Getting a Job in Tech: The CTO Experience by@alfredodecandia

Getting a Job in Tech: The CTO Experience

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Tomàs Barceló is CTO, Chief Technology Officer at Hoken Tech, an Italian startup that he co-founded. He is the first-level manager and board member of a company whose primary responsibility is to monitor, evaluate, select and suggest to the board and CEO the technologies that can be applied to the products or services a company produces. In his current position all is focused about crypto and blockchain to use and develop service upon that, mainly on EOS blockchain. He has also studied the Japanese language for 11 years now.

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Alfredo de Candia

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What is your current position?

In Hoken Tech, an Italian startup that I co-founded, I cover the role of CTO, Chief Technology Officer. That is the first-level manager and board member of a company whose primary responsibility is to monitor, evaluate, select and suggest to the board and CEO the technologies that can be applied to the products or services a company produces. In my case, all is focused about crypto and blockchain to use and develop service upon that, mainly on EOS blockchain.

How long have you been working in tech?

If we go back in time to when I was little, I loved taking apart and reassembling recorders and Walkmans; but it was with the Android operating system, in 2011, that I approached and dedicated my energies to understand and develop something of my own, what aroused my curiosity and not only was being able to be the god of that application, as when in some games you enter the "god mode" command.

But only with my first tablet, a Samsung P7500, I maximized my skills and experimented with various things, even the famous custom ROMs with various features as well as the ability to change the intro when it starts (a tablet that I have still on my nightstand).

What is your educational background?

Moving on my academic and non-academic past, I attended an Italian business school with an address for programmers (mainly studying Visual Basic as a programming language), and then I aimed instead, at university, for a legal address as there were still no advanced tools and smartphones at that time, neither Android or the blockchain.

And then studying on my own, other languages ​​and systems to program on Android, and as if that were not enough, in the same time and until today, I have studied the Japanese language for 11 years now!

Extended Auken Kal IX - Tomàs Barceló (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/q95RlR)

Extended Auken Kal IX - Tomàs Barceló (https://www.artstation.com/artwork/q95RlR)

Have you ever had a mentor? If yes, we’d like to know more about it.

In the digital world, some writers and influencers from the tech world have certainly been a help for me, and I can consider them as mentors (Napoleon Hill, Robert Kiyosaki, Marco Montemagno), but if we want to talk about real mentors who have guided me personally, I certainly cannot forget to mention Amelia Tomasicchio, director of "The Cryptonomist".

With commitment and dedication, she has always guided me and taught me a lot of things that I use and put into practice on a daily basis, and I am infinitely grateful to her for giving me various opportunities and believing in my abilities. And, as I once reminded her, she is a “Lighthouse for all but a mirage for some,” and for me is my lighthouse.

What was the best piece of advice you got over the course of your career?

One of the tips certainly concerns the one about failure, as especially with the development of applications and algorithms, errors and bugs can be really infinite. You have to check the code countless times, and despite everything when you press play on the console, there will always be an unexpected error that you did not calculate or a problem on the graphical interface that does not work properly.

In these cases, I remember a piece of advice that reads "fail again, fail better.”

In this case, we are talking about a failure or a small defeat that makes us fall, but once we get up, we will avoid making the same mistake. After solving it, there will be fewer obstacles until we complete our project and we have an almost perfect product.

Another piece of advice that I always keep in mind is the one that Steve Jobs left us, namely the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!); in fact, this allows you to achieve something in the simplest way and without having to complicate your life. When I have to create something or experiment with a new thing, I always see the various options available, as a program, application, or other; there are 2 ways to be done, one is the difficult way starting from zero and building everything yourself, the other is taking advantage of the various pieces of codes or something like that to then assemble a new product but made in a faster and more efficient way.

How relevant was self-learning to where you are today?

Nobody doubts the power of courses and specializations of various kinds, but there are things that can only be learned by browsing around and experimenting; it is difficult for you to find a course dedicated only to how to import the APIs of a crypto aggregator into a spreadsheet, you can only learn from some guides or videos you find on the net, certainly not in a specialized book.

So sometimes the best information is learned just by learning on your own and reading and seeing online guides rather than from super expensive courses at times.

Knowing what you do now, where do you think one should start learning if they want to work in your position one day?

The task of a CTO is certainly to put into practice highly technological and advanced solutions, both to simplify and speed up processes and also to produce new goods and services. Only with technological progress and the creation of new products and services can we manage to stay on the market and not fail.

But it is equally true that if one does not update himself, does not document himself, and does not test the various solutions, he will hardly be able to find the ideal solution to integrate into his company. To do so, you need a lot of contamination and a news feed and channels as varied as possible - from games to art, from sports to geology, including feeds from different countries, in my case Italy, America, Switzerland, Korea, Japan, and China. There are countries that are certainly ahead of others and seeing how they do it can give you interesting ideas or introduce products that you did not think existed.

What is the work-related achievement you’re the most proud of?

I am not a person attached to money, so there will be no goals related to them, while instead of important goals are achieved when you create something unique and never done before.

One of my first applications was a Japanese dictionary with which you can read Kanji even if you do not know how to read, a simple and effective method, now all apps do it, but at the time, there was nothing; or the recent milestone of being able to connect a physical book to an NFT is something that took a long time and several months of testing before something worked without problems.

What do you think is the biggest myth about starting a career in tech?

Sure, having a good foundation helps, but it doesn't mean that if you don't have an engineering degree or something. It doesn't mean you can't be a CTO.

You need a lot of dedication, curiosity, and brains because, with these qualities, you reach goals that nobody teaches you. In the crypto and blockchain sector, where there are no right or wrong courses or paths, we are in the midst of experimentation. Once achieved a good personal level, you can enter the job market with your experience and sector that has deepened.

For example, in the development of smart contracts or in communication at different levels such as marketing, journalism and so on, most of the people who write articles on crypto and blockchain, are not real journalists, but they write about these topics because they have experienced them firsthand and are able to tell them better than a journalist himself.

On a less serious note: What do you listen to while working?

Having studied the Japanese language for several years now, I prefer and have a preference for Japanese songs, and certainly, this playlist is the best I've heard in recent years; and I also recommend listening to the other various playlists that are on the same channel.

Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us more about your career path. Any words of wisdom for aspiring techies?

Do not allow reality to interfere with your imagination and if there isn’t what you are looking for then create it yourself.

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