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Checkmate: How strong strategic skills help this software engineer win at work

Gytis is one of the newer members of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure in Lithuania. He joined our engineering hub a little over a year ago, while he was studying for his master’s degree in international business from the Kaunas University of Technology. During his interviews, one thing that really made him stand out was his logical thinking abilities. Of course, this might have something to do with the fact that as well as being a full-time software engineer, Gytis is also a professional chess player; a pastime which takes him all over the world to compete. The similarities between chess and software engineering aren’t lost on Gytis, who strongly believes the two pursuits are closely linked in terms of mental skills.

A game of wits

“Chess is absolutely related to software development; it helps me a lot. I have no problem concentrating on a task for several hours, as I’m used to playing long chess games that normally last anywhere between three and five hours. Sitting in a chair and concentrating for that length of time is exhausting so it requires a lot of brain training to cope with it,” Gytis explains. “It’s also similar in terms of needing to anticipate the future—in both cases I have to predict what the impact of my actions will be, and be careful, as one mistake has the potential to ruin all my work.”

Chess has also taught Gytis the importance of accountability—another attribute that’s essential in software development. “I’m used to taking ownership of my actions. Chess has taught me that it’s always your responsibility when you lose in a game, and you have to accept that. The same thinking helps me when I write code; I know that I alone am responsible for it. There are lots of similarities like that. I’m excited to have the opportunity to train my mind every day as part of my job.”

The interview process

Gytis explains that the interview process for OCI Lithuania was very thorough, which served to highlight the caliber of talent he would be joining. “It was a great experience and a very motivational one. I’ve seen how carefully people are being selected here and I realized that I have been given a wonderful opportunity to join a crew of very talented and ambitious software developers,” he remarks.

“First of all there was a half hour-long phone call with a recruiter. We discussed the projects that I would work on, my skills, experience, and my own thoughts on the projects,” he begins. “Then I had my first interview in the office. It was dedicated to explaining the projects to me and gathering information about my previous job, activities, and general knowledge. Then I was invited to a second interview, which itself consisted of different parts,” he describes.

“First was the live coding session where I had to write a certain program using my chosen language. Then there was a technical interview with my current colleagues. Finally, there was a third part which was not so technical; there were mixed questions regarding my work ethics and situational plays on how I would act in certain situations. It was a free form interview to get to know me and understand my values better,” he continues, “so you can see the level of care they put into picking teams here.”

Building software and making connections

So what does Gytis’ development role involve? “I’m part of the Web Application Firewall team. We’re responsible for improving the security of our customers’ web applications,” he shares. “Our team is helping to enhance security by providing a convenient way for users to adjust the security settings for their websites on their own.”

Although he technically works at a company with thousands of employees, Gytis says the Lithuanian hub has a very close-knit and friendly atmosphere. “It feels like a small family-run business. I’m never afraid to share my insights with my colleagues, make jokes, and exchange interesting stories. Before quarantine, we were constantly having team-building activities. We always have lunch together and everyone is allowed to treat themselves to lots of snacks and tea and coffee,” he adds, “The atmosphere is genuinely great. It helps a lot with our performance to take short breaks from work and enjoy time with colleagues.”

No regrets

Gytis says that, for him, choosing Oracle as an employer was a no-brainer. “Oracle is very well-known all around the world. There aren’t so many world-famous IT companies in Lithuania so it was a great opportunity. I’ve always wanted to work in a place where I could constantly grow both professionally and personally, and Oracle seemed to be the perfect place for that because the projects are both complex and interesting—every week I learn new things,” he shares. “Plus, the focus on work ethics, as well as the emerging technologies that we use, played an important part in my decision making. And I’m very happy with the choice I’ve made,” he says happily.

Gytis observes that there are some notable differences between Oracle and his previous employer, the biggest one being the general attitude towards work priorities. “At Oracle we’re always striving for excellence and that’s why changes are released less often, because they are properly tested and written following the highest standards. This allows us to maintain the standard of quality even in the most complex projects,” he reveals. “What’s more, I feel there are significant cultural differences in that here, we’re given training on things like work ethics, secure coding, and even ergonomics. It’s clear that we’re part of something huge; we have the chance to participate in meetings with hundreds of people, reviewing goals, achievements, and discussing diverse issues. Every team at Oracle gets great results which inspires other teams to do their best.”

The secret to success at Oracle

Gytis says that Oracle does a great job of uniting people from all different places and making them feel like they belong to a singular organism with a common goal: Be successful as an individual and Oracle will be successful as a company. “There are so many internal tools to help us monitor our performance, achieve our goals, and improve our skills. Oracle really motivates its employees to gain as much knowledge as possible. There’s so much training available, from Oracle University to LinkedIn Learning. We’re all encouraged to go to conferences and Oracle reimburses the cost,” he continues, “Managers are also always encouraging us to aim for personal development goals, on top of skills that directly relate to our work.”

Great expectations

What does the future hold for Gytis? He says he plans on staying at Oracle Lithuania. “I see myself staying in our Lithuanian hub long-term. I want to grow my career and start contributing to more external issues and working more closely with other Oracle teams, as right now it’s the more experienced engineers doing that. I look forward to having an even bigger impact on the products that we’re building. I might also be interested in becoming a manager myself,” he anticipates.

Gytis says the career possibilities at Oracle are second to none. “There is so much to achieve here. Even when people are working here for more than ten years, there is always room to grow because the hierarchy is so big, there is always another step up. Everything depends on what each employee personally wants,” he advises. “You’ll improve so much as a software engineer here. The standard for writing code is very high which means you’re always upping your game.”

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