2022/01/07 • 5 min read

Tech Lead @ La Redoute: Interview with Gonçalo Venceslau

Can you start by introducing yourself?

My name is Gonçalo Monteiro Venceslau, I am 31 years old, I live in Leiria, Portugal and I have been at La Redoute for 5 years, the last 2 of these as a Tech Lead. Before joining La Redoute, I had 4 years of experience spanning from a start-up to a software company. I had the opportunity to work on front-end development with .NET, PHP, and other languages. Off work, my main hobby is playing and producing music, watching football and playing with my 1-year-old baby girl.
I have been meat-free for 6 years, and the goal is to become a vegan family soon.


What do you do as a Tech Lead?

Summarizing in a few words what I do as a tech lead, I can say that our daily job is to maintain a balance between two forces (sometimes opposing), business needs and technical targets. It is by balancing those two forces, that we can push the tech stack further and secure increased quality on each product delivery while keep adding value to the business.

In a more down-to-earth description, my usual day involves contact with developers to make sure they have the correct headspace to work, lead coordination meetings, follow-up on blocking issues or detecting as early as possible potential project risks.
Also, it’s my responsibility to negotiate solutions and foment the team’s critical thinking on every interaction, from a solution discovery meeting to a simple business request for improvement.

Being there with the team is also particularly important; being available is crucial, and it reflects on the team. I like to think that I lead by example by not being afraid of getting my hands dirty, doing pair-programming, foment code quality and pride in every developer’s work.


What do you enjoy most (here at La Redoute)?

Here at La Redoute, I like the freedom, trust, and cooperative spirit we share. It is not something easy to come across in a company and that is something that I feel drives the various departments and you can see it in the work that is being done.


Can you describe your team in 3 words?

Diverse yet solid – the Logistics Development team has a wide range of skills and experiences; we have a great mix of members from seasoned developers to young and with high potential. On top of that, we have members that allow the team to have great flexibility in working on the various stacks that we currently have at La Redoute. I would say it is the dream team but did not want to brag 🙂


What challenges do you encounter and enjoy solving on a regular basis?

The challenges I face are mainly linked with technical stack alignment and business needs problem-solving. The challenge is to keep the developers motivated while fomenting continuous growth and learning as well as providing the business with continuous evolution and the best solution for each need.


Which achievements are you prouder of (here at La Redoute)?

The achievement I am most proud of is my participation and contribution to the last project we did on our team. That project’s goal was to migrate a set of major key features previously provided by an external partner and implement them in an in-house new architecture. This was a critical project because it concerned a crucial part of the La Redoute business, which is to ship articles to the customer, on top of that there were contractual restrictions that set a strict deadline we could not pass.

My participation can be summed up as the lead for the project’s dev team – for me it was a great challenge but one we succeed as a team. Not only did we finish what we were asked to do but we enrich a lot of the technical stack and practices that were being done on the company at the time, acting in a lot of subjects as a pilot project for some new technologies. In the end, we implemented a cloud-based event-driven microservice system that allows great flexibility to the business and a lot more visibility on previously unknown business metrics.


What are your axis of development and growth?

My main axis of development and growth is linked with people and tech.
Being a tech lead is necessary that we are passionate about tech, and we follow the latest trends, that need keeps us on the edge and always wanting to learn more.
But on other hand, people skills are the way we can influence real change in the longer term. Knowing how to manage and lead people goes a long way in terms of affecting and provoking change without really needing to be full hands-on ourselves. For me, it is a given that I need to keep learning and continuously improve my tech toolset and expertise as well as promote that drive in the people around me.


Any personal advice for someone who would like your job position?

You should be curious, you should keep learning and do your homework, you should know what you are talking about every time, you should not stop questioning things you do not see fit and finally, you should care about everyone that works with you – people matter.


Why would you recommend La Redoute?

I recommend working at La Redoute because it can pose a lot of different challenges, having a long history provides that legacy of change and evolution that is great for anyone who wants to improve and have a working environment that requires something different every day. It is a place where teams are encouraged to share and communicate with each other, and I think is something that is not always the case in other company and is something that I like because it builds a diverse workplace and hopefully brings out the best from everyone.


How can you describe your transition from Software Engineer to Tech Lead?

Going from software engineer to tech lead was a role change that required a switch in mindset in terms of communication and people interaction. You are expected to have strong soft skills like active listening, empathy, and influence over others. All this results in the big picture outcome which is to achieve something better than just your code or your solution to a problem. Being a software engineer sometimes it feels a bit like trying to understand everything about a type of tree but then when you are pushed a bit up you realize all sorts of trees with diverse types and shapes, and you start to think with a bigger picture mindset.


What is a good superpower for a Tech Lead?

Omnipresence would be a good one – when you get the taste of the stimulating effect of participating in the change and evolution of the landscape that surrounds us, you kind of want to participate in every meeting and workgroup to further improve more.


What is your hidden talent?

Dedication – when I am on, I am all in. I give all my energy and time to the task, goal, and/or project.


Any book or podcast you recommend?

I am a huge fan of the podcast format, lately been following the Land of the Giants, it is a podcast series that focuses on the big tech companies, it is interesting for the general public, but it is especially interesting for any tech enthusiast because it sheds some light on the people and processes behind the success of the major tech companies.



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