Porfirio has grown up on a farm, a school dropout and ran his own not so successful grocery store.
Trying to find what he loves doing and has the most interest in, it took him a long time to rekindle his passion in tech.
This is an inspiring coding journey on how he found the company he wanted to work for, and how he made it from a junior software developer to a CTO. Enjoy reading!
Please introduce yourself
Hi, my name is Porfírio, I’m 40 years old and I’m from Portugal. Currently my position is CTO of an AgriTech startup in Lisbon.
My work consists of managing a team of 4 developers creating software for farmers. We develop software that consists of a backend (Java/Kotlin/Spring), a frontend web app (Typescript/SCSS/React) and a mobile app (Dart/Flutter). I develop on any part of the stack and make decisions on the directions to take. Help juniors to learn the technologies we use and to use them on our platform.
What was your background before learning to code?
I came from a family of farmers. My parents always worked on production of fruit trees and since I remember I helped them on the farm or on the warehouse managing the fruits and selling them on the market.
What got you interested in coding and how did you learn to code?
I got interested in coding in my 10th grade. I had some coding classes, at the time learning Pascal on DOS to make simple little things. Because of many reasons I had to drop school by that time.
I was willing to learn more, but it took some years before I had an opportunity (a computer) to look at it again. By that time I had my own business, a grocery store, and (un)fortunately I had free time, a computer and internet and started again learning programming as a hobby.
How did you get your first job in tech?
The business didn’t go very well so I went to work on farming again for my cousin. For a long time I wanted to find a job in this area I loved, but it was not easy and I always thought I would never be able to because I did not graduate.
Since I was a tech lover working on a farm, I was always interested in AgriTech companies and I followed some of them on Linkedin and Facebook.
Someday, the company I work on, Agroop, had a Linkedin post for a job opening. The request was simple, they didn’t ask for a degree, they asked for someone that had the self learning spirit, so I felt that I could fulfil the requirements, and it was a company working on a field I know.
So I sent a very honest email about my history, how I loved development and I pointed some points of improvement to the product based on my farming knowledge.
Being a farmer that wanted to develop was a big plus, because the company needed a better perspective on the fields but also someone to develop the product. Got an email response in 2 hours and scheduled an interview for the next day.
How did you prepare for an interview?
Honestly, I didn’t. I had no idea what to do and what to expect, never been in that situation, or had any knowledge of how interviews work. And I guess my interview was not as rigid as I have been reading about now. Spoke to the CEO about my situation, what I loved about farming and tech, then spoke with the frontend developer about what I knew. We had a great conversation as we are both passionate about tech.
Any obstacles that you have to overcome in learning coding?
I’m Portuguese, even though I’ve learned some english at school, I was not very fluent in it. By that time I started learning there was not so much material on the internet to learn in Portuguese, so I had forced myself to be able to read and write in English, improving my skills on it.
As you’re a CTO, would you hire developers without a CS Degree?
I had interviewed many people without a degree. My last hire was a girl that came for an internship that dropped school also as me. Without any résumé just a little course. But she showed value and will to learn. And she’s working with us as a frontend developer.
Tips for newbies?
Be passionate and keep learning! Learning is one of most grateful things for me, and how I managed not only to get a job in tech, but also keep my carrer growing up from being a junior frontend developer, to be a full stack developer, to be team leader and to become CTO.
I never had the ambition to get to this point, it was fruit of my hard work and my continuous learning. Of course, not everyone is passionate, not everyone is a learning freak and it’s ok, you can do it still.
Try, find companies you would like to work for, know what they do and approach them by knowing why they would need you, what could you offer them.
What are your plans for the future?
I’ve been working in this company for 4+ years. I love what I do, I believe in the product and it has meaning to me, I have great coworkers that I enjoy working with and my boss has become my best friend.
And this was the people that believed in me when I didn’t and they still do!
So, as you can imagine, it is really hard for me to leave this company. But, I’m not gonna lie, many times I feel that desire to try other things. A different sized company/team that would bring me some different challenges and help me to open my horizons.
I hope you get inspired reading Porfírio’s coding journey like I do. Share this with your friends who start out coding, and subscribe the newsletter below.