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Life @ Descope

Meet a Descoper: Developer Chat With Asaf Shen

Meet a Descoper: Asaf Shen thumbnail

Welcome to Meet a Descoper! This interview series shines a spotlight on app builders – whether they are Descope employees, community members, or users of our service. In these chats, Descopers chronicle their daily work, highlight stuff they are proud of, and share advice for folks wishing to pursue similar careers.

Today, we’re delighted to talk with self-professed Lorem Ipsum Engineer Asaf Shen. Asaf spoke to us about the randomness of job titles, doing your best, and being very serious about not taking yourself too seriously. Over to you, Asaf!

How I got here

Meet Asaf photo

Q. To start off, can you tell us something about yourself?

Hi, I’m Asaf and I’m here not to take myself too seriously! I’m 36 years old and live in Tel Aviv, although I’m originally from a small village in the north of Israel. I love what I do and try to approach things with passion. I am stimulated by solving problems, automating anything that detracts from the human experience, and doing what I can to meet the world’s needs. 

Q. Why did you decide to become a developer?

I don’t even put myself strictly in the developer bucket! At every company I’ve worked at, I see my goal as solving problems and doing whatever possible in my power to help the company meet its stated mission and objectives.

To more faithfully answer your question – I had a hunch around 15 years ago while selecting what to study at university that being a developer would bring me the closest to fulfilling my potential. Honestly, the hunch was all I had to go on at first, but I soon discovered that I actually loved doing everything a developer does. I’m lucky that it has worked out. 

Q. Why did you join Descope?

While choosing a place to spend my days, I usually look for three things:

  • Is there a big challenge?

  • Is there a good chance to succeed in meeting the challenge?

  • Will I enjoy being with the people I am shoulder-to-shoulder with?

At Descope, the answer to all three is a resounding yes! It’s especially a privilege to work with this amazing group of people.

Day in the life

Meet Asaf photo 2

Q. Why do you call yourself a “Lorem Ipsum Engineer”?

Ha, one of the many advantages of working at a startup is that you can make up your job titles! For those unfamiliar with Lorem Ipsum, it’s placeholder text that’s used before the final content is ready. Calling myself that is my attempt to highlight the randomness in everything – job titles, the daily work at early-stage companies, and life in general.

It also relates to what I said earlier about not really thinking of myself strictly as a developer. If my job is to solve problems and the problems can randomly appear out of anywhere, then Lorem Ipsum is an apt moniker, don’t you think?

Q. What’s your favorite part of your day-to-day work as a developer?

I like the dynamic nature of the day-to-day work here. I could be writing code one day, speaking to customers the next, and tackling some performance challenges the next. It’s very diverse work that keeps me on my toes mentally.

Another thing I like as much if not more is the collaborative nature of work. Dev teams that are working towards a shared goal need to always be communicating, debating, having healthy conflicts, and trusting each other to move in the same general direction even when we don’t agree exactly on the exact approach sometimes.  

Q. What’s one piece of work you are most proud of?

I’m going to throw a curveball here and mention something not related to work at all. I’m most proud of something me and a few friends created for Midburn. We created a huge freestanding display of a pyramid with a piano keyboard inside, where the lights in the pyramid changed as you played the keyboard. 

It was a short and high-intensity project with unforeseen surprises along the way, but we were really happy with the end result. I also ended up heavily damaging my keyboard by the time we got back from Midburn, so this answer is partly me paying tribute to its spirit!

Asaf Midburn image
A musical Midburn

Q. What do you do to unwind from work?

When you love what you do, you don’t really feel the need to unwind from work because work doesn’t wind you up. That said, I love frisbee and any other sport that pushes my adrenaline and serotonin up. 

I’m also a big space enthusiast and love looking at the stars – going back to Lorem Ipsum, there’s nothing like space to make you realize about the randomness of everything.  

Looking back

Q. What’s something you wished you knew when you started your career?

The thing I’d emphasize to my past self is to stick with the people. Give more weight to the people you work with rather than other factors. Another thing – at the risk of repeating myself – is not to take myself too seriously. Having this mindset is freeing and enables me to do my best work.

Q. What advice do you have for developers who are just starting their journey?

Three pieces of advice come to mind. Firstly, go out of your comfort zone. I guarantee that’s where you will learn the most and get closer to being the best version of yourself. 

Next, always do your best, as obvious as that sounds. Try not to have any regrets about a path you didn’t take, a thing you didn’t do, or a thing you wish you had done differently. 

Lastly, and probably most importantly, only learn FORTRAN. Everything else is garbage 🙂

Q. Anything else you’d like to share that we haven’t asked you already?

ruby -e width,height=$COLUMNS,$LINES'
print "\e[46m"
print "\e[#{height/2};#{width/2}H"
length = 0
10.times do
  length.times { print " ";         sleep 0.1 }; length += 1
  length.times { print " \e[D\e[A"; sleep 0.1 }; length += 1
  length.times { print " \e[2D";    sleep 0.1 }; length += 1
  length.times { print " \e[D\e[B"; sleep 0.1 }; length += 1

We hope you enjoyed getting to know Asaf a little better. For more developer chats, you can subscribe to our blog or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.