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Ancuta, Engineering Manager, on Building Technical Solutions and Communities

Ancuța Chibulcutean’s journey with Fortech started almost 10 years ago. During this time, she nurtured her passion for technology, empowering teams, and helping people grow and develop. 

Get a glimpse #BehindTheCode. Read about Ancuța’s career, one of the projects she is currently working on, and the Cake for Breakfast internal community she is leading.

 

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? Your studies, hobbies, passions.

I graduated from the Computer Science department of the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. I took my master’s degree in Networking and Distributed Systems. My first job was as a Perl developer. After ten months, I joined the Fortech team as a C# developer.

Even though my background is in computers and science, I love fashion and interior design. I like drawing outfits, taking pictures, create aesthetic rooms and spaces. I love buying shoes and have tens of them. Of course, I do travel, but nowadays, this is more of a challenge. So I charge myself with energy by doing sports in the morning before my daughter wakes up, watching cartoons, and playing with clay.

Tell us a bit about your journey in Fortech. How it started, what you enjoy most?

I’ve been with Fortech for about 7 years now (cumulated). My journey started with a C# developer position almost 10 years ago and changed quickly towards a technical leadership role. We managed to nurture and grow one of the nicest teams ever.

After three years at Fortech, I decided to part ways and went to another company. It was one of the hardest decisions I had to make since I loved my team and the people I worked with.

Four years later, I decided to rejoin Fortech, where I always felt like home, even when I was away. There’s something about the people here, the trust they inspire, the feeling of belonging they create. It’s about empowerment and support in fulfilling your dreams. I know it might sound like a cliché, but here you have colleagues that support and guide you along the way.

I enjoy my work. I love building teams and helping people grow and develop. I believe in freedom-based leadership. I believe in empowering people and finding the proper context for each of them to bloom and unleash their potential. I believe in creating a space where people feel safe to speak out and feel supported even when they make a mistake. Especially when they make a mistake.

What’s your current role within the team?

My current role is Engineering Manager, and I’m the lead of our awesome Cake for Breakfast (CFB) team. The CFB team acts as a micro-community inside Fortech. It oversees many projects and works in product teams on most of these projects.

We are a growing team of professionals focusing our skills and efforts around the JavaScript ecosystem (and not only). We work together on multiple projects while ensuring everyone in the team contributes to our common vision and culture.

As a community, all the members share the same best practices and adhere to the same quality mindset. We are continuously striving to be up to date with the latest technologies and tools in the JavaScript world and take the best out of them.

Besides being the leader of the CFB team, I am actively involved in two of our projects. In one of them, I act as a technical lead for the front-end part, written in React, and in the other, I am the solution architect of the project.
 

What’s the story behind the Cake for Breakfast community? How did it start, why does it have such a sweet name?

The community was born from a passion for technology and motivation for going the extra mile. It started as a small project team focused on delivering high-quality software, documenting guidelines, and sharing knowledge. In about a year and a half, it grew into a self-functional community, with multiple disciplines like Development, QA, and UX, and many accounts. The growth resulted from our internship program and picking the right senior engineers in the team.

Mentoring is the key to success in our case. From our internship program to our monthly learning and development initiatives, everything we do is based on learning, teaching, and sharing. We are also involved in running NodeSchool open-source workshops in Cluj-Napoca. This initiative was brought to Romania by the local JSHeroes community, as a part of the CFB team is involved in JSHeroes. We organized three editions of NodeSchool and were involved in teaching web software skills.

 

Ancuța and the Cake for Breakfast team at a NodeSchool event.

 

Each member of Cake for Breakfast is committed and engaged in what they do, whether it’s about writing code, teaching others, or any other endeavor. With curiosity, they drive innovation and evolution, and with perseverance, they deal with complicated tasks.

And, of course, Cake for Breakfast is about… cakes 😊 The name came from the fact that we ate many cakes at the small team celebrations, be they birthdays, new babies, anniversaries, or new joiners. While working from home, we skipped more than 30 Cakes for Breakfast, which we hope to make up for soon.

Besides cakes, what do you miss most from working from the office?

The Cake for Breakfast team is awesome. It is the best team I could have ever asked for. It is one of the main reasons I go to work with a smile, no matter what the project brings. People are there for you. We hang out, we drink our coffee together in the morning (virtually for now), and we go for walks in nature on the weekends.

We all miss the times we were in the office. Back then, we all used to have lunch together daily, either at the Cafeteria when we were at CBC, or in one of the big office rooms from the Meteor 78 office. There, we would all order food and gather around in one of the rooms, play some music and spend time together.

I think I miss those times a lot. I miss going and switch places in the offices, sitting on a beanbag with our laptops, and being near each other. We used to buy “un sac de pufuleți”, fruits and sweets and share them with each other. It would be a challenge now since our team counts 30 people. Yet again, I am sure it would be equally fun and engaging for everyone to get to know each other a bit better and feel like they belong here. Creating that feeling of belonging and making sure people connect outside the project context, as we used to in the office, is one of the biggest challenges of working fully remote.

 

A cake enjoyed for breakfast.

Tell us about one of the projects you’re working on.

I am working as a solution architect on a project from the Financial industry. We are building an income management solution that includes payment management, accounting, and income reconciliation services. The solution is making it easier for organizations to handle customer payments, accounting, fraud prevention, and much more. We are building the solution from scratch, choosing the tech stack, infrastructure, envisioning all the components and their interaction. We are acting as a full solution provider.

I was involved in the project from the beginning, since it was an opportunity in the sales team’s pipeline, through the discovery phase and then development. As a solution architect, I oversee all the technical decisions and the technologies used. I am responsible for setting the project’s directions, milestones, and what the team should be focusing on. For this, I establish the priorities with the clients, making sure I understand their needs and translate them into proper functional requirements for the team. Of course, I do all this together with the team, the project manager, and the business analyst.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

We chose a JavaScript tech stack: Node.js with Nest and TypeORM for the back-end, and React.js with hooks on the front-end. We use Typescript both in Node.js and React.js. For the databases, we went with MySQL for the financial data and MongoDB for everything related to the configurations.

Of course, all our deploys are automated. We have CI/CD pipelines in Jenkins. The solution is cloud-agnostic, so it can be deployed both on-prem servers or in any of the well-known cloud providers. At this point, we have test environments on-prem and in Azure. We use Docker and Kubernetes for the application deployment.

To make sure the application is stable, we use a pipeline to run every night a suite of automated tests written in Testcase. Our AQA team monitors the results and makes sure everything works as expected.

What’s your favorite thing about this project?

My favorite thing… I think I have a couple of favorite things. The first would be the opportunity to build a complex solution from the ground up, envisioning all the components, making it scalable and expandable. The second is building a configurable ETL tool, which allows you to import/export any kind of file in any possible format, in a user-friendly manner. The third would be building an authentic trust relationship with the clients.

What are the most challenging aspects of this project?

The most challenging aspect would be to understand all the financial terms and accounting processes properly and to translate them into project components and pragmatic requirements for the team.

What advice would you give to someone interested in joining Fortech Cluj?

You’ll find here a growing community that is supportive and is there for you at any point. You will be encouraged to be different, to be bold, to speak out. The community seeks out the best in you and tries to find the most suitable contexts to fit both your skills and your desired professional career path.

Join us if you want to work on modern projects with anything from vanilla JavaScript to REST APIs with Express and Nest and TypeORM, complex front-end applications with React, Vue and Angular, and native mobile applications with React Native. Be ready to push the limits of the web and mobile every day and challenge yourself to come up with the best solutions for our customers.

We’re eager to see what roadblocks you encountered, what was the reasoning behind the decisions you made along the way and how you handled the tasks you worked on. Please, and this is very important, be honest during the interview. Be authentic, be you…we look out for potential in people and make sure it gets out there.

P.S. The Cake for Breakfast team is looking for a Senior React Developer and two talented JavaScript interns.

What’s Your Story?

Browse the Fortech Careers section on our website and check out our opportunities. #CodeWithUS

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