An emergency doctor on the French island of Réunion for 13 years, Thibaud Arguillere began dabbling in software development while treating patients in urgent need of medical care. He had taught himself programming all on his own after becoming intrigued with his Mac while playing with the software Hypercard. In 2000, Thibaud left his career in medicine and ventured into the world of software development, starting his own company with a friend to pursue his passion. Thibaud’s passion for technology mixes with his interest in the open source world; now a PreSales Engineer and Technology Evangelist at Nuxeo, Thibaud adds some extra flavor to our team’s diversity.
You were previously a doctor; what made you change careers and how did you make that switch?
I was an ER doctor for 13 years, and I had started working in software development in 2000 with a friend. I had to switch careers because I could not do both at the same time. It’s actually a funny story: Basically, my wife told me that I could not do both because when I was not on call as a doctor, I was developing software, and she felt like my family never saw me. She told me I had to choose just one career. When I decided on software development, I asked her if she minded since I would likely start off making less money. She told me she just wanted me to be happy, so we moved to Aix-en-Provence to begin my software development career.
What was it about software development that interested you?
The fact that, basically, when you develop, you control the computer. You’re in charge, and you’re the master of the hardware. You decide what you’re doing. When I was a doctor, I bought a Mac to use for work, and on the Mac, Hypercard had already been installed. I started playing around with the software, and by just clicking on a button, I could make the computer beep. With this, I realized that I could control the computer and I found that really interesting. I still remember the feeling. I then began doing more complex things using the program, and I began teaching myself to program in C, C++ and Java in the mid 90s.
What other positions have you held in the industry and what have you done within those positions?
I moved to Paris in 2008 to work for 4D where I was a Senior Software Developer in the company’s R&D department, working in C++. We created database software that a developer can use to create a client server desktop application. I used to do training and provide on-site expertise when the software stopped working correctly. We used to go inside and look at the code to give them advice and tell the clients what they needed to do to make everything work again. The last three years at 4D, I was Senior Software Evangelist, and I gave talks at conferences and spoke at meet-ups where I explained our technology. I organized conferences, built examples and demos, and wrote blogs as well.
How did you end up joining Nuxeo?
I heard about Nuxeo some years ago while at 4D, because we had started a new project named “Wakanda” and this project was the only open source product we had. We started going to open source meet-ups. I met Stefane Fermigier, Nuxeo’s founder, at an open source conference in Paris about 4-5 years ago. When I was looking to change positions recently, I looked for a job in New York City because I have always wanted to move there, since I was a kid. Nuxeo was looking to fill a position in New York City and the company was fully open source, which was a huge motivation for me to join Nuxeo.
What was your initial impression of the Nuxeo Platform?
Before I joined Nuxeo, I played with the platform to make sure I wanted to be involved in this project. I started watching webinars and I began to love it because it really is the best tool ever. I discovered this powerful way of handling documents; it’s very wide and very open. It’s not only about handling files though; it’s about creating business applications. For people who aren’t really in the ECM world, they think of it as a file and a link on a disk but the Nuxeo Platform is really beyond this. It’s a very powerful tool and I enjoyed discovering the Java and the code behind the product. It was very cool.
And what was your initial impression of the company?
Very good. I first met Eric, the CEO, and we had dinner together. It was very cool and friendly; we talked about Nuxeo, of course, and databases, algorithms, and just about life… friendship, and so on. Then, I met other people like Thierry Delprat and he was also very cool. I met Thierry in the interview before joining the company, and after talking to him for about an hour, I wanted to start working with the company immediately. He was a very good evangelist. I met some others within the company and spoke to them each for about an hour as well. When I started working in December, I met people in the office and everyone was awesome.
I know you’re new to this role; what have your projects been so far and which have you enjoyed the most?
I’ve been learning about the platform since I’ve joined – it actually is a huge platform. I’ve been really focusing on Studio for some weeks so my main projects are built with Nuxeo Studio. I really just love this tool, since you can create your own application without the need to actually write code. I really like when we make life easier for developers, and Studio does that. I like the fact that you can save a lot of time in Studio and still enhance your application with Java.
Do you see any similarities between being a doctor and a PreSales Engineer and Technology Evangelist at Nuxeo?
Basically, I like helping people. I think I help people in both positions, just at different levels. As a doctor, you help people stay healthy and in my position right now, I help them build an application and answer their questions to enhance their businesses. I like this kind of thing.
Where are you from originally?
I’m from Paris where I completed my medical studies. I left Paris when I was about 28 years old to live on Réunion Island, then I moved to Aix-en-Provence in 2000. I then returned to Paris, and now I’m going to live in New York City. I am super happy about that; it’s my childhood dream.
I can tell you’re excited to begin a life in New York City! What do you think of the city so far?
I really like the city. It’s really motivating with all the startups around and the geek community is much larger in NYC than in Paris. I was in New York City in January when I attended two geek meet-ups and there were hundreds of people. In Paris, there are only dozens of people at these meetings. There’s a lot of energy here, and a lot of restaurants too, which is cool.
How do work environments differ between France and the U.S.?
The main difference in Nuxeo is that we have less people in New York City than in Paris, but hopefully we will continue growing so we will gain more and more employees. But mainly, the only work difference is that we communicate via chat, phone and email, so work can be done between the countries without a problem.
What do you most look forward to in your new role and what do you hope to achieve on the Nuxeo team?
I hope to be available to give demos very quickly, and I’m working hard toward this. I’m currently building some cool demos that don’t just show you one specific part of the platform, but all of the things you can do with Nuxeo. The other goal is to quickly be able to help customers, as I’ll be in charge of helping American clients find solutions to their problems, give advice regarding which Nuxeo plugin and environment to use, and provide development support. Also, I’ll be participating in meet-ups and conferences, and will give Nuxeo-related presentations across the U.S. I like to present technologies, so I’m looking forward to this aspect of the position as well.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I read. I mainly read science fiction and fantasy books. I also like watching movies with my wife, but I typically only like blockbusters that are full of action. I don’t really like those movies where you have to think about life and philosophy; I like to see big explosions and people fighting. I also hope to change my lifestyle in New York City, so that I start practicing sports and get in shape.