B. Chauvin Meet Bertrand Chauvin

Meet Bertrand Chauvin, the new training instructor at Nuxeo! Bertrand is in charge of the entire training program, from course design to materials to delivery. He has already made some valuable contributions to our documentation.

You haven’t always been working in IT. In fact, you have a very interesting background. Can you tell me more about it?

It’s true that I don’t have a typical background for someone working at a software company. My studies were in hospitality and tourism, but I didn’t work in that domain for very long, actually. I did that for 4 years. I spent 6 months as porter because at the same time I was working on another project with a concierge friend to create a website. But unfortunately, the project stopped because we didn’t have enough money. And since this did not work out, I needed a full-time job. So I found a job as a night concierge for 3 1/2 years. I was working at night to satisfy every thinkable/possible desire of very rich customers. (That sounds weird when put this way.)

Did you have time to code at night? That would be the best of both worlds :D

You could do that as night concierge in a regular hotel. Where I was working we had mostly American customers, 80 to 90%. So with the time difference, when it was midnight here, for them it was maybe 6pm. So they were just getting back home, which means that when you sent them an email they would answer in the next 10 minutes. So I spent my nights talking with customers, preparing their travel, etc… And I also had to take care of the customers who were at the hotel, who sometimes were asking for weird stuff :D

What’s the weirdest request you ever had?

On year on July 14, Bastille Day, a national holiday in France, someone came to the lobby around 11 pm. And he put this huge suitcase on my desk. And he says, “Do you see this?” Obviously I could not not see it. And he goes on: “Well you see, this is not my suitcase.” And I was like “Hmm, yes, so?” The problem was that he had a meeting at 9am the next day, and all his very important papers were in his suitcase. So we had to find his suitcase. And you know it’s really hard to find somebody working at 11pm on Bastille Day in France! So I had to find a different solution. I finally managed to get someone on the phone, sent my customer there and they gave him back his suitcase.

So when did you go from this to IT?

Well I’ve always been interested in computers — this has always been a passion of mine. I really moved forward when I got bored with being a night concierge for 3 1/2 years. I decided it might be time to do something different. I did not know why at the time, I just wanted some change. But I really had no idea what to do. I could go abroad, or I could find another job, I really didn’t know. And I happened to find an ad in the Hospitality newspaper which said they were looking for software trainers in the Hospitality sector.

I thought, this is exactly what I want. So I went there and got hired and did this job for 5 1/2 years. I spent every week doing installations, configuration, and training in different customers’ hotels.

And then you ended up at Nuxeo.

I was getting bored at my job — it became too easy. [laughs] I wanted to challenge myself a little more! Actually I wanted something a bit more technical, something different than Hospitality. Something where I really have something new to learn. I was really looking for something more challenging technically. So I saw this ad on LinkedIn. And what I really liked was the fact that Nuxeo was Open Source, that it was an actual software vendor. Which meant I could see customers in different domains, not just in the Hospitality sector.

Even if it’s always ECM, it’s never exactly the same for different customers.

And technically there is so much to learn. It’s always evolving, so you are never done learning.

And now you’re our new trainer. :) This means you had to be trained first, obviously. How did that go?

Well I started working on Nuxeo before actually working for Nuxeo. Because at the time I applied for this position — and even before, because I don’t apply for jobs randomly — I needed to know more about the company, the product, the business etc. So I tested the platform and found it was really good. And I have read a lot of documentation — a lot. And I started working on it myself. Then, Alain gave me some exercises and guided me.

You can get to a very good understanding of the product, just by reading the documentation. You just need to take the time to read it, because there is a lot of documentation. It won’t give you the keys directly to your very own problem, but it will guide you. Because the platform is so modular, there are many different ways of doing things. You just can’t master everything, every concept, in two hours. You have to read a lot, to practice, do exercises, and then go back to your own problem.

You don’t have a big coding background. Does this make it hard to deliver Studio training courses?

Well, I’ve worked with HTML, JavaScript, and PHP in the past. So, I do have a coding background. But honestly there is really no trouble using Nuxeo Studio when you don’t know how to code. It’s a tool that really guides you. It’s not like you find yourself in front of an empty file in an editor with the source code of the program. It’s true that if you don’t understand the context, and the business, you can turn around in circles for a while before actually understanding where you want to go and how to get there. But once you understand some simple elements — and again, you have to read the documentation — but once you do that, Studio becomes really clear. You know what to do and how. And then you can simply try. Some things may not be really intuitive, but in the end, you’ll manage to go where you want without necessarily having a strong coding or technical background.

In the future, would you like to learn how to code in Java?

Actually, I have already started with the help of Benjamin. He’s helping me improve from a pure technical point, by coding in Java like our developers do, like real hardcore developers m/ . But it’s not going to happen tomorrow :)

Usually slide decks are made with Keynote or PowerPoint. You know, normal people’s tools. But our training slide deck is built using HTML CSS and JavaScript, and it’s versioned with Git. How do you feel about this? Not too nerdy?

My training slide deck at my previous job was made with Word. So it’s a change! But it’s ok because I already knew HTML, CSS and JavaScript. I wasn’t too scared. Except for the Git part. I was a bit nervous about my first commit :) “Am I breaking anything?” Git was brand new to me, and Markdown also. So I was using a GUI for Git, to decrease the risk of doing something stupid, and to avoid obscure command line, because I already had a lot of new stuff to take in. I have learned to take one step at a time — even baby steps.

One day I found out that I had already modified every training slide and that all my changes were in the master branch. And the next Monday, Antoine was giving a 1-week training course, with the in-progress slides! Thankfully I was done by Friday. But I realized that yes, there is some stuff to learn on Git.

What do you do at Nuxeo when you are not delivering training courses somewhere?

So when I’m not giving training courses, I work on the slides to enhance them and to maintain them, because things are moving rapidly, you know. And everyone has ideas for making improvements. I also do some consulting, to help customers use Studio and help them with their application specs. I also do a lot on the documentation site, to make it easier for a newbie to understand. That’s a good thing, since I am still relatively new to Nuxeo, I have a different perspective that is less technical than most people at Nuxeo.

It’s good to work on the documentation with an angle other than that of a developer.

The last piece I wrote was about EL, and I found out that a lot of people are reading it, which makes me really happy.

If you could choose a city to deliver your next training course, what would it be? And why?

Guadeloupe would be nice. We would start early and when the work day is over, we could go to the beach :) I would eat a lot of mangos…a lot! and colombo and it would be awesome :D

On a more personal note, what do you do in your free time?

I like to go out with friends and family. We love to try restaurants. I love eating :D One of my favorite places is close to my home — they have great couscous :) It’s called Au Palmier 2, but we still don’t know why there is a 2…

I am also very geeky. I love video games. But I am so bad at them, like really really bad. Plus I don’t have much time to play. And the thing is I like RTS like StarCraft II, where you have to spend a lot of time to master the different techniques and need to practice a lot. You have to be really fast, know all the keyboard shortcuts, etc. So when I play with my friends, I lose really fast. They usually start with a handicap so there is a bit of challenge for them :) But even so, I still can’t win!

Anything particular you want to add? A message to your next trainees maybe?

I am looking forward to meeting all of you :)