Magenticians is pleased to meet yet another gem from the Magento community, Sander Mangel. He is working as a Technical lead at FitForMe and has a vast experience in the field of Magento along with a Developer certification to his name. He has also been honored with the Magento Master Mentors 2017 award.
Now without taking more of your time, let’s start the interview!
Muneeb: Sander Mangel, it’s great to have you here with us today. Please tell our readers a bit about yourself?
Sander: Sure. I’m Sander, currently living in the Netherlands and working as the technical lead for an international merchant. I’ve been working as a developer for a little over 10 years, with seven years on Magento projects.
I love to travel, going to conferences and on holidays. I also love to spend some time in the kitchen on the weekends.
Attending, speaking and organizing conferences is another passion of mine. There’s nothing better than getting together with our awesome community and sharing ideas.
Muneeb: Being a Technical Lead at FitForMe, what were some of the major challenges you had to face during your career and how did you tackle them?
Sander: Working at FitForMe has been an eye-opening experience for me after coming from agencies. Now I’m on the other side of the project, directly working with stakeholders of businesses; witnessing the impacts of changes and features and having to deal with agencies now and then.
But the best part of this experience is the blank canvas that I have when it comes to technology.
We have to find fitting solutions and look beyond the fastest or easiest approach in order to provide a solution that adds value for the users, now and in the future. Starting from the design phase, we use things like event storming and spend a fair amount of time on working out all the specs to prototyping features.
It’s a far cry from fighting for billable hours and trying to come up with solutions that sometimes barely fit the specs.
Muneeb: As a certified Magento Developer, what advice would you like to give to Magento newbies who want to achieve this certification?
Sander: The best thing is to first get some experience. You can study for the certification, there are plenty of online resources, but nothing beats hands-on experience.
Muneeb: Since you also have experience in the field of Magento Development, what suggestion would you give to developers before starting a Magento project?
Sander: This one’s easy. Start with understanding the tech behind it first. Dive into PHP, Dependency Injection, unit testing and all that other wonderful stuff. Make sure you learn the principles before applying them to Magento, which generally makes things more complicated to understand. Read, and read as much as you can – Blogs, books, and discussions about patterns, or about design decisions that Magento made through Alan Kent’s blog. When you understand the underlying principles behind the code, it’s a lot easier to work with it.
Muneeb: How important are events like Dutchento, that you also organized, for newbies as well as experienced Magento influencers?
Sander: For me, events are the place to get knowledge. It’s where you get in touch with new ideas and meet people that can educate and mentor you. I truly believe that any developer, no matter the skill level, can get something from a conference.
Muneeb: What advice would you give to merchants about moving to Magento as a Magento Consultant?
Sander: Think before you act ;) Make sure you understand your business processes, work them out, describe them, make flowcharts and then work those into a complete RFP. Don’t think about features, think of the challenges that a solution provider needs to solve for you. This makes the selection process easier too.
Muneeb: You have been honored with Magento Master Mentors 2017 award. Please share the honor of this achievement with our readers.
Sander: I love what I do, and interacting with the community is rewarding but being recognized for that is, of course, an honor, something that I appreciate a lot. I feel that it should never be a motivation to do what you do but it sure is a very nice compliment.
Muneeb: There are many other ecommerce platforms available like WooCommerce and Shopify. How would you differentiate Magento from these ecommerce platforms?
Sander: Ah this one is tricky. Having so much experience with Magento, comparing with others is hard. In my opinion, solutions like Spryker or OroCommerce would be the most interesting, because they are comparable but approach issues differently, like a Spryker believes in coding over configuration.
Muneeb: What new features would you like to see in Magento in the coming years?
Sander: In terms of features, I would be more interested in new technologies implemented or code improvements than full features. We have a very active community that will probably build the features that we really need. It’s important that Magento gives us a stable base to build them on.
Muneeb: What do you like the most about your job? What makes your office so special for you and can you share a picture of your workplace with our readers?
Sander: I love working for just one client who is the merchant that employs me. It’s fun to work with an extended team of experienced domain experts that force you to immerse yourself in their challenges and come up with a solution.
I try to keep my desk clean, it helps in focusing. There’s a little notebook, some post from an event storming session, a phone and of course my laptop, but that’s it.
Muneeb: Let’s talk a little about your personal life. Do you like playing games or spending time with family?
Sander: Personal life is always a challenge. I love work and other stuff revolving around Magento, which means I sometimes forget that there is another world out there.
So, apart from seeing my family and meeting up with friends for a drink, I try to find some time for reading or playing Cities: Skyline. I love city builders. For me having quiet time is the most valuable thing. Doing nothing, enjoying the moment.
Muneeb: Since you are a man with a busy schedule, how do you manage your work-life balance?
Sander: As I said, finding the right balance is hard. Some weeks I tend to forget myself and get absorbed in work. Over the years, I’ve learned to compensate that by going to bed early, lazy weekends or balancing the next week. It’s hard because life is full of so many wonderful things and saying ‘no’ to things is hard.
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?||Shopify, they really have a well thought out product for smaller merchants.|
|Movies or Games?||Movies|
|Travelling or Party?||Traveling, anytime!|
|Tea or Coffee?||Coffee, although I should cut back.|
|PlayStation or Xbox?||PC of course, we’re not savages.|
Muneeb: Who would you like to be interviewed next on Magenticians? You can recommend your friends or people who have notable contributions to the Magento Community.
Sander: You guys already interviewed so many people! I’m sure Andrew Howden or Winston Nolan could tell a very interesting story