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Mihai, DevOps Engineer, on Continuous Learning and Helping Software Projects Run Smoother

Mihai Soroceanu is a true example of a man of many talents. On the professional side, he’s a skilled DevOps Engineer, sometimes wearing the hat of a Database Developer, and aims to become a Solution Architect. He is the go-to person for helping project teams be more efficient, and software projects run smoother. On the personal side, he’s a passionate traveler and certified volleyball referee – a hobby that nurtures his enthusiasm for understanding rules and the logic behind them.

Get a glimpse #BehindTheCode. Read about Mihai’s career journey, the project from the Healthcare industry he is currently working on, and his continuous eagerness to learn.

Can you please tell us a bit about yourself? What are your studies, hobbies, passions?

I can describe myself as a person who’s constantly looking to learn new things. I am a thinker; I always try to see the logic in things that surround me and categorize them. Thus, I can better understand them. I am passionate about automation and optimizing processes. The first thoughts that go through my mind when I see a process or program are how to make it more efficient. In this regard, I try to identify the steps that can be done automatically.

When I was 10, I started to learn what computers can do besides hosting plain old video games. It happened when I attended a computer class for children at “Palatul Copiilor” in Cluj-Napoca, my hometown. What I remember from there was Disk Operating System (DOS), Batch programming, and floppy disks. And that I broke a floppy disk drive when I accidentally introduced the floppy disk in it incorrectly.

After graduating from a Computer Science high school, I wanted to follow my uncle’s example and start a career in medicine. But I ended up following my passion for travel and had a wonderful time during my college years studying Geography of Tourism. I worked in the industry for five years as a hotel receptionist and event organizer. As the attraction for technology had always been chasing me, I decided to make a major career change and joined Fortech in 2013.

I’ve kept the passion for travel among my special hobbies. I like to visit new places, understand their history, eat local food, and meet the locals. Although the pandemic has dramatically decreased my opportunities for traveling, I am looking forward to visiting new places. And I’m hoping that my one-and-a-half-year-old son will inherit this passion.

Another passion of mine that grew roots from my childhood is volleyball. Following my grandfather’s example, I decided to become a referee. This autumn, I’ll celebrate 20 years since I’ve received the certification. In this role, I found a good combination between my passion for volleyball, my enthusiasm for understanding rules and the logic behind them, as well as the joy of organizing things or events.

Tell us a bit about your DevOps career. How did it start, how did your journey with Fortech begin?

After working in the hotel industry for a few years, I felt the need to make a career change. I followed my call for technology and applied for a new role at Fortech, and I was lucky enough to be accepted.
I started with an operations role in an eCommerce project, where I was mostly working with setting up the data for the web application using SQL Server. From there, my curiosity and need to learn and understand more exposed me to new technologies and ways to apply them in my day-to-day tasks. Starting with plain SQL, I then learned SSIS, HTML, CSS, some JavaScript, VB .NET, and even revisited my childhood friend, Batch scripting.

After working with databases for a few years, I seized the opportunity to lead a Product Delivery team. This step opened the world of software deployment tools, infrastructure, and cloud computing for me. The vast landscape of tools and technologies I thus discovered has captivated me ever since. Working with Azure, PowerShell, Octopus Deploy, TeamCity, web servers, and networking gave me the chance to grow with the technologies. It also gave me a very good understanding of the software delivery lifecycle.

Since then, I have continued my development on the DevOps path, without ever leaving behind my passion for databases. Over the years, I was assigned multiple roles, depending on the project needs, and I was happy to wear the hat of Database Developer or of DevOps Engineer, or both of them at once. I even took the lead on projects whenever required. I worked on web and desktop applications for diverse projects from business areas like eCommerce, financial software, insurance, people management, and reporting.

I was lucky enough to find great colleagues on each project I worked on, always open to sharing knowledge and having quality time together. I must admit that this comes from Fortech’s people-oriented mindset, which I greatly appreciate. Here you really feel that the company is interested in helping you evolve in your career.

Mihai and his colleagues during a knowledge-sharing session in the DevOps Community.

What’s your current role?

Nowadays, my main role is DevOps Engineer. I handle the setup of CI/CD pipelines, cloud infrastructure, and automation in my current project. Besides, I’m working on multiple initiatives in Fortech, like creating a framework for technical growth and improving delivery practices within our department and doing maintenance on an internal project that helps with project management. Additionally, I’ve recently joined a team that performs audits on Fortech’s projects to help teams get a better overview of their project and find potential opportunities for improvement.

Besides constantly learning something new and keeping up with the main technologies I work with, I’m also doing my best to help my colleagues grow. I’m assuming the role of mentor or coach for my colleagues whenever the situation requires it. Recently, I was one of the mentors in an internship program for database engineers. This allowed us to build a great team and strengthen existing connections. Seeing our new colleagues evolve was a very satisfying experience.

Tell us a bit about the software project you are currently working on.

The main project I’m working on now is for the healthcare industry. The project consists of rewriting a custom solution for medical personnel scheduling for medical practices and hospitals. The solution ensures there is enough personnel to cover a shift, checks if contractual obligations and European rules are met, and helps employees track their benefits and time-schedule. The solutions also handles exceptions that can arise along the way.

My main role on the project is to help the project team be more efficient by handling the infrastructure setup and optimizing build and deploy pipelines. Thus, the team can focus on adding value to the product.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

The main technology on the project is .NET Core 5. The team is looking to take advantage of as many managed services and libraries as possible to help them develop faster and better. A few other technologies worth mentioning are Oqtane, Blazor, DevExpress, with the infrastructure in Azure, where we use Azure SQL databases and Azure App Service for hosting the web applications.

Azure DevOps is the tool that helps us plan the project. It also provides useful pipeline features (CI/CD) and source code repositories. Additionally, we use Azure Monitor and Application Insights for keeping an eye on how our apps are performing. We have also integrated SonarCloud in our build pipelines to help us write better and cleaner code.

The main technologies I work with on the DevOps side are PowerShell, Azure CLI, Bash, YAML for pipelines. I spend most of my time working in tools like Visual Studio Code, Visual Studio, or the Azure Portal.

What are your favorite things about this project?

Finally, an easy question :) First, I really like my team. We have a great group of people, both at Fortech and at the client’s side, who work very well together. Everyone is focused on what they must deliver, and also finds time to chat and know the rest of the team better.

Secondly, I like the tech stack and the fact that I have the freedom to learn new things and experiment with them. There’s also an overall relaxed environment on the project, which stimulates productivity and creativity.

What’s the most challenging thing about this project?

To paraphrase one of my teammates, “cutting yourself on the cutting edge” is the most challenging aspect of this project. Working with many managed services and cutting-edge technologies can be helpful up to a point. But they don’t always fit together the way you want, so it might require more work or a different perspective to make these technologies work the way you need them to.

What’s next in your career journey?

I want to continue evolving on the DevOps path and master new technologies while also helping others grow. All of this for the purpose of building a stronger DevOps community at Fortech. In the long term, I aim to become a Solution Architect, role in which I would put my experience at work and craft experiences for our customers.

Speaking about my career journey in Fortech, I would like to mention one thing that really helped me in my professional development. It is the approach my managers had over time, both at Fortech and on the client side. The fact that they encouraged and empowered me with the freedom to learn, experiment, and be creative helped me unlock my growth potential.

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

Join Fortech for the countless opportunities to learn and grow you will find here – on the project, from your experienced colleagues, from clients, or informal learning programs. Our new performance management framework, iGrow, will guide you in this journey and will help you become the true crafter of your career.

What’s Your Story?

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