Who's that guy?

If you’re here to understand my professional skills, you will likely want to know about the person behind the keyboard. If that’s the case, and I really hope it’ll be the case, please keep reading. I don’t expect you to get to know all about me, as it is simply not possible, but at least make you understand my nature as an individual, therefore the kind of person I can be when and if we ever work or hang out together.

Let's begin with the basics

A retrospective of another geek in modern times

First of all, call me Dani. My full name is Daniel, but very rarely I am addressed like that, only on very formal occasions or when my mother is mad at me. I am originally from Madrid, Spain, and I currently live and work in my second home, Cambridge (UK). I am a Scrum master and Agile evangelist, but also a Solutions engineer specialised in UX and Web.

You can find more about that in my résumé, but here I want to talk about the individual, my nature as a person and my background from my personal story. I guess it’s worth mentioning, for starters, that I am a ENFJ in the Myers-Briggs type indicator personality test. Reach your own conclusions!.

But before I get too deep in my feelings, learn what my trajectory has been since I started working as a developer many years ago, and even further backwards.

My first years

Or how I pictured myself as an IT professional

I don’t really remember a time when I haven’t felt fascination for the digital world. When I was a child during the 80’s in the shape of Arcades or in any kind of tech gadgets. The truth is, now that I look back to those years, I somehow know I was predestined to work in the digital revolution we’re living nowadays.

However, I did not get my first PC until I was 16. I started coding in VB3 almost right away, and began making websites in the very old standards of then. I remember my long nights creating HTML pages with Notepad and creating basic Javascript functions. If only I had known what that would become in the following years!

I decided to study Software programming (way before then, I believe) and began working shortly after I completed my studies. I even worked as a software salesman part-time during those years.

Dani, the developer

The dream of working as an IT professional fulfilled

I made it! After lots of efforts, I made my dream come true: I was a professional developer. It didn’t take me long to find my first job in the summer of 2002: junior developer at a consultant company, Everis (back then, DMR), where I spent nearly two years working with Telefonica Spain in miscellaneous database projects, web services in VB and Java. I really learnt a lot about database automation, reporting, end-to-end processes and even a web project in Java.

The company was very big, traditional (everyone had to wear suits!) and very waterfall-oriented, a sign of the times. I did learn a lot and felt like a really motivated and driven sponge for knowledge, but after dealing with an incredible amount of pressure for such “young” age (despite I’m still very grateful for it and the colleagues I worked with, people I still keep a great relationship with even nowadays), it was my time to move on and search for my seniority.

On the road

Seven years working in a highway

During early 2004 until early 2011 I worked for Ferrovial, another huge multinational company with maintenance of transport, urban and services infrastructure services. I joined as a data process technician for one of Madrid’s toll highways.

I was the main responsible for an internal management software I built in VB .NET and PHP including multi-user environment, several statistic reports, workflow tools, complex data validation towards SQL Server and Oracle, backups, bank remittances, etc. I even named it Elessar as a tribute to The Lord of the rings!

On top of all that, I coded a  complete toll payment software, including hardware management (Barriers, traffic lights, panels, displays, etc.), network information, security, vehicles and fares management. Yes, you can guess the name for it: Ilúvatar. I’m very proud of this particular milestone considering the resources I had, and more proud to know this software is still active.

Although this gave me as much experience as I needed with servers and databases, after seven years I knew there was a whole world out there for me to explore. Therefore, I went on to my next adventure…

NEC, Japan and the Cloud

Developing SaaS marketplaces and my move towards UX

Despite my main roles until that moment had officially been back-end related positions, I never stopped creating websites as a freelance. So, after many years swotting up with coding, reporting, servers and databases, it was the right moment to become an official Web engineer. In early 2011 joined the spanish branch of the Japanese multinational NEC as a Cloud SaaS solutions engineer.

The role included analysis, business model integration and network operations on SaaS platforms developed in VB .NET, SQL Server, Java, Web services, etc, with a heavy component of integration and optimization of Look & Feel, Billing modules, Server-to-Server operations, Reports, Backoffice and general documentation for first-line operators worldwide (details in the résumé). At times I also handled the direct contact, requirement negotiations with the operators and management of the project resources.

I learnt fluent japanese and ended up being (undeservedly) called The artist by some of my colleagues. It was a beautiful and challenging time, but there was something else in store for me…

UK calling

Mobile payments, UX leadership and transition to Agile

I studied english when I was a teenager in London. I had always wanted to leave the nest, and it was the right time, with the right skillset and the right seniority. Therefore, I joined Bango as a Senior web developer in summer 2013. My primary responsibility was to design, architect, and implement features using .NET MVC. I took lead of the front-end championing quality in HTML5, CSS3, cross-browser compatibility, scalability and interactions with the back-end services.

After the first year, I was promoted to Team leader of the UX team. During that time I championed a series of best practices while continuously improving the purpose of aesthetics and needs of the company products.

I obtained the Scrum Master, Product Owner and Scrum Professional certifications and became instrumental in adopting Scrum within the company. I therefore became a full-time Scrum Master, facilitating meetings and working with the product owners and stakeholders towards excellency and a productive and healthy work environment, something I deeply believe in.

The Agile way of life

Scrum master in a great technology architecture company

As a logical step forward in my career, in April 2017 I moved on and joined Arm Ltd as their first permanent Scrum master as part of their Agile transformation.

I act as a servant-leader promoting and enhancing a trusting environment with constructive criticism, ego-free, problem-solving approach and self-organisation free of imposition or coercion.

Not only I act as impediment remover, interference shield or agent changer, but I also research and develop effective techniques on improving the Agile process based on all my previous years of experience. This has granted me a deep experience in situational awareness, abstract perspective, conflict resolution, people empowerment and continuous improvement.

My next step is becoming experienced enough in the SAFe Scaled Agile framework, in which I’m already certified, but also a Certified enterprise Agile coach. I already have the privilege to provide training and expertise to new (and not so new) members of Arm to the world of Agile. Exciting times ahead!

A question of simple perspective

The way I see the world

Life is a privilege. And I try to live each day with responsibility, common sense, being kind to each other, with purpose and meaning and, most importantly, promote that what we do is what we are and what we are is what we do. And you might be wondering: why such a corny statement and what does it have to do with professionality?. Well, the answer is everything.

I’m obviously not going to fully expose myself in this public space as many things belong to my private life, but I’m likely to do it to a higher degree of what’s considered professional. And that’s because people matter in the work environment. That is the reason I became such a big advocate of Agile, knowing that I can make a difference. I had to put up with a lot of dissatisfaction during my previous working years, something absolutely normal in environments focused in delivery with contracts and promises. But… what if, on top of that, we could do it with a smile and with motivation? With quality? With pride?

The point I am trying to make is that I believe in ethics and in team synergy. I really really do. I am not a perfect performer, I aim for accuracy and not precision. I love going to work and talk to people while I complete my tasks and I complete them in time with everyone’s approval. There’s just nothing better in the world. And then, only then, my professional life becomes my personal life. And in my personal life I like to have fun, to travel, have new adventures, get to know new cultures and mindsets, get emotional, breathe deep and know that I am loved, respected and appreciated. I want to get out of bed on mondays as happy as I do on saturdays.

Life outside an office doesn’t have to be different. You just need to adjust the prism and understand that, just like with your own life, you have a liability towards what you do.

I see the world and life as an exciting adventure full of opportunity and danger at the same time. And I see my job as a key player and I want to do it with passion, commitment and loyalty. I like to evolve, make mistakes and learn from them. And I like success as well!

This is me, proudly exposed.

My life now

A proud Cantabrigian

I am a very happy and proud UK citizen, and consider Cambridge my home. However, while I hold a tremendous pride of the places I know and the cultures I’ve learnt, being officially Spanish, I am a man of no nationality. I do not believe in frontiers. Like I said at the beginning of this section, I have a Spanish soul, an English mindset and a Japanese heart. These are my three special places in the world, but the world is very big and I’m just a poor ignorant individual.

Madrid and I are one, I am in love with my Cambridge, and Tokyo is always within me. And I try to get the best of all these places to compose my own self and move onto unknown places. And, most importantly, I want to keep learning about everything I think I know.

I’m in a moment of my life where I am mature enough (whatever that means) to understand the pros and the cons of many aspects, I have the right resources to do what I want and the physical strength and health to fulfill them while there’s still time. And believe me, I will while I have the opportunity. By being me and achieving my life goals I will become a more efficient professional, something essential to me. This has been very clear for a while now.

Therefore, I’ll keep learning new technologies, reading books of any topic, learning new languages, meeting new customers, travelling all over the planet, taking as many pictures as I can, document my achievements, expose myself to the world in the most serious and the most silly ways, stretching out my own boundaries. This is a fascinating moment in history and, despite there’s always room for fears and unknowns, we need to make the best of it.

Thanks for reading the average story of this geek! Next chapter coming… soon? Who knows!

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