Soft Skills in Software Development: How Deny Lester is using emotional intelligence to build great technology

When Deny Lester is asked to identify the clearest difference between Canada and his home country Cuba, he always mentions collaboration. “In Cuba, when you work in IT, you do everything related to the software lifecycle,” says Deny. “But in Canada, the industry is much more vast — which allows you to specialize and interact with a number of different teams.”

Deny is a Sr. Application Architect at Stradigi AI, and works with a diverse team of backend developers, front end developers and a project manager. But what makes Deny’s day-to-day at Stradigi AI unique? And what’s it like coming to Canada for work in comparison to his home country, Cuba?

Read on to find out.

1 – What brought you to Canada?

In Canada, the IT world is much more advanced. I studied in Cuba and worked there for six years before coming here to progress my career. I wanted to see what it was like here and experience it for myself. Immediately, I realized IT is different here. If you are an IT professional in Canada, it means you’ll be collaborating with — and learning from — many, many people within the organization.

2 – Did you always want to work in IT as a Software Architect? How does your current job fit with what you envisioned for yourself as a kid?

That’s a funny question, because I actually wanted to be a professional musician or a psychologist. In music, I knew I didn’t want to practice all day every day doing the same exact thing. Then, studying psychology and science in general, I learned my true strength was math and physics.
You’d be surprised at how much these two disciplines coalesce to make me successful: software architecture requires elements of creativity that music fosters, and psychology helps you understand people. I’m never trying to solve the same problem twice, and I spend my spare time playing guitar. The way I see it? I really got the best of both worlds.

3 – How does someone succeed in a role like yours?

The key to success in being an application architect is to understand everyone’s position and be able to paint a global picture of the product. We are at the intersection of research, solutions and business development teams, and we take feedback and shape it into viable products. Our job is to put all of the puzzle pieces together, to create, and to ultimately shape the development of our platform for a way that makes sense to the company and the clients.
I want to emphasize that “understanding” what direction to take isn’t just about analyzing qualitative or quantitative data: it’s about seeing where people are coming from, because when you are building a world-class platform, every single perspective is important. This requires emotional intelligence that allows you to read people and understand their motivations and needs. It’s all about keeping your eye on the greater vision while considering every detail and piece of feedback along the way.

4 – What advice do you have for someone considering a move to Canada for work?

Look for a company that empowers the culture of each individual operates with a clear vision. Canada is full of diversity, but inclusion is necessary in order for every person to truly thrive. There are a lot of companies seeking talented software people right now, but the key to success is finding a place that has built a team encompassing unique perspectives and complementary skill sets. Overall, Canadians value respectful communications. This is one of the most important takeaways from my experiences working in Canada.

5 – Montreal isn’t all-work-no-play! How do you unwind after work?

I play music and baseball! A couple of years ago, I was a coach for a kids baseball team and I loved the experience. Every year, I go back to Cuba to switch the white snow for some white sand.

Want to collaborate with Deny at Stradigi AI? Check out our open positions here.


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