Thanos Svigkos: Juggling Fantasy Sports Software Integration & Line Management
FSI introduces the Meet #FSITeam series: a close-up of the company’s team members and their own #FSIstories. We will be celebrating birthdays, sharing achievements, thoughts and wisdom through up-close and personal one-on-ones Q&As, and informative articles.
This week: Head of Marketing & People Comms, Maria Arnidou, interviews FSI’s Senior Software Engineer, Thanos Svigkos!
Hello Thanos! It’s great to catch up with you today! Let’s introduce you to our readers in your own words; tell us a little bit about you and your role in FSI.
Konnichiwa, Maria-san! I’m happy to be interviewed at last without a job position at stake. I’ve been 1 year and a half in FSI, having started for the first semester working exclusively on our Elixir applications. Then, for the needs of our website product, I took new responsibilities like being in charge of several new Java services, (in addition to the ones in Elixir), doing technical peer reviews, facilitating the recruitment process for the IT department, and being the line manager of several engineers. The past year felt like a Shinkansen (Japanese bullet train, 320km/h) trip but it was a very exciting one and I’m really happy that I cooperated with such a good team.
And what are the biggest challenges you have faced so far in your role at FSI? Would you do anything differently?
I believe the greatest challenge for me while in FSI was that I ended up being the only person with some knowledge of the Elixir applications. While I still can’t claim I’m an advanced Elixir developer, I have at least a good understanding of how they work and can assess the difficulty of any related tasks. One thing I would probably do differently about them (without re-writing them in Java), would be to simplify some of their parts, and maybe discard some 3rd party dependencies that have caused technical debt in these services. It is not about fearing new technologies, it’s about getting the best result both short and long term, given the engineers that will end up maintaining these technologies.
What about the future? Care to share your top goals as FSI’s Senior Software Engineer specifically, and as a professional in general?
For FSI, I would like to see the product version we are currently developing be deployed and actually used live by real end customers. This will bring a great amount of satisfaction since everyone has put huge effort into it.
In general, I want to be able to reach the level of Technical Team Leader, work together with engineers to tackle development problems and be able to efficiently coordinate a team towards a common goal.
Was a career in software engineering your childhood dream? If not, what did you want to be as a kid?
Well, as far as I can remember, at first I wanted to be a fireman, though I can't remember why. After the big '99 earthquake in Athens, I pivoted towards civil engineering, so that I could make all future buildings more durable. After my exposure to PCs with old CRT monitors and several sessions of minesweeper/solitaire/pinball I fell through the rabbit hole of video games and started wanting to be a maker of such. My first programming lessons were enough to make me focused on software and I also decided that it is preferable to enjoy playing video games rather than coding them and instead write code for other projects.
Thanos Svigkos in 2022: what do you consider to be your biggest personal achievement, your greatest flaw, and your very own “superpower”?
The biggest achievement is by far my wedding proposal to my wife, Alexandra. It was a treasure hunting game, with hints hidden in her house and riddles to be solved with the assistance of a messenger bot. As it couldn’t be tested, some “bugs” emerged in the game flow, but fortunately, they weren’t sufficient to reject my proposal.
My greatest flaw is by far my need for sleep. It consumes so much time of the day, and you can never have enough. This, and stubbornness.
As a superpower, I would say that I can generally remain calm most of the time, or I don’t easily show my anxiety to others.
And if you could have a “real” superpower - the Marvel and DC Universe kind - what would that be??
Superman (DC) and Franklin Richards (Marvel) seem pretty safe bets. However, in case someone else picked them first, a plain old teleportation ability would be extremely useful.
Now, within the Team, you are also a Line Manager of some of your colleagues. Was this your first time as a Line Manager? Did you face any challenges in this role, and how is your experience so far?
It was indeed my first time as a Line Manager. At first, I was anxious as to how I should proceed with this new responsibility. I think the biggest challenge on this is the fact that the Line Manager can heavily affect the colleagues, and thus, should be very careful about what he/she chooses to discuss in each session. A session should be balanced so that the discussion is about not only the colleague’s goals (short and long term) but may also include concerns irrelevant to work.
Thankfully, I did some research, gathered feedback from people with relevant experience, and I believe the results so far are more than satisfactory.
After all, if my colleagues say they are happy, I’m happy as well!
Overall, what are the next steps you have in mind to assist the colleagues you manage to grow?
Each one has a unique mindset and a set of future goals. Therefore, growth is subjective to each individual. Some next steps that apply to everyone though, would be to help them focus on their strengths, try to forge their own path for the years to come and work on goals applied to this path. As the engineering role can have many aspects, it will be greatly helpful to get at least some exposure to as many of them as possible. By doing so, they will be able to better define what are the strongest and most preferable points. At the same time, an introduction to new responsibilities, not strictly technical, will be a great asset in the preparation of the upcoming roles they wish to get. Such responsibilities include mentoring, customer exposure, peer management.
It’s been some time that we have been working from home now, but still, even remotely, what’s your best moment in the workday - the one you look forward to, and why?
Apart from the lunch break accompanied by 1-2 One Piece episodes, I find the best part in the gossip window just before the daily catch up. It is a nice time that feels like we are all together in the office.
Finally, what’s your advice for the young people starting their careers now and to all the aspiring Software Engineers out there? What is it that you, as a Team Recruiter / Interviewer, are looking for in the company’s next hire?
Prepare a nice-looking CV! Possibly a good LinkedIn profile as well. It is the first impression of a candidate to the recruiter and it does give a hint for the candidate’s personality. Behavioural problems in the workplace are less tolerable than lack of knowledge, so, even subtle details in the responses during interviews could be a red flag for the recruiter. People without any professional experience shouldn’t give up. Instead, try to highlight your best feats and projects and prepare yourself before each interview.