How to enable positive change?

People Success Story: Manuel Geier 

When he started as an intern at Cloudflight in 2013, Manuel Geier didnt know that his career would continue as a part-timer while studying software engineering at the Vienna University of Technology. Today, as a full-timer, he has multiple roles: software engineer, onboarding coach, project leader, and team leader. He describes himself as an ambitious, curious, and creative person who wants to share what he has learned with others so they can benefit from his experience. Therefore, in his spare time, he supports students with their diploma projects and is happy to share his experience. 

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Starting as an intern, becoming a part-timer   

He started his career as an intern at Cloudflight. “The biggest benefit of being an intern is getting a glimpse of how real software development works in a real team with a real project,” Manuel reveals.  “I’ve been part of Cloudflight from day one and have felt the great community of passionate people around me. It’s simply contagious. We have onboarding coaches for every new employee (including interns, of course) in order to make the first few weeks a bit easier. In retrospect, the biggest advantage of a part-time position for me was the great flexibility the company offered. I was able to continue my studies at the university while working on challenging projects.” 

Events, knowledge transfer, and coaching 

 In addition to project work, Manuel also became an onboarding coach, organized many company events (funtastic events), and moderated several times the Coding Contests (CCC) in Vienna on the stage in the City Hall (Rathaus) and the Vienna City Hall (Stadthalle). He held internal lectures (wispris) for knowledge exchange within the company (e.g., Alexa Skills & Voice Design, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu_dOAJO3eA) and conducted workshops such as the High-Performance Workshop or PowerPoint Karaoke.  

”I meanwhile designed technical solutions, built platforms, and led frontend migrations and was a driver for architectural decisions and improvements,” Manuel says. 

Full-time job: project leader 

Throughout my education, I tried to gain as much knowledge and experience as possible in order to achieve my goal of becoming a project leader. I am currently responsible for a large client project with about 20 employees and started interviewing for junior to senior-level jobs. I also became a mentor and coach for our future team leaders and have participated in or created several initiatives such as ‘Clean Code’ or ‘How to do Learning & Development at Cloudflight’.  

For me, it’s important to be able to make an impact through my actions. Maybe even be an inspiration to someone. I want to be a driving force and an enabler for positive change. Both personal growth and the growth of my colleagues are important to me. 

Drivers and motivation 

“My inner voice has guided me to become the person that destiny has chosen for me. My main motivation is my passion for personal growth in order to become a better me. I am convinced that everyone should believe in themselves and follow their inner voice. I like to have structure, set goals, make plans, and work to archive them,” Manuel confesses when asked about his drivers and motivations. “I like artistic environments, people, and the agile mindset. I am solution-oriented and have a passion for front-end development as well as great UI and UX. I’m always eager to try and discuss new things to expand myself, my mode of thinking, and my skills.” 

Empowering students 

Manuel not only coaches his colleagues and leads his team but also supports students in his spare time. 

 “In my experience, it is not always easy to achieve great results when the environment is not optimal. Over the years, I’ve been able to try out and experience many things and have learned a lot as a result. I want to pass something on to our next generation,” Manuel admits.  

“My experience of supporting students started with the CCC,” Manuel explains. “Thanks to the contest, I am still in contact with my professors from the HTL Pinkafeld, which I attended. This school is always looking for interesting projects and partners.  

In my case, the goal is to provide students with real-life situations that they can benefit from for a long time.  Because I also work on various personal projects in my spare time – such as AusgstecktApp, Minimalism Challenge, and BlockPlanner – I was able to combine these two directions and offer potentially interesting thesis topics from which students were able to choose. The students formed groups of three, and I supervised them. 

How to portray real-life situations for students? 

For the students, Manuel plays the role of a customer that he would have liked to have had when he was writing his thesis. According to him, the biggest problem in real life is usually the lack of communication with the customer or too little feedback. “Through regular meetings with the class, I want to compensate for that,” he elucidates. “These syncs are like review sessions from the Scrum framework, where we have real discussions. In between the regular meetings, we communicate directly with the teams via a Signal chat group, where I can answer interim questions. If someone needs help, we set up 1-on-1 appointments to work on a solution. In addition to focusing on the tasks, I also try to give them valuable feedback, tips, and tricks and share stories from real live projects so they can also learn something they’ll need in the professional world. Students not only get to work on a project but also learn valuable lessons.” 

The challenge for 2021/21 

The challenge of the diploma thesis for 2020/21 was for AusgstecktApp. This app (https://ausgsteckt.app/) provides services for traditional Austrian inns that offer local food and wine. It consists of a web platform (PostgreSQL, Spring Boot, Angular, Docker) and a mobile app for Android (React Native).  

Students worked on the following topics:  

  • Security OWASP Top 10 evaluation with a focus on library vulnerabilities frontend and backend 
  • UI/UX evaluation with automated, semi-automated, and manual approaches including SEO and implementation of improvements   
  • UI test automation framework evaluation, setup, and test implementation for the web application 

In addition to the thesis, each student was required to complete an additional hands-on project:  

  • Payment integration to introduce a supporter feature to the app 
  • Menu management and presentation on the web platform for company owners, 
  • Login with Google or Facebook; OAuth integration with Firebase authentication on the web platform  

“My goal is always to create production-ready results with the team. That’s not always easy to achieve because of various constraints.  My goal is to help them work on something that will really be used,” Manuel says. 

A better expert – a better person 

”In the projects I do with students, one of the most exciting experiences is being on the other side.” In real projects, we work closely with clients to create something they need. In thesis assignments, I’m the customer and someone else asks me a lot of questions that I often can’t easily answer. This gives me great insight and makes my work with real customers better,” Manuel explains.  

These school activities help him to be not only a better expert but also a better person.  

”With all the activities I do, I want to gain new experience so I can take on new, more exciting, and challenging tasks. With the skill set that I bring with me, I benefit from having a good overview of all parts of the software development cycle. I can fully collaborate with customers and deliver the things they need with the best possible outcome. Great software can be developed only by great people working together as a great team. The same is true for innovation. Everything I do is aimed at becoming a great leader in order to achieve this. 

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