Roberto Paredes is a software engineer at X-Team who's based in Quito, the capital of Ecuador. Get a glimpse into his life as he talks about his reasons for becoming a developer and how X-Team differs from his previous job as a freelance web developer.

Hi Rob! Thank you for taking the time to talk to me. Let me start by asking why you chose to become a developer? When did it start and what was the motivation behind your choice?

My father bought the first computer in our family when I was five years old. I was totally fascinated by everything that had to do with it. I would install every piece of software I could get my hands on, and, when I was a bit older, I also started creating my own games and programs. My father was getting mad at me all the time because he felt I was going to break the computers (which is something I've observed in many people from an older generation, this fear of technology).

But I was curious. So that's where my motivation comes from.

By the time I was 18, computer science was not only a viable career, but it also paid substantially better than my other passion, which was music. So my developer career just took off from there.

So you started at a very young age! Since then, what's been the work project that gave you the most satisfaction? Something that you're still proud of today?

Once, I joined a project for which I had to travel to another country for a year. It was a big bank and everything related to it was just a mess: unrealistic deadlines, a hostile environment, no real plan to meet the goals, etc... It had it all.

Unsurprisingly, the project didn't go well, but it taught me all the do's and don'ts of a project. Also, being in another country, meeting new people from different cultures, and learning from more experienced colleagues made it my most rewarding experience, even if it wasn't always pleasant.

We learn most when we're pushed out of our comfort zones. How do you stay productive working remotely? Do you have a specific routine that you stick to?

I like to read blogs and articles on productivity, so I've taken tips here and there: getting dressed even if I'm going to stay at home, using the Pomodoro technique for tasks that require focus, keeping a list of tasks to be done for the day, and listening to the right kind of music when I have to concentrate.

The important thing for me is to keep trying new ways of doing things while discarding the ineffective stuff. Thankfully, remote work is ideal for this experimentation.

It definitely is. I know you've been a freelancer before X-Team. How does working with X-Team differ from your time as a freelance web developer?

As a freelancer, I had to worry about the business part: getting clients, making contracts, marketing, etc. This wasn't fun for me and it took away time and energy from the actual development work. Most importantly, I was just starting and only had access to local clients who had small budgets and technical challenges that weren't very interesting.

X-Team takes away these pain points and allows me to focus more on technical work. It has been an exponential improvement over my previous freelance and job experiences.

That's good to hear. What would you say was your biggest accomplishment in 2018 and early 2019? And do you have any particular goals for the rest of 2019?

I started putting more time in reading, exercising and learning new things. With that new routine, I noticed an overall improvement in the quality of my life, and that feeling has been my biggest accomplishment.

My goal for the rest of 2019 is to keep learning about Artificial Intelligence and to complete a Coursera MOOC I recently took. Who knows? Maybe that'll be the next step of my career.

Also, related to your question about my favorite project, I recently read an article about a guy who spent 100 days learning about AI while measuring his progress on a Trello board. I really liked his approach, so I decided to try it and start my own 100 days journey.

That's really cool! And how has the Unleash+ budget helped you with any of this? And the X-Team Seasons?

I've used the Unleash+ budget to buy PS4 games and to go out and have nice dinners with my wife, but especially to pay for books and courses. My learning journey of 2019 is backed by the Unleash+ budget 😄.

The X-Team Seasons are great motivation to break away from the routine and share more with other X-Teamers, while also getting rewarded for doing so! For example, I got an awesome X-Team shirt sent to my home for participating in a VS contest.

You bet, the VS contests are awesome. Final question, what lasting impression do you want to leave on the world?

(Difficult question 😆).I don't think we're here for a particular purpose, so I'm kind of just enjoying the ride. I like discovering things, finding the truth and sharing it with more people. Being remembered for that would be great, but I don't worry too much about it (yet).

Fair enough! Thank you and best of luck with your AI and ML courses!

Want to keep up with Rob? Find him on LinkedIn or see his contributions on GitHub.