Steve Bekaert, Web Developer at FNAC

Published on 23 November 2020

Reading time 7 minutes

Hello Steve, can you introduce yourself in a few words?

My name is Steve, a 34 year old Belgian! I joined the Wild Code School in September of last year (2019) after starting my career on the business side of things, in project management as a business analyst. I have always been interest in everything IT, both on the software and hardware side and after being tired of my job, I decided to follow a new direction and pursue a career in web development.

Whatever happens I am and will remain a nerd who has always been passionate about video games, movies and other TV shows... And it' not going to change anytime soon :)

What has been your career path after your training at the Wild Code School in Brussels?

Thanks to the Wild Code School I've made a few contacts for various positions as a frontend & backend developer. I finally chose FNAC Vanden Borre, a Belgian company.

Just after graduating from the Wild Code School, I had some interviews here and there, I then took a week off to process it all! Fun fact, I had only worked for 3 days in the office before lockdown and went straight to work remotely, it was not so easy to get familiar with the tools and to get to know my colleagues…

What are your daily tasks as a web developer at Fnac Vanden Borre?

I have 2 main and broad tasks: debugging existing problems and developing new projects; it really depends on the sprint. I work on both the back and frontend, depending on the needs, even if I'm more of a frontend person.

Can you describe your working environment? Who's in your team?

We are a team of 5 employees (for the moment). We work very closely with the e-commerce business team made up of analysts, testers and of course the Product Owner. 

We work on 2-week sprints with all the necessary tools: schedules, retros, ... I must admit that my past experience as a business analyst is as useful as my programming skills; I would say that I have a good vision of the technical challenges but also a good understanding (and translation!) of the needs.

It's also a fully trilingual working environment (FR, EN, NL) but we generally all speak in English so that our few French colleagues can follow :D

We take care of both the website and the creation of the various dashboards for other employees to manage the wide range of products on sale. It's not just about the products, it's also about customer service, interacting with customers, managing the different payment methods etc. My job includes at lot of things, and every day is different!

What are the objectives in terms of user experience for the projects you work on?

It's hard to say. In addition to the e-commerce team, we work directly with a design team that decides of the user experience. It's not that easy to have something that's ready for use right away. They have their own tools and we use our own librairies that are not always 100% compatible... Estimates are often misleading.

What technologies and programming languages do you use?

We don't work with frameworks or other frontend libraries yet, it's only server side rendering thanks to the backend based on "Caché". Doesn't mean anything to you? Neither did it when I first started. To put it simply, it's a very big framework with its own language that manages all the company's business areas: web, finance, accounting, HR... We deal exclusively with the web part. The main advantage is that it is directly based on a "object-oriented" approach, which means that integrating SQL or elements relating to object-oriented programming fits in seamlessly. It makes it a lot easier for us to communicate with the database.

Frontend libraries will be integrated in the very near future (Vue, React,...). This is an opportunity in itself, I often have the opportunity to discuss with colleagues on different librairies, the advantages of client-side rendering rather than server-side rendering. I can directly see the integration and related issues. It's very rewarding!

In fact, joining a team that wasn't already using popular libraries is a real advantage, I'm still discovering a lot of different ways to structure my code. Whether it's through the use of modules, classes,... I was wrong when I saw it at the beginning as an "old-fashioned" way of working: it's just the opposite! If there is one thing that remains with me, it is what our teacher, Pierre, told us "be curious, the aim is not to transform you into a React monk". He was right, React is only a small element in the construction of a much bigger project/product! It's just 'another view' of how to approach interfaces and what communicates with what. Anyway... React is still Javascript and even if it is popular, it doesn't replace all current interfaces! That's why I consider it more as an opportunity than a constraint in my career path.

In the midst of this pandemic, has anything changed in your work?

Yes and no, as I have only spent 3 days at the office. I've been back since then but we are still in this kind of "blur" where the projects are a bit disrupted. As a result, solving all kinds of bugs is more often the priority than starting new projects. 

It's well organised but we still feel that there are new challenges: our stores are only open for takeaway, etc. In any case, it has suddenly made us much more "visible" to the management team as the website takes much more importance now!

Do customers still mainly buy from the physical shops or has online sales taken over?

I don't have the latest figures, but our online sales are definitely growing. But in the end, FNAC is still a company that focuses a lot on its core business, physical shops and it’s good to see our work at the 74th Vanden Borre shop. There's also a dedicated team for phone sales.

Fnac is known for the recommendations that sales assistants provide. Does online sales also allow this service?

For our part we have a website which is totally separate from the Fnac website, though we are part of the same group so they have the same desire to provide customers with the best service (and recommendations) possible. But after all, online shopping is first and foremost a generational subject... Personally, I find the information provided on the website to be very useful. Before buying something on a website I usually compare it with other websites. It is clear that it is difficult to offer the same service and feeling as in a physical shop but what's on the way in our backlog clearly aims at making it as pleasant as possible for everyone.

Where do you see your career going?

Since I decided to change jobs, I first want to see how things evolve. I don't really know where it's going to take me, seeing how things go one day at a time. In any company, in addition to the development side, there is also everything concerning the implementation of tools and processes. At the moment I am very interested in the way the different working environments (development, pre-production,...) communicate with each other.

I recently made it clear to my manager that if they were looking for someone for a slightly more "DevOps" position, I would be very interested!

Thank you for answering our questions, do you have anything to share with our Wilders?

Be curious! The Wild Code School is just a (great!) beginning! Something you probably know already is to continuously learn and discover new things, going beyond the training lessons. Internet is vast and big, any job in this industry will make you stumble upon something that you haven’t heard of before!