A day in the life of our Engineering Manager

Tim De Pauw

What do you do at Zentrick?

I head up the engineering team from our office in Belgium. Together with Laurent, I translate our long-term vision and strategy into tangible chunks of engineering work. I coordinate with the team on a daily basis to help them accomplish those chunks of work. As we keep growing the company, perhaps my most important goal is to further disseminate expertise within the team. That way, they as engineers can continue to excel at what they do, and we as a company can continue to deliver the top-quality solutions that our customers have come to expect from us. Applying that to myself as well, in what little time I have left to spend on hands-on engineering, I definitely like to look beyond what we’re building today.

How does your typical day look like?

I usually start sorting through my emails and Slack conversations while having breakfast at home. Then, by the time I get to work, I’ll finish that up over another coffee so that I have a good sense of the most urgent matters. Our daily standup with the engineering team is an efficient way to catch up on everyone’s progress. If anything unexpected crops up there, I’ll often try and lend a hand. After that, I’ll often jump on a call with a customer and/or perform a few code reviews until lunch time. The rest of the day tends to be more customer-centric; a lot of our customers are based in the US, so their working day starts in our afternoon. If we didn’t have a call scheduled already, I’ll often end up having a friendly chat with a customer on Slack, and as a result of that, map out our next steps around what was just discussed. By the time I finish doing that, I generally should have been on my way home already, so I have a final glance at our roadmap and then call it a day.

Do you feel challenged by the work you’re doing?

In a previous life, I was doing research on distributed software. While there was definitely no shortage of challenges there, Zentrick’s industry puts us in a unique position. Everything in ad tech happens at ridiculous scale: billions of requests, billions of client devices, massive amounts of data points. There’s no way to fully grasp such challenges until you actually encounter them. Moreover, we regularly come across convoluted and arcane mashups of all sorts of technologies. Our job is to make sense of those for our customers, so that as far as they’re concerned, everything “just works”. Generally, that involves a lot of creativity. As a result, we’ve built up a tremendous amount of knowledge about ad tech in-house.

How often do you socialize with your colleagues?

Although I’m definitely not the most sociable person in the office, I genuinely do appreciate the awesome team that we have today. Aside from being highly skilled engineers, they’re also just a wonderful bunch of people to be around. That’s also why it’s great that we regularly have team activities such as a sushi workshop, a DJing class, or a board game night. Being actively involved in our recruiting process, one of the things I especially watch out for when interviewing a new candidate is whether they’d be a good culture fit. Zentrick undoubtedly wouldn’t be where it is today without the people that helped build (and rebuild) it, and everyone here recognizes that to the full extent.