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Soft skills launched this tech leader’s career

SOURCE: Max Daneshvar
Dedication to his craft is what guided Max Daneshvar's progression from junior web developer to head of engineering.


By Shekinah 

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The world witnesses change every day, with innovation that produces a new generation of employees with new styles of working entering the workforce. The transformations in technology, in particular, have made changes to various industries and business processes. 

Experts in the field of programming are in high demand, as they add value to businesses with their knowledge. According to Forbes, in 2019, nearly 80% of CEOs said they were concerned about the workplace skills gap — up from just 56% in 2011.

The journey to tech leadership can be quick, depending on your passion for the field and your dedication to climbing the ladder with relevant knowledge.

Max Daneshvar is the current Head of Engineering at Lendela, a financial services start-up based in Singapore. 

His passion for computers and technology began when he was a child and that led him to attend Asia Pacific University, where he completed his bachelor’s degree in general computing in 2011. 

Upon graduating with the degree, he was offered a job as a junior web developer for a digital branding agency, 4 Thirteen.

In his two-plus years with 4 Thirteen, Max studied the business models of his clients and developed an understanding of target markets that eventually led him to produce sensible tech solutions.

“Along the way, I learned the many aspects of the business which have ultimately become my strong suit – bridging the gap between technology and business”, he says. 

Max says that the beginning stages are often the scariest, and the learning curve is steep, but just a year after starting his very first job, he received a promotion from junior to a senior web developer. 

Just six months after his first promotion, he was promoted once again, this time to head of IT.

Determined to progress further and seeking a change in scenery, Max went on to work for a newly established company called MindSpace that educated children and adults on various topics including technology.

At the same time, he was also working for Jenerrea Sdn. Bhd. as an IT advisor, building and designing their hybrid applications and training their IT teams through weekly sessions.

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A year later, Max joined a software development company, Kern Technology, which he would later identify as his biggest break. This move allowed him to network in ways that would change his career entirely. 

He then went to work in MoneyMatch, a digital cross-border payment solution that was quick to become a household name both locally and regionally within the fintech industry. 

As a founding member of the company and head of the engineering department, Max led his team and pioneered many fintech solutions; the E-KYC (electronic-know your customer) solution was designed as a fully digital customer service solution and was adopted by large players across several industries. 

Max’s journey is one of perseverance and constant progression that is essential to succeeding in the world of technology.

Today’s up-and-coming programmers need to be prepared to adapt to the ever-changing demands of the 21st-century, and upskilling is the only way to do so.

Speaking to U2B via email, Max expressed that the key qualities and attributes he looks for when hiring a developer include individuals who exhibit optimism, are proactive, curious, ambitious, and also capable of working in teams efficiently.

Max attributes his career progress to these traits. He adds that with the new responsibilities that came with his career growth, there was also the need to develop a whole new set of soft skills. 

Strategic thinking, communication, time management skills, and a growth mindset were crucial in his transition from team member to team leader.

He adds that learning to see the bigger picture and the impact of small changes in the grand scheme of things, as well as the ability to define the problems to find solutions are elements for success. 

“I would also say it has been crucial to growing beyond the tech itself, learning the ‘why’ rather than the ‘how’ has also required me to learn the business that we are building the solution for,” Max adds.

Leading a team, especially in this field also requires the ability to upskill in languages and frameworks that are relevant and needed. 

He says that in tech, the definition of upskilling changes as you grow, earlier stages being about the specific language and technology, then going deeper to understand the fundamentals of it. From there, generalising the knowledge of programming in general. 

“Most important of all, it is always about learning to utilise what we learn to help the business(es) grow. The key is figuring out how to apply the knowledge and that is what I always focus on, no matter where I am on this journey.” 

The knowledge will always be relevant. In the beginning stages of his journey, the first two languages Max learned were VB and Pascal, purely as a hobby.

Today these languages have become the foundation of what he knows today. He is currently working on Node and MongoDB, two new languages in the industry.

Many might wonder if technology leads still need to be hands-on, actually writing code instead of just supervising. Max explains that this depends on the company and where they are in terms of growth. 

Typically start-ups in their earlier stages need a technology leader who is a hands-on programmer. 

“It sets up the right foundation for the rest of the team to follow and build upon,” he says.