The wait is over and we are back with an interview of another Magento influencer. This time we have Andra Elena Lungu with us. She is currently working as a Magento Developer at Bitbull srl and possesses vast experience in the field of Magento.
Without further ado, let’s get talking with Andra!
Muneeb: It’s great to have you with us today. Could you share your career journey with our readers, the difficulties you faced throughout, and how you tackled them?
Andra: This is a big question.
I graduated in Computer Science where I learned to my surprise that I love developing. I say surprise because when I started I had no idea what developing was and I was surrounded by my (mostly male) colleagues all with some prior knowledge and this made me feel quite out of place. At my first project, I just couldn’t stop working and staying up all night to code From that moment on, I just jumped on any language/project I had in front of me. At my first job, I was developing in .Net, Java, Php, and ActionScript.
While it’s confusing this way, it helped me learn how to quickly dive in on new technologies, a skill that I found really useful when I started working with Magento at my second job which was a startup company called Buru Buru.
Being mainly a Java developer, in the beginning, I loved how I felt comfortable with Magento compared to other PHP frameworks (I had a horrible experience with VirtueMart at that time). And since then, I haven’t stopped working with Magento because I love the community around it more than the framework itself.
At Buru Buru, I was in charge of the IT department (which was composed of just myself). From developing new features to sys admin to making any critical decisions on integrations and so on was all my duty. While I loved my job there, at some point I felt the strong need to work with peers and to learn and discuss with them.
Luckily for me, my mentor, Alessandro Ronchi, was waiting for the right moment to catch me and get me to his company, Bitbull, by asking me if I was happy in my current job.
Muneeb: Being a Magento developer at Bitbull srl, what are your job responsibilities?
Andra: Bitbull is quite a special gem cause it doesn’t follow any traditional rules or hierarchies. That means you can take any responsibility you want as long as you do a good job and it fits you. Being curious by nature, I try to be involved in all parts of a project so while my main skill is backend development, I also like to at least understand the DevOps part as well, define requirements for the project in close contact with the client and, if the project is small and doesn’t have a dedicated manager, do some management as well. Ah, and usually I am used as the bad cop ;) by my colleagues.
Although I would not call it a responsibility, since it is completely our choice, Bitbull gives us the right environment to be active at the community level by writing articles to share our knowledge, participating as attendees and speakers to all the events we want. And last but not the least, we are also able to organize events such as Mage Titans Italy, and so, part of my responsibilities was being part of the organization this year, which for me it was a huge opportunity and I feel really grateful for it.
Muneeb: As a developer, what are the key points that you focus on before starting a project?
Andra: I try to be sure that the client and we are on the same page, even if it means writing lot of (boring) documentation that can help the client understand the domain. I think if you give proper attention and time to it, everything else will just fit into place. And when this part is done, I focus on finding solutions that balance the optimal best practices with the resources that the client has for the project suggesting as much automation of the process as possible.
Muneeb: What was your main reason behind choosing Magento?
Andra: Actually, Magento chose me. I mean that the company I was working for asked me to implement the solution on Magento, but now I am super satisfied with this choice because it was the best solution for us. And till today I can’t find a better one – it may be out there – but I just haven’t found it yet.
Muneeb: How do you compare Magento to other ecommerce platforms?
Andra: There are many things to consider but it all starts with the client’s needs. I would not suggest Magento to clients that I know won’t benefit from it. Here’s a small example: in Italy, at least, small merchants that heard having a shop online can make you rich wanted just to jump in without any real knowledge of what ecommerce is. In those cases, I suggest that they start small with WooCommerce just to dip their toes in the ecommerce and realize how serious they are about their commitment to reach their goal.
I have heard of many shops that are built cheap but are left unattended because there is no one to manage them. Most of the time, merchants don’t realize that the biggest investment, one that makes them rich, isn’t building the shop, but it is investing their time in growing it. After considering the client’s needs, I check which of these are covered out of the box; for how long the product (Magento or others) has been on the market; is it Enterprise ready or not; does it have a big community behind it; is it easy to maintain and how much it costs to add new features; how easy is to scale; and how many integrations are already there and so on.
Muneeb: Could you please share a picture of your workplace?
Andra: Yes, my cats are always pair programming with me!
Muneeb: Do you attend Magento events? What is the special thing that you like in Magento events?
Andra: This year, I actually think I might have overdone in attending events but I’m not sorry at all. There are many reasons to attend these events: learning from others, sharing your knowledge, meeting great members of our community who are outstanding people, both professionally and personally We also get to know about Magento 2’s journey directly from their own developers, and overall improve myself.
Muneeb: How do you spend your spare time and what are your hobbies?
Andra: As sometimes my friends warn me, I tend to work a bit too much leaving not enough time to hobbies. Hence, in my spare time, I work on some projects of my own. The very little time I have left, I love to travel, attending concerts, going to theater, learning about any topic that awakens my curiosity (psychology, neurology, nutrition, etc), and some tango.
Muneeb: Name some people who have inspired you in your life?
Andra: At a personal level, my grandmother was my biggest inspiration of strength with kindness. I could talk hours at the end about her great character (that shaped mine). I wish I could write a book about her life and how she faced great difficulties in the best possible way. She is a fighter and I feel I am as well because of her.
At a professional level, I have to admit that I was super lucky to find at least one person that shaped me in a big way at every job. At the very beginning, I was managed by a senior developer who is now my best friend. He taught me to have confidence in my skills because at that moment I was terrified of saying anything about their work because I couldn’t compare myself with their 20 or more years of experience.
Then at the next job, I was greatly inspired by the founders of the company. Three great young women that showed me how, with only your own skills and strength, you can reach what you didn’t think is possible just by trying, failing, and trying again. Improving after every fall and stopping to believe that you can reach greater goals.
And last but not the least, my well-known mentor, Alessandro Ronchi. He helped me grow in every possible way, which was one of his mission, and every mission he decides to embrace, he does it with great passion and ideals. I never stop being impressed with how lively and passionate he is in everything he does. I Hope to be like him in the future.
Muneeb: Now it’s time for a fun Rapid Fire round!
Rule: You can’t spend more than 15 seconds on this question ;)
|Shopify or PrestaShop?||PrestaShop|
|Movies or Games?||Movies|
|Travelling or Party?||Travel, Travel, Travel|
|Tea or Coffee?||Coffee ( Italian :P)|
|PlayStation or Xbox?||Xbox|
Muneeb: I hope you liked the interview :) Lastly, name some people who would you like to be interviewed next on Magenticians?
Andra: First of all, thank you very much. I hope this interview will invite people to come and talk to me through social media or at the next events and, for those who want :D, get a big hug because as Sonja said, I am the official Magento hugger!
Second, not sure who has already been interviewed, but I would suggest my colleague Irene Iaccio . She’s a great example of passion and intelligence.And Fabian Blechschmidt, one of the kindest persons I’ve got to meet through the events, and David Manners, who opened my mind on developing so many times through his talks and workshops.