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Interview with Head of Research and Development, Rui Calsaverini

A strong development team is a key to the company's success. In this interview, our Head of Research & Development, Rui Calsaverini shares why you need to get creative with a product roadmap and how to ensure your team is fully engaged in the development process.

How did you start your career and what led you to Germany from Brazil?

I am passionate about technology and have always been. I wrote my first line of code when I was 9, and I got my first money for writing code when I was 15, so the choice of career was very straightforward. My veer towards management began about 8 years ago when I was entrusted to create from the ground up and lead the engineering and IT department of an amazing start-up in Brazil. In the blink of an eye, we had a team of 30+ bright developers building great things who loved what they were doing, which made me realize that this is what I want to do from now on.

As for moving to Germany, that has been a dream for both me and my fiancée for a very long time. I like everything about Germany, from the culture of excellence and craftsmanship to the strange things they call a salad (Wurstsalat, I am looking at you), this is the place for me!

What attracted you to CELUS?

I was happily employed at the time and wasn't even going to change jobs, but after reading about what they were doing, I got immediately hooked. Electronics was already a long-time hobby for me back then, and the CELUS product changed everything in the field, I had to be a part of it. 

What are your main areas of focus as a Head of Research and Development at CELUS?

 At CELUS, we move at a very fast pace, so the main focus for me is to find a creative way to execute the product roadmap and deliver the ambitious plans we cook up every year. Unlike many other applications, which may rely on established examples or a strict long-term plan, we are very often on the cutting-edge of innovation, doing things that haven't been done before. This presents a number of uncommon challenges, and developing a technical plan is very different from what I have encountered before in my career. Additionally, it requires a lot more concentration, information, creativity, and input from the team.

What is your personal policy on AI?

AI is a great thing, allowing us to create novel solutions on a scale that rivals or surpasses what expert humans can achieve. But it can also cause some unintended damage. I am not talking about the sci-fi notion that AI will take over humanity (if you have a smart home, you know that's at least a century away), but about the more real and pressing threat of bias. If developers are not careful with the training set, AI can replicate or even magnify the biases we face in society today, and I believe it is our duty to be responsible and consider the implications of this effect.

How do you keep your team motivated?

Software engineers are like craftsmen: we try to acquire knowledge and develop our skills, and we take great pride in what we build. It might sound a bit obvious, but I believe that creating an environment where people feel safe, experiment, and build things they are proud of and that represent their best work is key to keeping developers engaged. This also requires being flexible and open to adopting new technologies, automating everything you can so developers can focus on creativity, and allowing people to fail and learn. 

I believe that creating an environment where people feel safe, experiment, and build things they are proud of and that represent their best work is key to keeping developers engaged.

What leadership skills are necessary for your work? 

I believe that managing a high-performing software development team is more about setting up a process and structure that provides proper support, staffing it with top-notch people, and getting out of their way as much as possible. Also, it certainly differs from product to product, and there is no foolproof recipe for managing any engineering team. I am sure it won't work as well for a team that deals with more repetitive, predictable tasks. But given the amount of creativity required to come up with the technical solutions, and the novelty of what we do, micromanaging or over-interference can be a dangerous thing, and the team as a whole can make much better tactical decisions than any manager. So, my approach as we grow is to create a robust process that helps ground and direct the work, improve the flow of information so technical decisions are made in line with long-term goals and empower the team to direct development as much as possible. My main contribution is to free the team to keep writing code, and to help devise and pass on a long-term strategy.

What plans does your team have for the next six months?

For starters, we are releasing the initial version of the collaboration with a giant partner in the electronics industry, which will allow us to reach a huge number of expert users from different countries working in a wide variety of fields. Another important milestone will be supporting more CAD tools, which is now possible after the partnerships that were stricken with Siemens and another CAD software company in the last quarter of 2021. In addition, we plan to nearly double our department in 2022, which is a very exciting prospect.

Interested to work in the R&D team at CELUS? Check out our open positions and send your CV today. 

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