Learner stories

Lessons from a Chef turned Deputy CTO

Manuel S., Deputy CTO @ PaxFamilia, Brussels, Belgium

What inspired you to learn to code?

I studied economics at my university, but it was a thing my parents recommended. I really hated it, so I dropped out. Eventually, I went into cooking and was a professional chef for 3–4 years.

My brother is a tour guide, and a tourist did bootcamps. He mentioned this, and it inspired me. That’s when I got the money together to do one. I started Codecademy to prepare for it.

Because I was so new to coding, and because the bootcamp was going to speed through front-end topics like CSS and HTML, I used Codecademy for that.

How has coding impacted your life?

I liked cooking — but I like coding because of the mental challenge.

I’m a deputy CTO, so I don’t just code anymore. I do a lot of communication between different interests in my company — with people who may not have a technical understanding of the codebase, with juniors that are lost, with bigger clients, and stuff like that.

It’s really interesting how tech can touch all these things. Personally, for me, it’s mind-expanding.

I like coding because of the mental challenge.

Describe your dream project.

Neuralink from Elon Musk. I’ve been looking at the careers page for a long time. I like Elon Musk — his message and why he set the company up.

It seems like it would be versatile work, where I’d constantly be learning or becoming multidisciplinary.

Any advice for those who are new to coding?

You need to be patient. I think everybody says this, but there’s no easy pill. You need to be able to fail and not be discouraged by failing.

When you're not working, what do you do for fun?

Mostly, I like socializing because it can be quite intensive to sit working on something logical all day.

You need to balance it out. I did not do that in the beginning. I was all-in on consolidating this career shift, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Now, I have a much more healthy balance. In some ways, that’s made it even better at work because I’m more charged and better able to make decisions.