The Nexonia engineering team is the lifeblood of everything we do here; without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today with our high caliber web services, integrations and mobile apps. In recent months, the dev team has added 50 percent more team members, creating several new positions in an effort to scale progress and ensure that the high quality of Nexonia’s products are continuously delivered to our customers.
As a lead developer on the web development team, Gontran Segue has been with Nexonia long enough to see just how quickly progress has been made with the evolution of Nexonia’s products. Here, Gontran reveals what working on Nexonia’s development team is like, his journey from Cameroon to Canada and how video games inspired his careerpath.
JILL: First of all, tell me about yourself!
GONTRAN: I grew up in Douala, which is the economic capital and the largest city in Cameroon. I moved to Montreal in June 2012 and just over one year later I began my journey as an employee of Nexonia. I’ve worked for a wide variety of companies before eventually becoming a Nexonian: I was a consultant for a company that had a contract with some soccer clubs (such as Chelsea FC and New York City FC) building a platform where coaches could buy training courses. I was the lead on building the performance module, which allowed them to register all relevant information about the players and their training sessions and drills. I’ve also been part of a team that builds platforms that controls equipment remotely; I was the lead in developing distinct modules such as controlling battery cells, generators and producing live notifications.
GONTRAN: I first studied applied Mathematics at Douala University, in Cameroon. After that, I decided to pursue Informatics at Laval University in Quebec City, where I received my Bachelor of Applied Science degree in 2009. During my degree, I worked to develop a web portal for the Douala University; the goal was to add certain functionalities that would help university students access their records online, send SMS alerts to students and manage professor documentation. It was a project that I was very invested in, having been a student at Douala University myself!
JILL: Why did you decide to study Informatics in university? What about that program appealed to you?
GONTRAN: I really enjoy video games and I’ve always loved trying to find solutions to a problem or discover a hidden component. Video games are the perfect for platform for this. Zelda and Mario Kart (the Super NES version, of course) were my passions. In a competition, I was able to play Street Fighter in an arcade with one hand!
For a traditional gamer, occasionally you have to open up your physical controllers to clean them. When I would do this, I was fascinated with the mechanics of it; I wanted to understand why, when you click on a button, it creates an action or series of actions on the screen, depending on what buttons you press. After high school, I realized that Informatics was the field of study that could help me understand how the video games I loved so much were made.
JILL: What did you know about the technology industry before you decided to pursue a career in it?
GONTRAN: I actually didn’t know too much about the technology industry before I went to school. I thought that everything was a video game! After getting more familiar with the industry, I discovered that there are two major parts: the software and the hardware. I fell in love with the “soft” one! And the interest continued to grow when I began to get more and more answers to all of my burning questions about the mechanics I was studying.
When I started participating in some key projects like the University of Douala portal, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to building tools that would help people in their day-to-day work.
JILL: You’ve been working at Nexonia now since 2013. What interested you originally about working here?
GONTRAN: I’d honestly have to say that what really inspired me initially was the way Pascal (Nexonia’s CTO) explained all of the architecture and how all things fit together. During your journey of becoming truly great at your work, you need to have a proven expert to mentor you. I knew after our first meeting that under Pascal’s leadership, I would master many things with his guidance. I could also sense from Day One that I would have the opportunity to take on a variety of daily new challenges and could participate in the construction of a global product.
JILL: What does your role at Nexonia involve?
GONTRAN: My role has changed quite a bit over the last three years, and it continues to do so. When I first joined Nexonia, I spent a lot of time learning how everything works and fits together; now I am leading a team of developers and working with them to carve various paths that we can all follow.
As part of my role as Lead Developer, my job is to provide the relevant development tools for the developers on my team. I am responsible for the code being developed by the web/server developers, I manage the quality of the code, oversee technical tasks required for different projects and I conduct code reviews with the developers within the web/server team. I also lead the technical best practices and principles, and make sure all of us are on the same page.
JILL: What appealed to you about working at Nexonia? What do you enjoy most about working here?
GONTRAN: We have a particular way of all working together as a team that I enjoy and it’s a really fun place to work. I am continuously being challenged in a good way and I’m working with people who work hard and are great at what they do, but that can also have a laugh when it’s the right time and place for it. All team members pitch in and help out when it is time to pool our resources and make something work, or generate a strong architecture for our platform.
JILL: What’s it like developing code at Nexonia, compared to other places?
GONTRAN: As a developer you want a place where you can share your ideas, where your potential can be used and you can receive knowledge every day. It’s also important to be at a company where you can have the opportunity to improve things, be innovative and where your hard work can be used by many people around the world, making their day-to-day work easier. Working at Nexonia lets me achieve all of this.
JILL: When you’re not at work, what do you like to do?
GONTRAN: When I’m not coding, I like to sing along to the music I’m listening to (anything from The Rasmus to The Weeknd to Linkin Park). I’m becoming a pretty good reader with non-technology books. I also do spinning once a week, which is great because it gives me a few moments to completely unplug!
JILL: And finally, besides Nexonia’s mobile apps, what are some of your favourite apps that you use?