Globant Cover Story: Federico Kereki

January 3, 2018

Learn more about the challenges of a Big Data Architect and his work experience in India.
Tell us about you, your family and your passions
Professionally, I first got my Computer Systems Engineer degree, a few years later a Computing Engineer degree, and recently, a Master of Education degree. I have worked in both as an independent consultant, and for different organizations, but always in the systems area. I have been teaching several courses in universities, since I graduated with my first degree. Personally, I’m an avid reader (proved by the invasion of books at home) and I also build scale models (airplanes, ships) and paint figures with oils: all calm hobbies, requiring patience! Jazz music, usually with piano and sax, is often playing in the background. Throughout all this, I have always had the support of my wife, and the understanding of my children, who at this time are on their way to begin  their own professional lives.

How did you become part of the Globant family?
After I finished working at another company, and during a meeting at my sister’s, I was told about Globant, and that my profile would probably suit them. I contacted the HR department, and in seemingly record time (days? A week?) I had gone through several interviews, and was hired. The reception I got, plus the continuous support, the daily exchanges with many other professional experts, and the constant challenges of all types make the job always interesting and innovative.

How did you manage to adapt to new roles and projects?
In my previous experience, I had worked in diverse areas, using multiple programming languages, development tools, and operating systems. At Globant I joined the Big Data studio in its Data Visualization practice, and I had the opportunity to work in many projects. Globant also gave me the possibility of expanding to more areas, I have worked in “Tech Talks”, helping with pre-sales, giving conferences, doing workshops, mentoring Globers, writing articles, etc. — you can always get more involved, and that makes your career path much more interesting… who would have imagined giving a talk on “Agility and Jazz” in Pune?

And how did you get to India? Tell us about that experience
My trip to India was the result of the “Spicy Challenge”, a proposal to find people willing to relocate for a year to Pune, and work in Globant India. The reason was quite interesting: reduce distances, align ways of working, improve communications, etc., with the idea that it is always possible to further improve integration within the company. With respect to the experience itself, the main thing to note is that, for someone from South America, the key word is “different” – you shouldn’t think in terms of “better” or “worse”, but there certainly are multiple differences… (and of course, for those from India, I was the different one!) Food (very spicy… luckily I had experience with Mexican food), transit (learning how to cross streets was quite a challenge), customs, religion, language, general cultural differences, etc. Given the quality of the people there, plus their warm reception, and support and guidance from LATAM, I was able to overcome the challenges, and feel comfortable working in that environment, collaborating in bringing India and LATAM closer together, aiming to streamline processes to achieve maximum harmony in multi-site pods.

We heard that you wrote a book. Tell us what it is about?
A few months ago, just when I was about to relocate to India, I was contacted by Packt Publishing, to learn whether I would be interested to write a book about Functional Programming in JavaScript. The themes should include basic concepts about this programming paradigm, how to express them in JavaScript, and the advantages (and disadvantages!) that a programmer would face. Since I was quite interested in all these points and I had given several talks on the subject, I outlined the book contents, discussed the outline with the company, and finally signed the contract just when I was about to be leaving for India. I wrote the book on Indian nights — something that I had never imagined! And, if everything goes right, soon I will be writing another book, on “JavaScript ES8 Web Development” — but we are just starting talks about that.

How was your experience of being part of Globant Escape Game?
I have always loved puzzles: logic, math, language, visual, mechanic, whatever! From classic puzzlists like Sam Loyd or Henry Dudeney, to modern ones such as Martin Gardner, Raymond Smullyan, or Dennis Shasha, among many others. I had been working with the recruiting team, designing programming exercises for candidate interviews. When the idea of the “Escape Game” came up, I had the opportunity of creating puzzles of my own, collaborating with other creators, and to be the contact point and arbiter for players who had questions or doubts. It was a very interesting experience, that attracted many people, and I am anxiously waiting for the second edition!

In which aspects of your daily work is that you see Globant’s culture expressed?
Throughout these years, and not only in Uruguay but in all of Globants’ sites, I have met lots of people with the same values, who share the desire to advance and to always achieve something better, seeking not only personal achievements, but also for their pods and, ultimately, for the customers who are the final recipients of all efforts. Working in this type of environment is very positive and enriching, and pushes to seek more, moreover in a company that recognizes merits.

In recent years and with all the technological advances, how has your work changed?
I started working in computing years ago: in fact, in the past century… or rather, the past millennium! In fact, my first languages were FORTRAN and COBOL in big IBM mainframes, but the evolution of computers and tools has been enormous, and I can positively assert that it would have been impossible to keep up without continuous study. Happily, this is something that everybody in Globant understands: you need not only keep up to date in your current knowledge, but also go beyond that, and learn something new each day, because you can never predict what you’ll be working on — and those new challenges are most interesting!

What five qualities should a good Big Data specialist have?
Obviously, there are more than five, but I will highlight the following:

  • Orientation to results – obtaining results is key, beyond the process itself. It may be necessary to have to look for a different road, but you have to focus on the goal, and move forward, one way or another, to meet customers’ needs
  • Creativity and Problem Solving – to experiment, to look for alternatives, to not be afraid of failing, to be curious to look for better, enhanced methods, because there is no guarantee that the first tried paths will lead to the sought solution
  • Communication – it is essential to work with clients and technicians, with experience in diverse areas, particular terminologies and jargon, and sometimes difficult to explain results, so communication skills (horizontal and vertical) are a must
  • Quality and Continuous Improvement – all models are approximations, as such, they can generate problems, be inaccurate or insufficiently adjusted to reality.  A quality-focused vision is necessary to continuously seek methods and processes improvement
  • And, of course, Competence in everything technical, depending on your specific specialized area: SQL and NoSQL databases, statistics, models, visualization, programming… including continuous training.

What recommendations would you give to someone who wants to join your team?
The main point that I would recommend, which leads to others, is that you should get accustomed to seeing the system in a holistic, global, general way. This leads the pod to not only produce solutions, but rather optimal solutions, better adapted to the client’s situation. You have to think about problems not individually, in isolation, but look beyond as part of a whole. Any implemented solution should not cause problems in other areas, but should be in harmony with the whole.

This point of view leads to the need for people to know how to say “No” – or, better yet, “No, but …”. We are not mechanical developers to churn out solutions, without thinking if they really suit the problem. It is necessary to be able to discuss and propose alternatives, in order to provide the best possible solutions. When you look at things holistically, you are more likely to perceive better ways to act, and then you’ll have to ably propose alternatives.

Finally, since a system implies multiple visions, and achieving good solutions requires different points of view, everybody should contribute to the synergy of the team. As capable as any person might be, the pod as a whole will always be able to go further. Each one must seek to contribute as much as possible so everybody in the team will achieve the best results.

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