Robert Preda, from being inspired by Tony Stark to ultimately becoming a great Senior Software Engineer

You may have seen his picture recently shared all over our socials, as he was one of the speakers at our latest AscentCore Tech Communities Meetup. Ladies, gents, we’re proud to present Robert Preda. So get ready to take a sneak peek into the life of Robert. From gym sweat sessions to late-night gaming escapades, his world is a blend of fitness, fun, and code-crunching adventures. Join us as we uncover the story of how this tech-savvy gamer turned into a Senior Software Engineer at AscentCore. Let’s see what Robert is all about when he’s not crushing it as a speaker – and about that, he did prepare a complete set of tips and tricks to being a great presenter. Do NOT miss out!

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

Starting off with the complex questions, aren’t we? My personal time is a bit of a wildcard, in the sense that there is no “usual” in this. But if I were to summarise everything in a non-biblically sized text, it would come down to a few things:

Gym – I’m mentally dependent on going to the gym. Been doing it for the past 4 years. Why? Well, I think it’s safe to say that it’s some sort of a middle ground between “being healthy”, “trying to see what’s the peak of my body’s physical ability” and “making my brain shut up for at least 2h a day” – yeah, my brain tends to get noisy -. 

Gaming – especially story based single-player games. I absolutely love games that have an amazing story to tell, the kind of stories that bring me to tears, either of happiness or sadness, or maybe a story that makes me question my own existence and morality. 

I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone, but gaming is a pretty important part of my spare time, so I try to squeeze in some gaming whenever I can. “Squeeze in? Are you so busy?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s kind of hard to find a balance between ALL the things I WANT to do in my spare time. You’ll see. 

Learning new things – remember the “my brain tends to get noisy” part? I hope you do, you read that like 2 minutes ago, but yeah: that 1.3 kg of matter inside my head is almost constantly asking for something new, some new knowledge. And I tend to listen to that call, by learning anything I can get my hands on: ranging from anything science related, to different mythologies across human history.

DJ-ing – “huh?” is the usual reaction I get when I tell people about this. But it has been a dream of mine for the past 14-ish years, so I’ve recently started learning “how to DJ”, or whatever you want to call it. There’s nothing to be shared YET, but stay tuned for “Robert’s awesome techno mash-up”. 

I could perhaps continue this list, but I promised a non-biblically sized answer. So I’ll stop here. Off to the next question it is.

What led you on your career path, to ultimately become a Senior Software Engineer?

Alright, a fair bit of warning: this answer is going to sound silly, but hey, whatever drives us, right? 

Throughout my childhood and early school years, I’ve had A LOT of interests. I was basically changing the answer to “what do you wanna be when you grow up?” almost on a weekly basis. But then, I saw this one film released in 2008, called “Iron Man”. And then, everything changed: I wanted to be like Tony Stark. That really spiked my interest in technology and engineering, and I started to learn how to code on my own from YouTube tutorials (bless you, Bobby. I don’t remember the channel’s name, but you’ll stay in my heart forever). 

Fast forward a bit, to the time I had to choose a university. Went to computer engineering university, BECAUSE I still wanted to be like Tony Stark. 

Fast forward to now, and most of the things I learn (tech or non-tech related) are partly because I still want to be like Tony Stark (I say partly, because the other side of the coin is just my natural curiosity and “thirst for knowledge”).

What does a typical workday look like for you?

My typical workday usually starts off with my 7 alarms I’ve set and me dismissing the first 6. Look right, don’t judge, but sometimes with so many things I want to do in my spare time, quality sleep kind of becomes optional, so I go to bed kind of late. 

“So after that, you jump straight to your work computer, right?”. Nah nah, I have a caffeine addiction that I need to feed, so I spend the next 5 or so minutes crafting the perfect slow-brewed cup of coffee, bringing both my mood up and my levels of chronic sleepiness lower. Can’t go into my daily meeting while being unable to talk because of the drowsiness, right?

After that, it’s usually the same: me typing wildly at my keyboard and creating that sweet-sweet code magic, mixed in with me battling my ADHD impulses (speaking of which, did I water my plants?) and taking a smoke break every so often, more so as an excuse to browse Instagram memes.

You recently joined AscentCore, and you’ve already made an impact in your team. Tell us about your first few months here and how it is for you thus far.

Cliche or not, these past few months here have been awesome. A lot of wonderful people who are all a joy to talk to and work with. It kind of feels like we’re on the same page when it comes to a bunch of topics (humour as well, this is also important, I like it when people are resonating with my broken sense of humour). 

On top of that, I can say that in these past few months I’ve been learning quite a lot of new things, and even though sometimes these “things” seem challenging, the satisfaction of overcoming the challenges, on top of the  satisfaction of having learned something new, outweighs the fear of facing such challenges.

What is your favourite tech?

It’s really hard to decide on just ONE, really, since tech is a HUGE field. However, if I were to choose just one, it would be the super-field of artificial intelligence, because one can see it as an auxiliary field that can enhance ANY other subfield of tech.

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

When it comes to tech related media, I’ve followed quite a few. However, my favourite media of all times have been Linus Sebastian’s channels. In case the name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps the channels LinusTechTips, Techquickie or TechLinked do. Linus, together with his team, do an excellent job at showcasing the newest stuff and news in the consumer tech field.

Which is your favourite AscentCore value and why?

It’s hard to choose one, but if I am to choose one, I’d definitely say relationships. What’s the point of being the very best in what you do, if the people around you and the relationships with them aren’t the best? The best kind of motivation is the one provided by the people you have around you.

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

You know, one of my weaknesses has been the obsession of solving issues on my own. Why? Erm, I don’t know. Ego? The fear of being judged if I asked dumb questions? A mix of both? That’s irrelevant, the first lesson that I’ve learned is that the best way to overcome a challenge is to just ask for help. People will be happy to help. Remember, next time you’re stuck on that nasty piece of code that doesn’t work even after performing shaman rituals, the best thing you can get is just a second pair of eyes.

To conclude this segment, though, I want to point out that lessons are learned everyday, and as cliche as it may sound, you can’t deny it, and I’m looking forward to all the new lessons I’m going to learn.

You’ve recently been a speaker at our Tech Communities Meetup. What advice would you give someone looking to develop their presentation skills?

Presentations are quite a tricky topic, if I’m being honest. And if I’m being even more honest, I’m the worst person to ask for advice, because I just don’t know how I do it. But if it helps, I can share a bit of my thought process. 

On a more “technical” side of presentations, you need to obviously know VERY well what’s going on within the presentation. Beyond common sense, this is going to come in handy in my next point. 

This one is a bit of a “combo” tip, meaning that it’s both about the presentation itself and about HOW you present. If you’re talking in front of a live crowd, try to keep the reading off of slides to a minimum. At the same time, make eye contact with people in the audience, that will make them feel more “connected”, more like they’re having sort of a conversation with you. 

What I love doing in presentations is improvising. My secret: I almost never have a perfectly laid out plan, I only know exactly what’s written in the presentation. And on top of that, I might have a basic plan for the presentation (e.g what to talk about, when to talk about, etc). The rest is just improvisation. Imagine you’re telling a story to a friend (in a more or less formal tone, depending on the context). 

Now, there’s also the point about feeling nervous. Let me tell you, I am REALLY nervous when talking in front of a crowd, but people don’t seem to believe me, because I don’t seem to show that nervousness. My point here is to try and keep your body language in check. What I mean by that is to try and have an open body language, makes you look more confident and interesting, encouraging people to pay attention to you. On the same topic of non-verbal communication, avoid monotonous tones. Use appropriate inflections, like you would have a regular conversation with a friend. I know this might be hard in the heat of the moment, when you feel like your nervousness might take over. To this, I don’t really have any good advice except “practice makes perfect”. 

As a little bonus tip and at the same time a closing tip: if the context permits, pull off a joke every now and then, maybe a pinch of funny memes within the presentation itself. People best remember stuff that is tied to an emotion, and what’s the best emotion to “exploit” like that, except humor? Ah yes, and about that, very important: do NOT laugh at your own jokes. Trust me.

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

This right here is going to be a bit of a philosophical section, since I can’t say for sure what would be next on this journey. Tomorrow is a mystery, am I right? I know, I know, you’ve heard this probably more times than our brain can comprehend. But it’s true, we can’t know what’s next, the best we can do is hope for stuff.

On the topic of hoping, what I hope for are good memories, inside and outside of the work context, since we as people are just an amalgamation of our memories (told you this is going to get philosophical). 

And, as a closure to this section, regarding the skills I’m hoping to develop, let’s just say they’re a lot. On a more technical level, I am really looking forward to taking my backend development skills to a new, higher level, together with my skills and knowledge in the field of artificial intelligence. On a non-technical level, I would hope I get to learn how to manage my time better, since that right now is quite a big issue, sometimes.


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