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Interview with Andrea Saltarello

Solution Architect | MANAGED DESIGNS

Tell us a few things about yourself. Where did you study, where do you work?

I’m born and bred in Milan, which is the city I am still living in as well as serving as the CEO of Managed Designs, a consulting firm I started in 2004.
In parallel with my professional duties, I am the current leader of UGIdotNET, the largest Italian .NET user group I co-founded back in 2001.

What is your typical day at work?

Honestly, “typical” is quite an oxymoron when it comes to talk about my job: this is due to being both an entrepreneur and a software developer, and having to manage in order to find a way (and time, actually) to not miss anything I’m supposed to do. Overall, my strategy is to try to do my management duties as early as possible in the morning so to have at least the full afternoon to have fun which actually means… Writing code. 🙂

What inspired you to be active in the community?

My eagerness to have a part in the community dates back to the era of analogue connections and noisy modems: I got my first one in 1993 and therefore got into a couple of local yet very active BBSes which I joined just to chat with other developers. Having become one of the most active users of a particular one, its sysop asked me whether I was interested in supporting him serving as the moderator of the room dedicated to software development. You can guess which my answer was, I suppose 
My point in participating the community is both to give back and to find new answers thanks to other’s questions: a win-win situation I just can’t get enough of.

My point in participating the community is both to give back and to find new answers thanks to other’s questions: a win-win situation I just can’t get enough of.

I do think that young software developers are under the impression that being a good programmer is all about squeezing as much as they can out of technology therefore missing to focus on the structure of their code and, in the end, the big picture itself.

Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?

Nothing specific, though I wish I had the guts to take more risks (i.e.: starting a business) early on.

Could you recommend some books, resources that young IT professionals might find useful?

I do think that young software developers are under the impression that being a good programmer is all about squeezing as much as they can out of technology therefore missing to focus on the structure of their code and, in the end, the big picture itself. Eventually, technologies pass away whereas the MVC pattern is still alive and kicking in spite of being born in 1979; this, I think, says a lot about which investment is going to secure a long(er) lasting return.

What you do to “recharge your batteries”? What are your hobbies? Do you have time for them?

My hobbies are cinema and music, with the latter being more of a passion rather than a hobby. So, listening to music really helps me to unwind. Back in the day, I used to go to a lot of gigs and nowadays I still attend some when time permits. Last week’s Peter Hook’s gig in Milan was epic, you know 🙂

If you could go back in time and choose a different profession (outside of IT), what would it be?

Let me tell you a story I think will be an effective answer. 🙂
It was expected to be an ordinary evening when my uncle Tiziano made an unannounced visit at our home: he had just bought a home computer, a Commodore VIC 20, and he wanted my dad to have a look at it. I was 7, and that evening turned out to be a pivotal one…
My uncle had attended a BASIC course and, due to my father having started his company, he was sure that my dad needed a computer in order to manage the company’s accountancy and he was just trying to persuade him to buy one.
I remember my uncle demoing some utility program, firing up a couple of video games such as Cosmic Cruncher (a Pac Man clone) and even writing some code in order to prove that creating custom software wasn’t an impossible task, either.
What my uncle wasn’t aware of was that my dad wasn’t keen on technology and that he was only pretending to be interested in what he was being treated with.
Whereas my father was just waiting for the unexpected demo to end, I was quite impressed by it and started thinking that my best chance in order to have a computer to play with was to side my uncle in his struggles and convince my father to buy it: I was sure that, had I succeeded at that, my dad would likely have lost it somewhere at his office thus entitling me to ask whether I could take it at home.
In the end, my strategy worked like a charm and in a couple of weeks I became the proud owner of that seminal computer sealing my fate at such a young age. Everybody love happy endings, isn’t it?

What do you think about ITCamp, and what brings you here?

In spite of having had a part in the ITCamp only once (last year), this event made quite an impression on me because of its quality (i.e.: session topics, speaker roster, flawless event management …) and, even more important, the overall mood: never, ever had I felt so much at ease and, in a sense, “at home”.
It won’t come as a surprise, then, that I’m eager to get back to Cluj and enjoy this year’s ITCamp.

In the end, my strategy worked like a charm and in a couple of weeks I became the proud owner of that seminal computer sealing my fate at such a young age.

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