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Coding my way from Cairo to Berlin: my journey as a Software Developer

25 October 2018

Get to know Hoda Elmashaly and her journey of how she became a Software Developer at Delivery Hero. 

Hey Hoda, could you introduce yourself?
I’m Hoda Elmashaly and I’m working at Delivery Hero as a Software Engineer. I joined the company a year ago, originally in the Internal Tech Team. However, I’m now working as a Software Engineer in the Restaurant Partner Solution (RPS) Team on the core backend.

When did you decide to pursue a career in tech and what inspired you?
First of all: games! During my childhood, my father bought lots of games and we played a lot with Nintendo and Windows ‘95. That’s how I got interested in computers. I wanted to work with them and create my own computer games. What I really liked when I was around seven or eight years old, was a magazine for kids where you had to write some code to solve a game. We didn’t understand the code but we did it in order to play the game at the end. Everything started with a dream when I was a child.

In highschool I was thinking more about working in space and to travel there someday. I ultimately decided to study computer science and graduated in 2010. After that, I completed my diploma in open source languages. I started working in different companies in Egypt until I joined Delivery Hero in October last year.

What kept you going all that time? It’s such a long way from having a childhood dream to actually pursuing this career.
To be honest, it’s not straight and easy all the time. I sometimes had doubts like “what am I doing here?” because it was difficult. Coming from Egypt, this field was completely new when I started studying not only for my country but also for my parents and relatives. Therefore, there weren’t many people who were able to support me with it. I had to introduce it to everyone I met. Besides that, working in computer science is very limited to the capital of Egypt. That’s why I had to travel a lot for my studies and also later for the companies I worked at. Even though I had my passion, I had doubts and felt demotivated sometimes. I had moments where I felt like I couldn’t continue but I kept telling myself: “You came a long way and you want to continue what you have started!”.

Do you have any role models?
It wasn’t just one person who inspired me. You take ideas and advice from everyone you meet. One thing I learned from my parents was that I should do what I like doing. My dad was a football player and my mom was a graphic artist. They always told me to pursue what makes me happy. Don’t waste your time on a career you actually don’t like. Life is too short for that.

What has been the best moment in your career so far and what are you most proud of?
Many different moments!
One example was being accepted to study for the open source diploma. Since it was right after the revolution in Egypt at the end of 2011, the program accepted 50% less students than in all years. So, I was super happy when I got accepted.

At one point, I decided to move to another country where nobody speaks arabic or english and with a completely different culture from what I knew. At the beginning, I wasn’t sure if it was possible. But then I managed to move to Germany by myself and I have been living here now for a year. Moving to Berlin was also one of the greatest moments.

What made you decide to accept the job at Delivery Hero?
In the beginning it was just an idea that I would like to move abroad and change my life completely. But after I received some job offers, I decided to accept the one from Delivery Hero because after having met Christian for the first time, I learned about the huge business and interesting products of the company. He really encouraged me to join. I also did some additional research about Delivery Hero, its achievements and the work environment. This really convinced me to accept the job offer.

How was your journey at Delivery Hero?
As I mentioned, I originally joined the Internal Tech Team. Of course, it wasn’t easy in the beginning to get used to the new life here, but I had a great team that supported me and helped me understand how life works here in Germany.
After some months, I realized that I wanted to use my development skills on other projects. My old manager supported me in any possible way and helped me to change my position within the company.
Even though I was totally connected to my old team, the new team is really great and supportive as well. I feel like the new position better reflects my interest and skills. As I’m now working on the backend of one of our products, I also feel like I have a bigger impact on the business. Generally, both teams have been very supportive in different ways and I’m very thankful for that.

We all know that tech is a male-dominated field. How have dealt with that and what has been the biggest challenge?
Every woman I have met in Tech doesn’t want to think about it in that way because we don’t want to feel like it’s more difficult for us.

Have you heard of Margaret Hamilton? She was one of the first engineers who wrote code for NASA’s Apollo moon mission. Since they had to develop the code manually, it was much more difficult for her and her team than for us nowadays. Today we have other challenges, but she is a great example on how to succeed.

As young women, people tend to underestimate your skills and power. But if you let your work, skills and experience talk for you, they will understand your value and cooperate with you. Therefore, it’s important to always stay up to date in your technology and to understand your work. Moreover, it is crucial to believe in yourself, even if others don’t. Keep in mind that you have the power develop yourself and invest in yourself.
So yes, it it can be an obstacle especially for young women, but there are bigger challenges in the tech field. We also have quite some female leaders in Tech within Delivery Hero.

Do you take part in any in tech related communities?
I sometimes go to meetups for women in tech. It is super interesting to meet female leaders and to learn about their different points of view. I also went to meetups for women in tech from the Middle East where I met great CTOs shared their journeys and products. I like stories from people who have failed many times and still haven’t given up. They give me so much inspiration. You have to find a source of motivation that keeps you going despite some failures.

Do you have any philosophies around good code?
There are lots of important rules around good code but mine is: Keep it simple! Usually simple code is more successful and effective. Don’t make it more complicated than necessary. If the code stays fairly simple, it is also easier to reuse the code if you share it on open source platforms. Your code says a lot about you, therefore keep it clean and simple.

Moreover, keep learning and reading about different technologies. It’s super important to stay informed. The great advantage in this field is that most authors are still alive, so you can still talk to them at conferences or meetups or write them.

How do you stay motivated to always stay informed and to keep learning?
Do new things that are unrelated to work! For example, I recently visited the Berliner Dom and it was so beautiful. Visiting a new place or doing a new activity gives you new ideas, motivation and an open mind. Also keep up you social life in order to have a healthy mind, since we are working mainly with machines. This helps in keeping a peace of mind.

What is your advice to women and girls thinking about a career in tech?
Don’t underestimate yourself and your power. Some people start a career in tech when they are 40 years or older. It’s never too late. Don’t just dream, but work on yourself and learn new things. You can do much more than you think.
If you keep on learning, especially about things that interest you, you will feel like you are living your life in a more fulfilling way. If you keep working on yourself, you will find that it affects your career. Do what makes you happy and you will feel like your job is your hobby.