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Mircea Mihalea, on Merging Roads Between DevOps and Engineering Management

Please welcome our newest guest in the “BehindTheCode” series, Mircea Mihalea, DevOps Engineer and Engineering Manager at Fortech, a GlobalLogic Company. We invite you to explore Mircea’s story and professional growth as he uncovers the blend between technological innovations in the automotive industry and effective team leadership.

Get a glimpse of #BehindTheCode. Join us as we explore the twists of a professional trajectory showcasing the crafting of skills, dedication, and a profound passion for code and collaboration.

Hello, Mircea, and welcome to the “Behind the Code” series. Please, tell us a bit about yourself. What’s your story?

I’m a geek and have always been since I got my first computer when I was three years old. I didn’t know much at that age, but I learned how to play video games such as Super Marios Bros. and Prince of Persia, which hooked me. Once I got a little older, I knew I wanted to be a programmer, and I’ve been on that path ever since. I started learning independently – developing games, building, and managing servers, and learning various programming languages. And then, I got into a computer science high school where I had the opportunity to finally put my skills to the test. I participated in all the competitions I could, even winning some of them.

Knowing that programming would be my bread and butter for the foreseeable future, I decided to finish my studies abroad, and I got my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Southampton, United Kingdom. Studying continued beyond just getting the diplomas. After coming back home, I persisted in working. After a year of hard work, our paper was published in International Journal of Information Security. But I couldn’t sit still. I craved more challenges, and after a few months of relaxation, I joined the Fortech team.

Tell us a bit about your software development career. How did it start, how did your journey with Fortech evolve?

I started my professional journey almost three years ago as a junior DevOps Engineer at Fortech. I didn’t have that much experience working with anything but small projects. However, I consider myself extremely lucky to have Bogdan, Director of Engineering, as my manager because he realized my potential and helped me grow faster than I would have otherwise. I’ve had the pleasure of working on both small and big projects, internal and commercial, and along the way, I’ve met many great people, which made it fun to learn and grow. Now I’ve improved tremendously compared to when I started, and I’m able to architect large-scale infrastructures, play with the newest and greatest toys, provide technical support for commercial leads, and shape the future of Fortech as a technical recruiter.

I’m also an Engineering Manager for the DevOps community, which helped me develop myself technically and personally. This allows me to return to the community all the support I’ve had so far and grow the next generations of DevOps engineers. The management role isn’t something that I even wanted initially, but I treated it like another challenge. And a challenge it was — I focused all my life on working with computers without even considering how we all fit into this as humans. But it’s grown onto me, and today, this is just another part of my job that makes me eager to see what the next day brings. It could be helping the team set and progress on their performance objectives, guiding juniors through new projects, or discussing organization or technical problems with the other managers.

Besides these duties, I’ve been helping with recruiting and even mentoring in a couple of internships. I’m also organizing several meetings on DevOps topics where I regularly contribute to technical presentations. Following the GlobalLogic acquisition of Fortech, I’m also involved in the integration process as a subject matter expert, and we’ve been working on defining how the future looks for every DevOps engineer in Fortech. While it may be daunting to have this kind of responsibility on my shoulders, it’s also a great learning opportunity that inspires me to do my best every day. I’ve enjoyed discussing these topics with the global heads of Cloud and DevOps practices. Hearing their opinions on this process and knowing our thoughts are valued makes me eager to be part of a future where Fortech and GlobalLogic work together. Furthermore, having all these chances to work with my excellent team and grow together brings me the most joy in my day-to-day work.

Mircea and his collegues after their last DevOps Meetup in Brasov.

What project are you currently working on?

As someone who’s always been passionate about cars and motorsport, I now have the pleasure of working with a leading automotive company. Data plays a significant role in its success; this is where I come in. I’m working with them as a Cloud Networking Architect to help redefine how big data is handled inside the company and become the sole provider of ingest and analysis platforms. We are building the next-generation platform for processing big data. And while we are at the forefront of technology, user experience also plays a big part.

While this project has many challenges, it has just as many opportunities to grow, so you’re guaranteed not to have a dull day – it can be anything from designing enterprise architectures to working with the next generation of networking technologies. Automation is one of the critical areas that the teams are placing their efforts into. While it may bring additional complexities, it also allows us to reduce by at least an order of magnitude processes that would have taken weeks.

What’s the project’s tech stack like?

We work with hyper scalers to create fault-tolerant enterprise-level architectures, using Microsoft Azure as our backbone. We prioritize automation with Pulumi, which allows us to develop a highly scalable app in Python with a modular architecture. For specialized use cases, we deploy microservices and are excited about Aviatrix for secure multi-cloud network software. I am certified in Aviatrix and eager to implement it in more projects at Fortech.

What’s your favorite and the most challenging thing about this project?

I enjoy working on this project every day. It’s helped me grow and the client encourages individual and team growth. As deadlines approach, we manage dependencies to avoid delays. Communication can be a challenge, but we haven’t faced any significant incidents.

How is the team? What is it like to be part of your team?

Having the pleasure of working with a cross-functional and international team of experts has many positives. Whether it’s our work discussion or the pictures we share out of the office, the atmosphere is always relaxed and judgment-free. The best times we’ve had together were always when we met at client-organized events, as we could also spend time together outside of work hours. At the beginning of the year, I visited one of the only two factories in the world that produce their most luxurious model. Another time, while we were in Stuttgart, we even had archery classes together, and it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring pictures of our product owner, maybe next time. However, it doesn’t matter if it’s the home-brewed beer, baked brownies, or the sweets and drinks from India or Slovakia; everyone contributes to the good vibes that we have together, and it’s a team that I’m proud to be a part of.

Mircea and a part of his colleagues on a hiking trip at Piatra Mare.

What about your passions and hobbies? What do you do in your spare time?

Despite my unbridled passion for IT, I still need to take a break from all this technology at the end of the day, so I got my drone operator license a couple of years ago, and I try to fly my FPV freestyle drone as much as the weather allows it. When I’m not flying, I’m either spending time with my two dogs or reading science fiction or even self-improvement books as of recently.

What’s next in your career journey?

Self-development will be my focus for the next period. One project that I’m happy to work on along this line is developing the Fortech’s Cloud and DevOps community as one of its drivers. Whether finding ways to keep the community engaged, preparing technical presentations, or simply discussing with the members, this will take me to the next career step. In short, no matter what the future brings, I’m proud to be working as an engineering manager, and I’m proud of my team, and we’ll get to see it together.

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

I highly recommend taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way and making the most of it. This will allow you to acquire new skills and identify areas for improvement. Every experience you have helps shape you into a better person for the future. Therefore, instead of dwelling on the past, focus on learning from it and moving forward.

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