Employee spotlight: Matej Žagar

Do you want to know more about our Matej Žagar, a passionate bass guitar player and concert enthusiast, also a Backend Software Engineer and Tech Lead? Of course you do. Read our blog for more info!

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Tell us about your history with Barrage - how did you first learn about Barrage? Why did you join Barrage, and what has kept you here?

I have heard about Barrage from Tibor, and at that time, I was working for another company I am not very keen to talk about. I was hanging out with Tibor after work, and he always talked about Barrage, telling me I should apply too. We both shared the same passion for PHP and Laravel, and as he coaxed me for about two years, he made me give up on my job and finally apply to Barrage instead. Before hiring me, they gave me some tasks to resolve, and then an interview followed - which was a success. I was happy to accept the job, and my journey with Barrage started on January 1st, 2020.

What keeps me here is the belief in what we do and the team I enjoy working with. 

If you were allowed to switch places with anyone else within Barrage for only 24 hours, whose job would you choose?

If I were allowed to choose, I would probably choose to swap places with our Maintenance Officer in Office Management and Maintenance Operations, Đuro so that at least for one day, I could take his renowned Caddy for a spin - and also tease Karlo Petrović (Senior Backend Developer and a Tech Lead), my working colleague, about it. Another job switch I would be glad to experience would be with our Cleaner in Office Management and Maintenance Operations Julijana, so that I could clean the company and rest from the human interaction for a while.

Why did you choose backend over frontend?

I won't give a completely honest answer to this question, so nobody gets mad.

In my previous jobs, I was told that I looked like a backend developer, and that is why I started focusing on the backend. By the end of the day, I am glad it turned out this way because I simply prefer the backend over the frontend.

What are the biggest challenges for you as a tech lead?

My biggest challenges are definitely time management of the team (so that we can finish the workload on time) and coordinating their work, which also involves me playing the part of a peacemaker if something leads to a misunderstanding. It is important to work off the project, and people’s differences can sometimes affect our jobs, so we must resolve the conflicts successfully.

Everyone makes mistakes - have you ever made one at work? How did you react (and correct it)?

Let me tell you about my “favorite” mistake. Once upon a time, I was on a task related to a social network with more than 2 million users. I was working on automatic emails, testing some things, and I have been setting CRON job responsible for sending automatic e-mails. Since I was only testing it, I accidentally set the email sending to all users every five seconds, and yes: I’ve put it on production. I actually thought those emails were going to reach only me - but they didn’t. As I was going home that day, I got a call from the client who asked me why we were spamming all of the users in the system with emails. Naturally, I fixed my mistake by the end of the day with the code that was working properly.

As a tech lead, what do you value most about your team?

Honesty. Although, I think that our society lacks it. If people were more honest and addressed their problems on time, every issue could be resolved easily.

Matej in his daily team-oriented working environment.

How do you define success?

It isn’t easy to define success, but I will give it a try. Success is to be happy with people around you and to enjoy what you have. Everything else comes and goes, but what or who stays with you is of major importance. If you are happy knowing this, you can consider yourself successful - not many people can say that.

So, I hear you possess more than just one bass guitar. :D Can you say something about your passion for music and guitar playing skills? 

I have some instruments, yes. I love listening to good music, and I enjoy playing the guitar very much. For a long time, playing was one of my ways to unwind. My story begins in primary school, when I started listening to Metallica and  Iron Maiden and further develops in high school, where I discovered grunge and great bands like Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Alice in Chains. When I discovered punk, my friends and I formed a band. We have been playing all around Croatia, and if we were able to cover our travel expenses and get a case of beer - we treated it as a success at the time.

We played about 70 concerts in one year!

As we were growing up, we decided to play something else, something new: so we tried out progressive metal, instrumental music, and even playing in an acoustic band. My “career” ended with the band Merrow, which is still active, but I don’t play the bass anymore. My good friend and colleague Bruno Lipovac (Junior Backend Developer) swapped places with me and now supports the band.

Matej surrounded by his pets; amplifiers, microphones, and playing bass guitar on stage. Photo by: Robert Hofman.

What is the best concert you have ever been to?

I have a few, it’s hard to choose one concert only. So I will say “Pearl Jam” in Trieste, “Iron Maiden” in Split, “Foo fighters” in Pula, and “A Perfect Circle” in Vienna. There are even more great concerts I attended, but I have to mention 

Three of my favorite Croatian bands: “Pasi”, “Debeli precjednik”, and “Pips chips i videoclips”.

But the most fun concerts for me are the ones where I have been performing. It doesn't matter if it was 5 or 1000 people, the feeling of being on the stage was something amazing.

Matej while enjoying the feeling of being on stage.  Photo by: Robert Hoffman.

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?

Everything about me is weird, so it’s hard to emphasize something specific. Those who know me are familiar with lots of those situations from my younger days

Nevertheless, I  will mention one thing.

At one of our concerts, I was so excited while playing and decided to jump on the Marshall amp, but I didn’t realize it was missing a leg, so after I landed on it, I slipped and fell over, and ended up sprawled on the stage. 

If you could be anyone from any period in time, who would it be and why?

Without a doubt, Fred Astaire. He was a dancer, actor, singer, choreographer, and a TV figure: very striking and handsome. Also, he had an outstanding taste for cars, and if you didn’t know, one of his Rolls Royce cars is being driven in Osijek too. :)

What are your three most overused words/phrases?

Hmm, let me think about it. I think maybe, “Long time no see, mate!” or “Hey, what’s up?”

Would you like to add something? 

I would also like to use this opportunity to say hello to my wife and son; I hope they won’t be mad I didn’t have a chance to mention them anywhere in the text until now.

Meet the rest of the team!

We love having people like Matej in our collective. Driven individuals are the ones that build the motivational culture we nurture at Barrage.

If you would like to be a part of that culture and get to know the rest of our team, check out our open positions.