Zoltan Laszlo, about Technology, Career Growth to ultimately becoming a Technical Lead, future career goals, and AscentCore Values

In today’s Employee Story, we explore Zoli’s professional journey, our esteemed Technical Lead (even though he can’t believe this is his actual job title – you’ll get this in a few minutes), as he offers insights into his experiences navigating the tech landscape and life at AscentCore. In this interview, Zoli provided us with some valuable perspectives on his career evolution, highlighting the challenges and rewards of working in the tech industry. From his early days experimenting with computers to his current role shaping software solutions, Zoli’s narrative provides a window into the day-to-day realities of a tech professional. And Zoli really is a professional, in every sense of the word.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How does Zoli usually spend his personal time?

I do a lot in my personal time, that includes sleeping too. I usually love spending my weekends  in nature, doing a lot of hiking trips, going camping or just simply being in nature contributes to my “zen”. If not nature then travel, either if it’s in the world or here in Romania, I enjoy seeing tourist attractions especially museums. If it’s not nature and not travel then I invest in my personal development plan of becoming that 2% better person than I was the day before. This includes reading self-development books, taking courses or working on personal projects. If I’m not in nature or visiting World’s most famous attractions, or doing self-development work, then I must be at some soccer game (the only game that I still can’t play at the level I’d like to – this is putting it mildly – but still loving it) or tennis (both ping-pong and field tennis). And on the rare occasion when I’m not doing any of that, you might just find me catching up on some much-needed rest, tidying up the house, or whipping up a delicious Chinese feast in the kitchen. I’m kidding, I can’t clean while I cook.

What led you on your career path, to ultimately become a Technical Lead?

I still can’t believe that I’m a Technical Lead since I still see myself as a mid-level developer at most, for the simple fact that there is so much to learn out there and such a short memory to hold all that information.

When I was around 9 or 10 years old, I received my first computer as a gift, and that’s when I developed this habit of breaking my computer’s system and somehow fixing it every single day through experiments. This habit led me to become the perfect master of computers. As time went on, I started fixing other people’s computers too, sometimes even getting paid, mostly with candies or baked goods. That was the moment when I started to realize that computers were my thing, and somewhere in the 8th grade, I had my first thoughts of starting a career in computer science, also the time when I dropped my dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Four years later, I began studying computer science at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, not fully aware of what I was getting into, since my algorithmic skills were mediocre at best, and their expectations… Well, let’s not dive into that. Three years after that, I started my first job as a software engineer at a small company, where I was thrown into the middle of the ocean, barely knowing how to swim, and believe me, there were a lot of sharks. I had to take over a project that had some form of maturity, and with only a single guy who knew the project resigning and having only a few weeks left in the company, I had to swim fast. These kinds of experiences helped me become more agile by learning and adapting more quickly.

Years went on, and I was looking for another career opportunity, since there was nothing much left to learn at my current job. Full of confidence that I was at least a strong mid-level developer (so naive), I faced some difficult interviews, where they expected me to have strong knowledge in C++, given the years that I’d been working in this area, but ended with strong disappointment. Each interview opened my eyes a little bit more and ended up realizing that I had not left the junior stage. That was the critical point of my career, where I realized that even if I had worked for some years, my journey was just at the beginning. So, I started building my knowledge, little by little, bit by bit, constantly engaging in interviews just to measure my progress up until AC recruited me.

Even today, after 8 and a half years in business, I’m still engaged in learning and becoming better. From that point, I have been constantly reading, taking courses, and working on my projects. And you know why? Because it’s the thing that I love and enjoy the most. There were nights when I stayed up all night, sometimes even more than 48 hours, there were days that I felt that I was going nowhere, but in the end, it was all worth it.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

It always starts with a big cup of coffee… well, maybe two… alright, three cups. What can I say? I’m a sleepy person! Then, I dive into reading emails and preparing tasks for the day, usually with about 45 minutes before the daily morning scrum begins once I open my laptop. After the morning meeting, depending on how hungry I am, I stay for 2 or 3 hours to tackle the day’s toughest challenges, unless there are some meetings that I need to attend.

Then comes the best part of the day – lunchtime! Unless, of course, I’m on a diet, then it’s the WORST! After lunch, I still have a few hours left until my evening scrum with the client, where I try to finish all my tasks and assist colleagues if they need help. Following the evening scrum, I usually have about half an hour left to wrap up any loose ends, or so I tell my manager, while secretly spending my time on social media. Shhh!

What emerging tech are you most optimistic about? Least? And why?

When it comes to emerging tech, I’m particularly excited about the advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning. The potential applications of these technologies across various industries are truly astounding, from revolutionizing healthcare to enhancing transportation systems. However, I do approach certain developments in tech with a hint of caution, especially when it comes to issues like data privacy and cybersecurity. While I’m optimistic about the potential benefits of emerging tech, I believe it’s crucial to tread carefully and ensure that these innovations are used responsibly and ethically.

What is your favorite tech?

I can’t say I have a favorite tech, but I’ve invested a lot of time in C++, OpenGL, Automotive, embedded systems, and many others. However, I’ve never really thought of any of them as my absolute favorite. I see myself as a dynamic person, always open to learning new technologies if the opportunity arises or if a new project idea requires it. But I’ve never truly fallen in love with any of them, you know, just friends with benefits.

What’s the best piece of tech-related media you’ve read/watched/listened to?

Ah, narrowing it down to just one is a tough one! I’ve come across so many insightful articles, videos, and podcasts that have broadened my perspective on technology. If I had to pick, though, I recently stumbled upon a podcast series that delves deep into the intersection of technology and society, exploring topics like digital ethics, AI ethics, and the impact of tech on our daily lives. It’s been a thought-provoking listen, prompting me to consider the ethical implications of the tech we create and consume.

Which is your favorite AscentCore value and why?

Definitely Relationships! AC has provided me with numerous opportunities, for which I am incredibly grateful. Despite still considering myself a mid-level software engineer, AC believed in me and promoted me to Technical Lead (though I’m not entirely convinced it was the best decision!). Additionally, the positive energy at every company event and during occasional office visits is truly infectious. How could anyone not appreciate that?

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your time here at AscentCore?

If you value your team/company they will value you back.

What’s next in your career journey? What skills are you looking forward to developing?

As for my future career aspirations, I’m eager to continue my journey of growth and development. Ultimately, I envision myself transitioning into a role as a Lead Software Architect, where I can leverage my expertise to drive innovation and shape the direction of impactful projects. In terms of skills, I’m keen to further hone my leadership abilities, deepen my understanding of architectural design principles, and stay abreast of emerging technologies that will shape the future of software development. It’s all about embracing lifelong learning and seizing every opportunity for personal and professional advancement.


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