‘My First Year at Cymo’ An adventure, according to Tom Verelst

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Good news! Our Lead Software Engineer, Tom Verelst, is blowing out his first candle at Cymo as we celebrate Tom's one-year ‘workiversary’. That’s not a word but you understand it, right? We asked him to tell us a bit more about his role, his trajectory here at Cymo, and why he (presumably and hopefully) likes to continue working here. Curious? Read along!

Hello Tom! How did your story at Cymo start?

Tom Verelst: “I was looking for a new job and decided to give my ex-colleague Wout (whom I met when we were working at mateco together) a call. He instantly offer ed me a job at Cymo. It was a very fortunate turn of events: I obtained a job that I sincerely liked and got to work with people I knew I trusted and enjoyed collaborating with. Moreover, Cymo's the kind of employer I quickly felt entirely comfortable with. Whenever I need to be somewhere that’s not work-related, they don’t even question the time off. It was perfectly okay to start working here part-time which was what I initially needed due to unforeseen circumstances. I’m truly grateful for the trust and chance.”

How is your tale developing here at Cymo?

Tom: “I’m a software engineer and I’ve been working on our internal project/product: Kannika. To put it shortly, Kannika’s a back-up and restore engine for Kafka, which didn’t exist up until now. I’ve worked with Java for over thirteen years but for Kannika, I immersed myself completely in Rust. It’s been quite the journey so far but an incredible learning opportunity as well. In the beginning I was the sole person working on it; programming, developing, testing, setting up ... I’m the lead software engineer now as we’ve started working on it with four to five people. It’s become more of a coaching job for me. Making sure everyone’s got a job to do, checking architectures beforehand, organising sprint reviews, and so on.”

Can you tell us a bit more about your first experience with Rust?

Tom: “Well, working with Rust was tricky at first. Java is relatively high-level while Rust is more low-level at the computer, if you catch my drift. A big advantage (and annoying feature at the same time) is that Rust indicates when you’re doing something wrong and/or when you’re doing or trying something that won’t work. It’s pretty stubborn. In fact, you’re constantly battling your computer which is telling you: no, not like this, this won’t work, that’s a mistake. Java just lets you do what you want. Of course, if you go wrong in Java, you’ve got to go and find the mess yourself.”

“I experience Rust as the biggest challenge in making Kannika work. There were a few other technologies that were putting my knowledge and patience to the test, though. You know, refusing to work because there’s one setting that’s accidentally been switched off. True, once you figure it out, it’s satisfactory to fix it. I’ve felt a bit bad about myself sometimes when it took me a really long time to locate the problem, but it’s a learning process and I’m finding a way to accept that.”

How do you look back on this first chapter at Cymo?

Tom: “It’s been a special year but I’m proud. I have to admit it’s felt somewhat chaotic at times. In my previous jobs, I was used to a more rigid structure. There’s more flexibility here at Cymo. You’re allowed, and even encouraged, to shape your days and your job here yourself, which is fun and educational at the same time. Cymo’s given me so much learning opportunities, let me go to conferences in Silicon Valley and London, for example. I’m glad they trust me so much. At the same time, I don’t feel pressured to take on certain responsibilities I wouldn’t find so enjoyable. Accepting a leading role is completely out of my comfort zone, but I’ve gotten great feedback and it’s a fulfilling role. I’ve never come home unhappy and I’m always eager to start a new working day.”

If you could flip the pages, what’s next year looking like, do you think?

Tom: “It’s been an incredible milestone when we presented Kannika at the Kafka Summit half a year ago, and since then, things have progressed so fast that it’s a bit hard to say. We were overjoyed to be there, and Wout told me we generated a lot of buzz, got excellent feedback, and quite a few leads! As we’re now moving past the prototype phase, we’ll have to focus on evolving our product to become more mature. We have to get it sold and deployed at customers. I look forward to it as I’ve got such faith in our team. Together, we can do this!

“Additionally, I keep learning new things. The coaching part will become bigger, I suppose. I’ll stop programming a bit and cut it down to 50% of my days. The other half, I’ll be more of a product owner or scrum master.”

Can you impart some wisdom on new characters at Cymo?

Tom: “I’d just say: delve in. Go and get those certificates, be open to new things and never stop learning. It's what Cymo applauds people for. Don’t be afraid to be yourself either. We’re soon going on a weekend together and all of us are so different and still very much united. It’s a wonderful team with a human-first approach. Cymo’s the best employer I could think of right now and the colleagues are awesome. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is!”

At Cymo, we’re constantly looking for new and enthusiastic faces to join our team. Convinced by Tom’s glowing recommendation? We’d be amazed if you weren’t. Get in touch and introduce yourself, we’re curious to find out if we’re a good fit!

Check our open vacancies!
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Written byTom Verelst