Name Christophe Schmitz
Role Senior Software engineer
Location Canberra, Australia

What has your role as Senior Software Engineer at Instaclustr involved?

In the last six months I have mostly been involved in a consultancy role, helping our clients to deliver scalable platforms where Cassandra plays a central role. Before that, I was designing and developing a large part of our monitoring system, our internal metric collection system, and our Apache Spark offering.


How did you get started working in IT?

All of my study and education throughout university was in Information Technology. During my academic years, I got the chance to work around high performance computing and distributed computing to solve biological problems. When I realised my interest in biology was not strong enough to have an academic career, I decided to switch to a pure IT job.


What sort of training or education do you have?

I completed a master in computer science in France, and a PhD in computational biology at the University of Queensland.


How long ago did you join Instaclustr?

I joined Instaclustr in January 2015. I remember signing the job contract in the morning, and the lease for a new home in the afternoon. That was a pretty exciting day for an expat.


Why did you join Instaclustr?

First of all, I did not expect to find such a great IT company in Canberra where most of the population is in the public service or is a contractor. I just arrived from Europe for the second time, and I was focused on looking at jobs in Sydney and Brisbane. My partner originally found the Instaclustr job ad for me. When I read it I instantaneously knew that it was a fantastic opportunity: young start-up in the Big Data world, working with cutting edge open source projects, using cloud computing… everything I wanted.


What’s your favourite part about the company?

I used to really enjoy having our CEO bringing beers at the desk of the dev team on Friday afternoons. It is a small gesture, but my reading is that it is a great sign of a flat and open structure. Now our CEO is in the US but we still get the beers.


What is a typical day like at your job?

A typical day always involves a lot of tea and a bit of swearing at my screen. Other than that, when working with a customer, a typical day usually involve discussing and clarifying the current problem, and trying to come up with the best solution. The “current problem” could be the next design task, or maybe a performance issue, or some exotic requirements. When I am in Canberra, a typical day starts with a morning Scrum to discuss the current feature we are working on, and collaborating with colleague to come up with the best way to implement it.


What is your favourite thing about working in a start-up company?

Having the capacity to contribute to the trajectory of the company, for real.


What skills or personal qualities are good for this job?

Curiosity, adaptability, commitment. The thing is, our team has such a strong and well defined culture that anyone with a good tech background and good flexibility will be able to blend in rapidly. In a sense, this place offers a fantastic environment for a fresh graduate, and I think we have some openings at the moment…


What do you enjoy most about your job?

The diversity of the work, being exposed to a variety of different technologies. When I looked back what I knew before I took this job, and what I know today; I feel very satisfied and confident for the future.


What is your advice to someone interested in this field?

If you are interested in the field, but not yet working in the field, my advice would be to start an open source project, using the technologies you are interested in, to solve a problem you find useful. The best way to learn is by doing.

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