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Living by the Code

Before You Begin

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Getting to Work

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30. An Interview with César Valiente
Written by Enrique López-Mañas

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César is a passionate software engineer. He has worked in several companies and on many different projects, in startups, mid-size companies, and big corporations. He currently works at Microsoft where he also leads the Android community there. He has always been involved in communities and open-source, he enjoys sharing his knowledge with others and learning from others. He has spoken in some of the most relevant tech conferences in Europe. He loves to spend his time with his family and friends, and on his hobbies.

Connect with César

Twitter: @CesarValiente

LinkedIn: in/cesarvaliente/



You’ve transitioned from the startup world into a big company, like Microsoft. What are the biggest differences between the two worlds?

The main difference in my transition from a startup to a big corporation was how different both worlds are in terms of size and resources. In our startup, the whole team was about 60 people, including engineering, management, and design. In Microsoft, we have more than 100,000 people. The difference is huge practically speaking. The biggest difference to me is that in a startup, everything is fast. It has to be fast because if you don’t show numbers to the investors in a short period of time, you’re probably going to run out of cash. For a big company like Microsoft, the need to move fast is lower than for a startup, although, of course, there are goals to achieve and numbers to show. Everything moves slower than in a startup because of the number of people involved, processes that happen, different levels decisions, etc. On the other hand, in big corporations, you have more resources. You have people and money.

Can you say more about the advantages the corporate world has over the startup world?

As we have said before, more resources are a significant advantage for big corporations. Also, these corporations offer many opportunities for career development. People can take different roles; you can work as a software engineer, but if you have the opportunity and want to take it, you can jump into management or even into design, all while working on different projects and technologies. For instance, at Microsoft, a developer might work on different projects and teams, from Xbox to OneNote, from Windows to mobile apps, etc. The list of projects to be involved in is nearly endless.

What has your experience been with mentorship?

Prior to joining Microsoft, I never had a mentor. If I would have had mentorship, I could have made fewer mistakes early on. In fact, for me, the entire community has been a stand-in for a single mentor in my career. Mentors are important. A good mentor is knowledgeable and is a good listener. A mentor doesn’t necessarily provide technical answers but helps you solve problems including career and even personal problems.

César Recommendations

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