Next up in our series of interviews is Alexandra, presently Product Owner of CaptainForm, 123FormBuilder’s dedicated plugin for WordPress and of 123FormBuilder, our dedicated app for Salesforce. She is actually the first employee of 123FormBuilder so you can imagine that she has lots of insights and cool memories to share. Let’s get right into it.
Name: Alexandra Draghici
Official title: Product Owner
Current job openings in this department: Senior Web Developer
So let’s start by going back in time. As a kid, what did little Alexandra dream she’d become?
A nurse. Afterwards, a truck driver and a journalist 🙂
You started as an English teacher, worked as a freelance web designer for a while, how did you get to apply for a position at a startup company?
I didn’t “apply” in the standard way. I was 20, in a period when I was taking up anything that came my way, just being curious to see what is out there. I took an internship at the Software Business Incubator in our home town, Timisoara, but did it mostly by accident. One year later, Radu Ticiu, the director of the incubator, put me in contact with Florin and Tudor, our cofounders. They were looking for someone to write on their blog.
Do you remember what you were wearing at the interview?
Nope, I don’t. And the interview wasn’t a classic one either 🙂 The guys invited me for a coffee at a business cafe. When we met, they asked – probably out of politeness – if I wanted to go somewhere else. And I said “Yes, sure! There is a nice place just across the street.” The nice place across the street was anything but business, with small tables in a garden, hammocks and relaxed college students. On top of that, Florin had to wait for about half an hour to get my lemonade. It was a bad “interview”, so to speak.
Back then, did you imagine even for a second that 6 years later you would be here, doing what you are doing today?
I probably didn’t even know that my current job existed. As a high school and college student, I was afraid to choose a specific profession because I thought that was restrictive. So I just went with the flow, but always invested myself into anything I was doing. When I met Florin and Tudor, what I knew was that I wanted to work in IT, at least for a while, and that I wanted to get to experience people, scenarios, cultures. Consciously, I’ve never pursued this dream actively, but it seems that it came true.
Is there something you would change in these 6 years if you could?
I wouldn’t change things. There were always ups and downs, but the downs made us the people we are today. Of course, we are far from perfect today as well. But, as they say, it’s the journey that matters. And, since our products are successful, it means we’re doing some things right 🙂
How would you describe your first day working at 123FormBuilder?
I worked from home and found out that I was going to test the new design of the platform. It wasn’t what I had signed up for 🙂 It was better. And, somehow, that set a trend for everything that was to come. I used to change roles often, like people usually do in a startup. And I am so thankful for everything I got to learn along the way.
What is it like to work for a form building company?
Very diverse. We are constantly trying to educate our users, our potential users, our partners and, why not, our future employees in this respect. Forms are not limited to the classic set of three inputs joined by a submit button, which can be built with some basic PHP knowledge. Our platform is designed to accommodate any data collection and data manipulation needs.
More recently, we are focusing on business process automation. It sounds vague, but just in a few words, it refers to automating internal processes, HR processes, complex lead generation, patient management in the medical field and many other types of collaborative workflows. We have clients with very specific business models who use our forms at each step and integrate them with other services, like Salesforce.
One of our latest features is a connector that allows forms to self-customize based on what the user has in his own database. So you could say we are moving towards AI.
You’re now running your own team as a Product Owner. Can you tell our readers more about this experience? What is a typical workday like for you?
About the experience, it is a very rewarding one. I love working with my colleagues, building cool stuff together, progressing side by side and being there for each other. I also think highly of our users, who give us the chance to grow even faster and who make things even more challenging through their specific needs, that we try to understand and address accordingly.
About the typical workday, I thought there was one, but now I’m not so sure anymore. There are different types of meetings (yes, we try to keep them as short as possible, but they are needed, either internal or with our clients or partners), there is data analysis, planning, process management, email communication and there are conferences. These can come in any combination.
What is the greatest lesson learned in the company?
I’m not sure if I can think of the most relevant one right now, but one of them is that every issue has a solution. You just need to discuss it 🙂
How would you define success?
Going to sleep content at night. To me, that’s when you know that your product is healthy and your users are happy. And, nevertheless, that your team is satisfied with their work.
What’s your funniest 123FormBuilder memory?
There are too many to remember. A recent one is when I booked the hotel for a Salesforce conference in London this spring. London is such an expensive city and I tried to find a decent place that was less expensive. Florin and me ended up sleeping in a wild-westish hotel, with the railway at literally 30 feet from our windows and trains passing by every minute. Florin said the hotel made it at the top of his worst hotels ever. So at least I broke a record.. 🙂
What advice would you give a new hire considering to join your team?
I would be tempted to refer to our interesting tasks, good people and great environment for personal growth. But then I think I firstly need to mention how it’s not “work hard, party harder” in our company. We do party hard, but only if our work is good. So if you want to join us, you need to be smart, focused and an honest team player.
We’ll soon be back with another featured interview. Until then, feel free to ask Alexandra or us any questions in the comments section below.