We’re back for another round of ‘Tech Talks’ to learn more about Director of Engineering, Alessandro Catter-Martinez. The fearless leader of our development team constantly strives to turn great ideas into reality. Join us as we go from past to present, exploring his unique childhood and early aspirations to be a cartoonist to his experiences at globaledit today.
We hear you have quite the international background. Can you tell us about that?
My parents were both born and raised in Peru but eventually met and married in Florida. By the time I was born, they relocated to Burbank, California, where I lived until I was 7. At that point, my parents decided to move back to Peru to live a simpler lifestyle on a family-owned chicken farm. The best school in area happened to be a Japanese international school, so I ended up going there. My childhood was certainly a colorful experience!
So are you tri-lingual?
I used to be trilingual, I’ve lost the ability to speak Japanese. Lack of practice. But at the time I could speak it, read it, and knew two out three alphabets.
Did you see yourself ending up as a techie in TriBeCa?
Actually, no! On the contrary, I used to be quite artistic as a little kid so I wanted to become a cartoon artist. In Burbank, we lived near the Warner Bros. studio so all of the giant movie and TV-show posters made quite the impression on me. With a creative career in mind, I gravitated to computers and CGI. The turning point was when I took a programming class in high school with some friends on a whim. Everything managed to come so naturally, and I easily aced the class. Then and there, I found my calling.
What brought you to New York City?
It was really a mix of the cooler weather and the amazing energy of the city. Despite having lived in places like Peru and Florida, I never got used to 80 degree days, sand getting everywhere, and the humidity. I visited New York City a few times and instantly knew I wanted to live here.
Describe your role as Director of Engineering at globaledit.
Put simply, my role is to lead our team of engineers and ensure that we create software that is user friendly, secure, and top quality. This involves collaborating with the product team to continually brainstorm new features and improvements, from bugfixes to user experience. In many ways, my job is all about turning great ideas into reality.
I started in the summer of 2012, a little over two years ago. When I started, the application and team was a lot smaller. Since then, we’ve internally rebuilt globaledit from the ground up, reshaping it into the industry-leader it is today.
The team has shifted a lot as well. We’re constantly growing so there have been quite a few talented additions. At the same time, we still have our fundamental core of developers—the “tent poles” of our team—who have stuck with globaledit since the very beginning. It’s a great mix that creates a truly collaborative culture. There’s not a lot of weight behind hierarchy or titles, so from testers to engineers we openly share ideas, do monthly hackathons, and go out for drinks after work. It’s a fun environment full of creativity and teamwork that I’m proud to be a part of.
What has been the most challenging aspect of your position thus far?
As I said before, globaledit started out small so we’ve gone through some growing pains. The demand of globaledit surged so we had to focus on improving the hardware that ran the software. It was a big challenge to keep everything running seamlessly while making big infrastructure changes. People depended on globaledit for their day-to-day needs so we couldn’t have any downtime. It was tricky, but we managed to do it in the end.
It’s really mix between the guys I work with and my growing family. It’s really inspiring working with team and bouncing ideas off of each other. Discussing the merits and shortcomings of our ideas leaves a lot of room for growth and development.
At home, I have a 1 year old daughter going on two in February and a new baby coming in January. They’re huge motivators for me, and I want to be a good inspiration for them.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did they teach you?
I would without a doubt say my parents. One way or the other, they both showed love and endless perseverance—especially by uprooting themselves and moving from one place to another several times. It’s not the easiest thing to do, and it showed a lot of courage on their part.
One of my biggest life goals is to be like them and teach my children the same lessons they taught me. Being the best husband and father I can be is my ultimate goal, everything else is tangential.