Sunday, December 28, 2014

Island of misfit toys

Another year has come to an end, and, as usual, I'm here doing the evaluation of this year. This has been the first year I've been working all the time and with the highest salary I've ever had. Nevertheless it hasn't been the best one (2008 was way better than any other year). So let me tell you what happened this year:

  • For the first time in my life I was alone on new year's eve. And, as weird as it can sound, I didn't fell bad at all. I enjoyed the last day of 2013 watching a movie and taking a glass of Chilean wine. As usual I talked to my few and beloved friends at midnight. Also I started the year with a secure job, with all my expectations on it and the hope of a great learning experience.
  • In 2013, after our failed startup, I decided to do a career change in my life. I did a Diploma in Business Intelligence in 2009 and I really liked the idea of become a Data Scientist, as it is the sexiest job of the 21st century. So after I finished my Master Thesis in July 2013 I started looking for a job in this field. At the end of October 2013 I started working. I've been learning a lot since then in this field. I've had the opportunity to work with one of the biggest databases of my country and to give my best every day of this year at work. And, as usual, I began to get bored. I guess it started after receiving my MSc degree. Since then I've been doing operational work, most of the time. I've been promoted in my Job (I was supposed to be a technical leader) but it was only a salary rise. I belong to the knowledge society and I don't get truly motivated by money. I wanted to have more leadership tasks, but now I'm more on the operational side than ever. Maybe this is not bad at all, sometimes you need to go down in order to rise up higher. 
  • I've been investing almost all of my nights studying german. I started at the end of 2013 as a side project and now it has become an important part of my future. 
  • At last I got my Master's Degree. I started my postgraduate studies in 2010 and was supposed to finish them in 2011. But life happened, I procrastinated a lot at the beginning, I got a Job and I moved to Chile. I didn't stay in Chile because I wanted to finish my Thesis and, eventually, receive my degree. I came back in March 2013 and finished my Thesis in July 2013. Due the bureaucracy of my university the dissertation of my Thesis was in April 2014. The ceremony was in September, ending a 4 years work. 
  • I didn't want this year to go without knowing a new place in this planet. The last time I went out of the country was in May 2013 when I went to Cuba. This time I traveled to Panama and had a great time there. Traveling for me is a way to reload my batteries and to find myself. I came back with renewed energy and with new perceptions of the world (remember what Marcel Proust said: The real voyage of discovery consists, not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes). 
  • Finally, Love didn't knock my door this year. Lately I've found that I'm a wallflower, an introvert person who is kind of lonely but smart and interesting. Maybe this particularity has always play against me. This year I met a nice girl, at the beginning we were OK and one day, I still don't know why, she just changed. Now I guess that it was a good thing, I realized her flaws and that, at some point, I would have been really disappointed. It still hurts me a bit but I guess time will do the trick. Also this year I lost one of the best persons I've ever met. I was deeply in love with her some years ago, but the person she is now is completely different. Now she has a lot of the things I don't like of a society. After several disappointments I decided to stop talking to her. I know she is doing OK and I'm really glad of it.

So far this is what happened to me in 2014. Last week I've started to think about my New Year's resolutions and found that I am a misfit toy, which is basically a person that doesn't fit in the squared world we live today. As I said sometimes you need to go down in order to rise up higher. This year I've been so lonely that I've realized that I need a change in my life. That's why in 2015 I will move to Germany. I'm having the same feelings I had back in 2007 when I took the decision to move out. Loneliness and the opportunity to grow and be better in any aspect of my life were the main motivators at that moment, and I guess are the same right now. 

I hope 2015 will be a year to think different, a year to be crazy enough to think that I can change my world.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hiring in IT

As I told you a couple of posts ago I’m changing my career. Since then (July) I’ve been looking for a job in the field of information/data management. After almost two months I’m still looking for it and quite disappointed with the companies I’m applying to. I don’t understand why companies don’t spend the few seconds required to reply to your email saying “Thanks for applying, we really appreciate your interest in this company”. You don’t know what is happening with your application, and even after they call you to present tests and approve them they don’t call you back to tell you the final result. Why is it so difficult to give bad news? It is more important to tell the truth than just hide it.

During this process I’ve learnt a couple of things. The first is that you need two things to get a gob in IT: being an engineer (doesn’t matter if you had good or bad grades neither the university where you come from) and certifications (the ones that you can get in one week). I knew certifications were important, but not that can be more important that your academic achievements. I’ve been the best of my class, received scholarships for my academic performance and done a research Master in Systems and Organizations Management. All of this years of study, research and being at the academic elite are worthless because companies don’t want academic studies, they want certifications. In order to get a certification you pay a course that lasts a couple of weeks (maximum a month) where you memorize all the topics of the certification, after that you present the exam and voilà! you got a certification. So for me there is a bit of disproportion here.

The second one is that your technical knowledge (specially the tools or programming languages you know)  is more important than your personal and cognitive skills. In other words they evaluate your skills based on the tools you might know rather than the value that you can add to the company. I can group my experience in two sets: personal and professional. In the first group (personal or human) is my experience as a volunteer, teacher, researcher and entrepreneur; which clearly show a strong personal and leadership side. Also I speak three languages (Spanish, English and French) and have strong human values like ethics, morals and compassion. In the second group (professional) I’ve been a systems administrator, software engineer and business intelligence analyst. Also I’m always reading about the latest innovations and techniques in my field; now I’m learning more and more about BI, Big Data and data management. All of this doesn’t matter because companies don’t look for people who are able to learn, unlearn and relearn (like the famous quote “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”) but for people that already know a tool/language and maybe are not willing to change it.

There is a need in the IT sector, at least in Colombia, to change the way we recruit people. If we want to build a world class sector we need to invest first in the primary resource of IT, the people. Companies need to hire people with more personal/cognitive values/skills even if they don’t have a lot of experience in the technology they will work with. People can learn, and is that differentiating factor that can build great companies or destroy them. We live in a society where people are getting used to live the easiest way possible, that’s why McDonalds, reality shows and pollution have succeeded. Nowadays people have less and less abilities to learn, unlearn and relearn; they are not willing to change their careers or learn new tools/technologies.

One of the findings of my research thesis was that software companies need to invest more in the discovery of new knowledge and the development of innovative products/services. We cannot achieve this by narrowing the selection of new personal to the tools/languages/certifications they have work with. New models of recruitment must be developed. These models have to give more importance to the human/cognitive values/skills of the engineers than the technical skills. If companies hire people that are able to learn, unlearn and relearn we will be able to build a high class IT sector.

For me this new model of Hiring in IT has to have three dimensions: human/cognitive, professional and technical. The first element should evaluate the integrity, ethics, morals, passion, communication and other human values. Also cognitive abilities, like learning or language skills, must be evaluated in this step. The weight of this evaluation must be at least 50%. The second element (professional) must evaluate the fields of your career you know the most and it must be technology/tool independent. So if you want to work in software development you should be able to solve problems algorithmically or if you want to work in BI you must be able to design a dimensional model. This should weight between 30 – 40% of your overall evaluation. The final dimension evaluates the knowledge you have in specific technologies or tools. If you know Java you should be able to demonstrate it or have a certification of it. This should be the 10 – 20% of your evaluation.

With these dimensions we can be able to select employees that will not only do the tasks they are supposed to but that can give an added value to the company. While writing this post I looked for some ideas to support it and I’ve found a very nice article written by the CEO of oDesk (the biggest online job marketplace) where he claims for new ideas to help the hiring of people. I completely agree with him and share the dimensions he proposes, although I think we need to adapt them to the IT world.

Changing this wont happen overnight, so I still need to get a bit more disappointed while looking for a job in BI, Big Data or data management :P.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


I’ve survived like 5 apocalypse days, some sickness during my first years and even a meconium aspiration syndrome that I had when I was born, and today I’ve survived another dead near experience: the 27th year of my life. There is something called the 27 club whose members are sadly remembered for dying at the age of 27. Also I can cite the death of the Colombian writer Andrés Caicedo who committed suicide at the age of 25 because he believed that living more that 25 years was madness.

Today I’m 28 so it is fair to say that I survived this 27 “curse”, just kidding :P. Anyway, this year I survived in five different countries (Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba) and here I am ready to start again. Some people say that 28 is the start of a new moment in life and the consolidation of the self. For me the proposal for this year is to move forward in my career (as I told you in the last post I will move to the data science side), live in another place (maybe here in my city or in another country) and stop being alone. I’ve 365 opportunities to do it, so let’s start tomorrow ;).

Ps. I will share with you this song, it has been in my mind all the week.


No te va gustar–Solo