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Boris Vrtic is a Senior Analyst Programmer at Alaric Systems Ltd., London, UK (Oct 2011 – present). Prior to that: Senior Software Developer, Software Architect, Project Manager, Asseco SEE, Croatia (3y10m), Technical solution and integration expert, T-Mobile, Croatia (3y), Specialist for mobile communications, T-Mobile, Croatia (2y2m) and Software developer, AIM LCC, Croatia (2y10m)

Boris’s accomplishments include: 

– Development of fraud detection and prevention solution for card payments (Alaric Systems Ltd.)
– Development of mobile banking and mobile token solution (server-side) for native J2ME, BB, iPhone and Android applications (Asseco SEE Croatia)
– Development of provisioning system and integration with legacy service platforms (T-Mobile Croatia)
– Development of the first Web/Wap portals in Croatia for Cronet/T-Mobile and VIPnet/Vodafone (AIM LCC Croatia)

For more information: http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/boris-vrtic/5/222/58b

Introduction

What is your job title

Senior Analyst Programmer at Alaric Systems Ltd.

What is your role about?

My current role is in a product team and it is about understanding and improving existing fraud detection and prevention solution for card payments. While driven by many different customers’ demands and tight schedules, development of a product tends to multiply more specific solutions. In long term, however, more generic solutions are preferred in order to successfully balance maintenance of an existing product and constant demand for its change in order to meet existing customers’ and new prospects’ requirements. Fraud detection and prevention system is not an exception because it often meets ‘legacy’ worlds where many different kind of business scenarios and integration must be supported. Everyday development activities in the team are about using different Java technologies and frameworks, designing, developing, testing and deploying new features and re-factoring existing ones using Java, servlets, web services, SQL, PL/SQL, Apache Camel, GUI frameworks, GWT, TDD, Agile, JUnit, Cucumber, Maven, SVN, Hudson, Continuous Integration, and other technologies depending on context and customers … Emphasis is also on the team collaboration and skills sharing in order to develop the best available solution. The role reports to product manager and also cooperates with other more business oriented roles.

What are the best/most positive parts of the job/industry?

The opportunity to work in a team and to mix and share different skills and experiences while developing a great product. It’s always exciting to learn more about particular business area or how to apply an appropriate technology from someone who knows it better than you. It’s also fun when team has an opportunity to learn and apply something new. Dynamic business environment produces enough everyday challenges so skills and imagination can be fully engaged and also constantly improved. Exposure to different teams, projects and/or customers is also part of that.

What are the negative parts to the job/industry?

When you are in a more customer oriented development role (not necessarily as a first line support but also as a developer on projects for dedicated customers), everyday activities can be often interrupted with more fine  ranular higher priority tasks. Developed solutions tend to be more specific an that in long term can lower your professional satisfaction because of the lack of challenges. In some cases existing legacy systems dictate usage of less attractive old technology without possibility for improvements. When you are in more product oriented development role, all the requirements must be implemented regardless of their ‘attractiveness’.
In addition, the development process usually lasts longer (weeks, months) so exposure to other projects can be limited.

Career Path

What is the standard career path/qualifications?

Standard career path is Graduate – Entry Developer – Mid Level Developer – Senior Developer – Architect.
I also had an opportunity to play different roles in my professional career. I started as a Software Developer in a small company. Then I moved to T-Mobile where I had ‘Specialist’ and ‘Expert’ roles, which actually were a Developer role. In Asseco SEE I was Senior Software Developer and Software Architect. When I accepted Project Manager role I temporary shifted my career from more ‘standard’ developer career path but then again continued it in a Senior Analyst Programmer role in London. I still prefer developer over management role.

What are the prospects?

This role can lead to an architect role with the later options towards management. After many different projects, roles and experiences, other options are also possible, such as freelance or consultancy.

Reflection and The Future

What was it like coming into the industry?

After several years of experience you usually know in advance what to expect from the next role. Sometimes that expectations also drive the change. My current role met my expectations and I wonder how that first year passed so fast.

Do you have any thoughts on the future of your role/industry?

Constant learning and developing of new skills, sharing experience with others, updating existing knowledge and technologies, replacing some old ones and shifting to the new ones.

What advice would you give someone entering your industry?

I would recommend focusing on learning important concepts and developing curiosity to fully understand them. Having a good mentor is always a plus, but this relationship assumes confidence and willingness to accept everyday tasks which sometimes may be easy or boring but more often require hard work. Take any opportunity for pro activity and contribution. If you don’t understand something about your tasks don’t wait for the clarifications until it’s too late. When needed, ask your mentor for help as soon as possible. Temptation to do something by yourself at all costs is not always a good idea especially when the bad news come too late. Develop your team skills. I wish I had been involved in open source projects when I had more free time, especially during my first professional years. Involvement in a project you like with the right people can be very helpful both for boosting your skills and networking. This may seems to be off-topic but I found it important in a long term: balance your private and professional life, avoid burnouts, work for fun, pleasure and not just for the salary, do some sports, find a balanced diet which suits you. Life is 24×7.

Have you come across anything or anyone that has helped you move forward in the industry?

London Java Community people, activities and events, and some books.

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