards an individual “genius zone”.

How long have you been at Hadean and what other Jobs have you done?

Again, slightly unique in this area.

Basically I was brought into Hadean around three years ago to help them create a marketing presence in the Games Industry. As a deep tech company they didn’t have the ability to produce the right visual concepts needed to communicate directly to the games industry. With ten years prior experience I set to work helping to create visuals and demos aimed solely at the games sector. Now three years later I work for a company that has partnered with some of the games industries biggest names for example Epic, CCP and Minecraft. 

So after we’d hit record numbers of players ingame with EVE Online we decided to create the Innovation Hub, to help us explore other industries the Aether Engine could scale, outside of gaming.

After a while in the research department I was asked if I wanted to join Product which was a totally new avenue of my career to explore and I’m glad I did. It gave me a great insight into the functionality of our product and allowed me to be involved in fulfilling the requirements of our customers for future interactions of the Aether Engine. I worked as a product Manager/Owner for a year until Marketing required my visual storytelling skills again. So in a big arc I was back where I started three years ago but by this time marketing had become a fully functioning department. Hadean had grown significantly and the startup I joined had now moved into the next phase. I had witnessed the company grow exponentially around me and it felt very motivating to have been a part of the growth.

It’s been an incredible journey with Hadean to see things grow from a small demo we all worked on three years ago to where we are today. I am so glad to have been able to be a part of that adventure and I look forward to witnessing the next steps our company takes.