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Victor Rentea: How to become a Java Champion and one of the most wanted Java trainers worldwide

October 9, 2022

He is known worldwide as Victor Rentea, Java Champion, and one of the best professionals when it comes to trainings on Java. When he was just a child, he wanted to become an architect. Now, he is delivering trainings on Clean Architecture. The thing is that, when he was in the 7th grade, his father took him to some IT classes at the Children Palace in Bucharest and he simply felt in love with this domain. He played at that computer until his eyes rolled out of his head, and he just wanted to keep on doing that. In high school, he had a very cool IT teacher who increased his passion for IT, and then he went to the Automation and Computers Faculty. So, his destiny was pretty much decided. And that is how he ended up working in IT, just like his big brother. The difference is that Victor is now a trainer and a Java Champion, being a true inspiration to the Java Developers worldwide.  

For more than a year, Victor is delivering Java trainings within CGM Software Romania, so we decided that it is time to take him an interview and share with you the precious information that he is offering us. With a doctorate in eHealth and a wife that is a doctor, Victor really appreciates what we do and how we do it. But we will let him tell you more about this.  

„For one hour of training, I prepare for 20 hours”

 

Victor, from all the languages in the world, why did you choose Java?

Well, you will laugh for sure. The reason is that I couldn`t stand C++. I felt disgusted by it from the very beginning. I discovered Java during faculty classes, even though I can`t say that it was the best Java course in my life. So that you understand how things work at faculty – when I went for my first job interview, I thought that I was going for a Java developer position. Only after two weeks I found out that what I was doing was JavaScript and the two of them were two different completely things.  

Leaving that period aside, I love Java because it is more challenging and riskier. You can make bigger mistakes when you work in Java, so I like when things are challenging me.  

 

What was the moment when you went from a developer to a trainer?

I had two jobs before launching myself as a trainer. At my first job, I stayed 5 years and at my second one I stayed for 7 years. The second one, at IBM, was the one who formed me also as a trainer. Because, as you know, big firms, such as CGM, give the employees the chance to deliver and to participate in lots of trainings. So, I really took advantage of this chance and I`ve created my career path in this direction.  

I loved being a trainer from the very beginning, but I wasn`t sure that I will succeed. After 80 internal trainings, all the certifications that I needed, many years of practice and many requests from external people, I became a freelance trainer and started to deliver trainings to other companies.  

I strongly believe that there is no better way to understand something than to explain it to someone else. And this is what trainings is all about.  

 

What are the most important lessons that you learned as a trainer?

  1. Don`t be afraid to embarrass yourself. Ask questions and admit when you don`t know something;
  2. Make sure to always be closer to the participants;
  3. Don`t put yourself on top of the participants;  
  4. Respect their time and their experience;
  5. Prepare. Prepare. Prepare. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. For one hour of training, I prepare 20 hours. Because if you read from the slides, people will no longer trust you and they will hesitate to get involved in your training;
  6. Make entertainment. Give them bread and cirque and keep them well-entertained.  

 

„Never go into a company just for the money, because you will never excel”

 

There are so many people out there looking at you with admiration and respect, who are probably thinking of becoming, as well, a Java Champion. What does it take to become a Java Champion, Victor?

Java Champion is an entitling that you receive if you are already inside the community, you participate in conferences and you get involved. Basically, you become a Java Champion when you bring benefits to the Java ecosystem – you write books, you write articles, you deliver courses, you speak at the conferences, and you form communities. It means to give. And if you are an employee that doesn`t give anything, you cannot become a Java Champion.

And, by the way, it doesn`t mean that I know Java better than the others. No way. I met a lot of people, at CGM included, who are better at Java than me.  

 

What are your recommendations for the people who are at the beginning of their career, wishing to become a Java Champion at some point?

My first recommendation is not to wish to become a Java Champion. You must aim, first of all, to help the others. Happiness is not about money or an entitling like Java Champion, especially that this activity can be extremely burning out. And if you really want to become a Java Champion, look at the people around you and help them grow.

But I think that the most important thing is to do whatever you like, depending on the time of your life. If you want to learn more and more, go into a start-up. If you want to make babies, go into the public system. But never go into a company just for the money, because you will never excel.

 

You`ve been in several communities over the years and you formed the Software Craftsmanship Community. What`s the story behind it and what is actually the role of the communities for people`s development?

First of all, there is Bucharest Java User Group, the biggest community of the Java developers in Romania. I started there and I organized for them some of the biggest onsite events on some important topics that really hurt.  

Then, I started my own community - Software Craftsmanship Community. It has over 4000 members nowadays and it is the second largest community in the world on the Clean Code topic. I started it in October 2018, so 4 years ago, and, at first, we were discussing only about books. I am not a big reader, so I admit that my goal was a little bit selfish. Because I believe that the best way to learn is by „fighting” with someone and debating different topics. And the role of a community is to stimulate people to understand that there are others who are passionate about extra-activities, who are motivating and inspiring you to do more.  

 

„I always remind people how fun it is to code”

 

By the way, what motivates you and what inspires you to continue what you are doing?

People that are smarter than me. At my trainings, I have participants who are extremely smart and interesting. Like the people that I had at CGM, for example. Usually, 2/3 of the people, in general, don`t speak during the trainings. At CGM, 2/3 of the people were talking, debating and they were really involved in the training.  

And I am inspired by the fact that I always remind people how fun it is to code, and they click on that.  

 

Speaking of CGM, you started working with us a year and a half ago and it seems that we will continue working together a lot. We know what we like about you, but what is it that you like about us?

Yes, I started working with CGM in January 2021. I love the easiness that CGMers have in throwing heavy ideas into a conversation. It is a sign that those ideas are well analyzed and that those people have quite an experience.  

I also love the area that you work in – eHealth. Yes, you fight with an ugly code, but you do it for a noble goal. And I know how amazing and how important eHealth is, because I have a doctorate in eHealth, and my wife is a doctor, so, yes, I understand the benefits of the digitalization of health. eHealth is an impact domain, and you have decades of developing. Basically, it is the best that you can do in IT.

Oh, and one more thing I really like about you is that you use the newest programming languages and features. I mean, you use Kotlin, my favorite programming language. It just raises the level of developers, because one year in Kotlin is like seven years in Java.  

 

„CGM has already proven that it is the best and it has all my respect”

Clean Architecture Workshop by Victor Rentea at CGM Software Romania

When it comes to the health system in Germany, we are proud to say that we are creating most of the German eHealth applications. What do you think about the fact that more than 200 people in Iași are creating software solutions for the medical market in Germany?

I think it is simply remarkable. Especially that it is a heavy domain, that implies a lot of GDPR, protection and so on. And I know that you even have in house projects. So, if the German people have trust in you, it means that you have already proven that you are the best and you have all my respect.  

 

The most recent workshop that you delivered for CGM was about Clean Architecture. What have the CGMers learned during this workshop?

Well, the participants were people who, at some point, were responsible for at least one development of a feature or a complicated application. People who had a heavy word to say in the design of an application.  

They learned about the fact that Architecture is not about the answers, but about asking the right questions. It is about understanding the benefits and the costs. It is about lifting your head from the office from time to time and asking yourself what is going on here. It is about always questioning what is happening. And it is about making the architecture as useful as it can be. Because if you can`t find two pluses and two minuses on two options, it means that there isn`t enough.  

 

„Always choose the people and the right environment over the money”

 

Victor, what does Architecture mean to you and how does a success model for a project looks like in your opinion?

Architecture means a person that you can ask anytime a question. The Architect is always available for people, taking care of them. The Architect has enough experience to know where not to let you go. A success model is about these kinds of people and, of course, about volume, time, programming language and so on. And you have in your company people like that, good Architects. I know, because I saw them at my trainings.

 

I know that you have a busy schedule and that you must run now to take Ema, your beautiful daughter, to her dance classes, so we are preparing to end our discussion for now. But I cannot let you leave before kindly asking you to do a little exercise: if you could give a piece of advice to the young Victor, the one who is just starting now his career, what would you say to him? I think it would be a good exercise also for the juniors reading this interview.

  • Write as much code as you can, no matter the programming language;
  • Write whatever you like, because time never gets back. Take advantage of the fact that you are young, free and not having yet a family;
  • Take certifications, take courses, go to IT schools and all kind of trainings. Learn as much as you can;
  • Surround yourself with people who are better and smarter than you. Make sure that you are the one who is learning all the time;
  • Stay as much as you can in a company and learn as much as you can;
  • Don`t choose to go to another company only for money. Money won`t teach you what a good community will. Always choose the people and the right environment over the money.  

 

 

We are surely choosing the right people, just like we chose Victor as our Java trainer, and just like we choose each and every one of our amazing CGMers. Because we love to work together in this cool continuous developing environment, bringing our contribution to the world by digitalization the health systems worldwide.  

So, if you want to find out more about Victor Rentea, read his website and follow him on his social media accounts. And, of course, if you want to join us in this great eHealth revolution that we started, follow us on LinkedIn, where you can always give as a sign.  

 

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