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Vlad, Senior Java Developer, on Coding BI Software for the Automotive Industry

Vlad Iliescu joined Fortech as an intern over six years ago. What started as a compulsory internship turned into a full-time job and a recent promotion.

Get a glimpse behind the code. Read about his involvement in a complex project for the automotive industry and the steep learning curve that it gave him, and about Vlad as a person.


Vlad Senior Java Developer Fortech


Tell us a bit about yourself? Your studies, hobbies, passions.

I studied Computer Science at the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca and have a master’s degree in Automation and Applied Informatics. I am passionate about coding and technology in general. In my free time, I like to play the guitar, read books, or if the weather allows it, I enjoy going on hiking on mountain trails. Last year, together with my friends, I climbed the second highest peak in Romania, the Negoiu, after hiking for roughly 8 hours. Exploring Greece’s mountain landscape is a must on my bucket list.

I joined the team as an intern about six years ago at the beginning of my software developer career. Currently, I’m working as a Senior Java Developer, and I was recently promoted to Team Leader.

What are your responsibilities within the team?

As a Senior Java Developer, I work on a lot of different things, which is what I enjoy the most at Fortech. There are various projects and initiatives I can get involved in, which gives me access to several areas I can develop in.

First and foremost, I implement the software code for the project I am part of. I also design some parts of the code and do code reviews for my colleagues. Since I got promoted to Team Leader, I work closely with my teammates to set up their professional development plans and help them reach their objectives. I also manage my team’s workload, interact with stakeholders from the client’s side to clarify the project’s technical aspects, and offer my team guidance where needed.

Besides, I am also working on a few internal tools in Fortech, such as a project information management tool and a secure authentication tool. Both help our teams in their day-to-day work either by offering quick access to information or making sure our data and accounts are secured. I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the full planning and development cycle for these tools. This meant defining the purpose and added value of these projects and coming up with useful functionalities. We have different internal tools that share data and communicate with each other, so defining a good approach in connecting them is essential.

A couple of years ago, I got the opportunity to mentor a team of high school students, part of the “Discover Your Call in IT” program. A fun activity that turned into a well-deserved award for our Volteem app, which we designed to help NGOs in recruiting volunteers.

Tell us about the software project you’ve been working on.

For the past five years, I’ve been working on an ERP software project for the automotive industry, targeted at the B2B market. It is a robust platform that generates financial forecasts and reports on car leasing or buy-back prices, offering in-depth business intelligence for our clients. The system connects to various data sources using granular information (from car segment to estimate mileage) to generate valuable market insights and financial predictions.

How’s the project team?

The team is one of the best things about the project. We’re about ten in total, working from Cluj and Germany. Collaboration is key, and at this size, it works great. Unfortunately, the current situation did not allow us to meet in one place, but client visits used to happen regularly before the coronavirus pandemic.

I remember one of my first trips that turned into an exciting visit to the Ritter Sport chocolate factory. Here’s proof of our happy faces and all the chocolate we bought.


Vlad and his team in the office

Vlad and his colleagues in their office in Fortech’s main HQ, in Cluj-Napoca


What’s the project’s tech stack like? How about the processes?

We are using the following technologies and frameworks: Java 8, Websphere application server, JSF – with libraries like Primefaces, JavaScript, JPA, DB2 database, Phyton scripts, Git, SVN, SOAP.

We work based on the Waterfall methodology, receiving work packages that we need to implement and deliver in a fixed timeframe. If there are any critical fixes or changes to be made, we create new, urgent deploys of the application. The client has his own QA team that ensures the quality of the delivered packages and provides fast feedback if something needs to be changed.

What is your favorite part of the software project?

I enjoy most learning new things and overcoming the challenges that come with the new features that we plan to put in place.

When I joined the project, I worked on a Java Enterprise Edition web application. Then I got the chance to implement an interface of the project using Angular. Switching technologies offered me the chance to explore and find what suits me best.

We did some significant changes in the project: we changed the whole UI, migrated from Java 7 to Java 8, and updated frameworks and libraries to make the user experience more interactive.

Our roadmap for this year includes migrating the application to the Cloud.

What are the most challenging aspects of this software project?

As a Senior Java Developer, understanding the business logic, figuring out how the app should flow for the user then translating all that into the code was one of my biggest challenges. It’s a complex and big project that connects to various data sources and has been in use for more than 10 years.

Another hurdle was understanding and getting used to the terminology specific to the automotive industry.

You’ve recently been promoted to Team Leader. Congrats! What’s next in your career journey at Fortech?

Thank you. I’ve been slowly settling into my new role. It’s an exciting yet challenging journey. One that helps me discover some of my strengths and weaknesses, such as presentation skills and time management.

Organizing my work to be more efficient and have more time for providing support for the team are things that I would like to improve. One of the next steps I would like to take is to get more involved in designing the architecture for the project. This is a competence that I am acquiring gradually and I find the area more and more interesting as I uncover its secrets.

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

There’s a strong community vibe within my team, and we’re a tight-knit unit. Since we’re all passionate about technology, it was easy to find that common language from the very beginning. We discovered the project together and still do so to this day. Even if we work on different parts or features, we share our learnings, including the things that worked and the ones that didn’t.

You’ll find the same thing across Fortech. There are lots of teams, projects, and communities you can fit in. It’s a matter of knowing what you want. If you want to develop your skills and learn from professionals while having a good time, come and join us!

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