People of Bakken & Bæck: Ezekiel
In our digital world, it’s still about the people. In these blog posts, we’ve gone behind the scenes and invited the people of B&B to share their personal stories.
Ezekiel — or just Ez (because it’s easier) — is 29 years old and comes from Manila, the capital of the Philippines. He works as a front-end developer at Bakken & Bæck’s Amsterdam office. Ezekiel calls himself a geek, and in his spare time he likes to walk around and get lost or work on different projects: experimenting with computer graphics, animations and programming. He thinks his personality is as eclectic as his background and interests. He even studied classical piano and violin for twelve years, but then his fingers stopped growing and the internet happened.
Why did you decide to become a developer and how did you go about it?
Well, I actually come from a design background and my upbringing was filled with art and design. It was first when I was 12 years old and the internet arrived that I became interested in web programming. It was still 56 kbps lines and I had to buy prepaid cards to go on the internet — it was ridiculous. One day I was reading about HTML in a newspaper, and I got intrigued. I had to Google it, which at the time meant Yahoo’ing, as that was the search engine back then. I was really inspired by all the cool websites. I started with some basic programming and Photoshop, and just sort of taught myself how to do it. I eventually started to make websites and designed packaging for small clients. I kept on doing so throughout high school and university where, at some point, I made a huge billboard for Havaianas. I was really excited about that slipper brand at the time. 👡
One day I was reading about HTML in a newspaper, and I got intrigued.
I ended up taking a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Design, but I eventually realised that I truly appreciated when design and tech intersect. My interest in this made me pursue further studies and a more technical path. I really love it when things sort of ‘merge’ together. This lead me to Sweden and taking up Digital Media at Hyper Island and complete a master’s degree in Interaction Design at the University of the Arts in Utrecht after that.
Back in college, what did you expect your professional work day to be like?
To be honest, I thought it would be what you saw on television. That you would work on the computer and do design, go to meetings, drink coffee and have chats by the water cooler — kind of boring, I guess. Thankfully that didn’t happen, because it is way more exciting in real life.
How did you you get your job at B&B?
As I’ve mentioned I’m very into design in tech, and I had read about Bakken & Bæck online. Marius, who I knew from school, told me more about the company and how it was to work there. First of all I found out that B&B was super high-tech, and second that they had a really strong focus on design. I felt that’s exactly the two things I’m into. So, about two years ago they had a Christmas party in Amsterdam, and Marius invited me to meet them the day after. We hung out and I found everybody to be super nice. So I decided to send an application, and I’m super glad I got the job!
You have the freedom to do the work as you see fit, and I think everybody at B&B has the dedication to deliver good stuff.
What does your workday look like? What do you do?
The nice thing about working at B&B is that there is nobody breathing down your neck or micromanaging you. You have the freedom to do the work as you see fit, and I think everybody at B&B has the dedication to deliver good stuff.
What skills are required in your job on a day-to-day basis?
Aside from frontend skills you have to be very resilient and independent. To a certain extent you also have to be courageous and brave. Most of the time you’re not sure of what you’re doing, because this industry and the technology is constantly developing. So you have to do things on your own initiative and rely on your previous knowledge to come up with or learn something new. You have to be brave enough to try out new methods and jump in if you’re not entirely sure how to do things. You just have to go for it!
What’s the favourite part of your job?
I think it’s the overall feel of the culture at B&B and the freedom that is given to us to pursue our own projects and interests. We are always trying to push through and deliver good stuff. I love the work that I’m doing, because I get to apply the geeky stuff that I love.
What part of your job do you find most challenging?
Sometimes the diversity of projects and how you can be assigned to different things at the same time is challenging. It can be demanding to both deliver high quality work and manage the different projects in a good way. Luckily the challenging parts will make you improve yourself with time.
Who’s a role model you’ve looked up to?
There are a lot of people I look up to! To give a set of examples: John Maeda and Rem Koolhaas. I say that because I really admire people who are pushing for diversity and are creative in an edgy way. It’s inspiring how they combine creativity, business and technology, and at the same time are very outspoken about it.
I really admire people who are pushing for diversity and are creative in an edgy way.
What’s a challenge you’ve faced in your career journey?
I think the biggest challenge, for everyone, might be yourself. Like your inner worrying and growing pains. It’s a challenge to get to know yourself, your strengths, weaknesses and shape your identity. It’s a working process for sure.
What’s something you want to get better at?
My profession. I want to get better at web technology to always improve and do the best practice. I have made it a point as an exercise to share my work and what I’m experimenting with on my Instagram more often. I also want to get better at expressing myself, to communicate, write and organize my thoughts.
Comfort food of choice?
Anything that is quick and easy. To give specifics: pasta or fried chicken. Oh, and french fries!
I don’t really have a favorite, but the last book I read was Just Kids by Patti Smith — it was very good.
This industry has changed dramatically in the past years. What have you seen from inside B&B? Where do you think the changes will happen in the next years?
These days remind me of the young web, or the web when I started getting into it. I think we will realise that the internet is even richer than we thought it was, just like like that old internet littered with animated gif infested personal websites.
I think the biggest changes will be how we approach and consume the internet we create. Working in a tech company like Bakken & Bæck, these things become very obvious.
If you could start all over again, would you change your career path in any way? Why?
No, I wouldn’t. You never know where your career path is going to lead, maybe I would turn into a dancer — I can’t dance by the way.
If you could try another job for a day, what would it be?
Either an artist or a lawyer.
If you could give your 18-year-old self a piece of advice, what would it be?
I know this will sound kind of cliche but I think I would say “Stop thinking too much about the future and silly projections ” — just be present and relax.