Empathy can make a difference in your development team

Giuseppe Costanza
May 6, 2018 · 4 min read

Expert interview with Arian Celina Tech Lead at Springer Nature.

I‘m conducting a series of user interviews with one of Talent Rider main segments: tech managers looking for talented developers.

Follows my interview with Arian Celina. Arian is Computer Scientist with a problem solving mindset, he is working as Tech Lead at Springer Nature in Berlin.

The most important skills for a developer are the technical skills: the ability to write clear and maintainable code. How important are soft skills for you? What soft skills are you looking for in developers?

Arian: I think for developers, the technical skills are an expected and non negotiable thing, but in my opinion, the definitive quality I look in developers are soft skills. If one is not able to get along well with the teammates, no matter if she is the best dev in the world, she doesn’t qualify as a good candidate.

“In addition to clear communication skills, I value a lot if one can show empathy to others and use this in benefit of good team culture.”

Remote work is a growing trend especially for tech companies. How important is it for you to have your team in the same building, city or timezone? ref. “Remote work is “the new normal”

A: That’s a true fact, and I think in close future, the shortage of skills will make us all embrace this new reality (remote work). Though, I also appreciate the difference that face-to-face communication brings to the work. Personally, I find the hybrid approach to be the best, e.g. having 1-2 days of remote work and the rest in office. This gives people the freedom to manage their time whilst not ruining face-to-face meeting opportunities with colleagues. Having remote teammates requires extra efforts from the team to keep everyone on the same page, and timezone is one thing that makes this even more difficult.

“I appreciate the difference that face-to-face communication brings to the work. Personally, I find the hybrid approach to be the best”

With an increasing number of technologies, languages and frameworks, keeping up-to-date and having a learning attitude is essential for any developer. What are your favorite sources for knowledge? What technology/language are you planning to study and test?

A: Continuous learning is not a requirement, it’s a lifestyle for all people nowadays I’d say, but for developers it is a must. Personally I do follow people on Twitter, then things that I find interesting I save to Pocket for later reading and digging deeper. I also use online learning platforms likes Udemy, Safaribooksonline and Pluralsight for keeping up with topics I like or I find important for my professional development. If I want something to understand more thoroughly, then the fallback is to books.

“It takes more time to read a book but also the understanding is much better. “

Currently I’m investing time on Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning. I think it’s a must for every developer at least to understand the trends on this topic, if not trying it.

Every day we read news about Artificial Intelligence and how it is disrupting almost every business field. What opportunities and threats do you see for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in your business?

A: I think opportunities created by AI are wider than threats, though the latter should not be ignored. If companies and developers focus on using it on ethical ways (just as we do with hacking) then we will see a complete new window on how we use technology, one that will impact our lives profoundly. I expect the most appreciated positive effect coming from AI will be on Medicine, helping humankind finding/diagnosing diseases at early stages and saving lives.

“If companies and developers focus on using AI on ethical ways then we will see a complete new window on how we use technology.”

What is your relationship with computer games? Are you a hard core gamer, a casual gamer or you don’t play at all?

I’d say I don’t qualify as a gamer at all :). I haven’t played computer games for almost a decade now and only recently I have bought a Playstation but still I barely find time to play.

I decided to publish my Generative UX Research interviews on Medium because I strongly believe in open innovation. I hope our insights will be helpful for others exploring the same domain and I’m sure an open discussion will enrich our own process. Any comment on the method or the insights shared by Arian is appreciated.

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