Meet Christian – Head of Frontend: Insights into a diverse role
In this interview we introduce Christian, Head of Frontend in Düsseldorf, and give you greater insight into his role and his daily work at ecx.io. Our HR Marketing Manager Inga had a virtual meeting with Christian for this. Christian has been with ecx.io since 2011 and has progressed from a PHP developer to a head of frontend.
Inga: Hello Christian. Thank you for telling us more about your role as Head of Frontend at ecx.io. What are your current core tasks as Head of Frontend and what do you particularly like about working at ecx.io?
Christian: Hi Inga. I work as Head of Frontend at ecx.io’s site in Düsseldorf and am responsible for a team of eight colleagues. In my role as Head of Frontend it is part of my job to ensure everyone in my team feels comfortable and is appropriately supported. My main tasks however not only include looking after my team but also constant communication with the heads of frontend at the other sites, e.g. in Austria and Croatia. However, since I still very much enjoy coding, I continue to work on projects as a frontend developer.
Inga: You have been working at ecx.io for almost 10 years now. What makes it so attractive to work as a frontend developer at ecx.io?
Christian: The frontend developer role at ecx.io is very diverse. We use a variety of technologies, for example Linter for coding guidelines, webpack, SCSS/SASS, typescript and various CMS systems and application frameworks such as React, Angular and VUE. Atomic design and accessibility is also an important issue, which brings with it other exciting challenges. I particularly like the continuing education offered by the ecx.io Academy. At the Academy we can offer training courses like as EcmaScript for beginners and Angular, but also seminars for personal development, such as employee leadership and conflict management. We can also share our own expertise and hold training courses for colleagues.
Inga: It’s not very common for a frontend developer to stay with one company for so long is it? How did that come about?
Christian: The opportunities for further development, the team and, in particular, the opportunity to make a contribution are compelling. Here we can help shape our own career paths and develop further, not only in our own roles but also in completely different areas.
Inga: And how has your role at ecx.io changed over the years?
Christian: I joined ecx.io as a PHP developer, then switched to the frontend area and progressed from a junior frontend developer role to a senior one. In the role of senior frontend developer, I often took the lead in projects and began to lead small teams. In 2016 I was offered the role of Head of Frontend. I had never imagined doing that before but, when I was offered the role, I had already gained a lot of experience in team leadership on projects. So I just plucked up the courage and accepted the new job.
Inga: You said there are great opportunities to contribute at ecx.io and that the digital agency thrives on employees being able to implement their own ideas. Do you have a specific example?
Christian: I discovered SCSS around eight years ago. At that time there were fewer people and the process of trying new things was different. I worked on a project that wanted to issue multiple themes and it was necessary to generate a CSS for each of them. Maintaining and fixing multiple themes would have been a nightmare at that time. So I just tried it with SCSS and luckily everything worked out! Since then no project has been created without it.
Inga: That sounds exciting. You mentioned your core tasks to us at the beginning. Perhaps you could give us some deeper insights into your daily work?
Christian: For me there is very little routine in my daily work and every day is very different. I have regular 1:1 discussions with my team of course. Once a week we also have a team meeting, our ‘dev minutes’. I also still work as a project lead or technical architect on projects and regularly coordinate with my project team. As a frontend dev you have a lot of freedom for creativity in projects, e.g. for animations or optimisation proposals according to the design. Aside from that, as Head of Frontend, I deal with organisational matters and induct new employees.
Inga: What else can you tell us about your work or the culture at ecx.io?
Christian: At all ecx.io sites, the frontend area is agile and works according to the Scrum method. This makes the work a lot easier and structures the tasks. Our teams are international, so at work I communicate 50% of the time in English and 50% in German. I also work from home occasionally, which is very convenient for me because of the distance to my workplace. And if something happens at home at short notice, people can usually work from home. My colleagues are also relaxed and always ready to have fun. It is important to me that not only is work enjoyable but also the interaction with my colleagues. If you need help or a second opinion it is always at hand, for example via Slack.
Inga: Would you like to tell us another ‘fun fact’ about yourself? What are you known for in your team?
Christian: I am an avid Coca-Cola fan! It is essential to every day and my colleagues know that. But only from noon, I draw the line at breakfast! If I don’t have one to hand at lunchtime everyone immediately worries whether there’s something wrong with me. I am also known for my passion for taking photos of landscapes with my camera and drone. One of my pictures hangs in my office at home.
A drone picture by Christian – Caleta Marrajo on Fuerteventura