Reinventing tech careers: Andrei’s journey — byte by byte

Πρόσωπα · 28 Νοεμβρίου 2023Alex Carril

From his roots in Bucharest, to the vibrant city of London, meet Andrei Oprisor — a tenacious engineer at Revolut who’s now thriving as the Head of People Product. Follow Andrei as he recounts his story.

Tell us about your Revolut journey and how it all started

I joined Revolut about 5 years ago. Before Revolut, I was working as a Python backend engineer for a company in Bucharest. At that time, I was just finishing my master’s degree in wireless communication. After 6 years of university and working for 3 years at the same time, I wanted a change.

I had an opportunity to join a big software company in Romania, but a LinkedIn position stopped me. I saw a data engineer position at Revolut in London, and I already knew about Revolut from my work friends, so I applied. The rest is history!

How was it moving from Bucharest to London and starting anew?

It was a bit scary to leave everything behind, but I was excited. I think a lot of people who move to a different country can relate.
When I arrived at Canary Wharf, it was like one of those moments in the movies, when people stop in the middle of Times Square and are in awe while looking around. I started the following Monday and joined the 200 or so Revoluters at that time. I was the 3rd data engineer to join the company.

What were your first days like?

As luck would have it, I didn’t manage to go far with my data engineering. The company was in a growth phase, but the toolset we had at that time wasn’t working very well.
Nik — our CEO — needed someone to help streamline HR and performance automations. That’s when I set out to build something new — an end-to-end employee management tool that we could build ourselves.

Would you say that’s your favourite project? What impact did it have on Revolut?

I’m really proud of what we managed to achieve with the People Ops Revoluters Platform, even if there’s still room for improvement.
It took a long time, especially since we started with just a team of 5. But we did it — we grew the team, built a complete HR solution, and even released our own recruitment solution.

The main reason behind this product was to help the company build the Dream Team, and the platform impacts a lot of the company's metrics. From talent and performance, to financials and compliance, it’s hard to imagine Revolut without the Revoluters platform.

You seem to have grown quite a bit personally and professionally in the last 5 years. Are there any specific skills you’ve developed that you find valuable or have helped you along the way?

In terms of engineering, learning about system design was one of the biggest efforts I had to make.
When it comes to being a Product Owner, I had to learn how to build my own vision of what the product should be. From product strategy and management, to learning the basics of UI/UX design.

In general, I think people management is one of the skills I had to develop a lot.
I had to learn to better understand what contexts people are coming from, what problems, pain points, and motivations they have.
We tend to fall in love with the solution, not the problem. I had to learn how to fall in love with the problem, let the solution come naturally, and remember that problem-solving should be a collaborative exercise, and not an individual one.
So, overall, communication and problem-solving are 2 skills that I find valuable and push me forward.

As a lead Product Owner now, what were some of the challenges you faced when transitioning from a technical to a leadership role, and what motivated you to make this move?

Engineering has always been my passion, especially coding. As an engineer, you solve hard problems and you’re used to exact science. Most engineers can easily code all day and not interact with people that much. When you become a manager or, in my case, a Product Owner, ‌people are in the centre of everything. And people management isn't an exact science.

The hardest challenge was leaving the technical side behind. Having more managerial responsibilities meant less technical stuff. As a person who was so passionate about engineering, this was difficult.

One day I was thinking about why I like coding so much, and I realised that it wasn't about the act itself, but the fact that it enabled me to solve hard problems and use my creativity to make them happen.
I realised that, as a Product Owner, you do the same: you solve problems and use your creativity to build products people can use.
And I still code! I help the team with system designs, but it’s more of a hobby than a job.

As you know, Revolut has a diverse, international team. How has your multicultural experience (coming from Romania and now living in the UK) contributed to your ability to work with a global team?

I think of London as a melting pot of cultures — some call it the capital of the world. It’s one of the things that attracted me to come to London. I grew up watching American movies on TV, buying Japanese manga, playing a Spanish guitar, and learning to drive a German car. In London, you can find an expression of most cultures, and that feels like you have a whole planet in one city. I feel like Revolut embraces this diversity as a company as well, not just at the London office.

Learning things from people who have different cultures, sexual orientations, and backgrounds has helped me be a better manager. It’s much easier to understand and empathise with the struggles people are facing, and that’s helped me solve problems more efficiently.

Living and working in a multicultural environment makes you realise that what defines you is your personality, and not where you come from.

What advice do you have for engineers who aspire to follow a similar career path?

Carve your own path. Engineering is hard, and you'll fail much more than you'll succeed. Embrace failure and take it as an opportunity to improve yourself.

Many times we fall into the trap of comparing ourselves with other people, so ask yourself: “What do I want?” This is more difficult than it might seem. You need to be honest with yourself and work hard to figure out what makes you happy. Once you figure this out, it’s as easy as setting some ambitious goals for yourself and working hard to find ways to achieve them. Figure out what you want, work hard to achieve it, and never give up.

Dare to be brave by seizing your own opportunities! Andrei’s story reminds us that there are no limits to what we can achieve. And if you’re up to joining him at Revolut, your journey starts here.

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