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Lucian, Project Manager, on Crafting an AI-Powered Risk Management Solution

Lucian Balan, or Luci – how we call him, has been part of the Fortech story since 2007. When he joined us, we were only 80, in a small office in Cluj. Fourteen years later, our team counts 800+ colleagues and owns a huge headquarters in Cluj, and 3 regional offices in Iași, Oradea, and Brașov. Luci’s contribution to our story is still tremendous.

We sat down with him (virtually) to talk about his Fortech career, his current project and team, and his hobbies. Get a glimpse behind the code.

 

Lucian Balan - Software Project Manager

 

Tell us a bit about yourself: your studies, your journey in Fortech.

My journey at Fortech started in 2007 when I was a young Computer Science student at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca. After the 2nd year of college, I applied for a Java summer internship at Fortech. Here I found great colleagues, eager to guide me at the beginning of my career. Almost 14 years later, I am still here, surrounded by amazing people who share my passion for technology.

My first role at Fortech was Junior Java Developer. Three years later I got promoted to a Team Leader position, a role which I enjoyed for more than 7 years. During that time, I had the opportunity to sharpen my skills in key areas like software development, team leading, and project management. A couple of years ago, I decided to focus on the software project management path.

Besides my on-the-project duties, I enjoy exploring growth opportunities in Fortech. One example is my involvement in technical interviews for Java Developer roles. Besides this, I’m involved in technical sales, where I help with technical offers. This includes architecture design, effort estimation, and suggested team expertise for our leads.

My other passion is mentoring young tech enthusiasts. Since 2015, I was a trainer in 7 out of the 11 editions of Fortech’s Java Pre-Employment Training. This is a 6-week program for students, fresh graduates, and professional reconversion. The participants learn Java Standard Edition and Java Enterprise Edition through practical sessions.

I am also part of a mentoring program at the Babes-Bolyai University. This is a one-semester course that helps 3rd-year students get familiar with working on a software project as a team.
 

What about your hobbies?

In my spare time, I like biking, hiking, and skiing with my family and friends. My favorite hobby is biking. I enjoy discovering new places on the two wheels of my bicycle. One of the coolest rides I did was in 2016 during the Epic Bike Ride adventure. A friend from Fortech joined me in this challenge. We pedaled 325 km from Brașov to Sibiu, in 4 days. We even faced a real storm along the road. It was a fantastic experience.

My bike rides are shorter now, but no less rewarding. My wife Roxana, my 3-year-old son George, and my newborn daughter Ana are by my side every time.
 

What’s your role in the team?

As a Senior Software Project Manager, I am coordinating three software development projects. I am responsible for ensuring the project delivery in time and at the expected quality. I’m also taking care of team engagement, motivation, and professional development.

Additionally, I am managing an internal project – an app we use in our annual sports program. The app is called Fortech Moving Challenge. It’s my soul project, started together with my direct manager a few years ago and extended at the company level. The program’s main goal is to encourage us to move more. By biking, running, walking, and swimming we collect points and win cool prizes. In this project, I revive my passion for software development, not only project management.

 

Fortech Moving Challenge

Lucian and his colleagues participating in the Fortech Moving Challenge program.

 

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

The most interesting project I’m managing is RiskKey®, a risk management solution powered by AI. Fortech develops the project in collaboration with Core Capital Management.  Fortech and Core Capital Management are part of the Aiperion joint-venture.

RiskKey® provides institutional investors with a complex view of the risks in multi-asset portfolios. The system analyzes the correlations between the data series corresponding to financial performance indices like shares, bonds, and options. It also calculates metrics for the risk associated with some investment portfolios. Investment fund managers use it to estimate market risk, liquidity, and volatility.

We started the project in 2018. In February 2019, we delivered an MVP and last April we launched the product. Now we work on continuous improvement of the solution by developing new features.
 

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

It is a full-stack solution using Java, coupled with Spring and Hibernate for the back-end stack. Persistent storage options include PostgreSQL database management and MongoDB. On the front-end side, we use ReactJS, Redux, Webhooks, CSS, JavaScript, Typescript. We do container-based Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD), using Docker. We also use the R programming language for statistical computing and data analytics.
 

What are the most challenging aspects of this project?

A big challenge is meeting the needs of one of the most dynamic markets. Despite it, I greatly enjoy this ongoing development journey.

The most challenging aspect for us is finding a Mid-Senior Java Back-End Developer and a Mid-Senior DevOps Engineer. If you are ready to take on this adventure in the fintech industry, drop us a line at [email protected].
 

How about the team?

I am happy to have an enthusiastic team, always looking forward to new challenges. The team counts 10 members and includes a software architect, four software developers, two software testers, two business analysts and me as a project manager.

We closely collaborate with our partners from Aiperion. They are Dr. Sorina Zahan, CEO, and Marcel Cremene, Senior Scientist and Partner. Sorina is a former university professor, researcher, and author in artificial intelligence.

 

What do you miss most from working from the office?

I really miss our team lunches. We used to go together for lunch after each successful release, when Sorina and Marcel were in town, or whenever someone proposed a team lunch.

Another tradition in our team was Black Friday shopping. I remember the mornings when everyone took the online shops by storm. I always ended up buying stuff that I barely remember needing, recommended by a teammate. A few years ago, half of the office bought SSDs and frying pans, for example.
 

What’s next in your career journey at Fortech?

I look forward to taking on new challenges, both on the technical and horizontal growth sides. I recently joined a training series under iGrow, Fortech’s new performance management program. This new approach aims to empower us to be the drivers of our own professional and personal growth. In this new framework, direct managers will be coaches for the members of their teams. I am truly excited to apply this new approach in my own team!
 

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

By joining Fortech, you will work on challenging software projects for various industries. It’s amazing to see your work used by individuals and organizations worldwide.

At Fortech you will find great people. Even if we are different in many ways, the passion for technology is our common language. You will find a collaborative atmosphere, where we respect and trust one another. And you’ll definitely have a great time since we always find reasons to laugh 😊 Join us!

What’s Your Story?

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

 

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