Interview with Marius Colacioiu, Head of Engineering at Ledgy

Marius was one of the first employees at Ledgy; he’s a piano player, trail runner, and Ledgy’s unofficial financial advisor that aims to ensure our team members are financial free. We’re lucky to work with him everyday! And you can get to know him here.

Marius, Ledgy’s Head of Engineering

Hello Marius, a lot has changed since you started at Ledgy, can you take us back in time to when you first joined; what are some of the big changes you’ve witnessed as the company evolved?

This was more than two years ago and it feels like a really long time ago...

At the beginning we were seven people in the company and we would almost all fit in one room around three big desks, sitting in pairs around an island of screens, each with hers/his own monitor. So it was actually hard not to look at your colleague’s monitor working at 0,5 meters next to you :-).

For me it is always interesting to see how people change, evolve and react in different situations. Probably the biggest changes came from the team at Ledgy evolving, and also our product evolving as a consequence of our own personal learnings and growth.

We have good collaboration, and the results we achieve are a joined effort. We’ve learned over time how to best work with each other and we now have a really good base to further grow the team that will take us through our next growth phase.

There were bumps along the way, growing fast is not easy. But we always improved ourselves with each difficult situation.

We will soon be moving into our third office, which opens the stage for a new chapter in Ledgy’s and its employees growth.

Your background includes a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Computer Science and your experience across the startup ecosystem is impressive. Did you always have a clear career path?

Well, not really, but I knew I wanted to do interesting work, have an impact, and be helpful somehow to others through my work. I was exposed to computers and coding from an early age, so coding had to be part of the challenge.

In the beginning of my career I looked more for opportunities were I could learn from others, while also improving on the side in order to get good at my craft. Then I was lucky, having the opportunity to work with and learn from really good senior software engineers (ex-startup employees). I also got to work for a San Francisco-based startup, from 2013-2015, and the onboarding there, a full month, made an impact on me which motivated me to continue working for small companies.

In 2015 I moved from Milan to Zürich, to join another small startup as a first employee, a bold move but it payed off. As the tech lead there I learned a lot, and helped hire the first engineers. A year later the company was acquired and the product integrated. That was the only way I could end up working for a big company, with 1000+ employees, but an experience I did enjoy fully.

However, I still prefer working for small companies and helping them grow. With growth, more job opportunities are created and the cycle continues.

If I would redefine my career, I would see myself as more of a job creator, creating opportunities for others to grow and learn. And for me to learn and grow along with them.

You often speak about creating opportunities for others and being a facilitator of growth. This also shows in your real actions on our team. Can you speak about your experience mentoring engineers at Ledgy?

In past companies I had different experiences with mentoring and being mentored, and I feel at Ledgy this experience evolved to a new level.

The most important ingredients for good mentoring, in my view, is having good collaboration and an environment where all team members feel safe to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them. Psychological safety inside the team should be high.

The next step, which as a manager I can facilitate, is to create the environment where others can do the work that allows them to grow to a next level of expertise. More often it is about managing processes, rather than managing people.

Feedback plays another important role. Not only giving it, but also asking for regular feedback in weekly (or bi-weekly) 1-on-1s. This encourages critical thinking, challenging existing processes, and searching for alternative improvements.

How does one know when mentoring works? Well, it works in my view when some responsibilities get taken away from you. This actually happens at all levels in our engineering team, which to me is a sign that our team is growing in seniority.

As a result we are more of a tribe, pairing with each other, reviewing each others work, in order to constantly increase the quality of our work and of our product.

Great answer Marius, thank you for that!

Everyone at Ledgy gets a unique emoji, yours is titled “Marius Pianoing” can you tell us the story behind it?

Marius Pianoing

Around the time I joined Ledgy, mid 2019, I started taking piano lessons and Jahlelah, our engineering team lead, who also happens to be our chief emoji officer, thought this gif captured my “outwardly reserved character, but also secret silly side” — her words not mine.

I always liked listening to piano music and enjoyed attending piano concerts. I continue to practice piano on a regular basis, mostly in the evening but now the time has come for me to dedicate more time to this passion. Progress is slow but steady :-).

What are some of your other interests outside of work?

My hobbies vary from time to time, but they have a core theme around learning something new and staying healthy.

For the learning part, reading books and learning how to play piano keeps me busy in the evening. I like to alternate the books, usually reading 2-3 in parallel, getting in-depth on different topics mostly non-fictional books. It gives me a sense of still being a student, having this feeling of never knowing enough, which keeps me humble and curious for learning more.

To stay healthy I like to cook my own meals and do sports. I like to be outside in nature, hiking, running, and the occasional biking are my preferred activities. I slow down by doing weekly yoga and the occasional morning meditation.

At Ledgy you are also our unofficial financial advisor, it seems to be a passion of yours?

It is indeed a passion of mine, developed while working at Ledgy. I would not say I am an advisor, disclaimer “this is not financial advice” :-), but I see myself more as a facilitator for those of us interested to learn and share their learnings around the whole Personal Finance domain.

In our bi-weekly short sessions, we cover topics like: how to track ones expenses, how to optimize tax declarations, how to be frugal and increase ones savings, and how to learn about investing (why it is important, and what alternatives are out there).

The first investment one makes, I think is in ourselves, and we should start early on. Investing our time in a course, reading a book, or joining an early stage startup like Ledgy, might teach us something that will pay off for months and years down the road.

I have to say if it wasn’t for the opportunity to work at Ledgy, a FinTech startup, I would have not been so interested in these financial aspects. But glad to have discovered them!

And what does the future hold for you Marius? Where do you see yourself in the next three to five years?

If someone would have told me where I would be today, I would not have believe it. Looking back at my career, it did not follow a predefined track: some steps forwards, followed by some steps back, and more steps forward.

However, at Ledgy I have made many steps forward; although starting as one of the first employees was high risk, it is one that seems to be paying off, in terms of exciting work and learning opportunities.

I see myself continuing to help where I can. Our company is growing fast and for us employees working at Ledgy we get to champion our mission (we’re hiring by the way).

Ledgy is on a mission to democratize equity, why does this matter to you?

Ledgy’s mission matters to me quite a lot, and it mattered from day one. I believe more employees should work for startups and this can propel them in future careers as first employees, co-founders and even becoming investors themselves. This is the best job to have, working for Ledgy’s mission.

Having a fair system to reward employees participation, is something all companies should be curious about and learn how to implement. It is an iterative process, which gets adapted to each growth stage, but once rolled out properly it can help both companies to attract and maintain talent, and the employees to feel part of the company and it’s mission, at a level that goes beyond personal career and personal growth ambitions.

I personally find it rewarding working for such an ambitious mission. Only the future can tell if we will deliver on our mission or not, but I have a good feeling that here at Ledgy we are on a good track ;-). Fingers crossed!

Thanks for joining me Marius, I always enjoy talking with you!

01 Sep 2021
Joe Brennan
Content Lead & Drone Theorist

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