From Software Engineer to Human Engineer

“The world is in a constant change, growing with those changes is up to you”
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About VW Digital Solutions

Hi readers! First of all, and before taking you with me on this exciting journey of discovering my human side within engineering, let me introduce myself. I’m Pedro Flores, 31 years old, born in Santarém and currently living in Amadora. I’ve been working in the tech sector for eight years now, having joined VWDS in January 2020 as a Software Engineer for SDC, one of the three tech units at VWDS.

Now that you know me, or of me, we’re all set to deep dive in my trip at VWDS. I’ve always had an inclining for technology when I was growing up, which became more noticeable during high school when I was introduced to programming. It was love at first sight. I’ve also ventured my way into the labour market with a passion for coding and architecture solutions and, seeing it all come together was definitely the icing on the cake. It was probably the same for some of you developers reading this article!

Taking into consideration my career path, you can tell I was definitely shy and at that time, participating in people-oriented meetings, wasn’t really my cup of tea. But thankfully things have changed drastically since then.

The journey of a Software Engineer at VWDS

You’re now probably wondering – how did I get here and what am I doing?

Let’s start from the top. What lead me to apply and eventually join VWDS, was the need to grow and feel valued, which I thing is a shared goal when applying to a job. Apart from the personal side of the job, it was required that I could develop and maintain software applications; collaborate with cross-functional teams to design and implement software solutions; write clean, efficient, and high-quality code; conduct code reviews and provide constructive feedback; and continuously improve software development processes and methodologies. To sum up, this was the role that was asked of any Software Engineer.

I already worked on three different products so far, which targeted IT management, vehicle end-users and also factory personnel. And I can tell you that VWDS is surely the first place that I really enjoy working in! My team is very nice and everyone gets along so well. And now you’re probably thinking… “You’re over 500 in three Tech Units… It’s surely hard to know everyone…” and let me tell you: VWDS feels like a big family!

Although we’re growing, everyone has still a voice and specially in our team: you can always give your opinion and with your expertise, and everyone else’s, help shape the product and its direction.

What was the catalyst for my growth and how did I grow on the role?

Before joining VWDS, I fitted the (fairly pejorative) stereotype of a software engineer, making computers do *beep boop* and being mostly silent. I always imagined myself as an introvert and shy person and asked myself: “How can I even change to be this person that I aspire to be?” or as a developer would say: “Isn’t this hardcoded in me?”

As it turns out, I had space for growth (and still do) and all the tools I needed for this growth were provided to me from the start of my career.

First I branched out to recruitment, as understanding the job description led me to be part of the recruitment team for other engineering positions. This ended up being fun and completely out of the box for me which gave me a boost and an unbelievable comfort with people. With the help of my manager, I’ve become “head” of a part of our recruitment process, being responsible for training new recruiters and for applying new changes to the process. My human side started to peak when this was asked of me, and I started to look at  “more human than software” when interviewing a candidate.

Secondly, presenting topics to general public wasn’t something I was comfortable with. I’ve pushed myself to train my communication skills, relay my thoughts more clearly and learn to present them to an audience that might or might not know what I’m talking about. Thus, I needed to adapt my speech and not talk in developer-language every single time and risk losing my audience’s attention, however keeping my own style. It was hard, but it kept me moving along the spectrum of software to human.

Lastly, for 2024 one of my goals is to be a facilitator for any format of meeting/workshop that we have in the company. I feel that having developers facilitate gatherings brings an unique perspective and skill set to the table. Putting some work in, I can have a better ability to break down complex technical concepts into simpler terms, that can help bridge the gap between technical and non-technical team members.

Overall, I could then contribute with my problem-solving and decision-making skills and offer technical expertise by suggesting more adequate solutions.

Our trip is arriving to its destination…

Wrapping it up, it’s been almost four years since I’ve been working at VWDS and looking back I can say that there’s a stark difference since I joined. There’s those times when you’re going through the motions of life and then you get a big wake-up call that makes you quit status quo and you decide to embrace change and to grow with it.

I also want to give a BIG kudos to everyone in my team that was involved (and those that weren’t) since I can now be who I never thought I could be, a well-rounded developer, which has more to offer than a “regular” developer (one that is not working on his soft skills), while also looking forward to seeing the value I can bring to the company and what I’ll be doing more in the future!

“The world is in a constant change, growing with those changes is up to you”.
This is an opinion article and doesn't necessarily reflect the Volkswagen Group view.