The Humans of smrtPhone
Our “smrtie of the Month” is a padel-playing, bike riding, tech whiz – Petru Gaspar!
Title / Role in the Company
I am the team lead for mobile development. My job is to make sure the smrtPhone iOS and Android mobile apps are always up-to-date and working well. We are always striving to improve by adding new features – both those related to smrtPhone products but also new features available from the operating systems of the mobile devices. It’s my job to stay up to speed with all new opportunities and ensure there are no interruptions or hiccups to the user experience as we implement them.
How long have you worked for smrtPhone?
I have been here since smrtPhone launched the very first mobile app – version 1 – in late 2019. We launched only on iPhones at first, and we added Android further down the road. I’ve supervised the whole process along the way.
What’s your background?
My background is in technology, graduated the Faculty of Economic Cybernetics, Statistics and Informatics in Bucharest and I have a master degree in Project Management. During my second year of study I got a job writing scripts and continued on with technology. I had many jobs in QA, automation, development, and so on. Finally, in 2014 I switched to starting my own business and learning iOS on the mobile side. I spent about 4-5 years doing mobile development before joining smrtPhone in 2019.
On a day-to-day basis, I manage all the development, but I am still actively coding in iOS as well. It’s a nice break from the meetings. I love it and also it’s very helpful to remain involved with the latest trends so I can decide the best strategy.
Very often Apple and Google change things in regards to how apps work on their devices. We need to keep track of the changes and see how they impact us. On top of that there are new programming language released about every 5 years. When you have an existing app with thousands of users that depend on us, you don’t want to be an early adopter. You want to have the most stable version, so you let other people test them first. But, we also don’t want to wait too long to make sure we can take full advantage of any new features and benefits of the new programming languages. It is a balance.
What was your first job?
My first job was working for a large corporation named Ipsos Interactive Services in 2007. A global leader in market research, I was working on the development team as a script writer. In Romania, it is not as common as in the U.S. to have a side hustle or job as you’re growing up. The most common path is to get a job during or after you finish with your studies.
What do you like about working for smrtPhone?
It’s definitely the people at smrtPhone that I like the most. It’s a real culture of enthusiasm. Everyone is feeling good, and you can see it in how they behave. Everyone comes to work with pleasure, is friendly and helpful.
Also, I like that there is open communication within the company. No one is afraid to speak their mind, or speak up if something is not working well. It’s a big difference than with larger companies where they might not even know your name, just your department. It’s less personal. The difference is huge. At smrtPhone, each person is treated like a human, like an individual. You are seen.
Describe smrtPhone in 3 words:
Helpful. Everyone is trying to help – help customers, help each other. If you have issues, the QA team, the Support team, the developers, everyone is helpful.
Fast. It has grown really nicely. Things move with a certain speed inside of smrtPhone. Compared with large companies, we iterate fast on new features and grow the product quickly.
Dedicated. Everyone puts heart into their work. Everyone is loyal, hardworking, and dedicated to the company and its success.
Is there a particular moment/project at smrtPhone that stands out and makes you feel proud?
I feel seeing the company grow as a whole has been a wonderful journey.
And, of course, launching the very first smrtPhone mobile app was a proud moment. But also every time we iterate it. Now, it’s a much more stable version and we’re in a better place. Seeing it grow and evolve and get better over the years – that’s the entire moment for me.
What do you like to do in your free time?
In my free time, I am mostly focused on fitness and staying in shape. I love running. I’ve run a few marathons.
I like playing Padel which is like a combination of tennis and squash. It’s played in teams, in a court with walls, with paddle rackets. You can play off the walls like squash, but it has a net like tennis. You have to use mental physics to calculate the speed, and angles, and where you think it will bounce. It engages your mind and your body.
Name something that is on your “bucket list”
This is pretty easy: I’ve had a dream since high school of going to Bora Bora. It has been a long-term item on my bucket list. Once, in high school, I saw an image of it and I thought, “no way this place is real.” I have wanted to go there ever since. Hopefully I can check it off my list next year. All of my high school and college friends – they all know my obsession – so I’m going to send them each postcards.
What is a fun fact people might not know about you?
I never learned how to ride a bike until I was 30. My friends gifted me a bike on my 30th birthday, and it came with a challenge. We were going to do a trip from Bucharest to the seaside in 2 days. That’s 175 miles (280km) and I had never ridden ever before. So I started training a lot and two months later, we started off. I fell a few times, but I made it to the destination. It was a really cool experience. We took the train back. One way was enough, that first time. But we repeated the journey the next year too. However, I don’t think I’ve ridden my bike in a couple of years since then!