One year at Intersec (actually two)

Jeez! It’s been a year already! A year working at Intersec… Time goes by so quickly! A year ago, I was thinking about giving up the idea of appending “PhD” to my name: I quit the graduate program I was in after only 10 months. Before that I had been working for a year at this other company called… wait! Was it Intersec already? Oh my God! It was!

Intersec? Really? Is that even a name? Could it be possible that some guy picked such an unsexy name for his company? This is the first train of thought that went through my brain after ending my nth phone conversation with a head hunter. An interview was scheduled a couple of days later.

There I was, in that tiny little room, sitting across from the R&D director and the chief scientist and listening to their presentation. “Intersec is a small company, what we could call a start-up that turned out well, with about 60 employees”, they said (though at that time already they seemed to have a hard time keeping track of the number of employees).
The chief scientist was beating the crap out of his laptop, shouting at the imaginary bastard that wouldn’t let him go through with his clever optimization. I remember not having said too much as I didn’t have any professional experience. The R&D director wrapped up the interview in a very casual way: “If you like working on complex hairy software problems, if you get off on finding bugs and understanding why they are happening, then you’ll like it in here!”
The next day I was offered a job as a continuous integrator, and I took it. Continuous integration is at the interface between the real world and the developers’ world. Continuous integrators can be thought of as the Medic. They are present in every software team: they get their hands dirty on production platforms, they make sure the products are delivered on time, they report and investigate bugs, they do testing, etc.

The Medic
The Medic, you always want that guy to be your friend.

Two years later, here I am, happily working at Intersec. Things are slightly different now: the company is three times bigger, which comes with a good deal of challenges. We used to be, give or take, a 60-people team; now we are teamS, that have to both handle their part of the job and tightly work together.

Every day, the elevator drops me off at the 16th floor, and I go past the sliding doors to reach my desk. I turn on my laptop and greet my colleagues at the Labs. The Labs is a neat place to work if you enjoy experimenting around, investigating theoretical and practical problems and do things that don’t fit in road-maps. If we were a Team Fortress 2 character, we’d probably be the Scout.

The Scout
Fast, impulsive and badass, here is the Scout!

Then I go say ‘hi’ to our beloved Insighted team, who keeps sweating blood and tears to make the product as amazing as possible. Quickly I move past the coffee machine, which is now a stingy coffee machine, as it only delivers one free beverage per employee each day. I am half way through my tour of the 16th floor, and I wave at the Igloo team, the fine people in charge of our LBS solution.

Further North, I walk past a silent pack: this is the Platform team. Quietly sitting around their leader, they are responsible for the spine of all our products. They have to be cool: their users are our own software developers in charge of the Intersec products, which means that they get truckloads of nasty bugs all the time and they have to sort them out… fast… before they get more bugs coming their way. Like a lot of our teams, they are mostly software developers.

There are basically two kinds of developers at Intersec. The most common species is the C developer. C developers remind me of C programming language itself: it is efficient, it is fast, it gives you power… but above all, it is unforgiving. Yes, you got it: they are the Heavy.

The Heavy
Powerful, lethal, kind-hearted and … lethal, this is the Heavy!

Back to my tour, the Web team is next, crawling artistically in the corner. Our web developers have two things that make them invaluable: taste and skill. They are in charge of making sure that users are feeling loved and well taken care of. They can turn our products into fireworks… you see me coming, meet the Pyro!

The Pyro
The Pyro loves setting things on fire, he is kind of cool… and scary!

Last stop: the Roots. They handle reality so that no one else has to. They listen to your problem, they look at your mess (or sometimes their own), they act, and they go back to their cool corner of the floor. I like to think of them as snipers, they observe… BANG, head shot – problem solved… oh, but was it the right head?

The Sniper
The Sniper comes, checks out what’s going on, shoots and leaves!

And here I am, back to my desk, living the last hours of this year 2014, and excited about whatever is next!

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Romain Gauthier

Senior Smiling Guru @Intersec