Meet Albert MacSweeney, senior software engineer at Profium. Albert has been working for Profium for over a decade, first as a contractor and now as a full time employee. He works remotely from home in Ireland. As a software engineer his role involves all aspects of software development from interacting with customers to understanding their requirements and issues, to architecture and coding. His journey in software started with obtaining a degree in Electronic & Computer Engineering and a masters in Applied Computing. He then spent some time working for the university and after that for a software consulting company.
What does a typical day at work look like?
“Most of my time is spent on software related activities. I spend this time designing, coding and documenting new features and analyzing and fixing any issues that have been reported. I use a variety of collaboration tools such as Slack and Zoom to communicate with customers and colleagues. A few times a year I’ll travel for a few days either to the office in Espoo or for face-to-face customer meetings. Each week there are typically a couple of meetings to coordinate with the rest of the team at Profium and with customer(s) for active projects, but I’ll also have impromptu meetings as required if anyone needs my help or vice versa”, Albert describes.
What he likes the most about working for Profium, is that he gets to spend most of his time doing real software engineering work. “I think there’s generally less bureaucracy than you might have at a bigger company. Also I get on well with my co-workers and the customers I interact with, they’re a pleasure to work with”, he continues. “Working from home I can work on complicated tasks in a quiet environment without distractions. But I can also easily contact my colleagues on Slack when needed, or hop on a Zoom call for a chat. If I need help with something my colleagues are always willing to help, and I try to reciprocate that, especially with those I’m mentoring.”
Collaboration and helping others
Albert thinks there’s a good culture of availability and collaboration. You can always find a helping hand when stuck with something, or when looking for a second opinion. As he has become more experienced he’s also spending more time mentoring junior developers.
“I enjoy teaching junior developers, especially about writing well factored, maintainable code and unit testing. I’ve always had passion for the craft of writing clean agile code and I try to share the wisdom that has come from my experience. I feel lucky that those I’ve mentored have always been enthusiastic and willing to learn, and that makes it easy and enjoyable! New employees typically bring a fresh perspective to the team, through a combination of their own career experience so far and their individual personality”, he says.
“He’s clearly very passionate about the work he does, and always ready to share the knowledge he has been gathering over the years. We’ve had lengthy conversations not just about the issue on hand, but also larger concepts, like TDD and clean code. I’m very glad to have him as a mentor at the start of my career”, says Niklas Seppälä, a final year student at Metropolia, who during his year at Profium has been in close co-operation especially with Albert and speaks highly of him and the work he does.
Albert thinks there’s a lot of freedom to choose how you do things. The technology in software development is always changing so we must always be open to re-evaluating how we’re doing things and open to trying different approaches. We need to be asking whether the tools, processes and conventions we use are creating more value in helping us to do our job well than the overhead. “At the same time the teacher is the student, the developers I’ve mentored have taught me about any new technologies they’ve found, and help me realize when there’s a newer, better, way to do something”, Albert explains.
About work-life balance
You need the right balance to stay healthy and happy. While we aim to be productive at work and achieve our goals, we have flexible hours so we can structure the day to what suits us best. “Personally I find it beneficial to take break to go to the gym in the afternoon a couple of days a week. I typically find I’m at my most productive when I come back to my desk afterwards to finish the day’s work.” Other things besides the going to the gym, Albert enjoys running. He’s also interested in basketball, photography, traveling and playing the guitar.
“I get the sense of accomplishment in knowing we’re building products that are helping our customers, and steadily improving them. But I also have the time and energy for my hobbies outside of work.”
If you wrote a book about your career so far, what would you title it? “I’ll cheat a bit by saying “The Pragmatic Programmer” because it’s already the title of a great book about this progression I think pragmatic describes my approach to software well though.”
If he could choose a superpower for himself he would slow or stop time! There is always so much to learn and potential improvements or additional tests that can be made for code that there isn’t time for everything. That’s probably a common feeling for all software developers wanting to improve their products and that’s why their work is so important to the company and the customers.