Jean-Baptiste Briaud is the Engineering Team Manager at Cosmo Tech. He answered our questions from the company headquarters in Lyon, France.
How did you come to work at Cosmo Tech?
I saw a vacancy advertised one day on LinkedIn and it immediately appealed. I remember I was struck by the technical part of the job but also the company’s vision because it relied on a new software language. I had previously worked substantially in this area by building a platform with a new language, a compiler and an IDE for another company. I remember feeling like I fully understood the product and that I fully shared in the vision that the company had, and I really loved the idea of building a platform instead of just a product. I knew that the role I saw advertised would be part of the company’s “nuclear reactor”, so to speak. It would be where everything is fused, created, produced, and maintained. For me, this seemed incredibly challenging and would help provide aide and value to the end-user. This service side of things if something very important to me.
I have to say, too, that taking on a managerial role was also exciting to me. Some many exciting and interesting responsibilities come with leading a team. I knew I would enjoy the discussions and conversations with my team, and I really enjoy helping others to work, to grow, to understand and reach their goals, and, yes, sometimes to share their pain, too. I didn’t know it at the time but it seems to me that my experience – past and present – with the Boy Scouts has proved to be useful everyday. It’s something I am very happy to share with my team as we continue to push the boundaries of out platform further into the future.
What does a typical day look like for you at Cosmo Tech?
As the manager of an engineering team a typical day consists of detecting atypical events and addressing them to keep things running smoothly and project moving forward. These atypical events can occur on any plane – human, technical, communication with other Cosmo Tech teams – and I like to keep a close eye on anything atypical that emerges each day. An atypical event, mind you, is not necessarily a problem in need of a resolution; indeed, sometimes there are very good reasons for the emergence of something out of the ordinary and this might be the prelude to a change in an internal process, the development of a new component, or the creation of a new role on the team. Of course, there are times, too, when something atypical is a sign that something is going wrong. No matter the reason, my role is to act as the bridge back to the engineering team to discuss, understand, check, alert, decide on the next step, or help others to decide the best way forward.
Another big part of my job is people management, ensuring that everyone is happy in their role, understands what is expected of them, and knows how to achieve the goals that they have been set or that they have set for themselves. My technical background and knowledge comes in very handy here and my personal “Engineering DNA” helps me to connect with the team more easily. Indeed, being somewhat of a ‘geek’ at heart helps me to manage my incredibly wonderful talented and diverse team of engineers at Cosmo Tech, we share common passions and common experiences.
I guess if I had to sum it all up in a couple of words I would say my typical day is about ensuring beautiful efficiency: avoiding the waste of time, money, and human endeavour, keeping the team happy and motivated, and building value for the team and Cosmo Tech, too.
What are the biggest differences between working in IT at a startup and working in the same role in a bigger company?
In some ways the differences are small, but in other ways the differences are rather pronounced.
The similarities exist in terms of the high standards for quality that I demand of the team, and that the team demands of itself. No matter whether a company is small or large, the standards are high for people, product, and platform. Also similar is the challenging and dynamic environment we have here at Cosmo Tech. While most startups are dynamic by virtue of the daily challenges they undertake, there is no reason why a bigger company wouldn’t also be able to foster that sort of working environment and culture.
On the other hand, working in a startup almost always means a small team and this provides an incredible opportunity to contribute to the development of the company culture. For me this is perhaps the most significant difference. For example, I was able to work with others in the company on the way that we would set and evaluate goals at Cosmo Tech. While it was important for all of the team members to have personal goals, it was also important for there to be flexibility when it came to assessing their progress towards those goals, especially where a developer had taken time to help another team. Internal solidarity between teams is essential for the smooth functioning of a startup, and a developer taking time to work with another team or product users can have a long term, positive impact on the whole work environment. This sort of solidarity between teams and team members is important for fostering what we call ‘the Cosmo Spirit’, and its part of the DNA I’ve been able to contribute to in a way that I probably couldn’t in a company with many hundreds or thousands of developers.