Employee spotlight: Tibor Huđik
Tibor Huđik, our Lead Backend Software Engineer, takes clients’ challenges personally and greatly contributes to all projects with his everything-is-learnable attitude!
Before working at Barrage, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
That's a looooong list. I used to work in a casino as an eye in the sky [casino’s video surveillance], I used to work on a cruise ship as a photographer. That first contract was fun but exhausting and kinda beside the point because I actually had to work and I came there to travel and have fun.
So I quit my job and I did a kind of like a leap of faith where I quit one job and I felt like Tarzan trying to catch another one in the air. I managed to catch another one where I got hired as a shore excursion staff member. I was working on selling the excursions - basically, I would go on free excursions and then tell the tale to the guests on the ship how it was and that was sort of a sales pitch. That was a fun job but it got boring after a while - on the third “swimming with the dolphins” excursion you get tired of it. The most fun job that I ever had is coding.
Coding is something I used to do in high school so the first time I got hired to be a programmer I was sitting at home coding and I felt like I was back in high school doing basically nothing - I mean, it isn’t “nothing”, but for me, it was, because it was like playing video games when I was younger. In high school, I had a sh**** PC that couldn’t run any games properly so for fun, I used to write code. It felt like I'm just sitting and enjoying myself and getting paid on top of that.
A brief history of employment with Barrage - how did you first learn about Barrage? Why did you join Barrage, and what has kept you here?
Well, I actually haven’t learned anything about Barrage, I've learned about the previous company. I knew a guy called Marko [Marko Bošković, Lead Frontend Software Engineer] who worked there - he asked me if I would like to come in for an interview. Actually, it wasn't an interview, it was more of a chat with our CIO [Ivan Rimac] who asked me some questions and told me he had a project that needed to be done. The guy that used to work on it didn't do it properly - he started but then quit. He asked me if I could do it and I said ‘yes’ even though I didn't know if I could do it.
I took on the project. I looked into the code and I realized it was really bad so I just sent him a message that I was going to do everything from scratch. He said that he was OK with it but that I got two days - not 2 days to finish the entire project but to get to the same level the previous developer was. I ended up working on it the entire weekend and drank a lot of Red Bull because I was still working for my previous company. I brought it to the level it was at the time I took over and it was much better, at least in my opinion. Ivan agreed and let me do the project until the end and when I was nearly done, he offered me a contract.
I spend the entire month working on that project and I used up my vacation from the previous company. So I got hired by Barrage and finished the project, and soon after that, I started working on other projects within the company.
And about what has kept me here, I’d say it’s the people and the challenges. We have, well, the same challenges as other companies but the way we see them and deal with them is different. At Barrage, it's generally accepted to take things personally and I've considered all of the projects I worked on as my own. Even though the products are actually going to somebody else, and somebody else will be using them, I know they are mine. Although technically and legally the clients are the owners of the things I worked on but they cannot take away my knowledge. That is what has kept me here, that attitude we have, that constant will to learn something new, to improve the way we do things, and not do one thing over and over for all clients for the sake of profit.
What motivates you to wake up and go to work?
My alarm clock? Well, I wake up every single day at the same time, I don't care if it's a weekend or a workday. I used to be a night owl before but now I'm a morning person because I feel that I'm the most productive in the morning.
I know that some people go to work just so they don’t get fired but I think that if you are afraid to get fired, you shouldn’t even be working at that place. I'm not afraid that I’ll be fired, I don’t care about that, I just care that I'm doing what I have to do and that I want to do.
Basically, my motivation is the things that I do, the projects that I work on. As I already mentioned, I take them [projects] personally but I usually try to find something that is very challenging for me in them, something that is fun to do because I actually consider coding to be very fun. I enjoy discovering what's going to be the next thing that I have to solve. I want to find the perfect solution to the problems that are happening in the code so that it will not bite me in the a** in the future.
Even during weekends, I noticed that a lot of people think “Oh my god, tomorrow is Monday” - I don't have that feeling, I have like “OK, tomorrow is Monday, I'm going to continue working on that thing that was bugging me last week”. I cannot pinpoint the exact reason for my motivation - it’s just that it's fun for me to code and I like the challenge of it. It's actually the only job that I've had that, even though I do the same thing every day, it's always different and there is always room for improvement. There's always something new that you learn even when you're having a bad day, you can always stumble upon something new to bend your mind and make the day better.
What has been your favorite project at Barrage?
Well, I enjoyed most of them, even the boring ones because I always find something enjoyable in them. But there is one that is by far the most interesting one for me and that is Roango.
Don’t get me wrong, it's a fun project, it's a great idea but the most fun part for me was the challenge of switching to new technology - Rust. If I might add, we did that very successfully! We were scared at the beginning and we didn't know how that's going to work out but it actually did. We did quite well. For the first three months, we felt scared and confused, and then afterward, I don't know how to describe it, but it's very satisfactory to be proficient at something again after a long time of eating dirt.
What are your favorite tools and why do you prefer using them?
My favorite tools...I assume you mean the computer tools, as in programming languages - that would be Rust definitely. You can code the entire day without using StackOverflow, Google, or even the internet because everything is in it. When you get an error, it usually tells you exactly why you got it and it's easy for you to figure out the solution. I mean, it doesn't have to be easy and it usually isn’t but when you do some digging, you can figure it [solution] out. It's not like you get an error and then you have to go digging through 50 pages of Google to find what it actually means. It just tells you “OK, you have a problem here because of XY, try doing Z to fix it”, and then you try out “Z”. It might not be right, but it gives you another one of those pretty compiler messages that help you further until you get the behavior you wanted.
As a team leader, what do you value most about your team?
This weekend, I actually had a conversation with my non-developer friend who wants to be a developer and I was trying to explain the same thing to him and that's actually something that I'm proud of. We at Barrage, value passionate people and are people that are passionate about what we are doing. Every passionate developer is a good developer, but not every good developer is passionate.
Everybody has their good and bad days, but you can see that all of them [the backend team] are really passionate about what they do and I think that's the most important thing if you want to do something great. Somebody can be the smartest person in the room, in the city, country, whatever, but if they're not passionate about something they won’t get far. And you cannot be passionate about money. Writing good code is hard, creating the next big project is also hard, and without passion, you’ll get distracted, you’ll lack focus and commitment to see the project/feature/task all the way through, or at best, it will be badly done.
I don't know if you have heard the story about when the Wright brothers invented the airplane. There was this guy, I don't know what his name was, but anyway, he received government funding, huge amounts of money to develop a flying machine. He had all the resources but he couldn't do it. And then the Wright Brothers came, they were building bicycles in the shop behind the house and they built a plane, the first flying machine. You have two passionate people with almost none of the resources, with basic tools in a shed behind the house, and then on the other side, you have a guy who was probably really smart and got a lot of cash from the government. That's what I value in the developers, they have to be passionate and then everything else can be built up on that.
What is the best career/life lesson you have learned so far?
The best lesson I got was from my high school professor. He used to say that - he always said it in Croatian but I'm going to try to translate the best I can - nobody sh** himself because the toilet is far away but because they went there too late.
I remember it still because it resonated very well with my life as I used to be somebody who did everything in the last minutes. I would always be either late or finish just before the deadline because I started too late. So the older I got, the more that line actually resonated with me because whenever I had some issues, whenever I couldn't do something or I was about to miss something, it was usually because I started late and I just didn't prepare enough. I've kind of felt that line coming back and that's why it's one of my favorite lines.
What is on your wishlist for the next five years?
My wish list for Barrage is to step into the world of game development. It doesn't really have to be something that is going to be terribly successful, it can even be just a little over covering the expenses. That’s something that I would like to work on mainly because I like video games - not all of them of course, but I like the dynamics in the game and usually, when I play a game, I tend to think about what the developers had to do to achieve the behavior that is happening in the game. That's the fun part of the games for me and it’s similar to somebody watching Formula 1 not because some guys are racing around the track but because of the machinery that has gone into the entire thing or the logistics behind that.
And in personal life, well that's a more difficult one, but hopefully, in 5 years’ time, there are going to be some kids there. I won’t put on weight, that’s usually what happens to dads, and I want to be riding my bike still.
Speaking of bikes, I’ve heard that mountain biking is your favorite activity - what drew you to it?
It's actually downhill riding but anyway, what drew me to it...I was like 18 years old. I used to do parkour and I was hanging out with the guys who were riding bikes and it looked like fun. We were hanging out across the Drava, there was a forest where we did parkour because of some sort of an open-air gym. Anyways, we used to go there to train, and the guys with bikes were right next to us so we started hanging out together. I tried out some bicycles and it was really fun so I bought my first bike and I have been riding ever since.
I had a pause when I was on the ship because of obvious reasons. And after I got back, the forest trails near Osijek were demolished and I started venturing out of Osijek.
We started building trails near Orahovica on Papuk (an hour and a half drive from Osijek). There have been some simple trails for the past 20 years but were abandoned and decayed - we started rebuilding those trails and creating new ones. We built, I think, over 20 km of trails and I can say they are the best ones in Croatia.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I don't know, usually, when I want to learn something I just go ahead and learn it so I don't really have something that I wish I learned. When it comes to stuff like riding a bicycle, I'm at the level where I'm comfortable being - even in the case of some crazy tricks that at some point I thought I wish I knew, it’s important to know the risk vs. reward ratio. That’s always in my head and when the risk is greater than the reward, I just don’t do it, even though it might be very fun and cool to know how to do them.
What is your hidden talent?
I know how to juggle - that's not really a talent, that’s just something you learn from watching a 5-minute video on YouTube - but something especially exotic, no.
What technological innovation do you wish to witness in your lifetime?
Well, I wish someone invented the immortality pill or something similar during my lifetime so that my life doesn't end. Not because I want to live forever but because I just want to witness how far the human race will go.
What is one unique thing that others may not know about you?
I speak German somewhat okayish. A couple of weeks ago, when we were at an event, there was this German guy that came in and asked if somebody spoke German. I wasn't really thinking so I just started talking to him in German and my friends were weirded out because they never actually heard me speaking it.
What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
When I was a kid, we were on some kind of boating trip, my dad, his friend, and I. My dad’s friend was the captain and we came to a cove and he jumped into the sea and caught one of those sea urchins. He opened it up with his knife and it had something yellowish in it. It was edible, it was actually pretty good. I also ate frog legs and all kinds of sushi.
If you were stuck on an island, which three things would you like to have on you?
First I would have to know what type of an island - is it a rocky one or is it just the sand dune, you got to be more specific.
OK, OK, Tibor, so you are stuck on a rocky island.
OK, if it's a rocky island, I would like to have my hiking boots, some kind of a bottle with a water filter, and some kind of weapon that doesn't need ammunition so I can hunt, like a crossbow.
Are you an iPhone or android type of person?
I'm a working-phone type of person. Even though I'm using iPhone currently, I'm using it only because it's free and the company provided it. Otherwise, I would use any kind of phone that is good and available. I used to always look for a flagship phone that had this amount of pixels or whatnot but now I'm over it and the only thing I need it to do is to connect to my GoPro, to have messaging apps on it, Reddit, and Instagram.
If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would you meet?
I don't know...I mean there are cool people like Elon Musk and there's so much to talk to such people but you will probably be annoying to them. But if I could meet anyone, I think it would be extremely fun to meet Dr. Emmett Brown from ‘Back to the Future’. Also probably Rick from Rick and Morty. Rick has seen a lot of weird stuff he could talk about.
And last but not least: what’s the story behind the nickname ‘the god of backend’?
So, I was working on something, I was immersed in this problem that was bugging me for probably days. At that time, there were a lot of new people coming to the company so Ivan Rimac came up with a great idea that we all should write, right away, on Slack what is it that we do. So, as a joke and sort of like stop-bothering-me-right-now kind of thing, I wrote ‘God of backend’ and forgot all about it. And then, some two years later, somebody noticed it and it became a meme.
Meet the rest of the team!
We love having people like Tibor 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.