When I contacted Ionel, he had already heard of Who is agile, (which is always nice for our team’s ego), but more importantly before we asked him about being in the book, he offered to translate it to Romanian. More, when he sent in his text, he had it already completely formatted it using Markdown, the language that Leanpub uses.
What is something people usually don’t know about you but has influenced you in who you are?
In my professional career I was mostly influenced by the books I read and by making mistakes and learning to do the right things in a hard way. And this was because when I started my career back in 1998 it was hard to have a mentor in software engineering in my town: Cluj-Napoca, Romania. There were only a couple of software companies (and all of them were doing cheap outsourcing). There were no solid mentors and coaches to learn from. So I found my way mostly by trial and error. This is the main reason I am so enthusiastic now about working with students and junior programmers, supporting internship programs, and doing all I can to make sure the students that come into our company have a coach assigned to them. Above all, they are all encouraged to find mentors and develop their network.
Only a few people know that I am in the process of polishing some of my ideas. I have discovered in me other abilities and I am fighting with the enemies I see in my life: self-sufficiency, my ego, not enough questioning of the status quo, a mindset that is not agile enough, confusion, lack of enough mentors and living in a world that continues to lose traditional values without putting anything else in place. When I started to admit and recognize these enemies, I found in me the power to win the battles and a desire to make myself available for others that might be in the same situation but do not admit they are.
If you had not been in IT, what would have become of you?
I love medicine, especially prevention. I think I would be a good cardiologist. These days I would love to be much more involved in our church: I love theology, an emotional love not necessarily an academic one. So maybe I would become more involved in worship someday.
What is your biggest challenge and why is it a good thing for you?
I have so far identified these 3 big challenges, all equally important:
- I am not good at taking fast decisions and sometimes thinking fast enough. I am constantly trying to improve that. It’s good because it motivates me to measure my progress. As a side effect it’s great to see how I improve my measurement skills.
- I am fighting with myself to welcome change more often than I do in this moment. There is a part of me that wants to change or accept change but there is also this emotional connection to the way I always did things. This is good because it allows me to understand others and to understand how to better coach this agile mindset and why agile needs to be a transformation of your mindset much more than an adoption of some techniques. So for all the readers that feel this is a challenge I recommend a recent book:“An Agile Adoption and Transformation Survival Guide” by Michael Sahota.
- Improving my management and leadership abilities while keeping up with software development trends and my passion for code; In this moment (2012) I am more of a manager and software developer and less of a true visionary leader.
What drives you?
The purpose of our lives shall be to serve others. It’s not so easy, and I don’t want to do it always. It’s time consuming, sometimes incredibly time consuming, emotionally exhausting, mentally draining and sometimes you feel disappointed if you compare your expectations with the changes you see in those you try to serve. So it’s about a way of ‘Pay it forward’ that in my case means to help others for the love that Jesus put in me, for the blessings that he put in me. I see these blessings with the purpose to transform myself to be a blessing for the others, so not me, but God’s power continues to be recognized as the source of all the blessings. When I fail to pay it forward, I remember that around 2000 years ago there was an act on the cross that continues to pay forward and to change the lives of millions of people all over the world today. God alone offers forgiveness and real hope, which we in turn can offer to others.
What is your biggest achievement?
Understanding the purpose of my life, understanding that being successful and fulfilling the purpose of my life are not at all the same thing; so when I realized that I also understood that what I want is to be faithful, not successful, and that actually I want to do less in life by focusing on what matters most for this purpose.
What is the last book you have read?
I usually read 4-5 books in parallel, but on different days and different subjects, so I always maintain a linear progression on both software engineering and other non-technical areas that I am interested in.
- “The Startup of You” is a great book on Career Development in today’s economic conditions.
- “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries gave me a new perspective about building products, a skill where I am still in a great debt.
- “The Tools of Leadership” by Max Landsberg opened my eyes to where I am as a leader.
- Scott Ambler’s last book “Disciplined Agile Delivery” looks like a promising one, this is the book I am reading right now.
- My spiritual life is currently inspired by “Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?” by Philip Yancey and by reading again Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians from the Bible.
What question do you think I should also ask and what is the answer?
Why do you want to continue as a development manager when there are a lot of opportunities to develop a more comfortable career as a developer or consultant?
It’s for me, for the people that I work with and at the end for any employer that wants to achieve results through motivated people. For me because as a manager I have better chances to develop my emotional intelligence and fulfill my purpose: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”. And it’s for the people I work with because I value people, I love to understand their problems, sometimes to be that mentor that above the technical issues and company’s language tries to be that human being that the people love to talk with, to get honest feedback, a kindly encouragement, the feeling that he/she is not just an employee, a resource in a chart but a valuable person that is unique, that has abilities put in him with a purpose and that at the end no one but him needs to discover these abilities and ideally use them in a pay it forward mechanism for the others.
And it is for my employer, that will definitely have motivated people and thereby at the end extraordinary results. It’s such a good feeling to add value to your employer, at the end it’s a pay it forward again, a pay it forward for the trust and confidence an employer put in you or if this is not the case, the feeling is even greater: you were able to respond with love, passion and results to someone that appears to be totally money-oriented, stressful or ridiculous.
Whom do you think I should ask next?
- I was inspired in my career by reading the books of Scott Ambler.
- I was introduced to Agile by a great person and an excellent coach, actually one of my former bosses who has already been recommended for ‘Who Is agile’ by other people: his name is Fabio Armani.