AdaCore Blog

Engineering Abroad: My Global Career Journey

by Charis Fisher , Cléa Mendelewski

Software development has become one of the world’s most sought after career paths. There are now more than 26 million developers worldwide. Software engineers get to exercise their talent for problem-solving by working on different coding challenges every day and can expand their skills by learning new languages, tools and technologies.

AdaCore’s software engineers are based worldwide including in our offices in the USA, France, UK, Estonia and Germany. Being part of a global company brings many opportunities for mobility and international collaboration for our team.

We spoke to Nicolas Setton, our Head of User Experience, who has experienced working in multiple different AdaCore offices over his 20+ year engineering career. Read on to find out more about Nicolas’ career at AdaCore and what it’s like to work across two different continents.

Before joining AdaCore, where did you study?

I studied at Télécom Paris, an engineering school which, at that time, was in the center of Paris. It’s a Grande Ecole - part of the ParisTech family of Grande Ecoles.

My project supervisor, who knew AdaCore, pushed me to apply for an internship. And that’s how I learned about the company.

How did your career develop at AdaCore?

My goal was to go abroad for my internship, preferably to the USA. I met with AdaCore’s senior tech leaders Cyrille and Arnaud and asked if I could intern at the AdaCore office in New York City and it turned out that they actually had an internship opportunity for me in California.

During my internship, I had the best time of my life! For the first time, I was earning a proper salary, I had my own car and I loved that the culture in California was really all about freedom.

In the early days of AdaCore, it felt like a startup. There were only 25 people worldwide when I joined and in California, it was just the three of us working from someone's house. There, I worked on GtkAda, which could be used to provide modern GUIs to Ada applications, and an interactive debugger, and was the predecessor to GNAT Studio. Ironically, I was working with a team based in Paris but remotely from California. I then came back to France at the end of my internship to finish my diploma.

Once I had my diploma, I applied for a full-time job at AdaCore and worked in the Paris office until 2013. Very soon, I became involved in many different projects. I worked on the initial port of the GNAT compiler to PowerPC Mac and on the GDB debugger. I also started an internal QA platform called Gaia. I was also interested in system administration - this was a time when IT work was shared amongst volunteers. And I continued working on the graphical interfaces.

Where did your work at AdaCore take you after your stint at the Paris office?

I always wanted to live abroad, so I asked whether AdaCore could sponsor me to do that. They said yes and I was able to move to New York. I was doing the same kind of work there, but by then I had more responsibilities - I was in charge of the IDE (Integrated Development Environment) team.

In 2019, AdaCore created the UK office and I was asked to be the Principal Engineer. I said yes - this was another exciting adventure. I’m very glad to have spent 7 years of my career in the US and I like it here in the UK too. We still have a small team in our UK office in Bristol, so it’s kept some of that startup atmosphere I experienced when I first joined the company.

Can you tell us more about your current role?

From our UK office, I'm now leading the global User Experience (UX) unit, overseeing several engineering teams dedicated to enhancing developer experience. This includes our IDE, naturally, and also our builder technology, along with customer support. We've just established two new teams within this unit: one focused on enhancing the experience for DevOps customers, and another dedicated to driving innovation in AI technologies.

As part of our company strategy, we foresaw a surge in customer demand for DevOps. We've evolved into a trusted partner for our customers, who are counting on us to support much more than simply the compiler and tools - many of our clients seek assistance with modern DevOps practices, and our dedicated DevOps team is here to help, driving product enhancements and fielding DevOps-related questions and development contracts.

We're just scratching the surface with our AI team, recognizing its potential as a paradigm shift. Our aim is to stay ahead of the curve by developing our in-house expertise to capitalize on the opportunities and mitigate potential risks. Our goal is twofold: to empower our customers with new capabilities driven by AI in our products and services, and to benefit from similar capabilities internally. Currently, our team is building AI capabilities through internal proof-of-concept initiatives. We're gearing up to participate in research projects, advancing the state-of-the-art in using AI for code correctness.

What do you value most about working at AdaCore?

Working with fun and brilliant colleagues has to be top of the list!

I’m quite privileged. I’ve enjoyed a lot of freedom in determining my career path. I was always supported in making changes, and I’m very happy that I got to have so many roles and try so many things.

There's always an opportunity to experience new technologies and learn new skills. I've moved from compiler work to IDE, then to QA, some SaaS work, then led some cross-team projects like the deployment of GitLab, and now looking into machine learning - never a dull moment!

I've also had a chance throughout my career to contribute to product strategy at AdaCore. The engineers here have a voice and get the opportunity to share their ideas regarding strategy.

I have also been able to experience different countries and cultures. This was also something that I personally wanted to get the chance to do in my life, so I’m very grateful for that.

How would you describe the culture at AdaCore?

The culture here is part of the reason I like working here. We have so many great people here who are enthusiastic about what they do and are really generous with their time in helping others. It’s definitely a collaborative environment, particularly within the engineering team.

We have a lot of flexibility here, and there’s a high level of trust in us to get things done. We’re definitely judged based on the quality of our work rather than the hours clocked in.

What would you say to an engineer interested in joining AdaCore?

Our Engineering team thrives on coding and problem-solving, and we love working with people who share that excitement. Engineers working here are given the support and autonomy to truly master their environment.

If you’re joining AdaCore, get ready to experience a range of technologies! There are many new tools and software we’ve added to AdaCore’s product line since I joined, including software for Rust, static analysis and formal methods. Here, you have the opportunity to pursue your interests and get involved with different projects you want to work on. You’re not expected to fit into a box or only work on one type of technology. I like that every day is a bit different.

Posted in #Engineering Careers   

About Charis Fisher

Charis Fisher

Charis Fisher is Marketing Engagement Executive at AdaCore. With a Master's in Translation and Editing, Charis has now been specialising in marketing for software, AI and technology businesses for over 7 years.

About Cléa Mendelewski

Cléa Mendelewski

Cléa Mendelewski holds a Master Degree in HR and Strategic & Change Management. She joined AdaCore as an HR Generalist in September 2021 following 7+ years' experience in HR and Talent Acquisition in the construction industry. She is now HR Manager at AdaCore.