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0:09 Miko Pawlikowski

Hello and welcome to another exciting episode of Conf42Cast, that tech podcast from a neighboring galaxy. My name is Miko Pawlikowski. And today, my guest is Alvaro, the chief network officer at Andela. Thank you so much for coming, Alvaro. How are you doing?

0:27 Alvaro Oliveira

Doing great Miko, thanks for having me. It's a pleasure to be here.

0:30 Miko Pawlikowski

Right. So to continue our little tradition of confusing our guests, as soon as they show up, your question for today is, if you could go faster than the speed of light, where would you go?

0:41 Alvaro Oliveira

What take this one step further, and just assume that if I can go faster than the speed of light, I may be able to travel through time. Probably go back to younger Alvaro looking at crypto mining and just say, 'It's gonna be a real thing, do it!'.

0:59 Miko Pawlikowski

Right. That's a very good one. I was kind of hoping you would go with this with time travel. But I didn't think of mining bitcoins when I was still a thing. All right. So today, we're going to talk about our skills. And we going to talk about technologists and we're going to talk about marketplace. Alvaro, would you like to tell us a little bit about your background? And how you ended up at the place like Andela?

1:25 Alvaro Oliveira

Yeah, absolutely. I'm a technologist. So I'm born and bred out of Brazil, I've always enjoyed and liked technology. I live near Sao Paulo, but not in the main city itself, which always made me look for interesting opportunity in different ways other than just moving there. Because that is where if I really wanted big, fancy jobs, that's where I would end up going to. And as a very curious technologists back in 2010-ish, I wanted to start working with Ruby on Rails, which was all the hype back then. And that's where I've learned about remote work. And I've had different experiences with remote work since. And one of them was helping starting start to build companies that allow for remote work, that eventually in that journey, I ended up here at Andela, out of falling in love with the company, the mission and what it does, and then joining Andela to be here. Finding a lot of people that are more like myself than not, which are just out there looking for interesting opportunities, regardless of where they are. So really connecting brilliance with opportunity across the globe.

2:28 Miko Pawlikowski

Sounds interesting to me, because you know, it immediately brings to mind things like LinkedIn, and all this people in my inbox who are coming with often very irrelevant things. At the same time, places like, not to name drop or anything, but for kind of one of jobs. Where do you place Andela in between those things and what's the unique selling point about this?

2:54 Alvaro Oliveira

I think Andela is different in the sense that Andela really understands developers. Again, that's literally my background. And there's a bunch of people like myself at the company trying to think with the developer hat on on how to provide the best experience. Also, on the client side, we do have people active sales team, always trying to create the best experience for our clients possible, and then connecting both sides. So we're not too pushy on either side, or forcing one side to work in a specific way. We try to understand and respect both, because that's how we believe the best connection is made by having something that is mutually beneficial for both sides. We also understand the journey of developers, if you're becoming a global freelancer, if you will, we don't necessarily use that terminology. But for simplicity, we could hear it's hard. There's a lot of things you got to start figuring out by yourself, I'm gonna get now an international wire transfer. How do I even deal with that? Depending on the country I am, that's easier or harder? What do I do about my health insurance? Oh, what is my career path like? I don't have an HR team now taking care of me anymore. Andela is here to really become a partner in all of those challenges, which I believe makes them quite unique in this space.

4:08 Miko Pawlikowski

That comes across as such. So you know, here in our little Conf42 family, we're all technologists here. So I'm wondering, you know, what's unique about designing a platform that's designed for people who design platforms, and, you know, basically working with technologists, for technologists. Do you get less slack than you would in any other domain?

4:31 Alvaro Oliveira

Absolutely and we love it. Or there's a way to look at it that would say, it's a little bit easier. Because as you go and talk to the team and try to get feedback from people using your platform, you get really good feedback, because they are really applying their normal thinking, which is again of people that would build something like this back to you as feedback. So I think it's super exciting. And I personally end up just being really, really proud and happy to be working, again, with a lot of other technologists. So it's interesting to be helping a community that I can connect so well to.

5:06 Miko Pawlikowski

That makes sense. One of the things that kind of stood up to me as I was browsing through your website is I think at some point, it's quote unquote saying that you guys cracked the formula for a successful technology team. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about, you know, from what you're seeing, and the experience that you have with assembling this teams and helping people assemble their teams, what makes a successful technology team in 2022 with, you know, all the remoteness and all the craziness we've gone through in the last few years?

5:39 Alvaro Oliveira

I think it starts with something that is quite basic, but businesses can get lost around it very easily. It is understanding we're dealing with humans, and we got to understand who the human is that's going to be doing the work their motivations. What they're looking for, how can this be a beneficial for both sides. It's not looking at people as, 'I need to assemble a team, let me think about my resources', and you go into a spreadsheet and you check boxes. That's not it. 'I need to assemble the team. Let me find people that want to be part of this team, part of this journey, solve this challenge. Let's create a good environment for them, so that they can be having fun as they do this. Let's make sure they're taken care of, that they feel safe during the work'. All of those ingredients are key to making successful teams. And that goes, in our case, with finding people all across the globe, giving them safe space in Andela, connecting with them, making sure they understand we're here for them as well. And also making sure we're finding them good clients. A lot of places talk about just the vetting of engineers and whatnot. We're very particular about the clients we choose to work with as well. If we do end up finding a client that is perceived as abusive, or wants to do something we don't believe is healthy for our community, we're going to say no, because finding the right client also matters.

7:04 Miko Pawlikowski

I'm going to drop the 'C' word, COVID-19. And ask you a bit more directly. You know, if you were to compare how things changed between, say 2019 and 2022 we're in right now, what would you say the biggest differences were? And maybe what were the emerging trends that became more important over that time?

7:27 Alvaro Oliveira

For Andela, we were already in the transition path of becoming global and remote. COVID has accelerated that significantly, because it meant we had to shut down our offices a lot earlier than we planned to. And it was able to show us that even Adela itself as a company can operate fully distributed and remotely and still be successful, which made us believe even further in what we're offering to our clients. When it comes to the network and our clients, I think a lot of them already understood this was possible, especially on the metric side, this just further accelerated and elevated that. We noticed a lot of people moving back to where they were from, either to a smaller city in a given country closer to their family, or even across countries, people that had moved from their country of origin into another one just because of their professional careers. They understood they could come back and still have their career at the level they wanted. And their personal life being closer to their families. And for our clients. It was a lot of, it was easier for them to accept that remote was needed. Because they started to see it internally as well. This wasn't us coming in and knocking on the door and saying, 'Hi client, I'm going to propose a different way to work'. It is, 'Hi client. We're going to work remotely like you already started to do and you've seen results and benefits of it. And I'm going to take it global and find new people all across'. COVID has certainly created a lot of challenges for I guess everyone. It is something that now I think most of humanity has in common, is the ability to talk about COVID. It's something that has affected us no matter where you come from, your wealth status. It was a big thing, it still is. But it brought advances in certain areas. And I think remote work is one of them.

9:08 Miko Pawlikowski

I remember, you know, not that long ago, were all of a sudden everybody started using Zoom and Google Meets and all kinds of technologies and it wasn't exactly 100% smooth. I'm wondering if you have any quirky anecdotes that you could share about the difficulties that created for people and how they managed to overcome them over time?

9:31 Alvaro Oliveira

Well, that one I mean, certainly has been a struggle for a lot of people to even get their environment set up. Understand how to communicate well, like the starting point was a lot of people on speaker getting echo and sometimes even as they could they would move out to public places and still be on speaker and doing Zoom calls like that. Over time, people started to understand how to be professional on a Zoom meeting. The family part I think is interesting actually. Because it is something at least I've been working remotely for quite a while, I would feel really bad if my son suddenly showed up on camera, prior. Now, it's become more acceptable. I think, obviously, you shouldn't be disruptive and whatnot. But it has changed to a point where people accept that more. And in a way, I feel like I've got to visit the house of some of my co-workers virtually. And it's okay. I walk around my house with my laptop a lot. And people are like, 'Oh, this is a new angle of your place'.

10:29 Miko Pawlikowski

That's right. Yeah, that's an interesting insight that you do get a slightly different view into people's lives. And you can get a little bit more of a human touch as well. Thanks for sharing that. All right, so let's shift gears a little bit and change from the macro point of view from someone like you who's looking at the platform and trends to the micro of a single person who's trying to look at the market and looking at trends in what's becoming more useful, and what's becoming less useful. What would you say are some emergent hot skills within the technologists community that are worth investing in today.

11:11 Alvaro Oliveira

I would say if you still want to go for the volume game, so see the broadest amount of possibilities, you're still safe going with JavaScript, Python, because Python even gives you openness into AI and related work, data science and whatnot. So web development with either of those still a big demand out there. If you want to get started in preparing things that are more niche, the crypto world is very, very interesting. It is a loud world. We hear about it a lot specially because of the financial side of that space. But financial is not the only application for crypto, there's a lot of interesting things happening out there. But that's still more of a niche. It feels really loud, it feels really hot, because it's newsworthy. But when you look at how many jobs are out there and available, you still cannot beat JavaScript, Python and mobile development with either Swift or Kotlin.

12:05 Miko Pawlikowski

And is there anything in particular that you would recommend to people early in their tech careers, that's a segment of our audience who you know, are basically trying to go and decide where to invest their time, you know, from that particular angle.

12:22 Alvaro Oliveira

My general recommendation is understand that the choice of language you're going to work with, or even sometimes the technology, that is the tool you're going to use to solve a challenge. Try and educate on the fundamentals of what being a software engineer is, because that will help you then pick up the different languages or tools for the business problem you're about to solve a lot easier. And remember that at the end of the day, that is big. What is the business problem you're trying to solve? There are very few companies where the business problem and doing cool technology is one and the same. In a lot of places, what you're doing is using technology to solve a challenge. And I will add the final piece there, which is give communication a lot of thought. Communicating well is how you can stand out as an engineer out there. Because it is a constant challenge for business people to be working with engineers, communication barriers are a big deal. If you can overcome that, generally, the technology you're working with will be fine. You get to pick what you want, if you're able to communicate that effectively.

13:28 Miko Pawlikowski

I liked that last point a lot. And I think it might be worth extending that point to also say that, you know, within this distributed context now, where a lot of that communication is asynchronous, and you don't get the face-to-face, when you get to pick up the subtle clues on the other person's face. It's even more important to be effective in this communication, and probably makes even more of a difference. So yeah, definitely agree with what you said. That's a very good point. All right. So let's shift gears a little bit again. And for everybody who would like to give it a try, you know, everybody listening in right now thinking, 'Oh, that sounds interesting'. How would they go about trying it out from both, you know, a technologist's perspective, and someone who's looking for a technologist? What does it actually look like in practice?

14:17 Alvaro Oliveira

So we're obviously trying to make it as easy as possible, you can just go to and that's going to be the beginning journey for either path. So if you want to join us as an engineer, there's going to be a button at the top where you get started on the process. We do have a small vetting process as you join in begin. This is for us to make sure our network has a quality bar and also to make sure we're talking to whoever is applying learning more about that person and what they are looking for in their own career. On the client side, similar journey, you will apply and the team will get in touch with you as you are applying their segmentation around depending on the size of the company you're part of and whatnot. So just going to is the easiest way.

14:59 Miko Pawlikowski

So is where you go and start. If I can squeeze some more golden nuggets of information out of you, I've got a question to ask our guests a lot. And it's the, if you were to pick like a single one item that gave you the highest return on investment for your career as a technology person, what would you pick to recommend for other people so that they can replicate that too?

15:28 Alvaro Oliveira

I'm gonna go again with communication. Which is not necessarily a technical skill answer, but communication is, I think, one of the most valued skills.

15:37 Miko Pawlikowski

And then how did you train your communication skills? How do recommend people, you know, actually level up on that skill that might be a little bit nebulous at times?

15:48 Alvaro Oliveira

My journey was around community. I'm an introvert by nature. And it has always been very difficult for me to just be out there with a group of five people and talk and express what I'm feeling or even share knowledge that I've acquired through reading a book or training. But I've done a lot of that through joining community events, and not always starting with the super large, big bank ones. But finding a local community, finding that group of four or five developers around me that have a shared interest in something. Back in my day, this was the beginnings of C sharp and starting to use it for web development, whatnot. And really engaging with people and try to even do like, not full-blown projects, but trying to put the technology we were learning to use. So solve a simple problem. In today's world, I would think I do have a five-year-old who goes through tennis lessons. I'd love a little app just scheduled a time with the instructor. So how can I find a few friends and try to start building that app? Not to make it a full blown business, but you really put the technology to use and then as I learned something, share it with that group and communicate, then go and tell your mom about the app. How can you explain it easily? So that a non-tech person, assuming your mom is not technical. Maybe she is. How would a non-technical person understand. So practice the same skills you would end up using at a business environment in your personal life. And I think that can go a long way.

17:14 Miko Pawlikowski

And that's definitely a good advice. All right. Thank you so much for your time. I was speaking to Alvaro Oliveira, the chief network officer at Andela. You can find more about Andela at And for Alvaro, what's the best way to reach you? Is it LinkedIn, Twitter?

17:33 Alvaro Oliveira

I'm not as active lately on Twitter, but LinkedIn, certainly.

17:37 Miko Pawlikowski

Thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for coming. It sounds really exciting, and I'm hoping to see you here again.

17:44 Alvaro Oliveira

Thanks for having me, Miko. It's been a pleasure.

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