'If We Don’t Systematically Re/Up-Skill, We're Condemned to Become Irrelevant': Roxana Murariuby@roxanamurariu
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'If We Don’t Systematically Re/Up-Skill, We're Condemned to Become Irrelevant': Roxana Murariu

by Roxana MurariuNovember 14th, 2021
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Roxana Murariu is a Senior Software Engineer at Spencer Stuart in their Dublin office. She has been nominated in the 5 Noonies award categories. Learn more about her thoughts and opinions on tech and her journey in the tech industry via the interview below.

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Hey Hackers! I’m Roxana Murariu and I’m a Senior Software Engineer at Spencer Stuart.

First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating me for a 2021 Noonies award!

Learn more about my thoughts and opinions on tech and my journey in the tech industry via the interview below.

1. What do you do and why do you do it? (tell us your story)

I work as a senior software engineer for Spencer Stuart in their Dublin office, where I use many interesting front-end technologies. It is a fast-paced environment with supportive colleagues and lots of growth opportunities.

2. Tell us more about the things you create / write / manage / build!

I write articles on my site about parenting, self-improvement, or tech essays. Writing is rewarding as I learn things I would never have thought to research on my own.

For example, researching Shoshin, the Zen concept of adopting the attitude and mindset of a novice who learns a new practice for the first time, led me to Plank's principle, "Science progresses one funeral at a time."

Or, as Max Plank himself explained:

An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul.

What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.

But what I found absolutely intriguing is that a study did research how the premature deaths of star scientists working in the life sciences affect the respective field literature. What was discovered was in line with Planks’ principle, unfortunately. Collaborators of star researchers publish fewer papers in the fields after their prominent colleague's death, and the flow of articles by non-collaborators increases drastically. "The conclusion of this paper is not those stars are bad," says Pierre Azoulay, the study co-author. "It's just that, once safely ensconced at the top of their fields, maybe they tend to overstay their welcome."

Another project is a collaboration with my husband. We will create a video game written in Unity, a story-driven fantasy role-playing game with collectible card elements.

3. How did you end up on your current career path? Do you like it?

I studied informatics at the Informatics Liceum Grigore C. Moisil from Iasi, Romania. Then, I enrolled at the Faculty of Informatics in Iasi. There were some moments when I thought to switch careers, but looking back over what I achieved with and through my work, being a software developer is the right career for me right now.

As I am most interested in front-end technologies, I suffered from JS frameworks fatigue when building software felt like building castles on quicksands. Now I am more at ease with the sustained rhythm of front-end development as on the one hand, the front-end ecosystem matured and on the other hand, I only follow a few trusted front-end news outlets.

4. What tech are you most excited or passionate about right now and why?

Quantum computing has immense potential by allowing scientists to solve currently unsolvable problems, targeting various domains such as cryptography, finance, pattern matching, or medical research. I want to learn more about this domain, and I intend to spend some time during the holiday season reading about it.

5. What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

Every week there is another new thing to worry about: the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, social and racial injustice, the attack on privacy and societies from social networks, wars, AI job automation that I wrote in another HackerNoon article.

I finished Walter Isaacson's biography of Jennifer Doudna, the 2020 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, alongside Emmanuelle Charpentier, for their groundbreaking work on CRISPR gene editing technology. This technique allows editing parts of the genome by removing, adding or altering sections of the DNA sequence. The implications of gene editing are profound as it might help treat genetic diseases, including cancer, save endangered species, or innovate the biofuel industry.

As Isaacson notes in his book,

The reason that CRISPR is the most important discovery since DNA's structure is that it not only describes the world, as we did with the double helix, but makes it easy to change the world.

Unfortunately, there is a dark side to gene editing. Feng Zhang, a biochemist well known for his role in the development of CRISPR technologies, says in Isaacson's book:

Look at what parents are willing to do to get kids in college. Some people will surely pay for genetic enhancement. In a world in which there are people who don't get access to eyeglasses, it's hard to imagine how we will find a way to have equal access to gene enhancements. Imagine what that will do to our species.

At its worst, gene editing could aggravate and even encode social inequality.

But above all, the tech question that terrifies me the most is that we might not be moving the needle fast enough to combat climate change. Millions are at risk of displacement as areas will become uninhabitable. Then, we have water wars, drought, famine, wildfires and so on.

Of course, things are not entirely desperate. Look how far we have come in the last decades due to technological discoveries. Gene editing could bring drought-resistant and disease-resistant crops that will be significant advantages against food scarcity.

Then, we also have better technology to predict storms, floods, wildfires. Some voices suggest that quantum computing can be used to help environmental efforts through modelling better catalysts for carbon capture.

So, I won't end this question negatively, and I will leave this fantastic article about hope in the face of climate change.

6. If we gave you 10 million dollars to invest in something today, what would you invest in and why?

If only! I took this question to my husband, and I was delighted to find out that we would both do the same thing.

First, a large part of the sum would go into our business to develop the stories we have in mind faster.

The rest of the money would go to donations to fight poverty and offer better education to children.

I was impressed by the book written by Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee, Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, describing their approach to fight poverty through scientific evidence.

They ran hundreds of randomized controlled trials to find which method yielded better results. For example, they discovered that deworming children in Kenya for two years could bring thousands of dollars PPP lifetime income gains. Minor investments in childhood nutrition (in Kenya, deworming costs a few dollars per year per person) can produce significant ROI. I fully agree with Esther's opinion quoted below, and I would donate money to the Poverty Action Lab she co-founded:

It is very easy to sit back and come up with grand theories about how to change the world. But often, our intuitions are wrong. The world is too complex to figure everything out from your armchair. The only way to be sure is to go out and test your ideas and programs and to realize that you will often be wrong. But that is not a bad thing. It leads to progress.

A quote of Esther Duflo from Matthew Syed’s book, Black Box Thinking

7. What are you currently learning?

I recently gave a technical presentation about NgRx, a state management library for Angular, to my colleagues. It was a perfect opportunity to scour the Ngrx Github code and see this library in a new light.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

If we didn't acquire the mental models that let us perceive a situation differently, words would fall on deaf ears. So, I learned that sometimes, people are not looking for advice but a reinforcement of their position.

Nevertheless, I started writing a series of letters to my daughter, and I would say that my articles on building a “f*ck-off” fund and how to choose a career strategically might be some of my better advice.

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.

writer and futurist Alvin Toffler

It is remarkable how Alvin Toffler predicted in the 1970s this trend of reinventing ourselves periodically through learning, unlearning, and relearning. Especially for software engineers, if we don't systematically re/up-skill, we are condemned to become irrelevant.

I use this quote as a reminder to employ a beginner's mindset, ask better questions and challenge my preconceptions and biases.

About HackerNoon’s 2021 Noonie Awards

The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.

The 2021 Noonies are sponsored by: bybit, Dottech Domains, and Avast. Thank you so much to these sponsors who are helping us celebrate the accomplishments of all our nominees.