Meet senior front-end engineer Mohammad al Quraian (32).
Mohammad joined The Hyve in December 2018. He specializes in front-end development. At The Hyve, he is involved with the metadata platform Fairspace. Not only does Mohammad like to keep his skills and knowledge up-to-date, he also has an interest in the underlying principles of website and application design.
Here is his story.
Can you tell me about your background?
I did my bachelor’s in Computer Science and Software Engineering at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. After I got my degree, I went back to Saudi Arabia and found a job at NCR Corporation, a big multinational company that provides services, hardware, and devices such as ATMs to the financial sector. I worked there for three years. It was fun and challenging at the same time, but after a while I started looking for something different. The problem for me was that it was not just software development. I spend a lot of time visiting clients and doing operational things that soon became repetitive. I got the idea of working abroad and applied but didn’t have much luck. Then I found another job in Saudi with a start-up company. There I build a mobile application for a big restaurant chain and a web application providing loan services. After I finished these two big projects there wasn’t really much to do, so again I started looking for another place.
How did you join The Hyve?
I found a job post from The Hyve on Stackoverflow, a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. I started looking into the company. It all sounded very interesting: the services and products they provide, the field they work in seemed kind of noble to me, and it’s mostly software oriented. Exactly what I was looking for. So, I got excited about this opportunity and thought: I’m not just going to send in a resume because this is not good enough. Most of the company’s software is open source, so you can easily find and access it. I picked up on RADAR-base, the project that collects patient data via smartphones and wearable devices. I figured that if I could build the project without any help, that would be good. And I managed to do that. I noticed that the build-size of the front-end code was huge. This is what the actual user will download, so if it’s big, it’s going to take longer to download. I played with the configurations, pinpointed the issue, found a fix, and managed to reduce the file size by about 85 percent. I then posted what we call a pull request on GitHub with the changes that would fix the problem and it was accepted. At that point I sent my resume to the office manager at The Hyve and explained what I did to fix the issue in RADAR-base. After that I had 2 online interviews with Harry (CFO The Hyve) where we discussed about my expectations and understanding to see if I would fit in a different culture. I like different cultures, so moving to The Netherlands was actually a positive thing for me. A new experience.
My visa was sorted in two months, much faster than I expected, and I moved here while I’d never been in the Netherlands before.
Which team are you in?
I’m part of the Fairspace team, a new project here at The Hyve. Fairspace is a platform to build a configurable metadata layer on top of the data that you have. The idea is that the platform helps generate, collect, store and share metadata to enhance data discovery and collaboration. The metadata will link to different kinds of databases and datasets. In this way, you can link different systems.
What do you do at The Hyve?
My main work is front-end development, so the things that the user will see eventually. It’s a lot of coding, a lot of debugging, and testing. I also like to focus on the user experience: How can we improve it? How can we make things simpler and improve the user experience?
The Fairspace team is quite small, with only four people at the moment. What I like about a small team is that you’re more focused.
What do you like about your work at The Hyve?
A lot of things. First of all that it’s sort of a small company and focussed on software. The type of work we do is usually scientific or healthcare related. That makes me feel like I’m doing something good, as the work is not just about myself or about the salary. These goals give me extra motivation to do better.
Another thing is that the team is young and multinational. Most of the time you hear colleagues speak English. That’s nice also, as it makes me feel I am part of the group.
There are also several activities that help you get out of your work environment or your work mood. Every Thursday, for instance, we have drinks after work. We chat, maybe play some games. Then there’s a team day, I think once or twice a year. I attended one two months ago. We went to Fort bij Vechten. That was a great experience for me. The fortress itself looks amazing and I was impressed with how well it was maintained. We also did some physical activities. That was a lot of fun and a great way to get to know colleagues better and connect with the team in general. This kind of thing outside of work is always good.
The Hyve's Team day activity
Can you mention exciting developments in your field?
The front-end field is quite huge and diverse. There’s always something new. The main tools right now are Angular and React. I’ve had a lot of experience in Angular. However, since the project I'm working on right now is using React, I can expand my knowledge and exercise a different kind of skills.
What I also like to learn about, is what we call design patterns. These are general approaches to solving problems, independent of the tools or libraries you use. Kind of like recipes to tackle any issue. These design patterns are exciting to me as they don’t change with time.
What do you like to do when out-of-office?
I love the city. Utrecht is very beautiful. One of the things I like to do is either walking or biking along the canals. I try to do that once or twice a week. I also look for events where I can connect with other expats. This way I can do something fun and hopefully I can make new friends. I do some cooking, maybe once or twice a week. And then there is the lazy stuff to kill time, Netflix et cetera.