What was your background before joining Blueprint?
I grew up in the South Seattle area, and my background has pretty much always involved technology in some way. In high school I had an opportunity to help with computer support for my school, which meant I was able to help fix teachers’ computers. Back then, around 2000, 2001, 2002, it was harder to get somebody who had the chops. So, they built a program for students who were interested in STEM, particularly computer science, including a program focused on network engineering. That got me started in the tech world. Out of high school, I was lucky enough to get a position in the IT department at a fairly big shipping logistics company. That became my funnel into the IT world. I held four different positions and worked there for almost 11 years.
Why did you leave?
It was tough to leave, but I had a really great opportunity to advance my software development career. I moved to work at an agency offering full-service web applications / content management driven solutions. I experienced a lot of accelerated growth there. I would touch all phases of a project while responding to RFPs – all the things that consultant firms tend to do: compete for the work, get the work and then figure out how to deliver on your promises. I made some really great friends and got some good experience there. Throughout my career I also did independent consulting. I worked with nonprofits, educational institutions and Microsoft.
How did you end up at Blueprint?
I was contacted by someone at Blueprint. When you are contacted by recruiters, it can be a lot of the same thing, but there was something that struck me about Binuja and the Blueprint pitch. She talked about the Blueprint culture and what the lifecycle of an engineer was, and that was exciting to me. The idea of working with well-known clients and showcasing your abilities and talents, and then finding your next challenge within Blueprint sounded ideal. It was also very different from what I had been hearing from recruiters who were looking to fill six to eight month contract-to-hire roles, and I wasn’t interested in that. The allure of being able to move to different interesting things within the same firm, I enjoyed that. It played in parallel with my past experience.
What has been your favorite part of working at Blueprint?
We get to work on some really cool cutting-edge stuff involving data. We analyze and compute to visualize and gain insight on large amounts of data. Some of the great things about our engagements are the flexibility and experimentation of being on that cutting edge. Being able to experiment and try different things without worrying about failing – we really are able to fail forward. It is an intended thing. You don’t get to do this type of stuff at other companies.
Music plays a huge role in Florin’s life. Here he is performing in his band Go Periscope in 2011.
What is the coolest thing you’ve done at Blueprint?
The A.B. I. project. That project involved developing a data science driven research workspace for analysts within Microsoft Teams. The app allows users to look up articles using keywords that bring back summarized results augmented by machine learning and natural language processing. It was really exciting breaking ground in the Microsoft ecosystem and building apps directly for Teams, which aligns with Microsoft’s goals right now. It was also really cool to jump in and get something off the ground within a week. One of my value props as an employee is being resourceful and bringing value to a team very quickly, even if it is outside of my comfort zone. That is what I find exciting. So, when I’m asked to do something that I’ve never done, I don’t shy away from those opportunities. They can be a little stressful, but at the end of the day, you see so much growth and, in this case, it has the potential to deliver a really great product. It was a lot of work, but really rewarding.
Florin and his family on a bike ride around Seattle.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I have two little girls, a 4.5-year-old and a 2-year-old. A lot of my time is spent with them. The more time I can disconnect from computers and spend time with them, the better. The other thing I really enjoy is running. I run quite a bit, not as much as I used to, especially now that I have kids. Running helps me unwind, disconnect and focus my eyes on things around me – things that are not on a computer screen. It helps me with pretty much anything. Music has also always been a big part of my life. I was in a band called Go Periscope. We’ve played some amazing shows at many venues around Washington and Seattle. We competed for a Rolling Stone cover, performed live on King5, landed in a Microsoft commercial. I even met my wife through music.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would you take your family and go?
I’d say San Diego, near the beach. We’ve been there twice, and the kids just absolutely love it – it is our paradise. I also love Hawaii, but I think that is better for vacation.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
I find a lot of inspiration from my wife. She is a stay-at-home mom. When you’re off to work, you tend to shut everything off and work. You don’t get to see a lot of the little nuances, especially with the kids. Working from home has given me a whole new appreciation for all the things that she does while keeping her cool and providing education and nutritious food for our kids. There are just so many things you can take for granted – it is not something I grew up knowing, so I take a lot of inspiration from her cooking and healthy lifestyle.
At work I draw bits and pieces from different people. I’ve been inspired by Thomas Hallstrom, for example. His authenticity – I really value and respect authenticity and people telling it like it is. Ryan Neal, too. For him, it is about speaking your mind and then explaining the thought process around your decision making. Some people forget to do that – generally you get people who tell you things without any context and they speak it as fact. Ryan, coming from a law background, understands the need to provide context and justify what he is saying.