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Effective Interviews ⚡️ Segun Famisa
Google Developer Expert for Android
Welcome back to the Effective Interviews ⚡️ a series of written interviews with well-known engineers from the Android worldwide community.
Today we have Segun Famisa, Google Developer Expert for Android, and a very active member of the Android community.
Oluwasegun (also known as Segun, or SF) has worked for companies like SoundCloud, Trivago, Doordash, and Delivery Hero. He is a role model and an inspiration to many in the Android worldwide community.
🟣 Welcome to the Effective Interviews Segun! 👋
Thank you so much for having me. I’ve been reading Effective Interviews, and being on a platform like this is exciting.
🟣 When and how did you start with Android development?
Before getting into Android, I attended a training program at my university, where I was introduced to the world of mobile development. I learned and practiced developing for Nokia (S40 & S60) and other “Java” phones using the J2ME platform. Shortly after, Android started to gain ground, and my mentor asked me to give it a shot since my Java knowledge was transferable.
I compiled my first “hello world” in 2010, and by 2011, I was already sure that would be my primary technology and had started developing for Android. I kept learning and participating in various developer contests and hackathons, and by 2013/14, I had my first big client project - an internet radio app. I never looked back since then.
Answering this question made me reflect, and I can say that the platform has evolved so much, and I feel grateful to have witnessed and been part of the evolution.
🟣 Why and how did you become a GDE?
Historically, I have benefited immensely from the collective developer community. I have always admired community work. In fact, as a student, I was active in the local GDG and IEEE student groups for my uni, and I have always looked up to members of the GDE program who inspired me in many ways.
I started my GDE journey in Nigeria. One of the Google DevRel leads for Sub-Saharan Africa visited my office, and we talked. He asked me if I was interested in community work. I said yes, citing the community work I had done in university with the student groups and my current status as a member of GDG Lagos.
I was then often connected with many event organizers, and every now and then, I would speak at local meetups and international speaking engagements. In addition, I was writing articles and sharing knowledge about things I learned on my blog and Twitter.
Eventually, the community work got recognized, and I went through the application process. Unfortunately, I had to relocate in the middle of the process, and I had to start afresh. After a few months of finding my feet in Germany, I reapplied, went through the process, and entered the program.
I like being a part of the program because it helps me be in a network of seasoned professionals who love sharing their knowledge. I have learned so much. I also get opportunities to interact closely with the Googlers who work on the platform, and I’ve been able to give feedback that shaped the Android development world.
I have retained my membership in the program by continuing the community work that got me there in the first place.
🟣 How is the Android community in Nigeria? Did you attend offline events and do networking early in your career? would you recommend that to others that are starting?
The developer community in Nigeria is very vibrant. I was active in different groups and even sub-groups, and the Android community was not excluded from the action.
I networked a lot and attended a lot of offline events. I worked out of a community hub in Lagos called CcHub around that time. It was when software engineering as a career was becoming popular for many Nigerians. I got the opportunity to network with the best minds possible. One of the most random moments was Mark Zuckerberg walking into the community space a few years ago and having a fireside chat with folks from the community. Moments like that were very inspiring, and it showed that the Nigerian developer community was gaining traction and recognition.
Earlier in my career, I also participated in many hackathons and training programs hosted by various companies, including CcHub, General Electric, Google, Qualcomm, Intel, etc.
All of these experiences are experiences that I wouldn’t trade for anything, even in hindsight. I am glad I went through them. I would recommend it if anyone has the social bandwidth to attend these kinds of events. That said, I also want to highlight that this is not a thing that is necessary or required to grow in your career. If it fits your style more, you can network and socialize virtually in relevant Slack or discord groups or GitHub issues/pull request sections.
🟣 What facets or interests that you had in your childhood made you grow into the professional you are today?
Hm. I was a very curious child. I wanted to know how or why things worked the way they did. From opening up broken toys to try and fix them, I developed some interest in figuring out systems. Interestingly, I thought I would be an embedded systems engineer, but my tinkering, curious and creative instincts turned out to be transferable. So now, instead of tinkering with electronic circuits (which I still do in my free time), I am tinkering with code.
🟣 What is a skill you have learned over time that you consider key today at work?
I can’t really tell if this is a skill per se, but curiosity to understand why or how something works is a skill that I’ve learned and developed over time. Something else that’s close and relevant is research skills. I think everyone who will learn a new technology or a new Android API or whatever needs to practice good research skills that will help them learn important details about the new thing they’re interested in. So, developing and honing that skill will definitely help in one’s day-to-day work.
🟣 You’ve worked for several companies in Nigeria and then Germany. Did you move to Germany? How was the experience and how did you adapt to the German culture and lifestyle?
Yes, indeed. I worked for several companies in Nigeria before I moved to Germany. Relocating to Germany was a tough move. I left my life and everything I knew, moved into a city where I knew no one, and had to work my social life from zero. Germany is known for its bureaucracy and how difficult it is for expatriates to integrate.
That said, there have also been very happy moments – more happy moments than otherwise. I have had an amazing time living in Germany. I have experienced security, safety, and economic stability, which are very important.
Many aspects of German culture fit right into my existing lifestyle, and others have been more challenging, but I’ve been making it work, especially since I plan to stay here for a while. Overall, I would say my move here is a net positive, and I’m happy I did it.
🟣 What is your current role at Wolt? what do you focus on?
I work on the consumer Android application. Particularly I work in a core team that helps work on technical and product topics that cut across several teams. Lately, I’ve been working on a balanced mix of both product and developer experience topics. In addition to that, I am the Competence Lead for Android at Wolt, and that involves catering to internal advocacy of technical best practices on Android technology and external employer branding as well.
🟣 What is a project you are very proud of and you found especially challenging?
One of the projects I am proud of and found quite challenging was my first project when I moved to Germany; I joined a company right at the point they were rewriting their app, so it was fun to be in a big company with a greenfield project, and the rewrite was very successful.
🟣 You have worked for several companies like SoundCloud, Trivago, Doordash, and Delivery Hero. Very impressive! I also had my dose of joining several companies so far. Some people think it’s not a good thing to switch companies every now and then. What is your opinion on this?
Oh yes, I have worked in a lot of companies. I think there cannot be a blanket rule about changing companies. There have been various life circumstances that have prompted me to change jobs. For example, moving from Nigeria to Germany implicitly required that I change jobs.
The important detail, in my opinion, is not whether they switched companies occasionally but rather why they did it. Interviewing is not easy, so I imagine anyone who has to do it has a pretty good reason to do it, and it does not always mean they are flakey or whatever reason people think it’s not good.
That aside, I feel very fortunate to have worked with amazing teammates in these companies. I have learned a lot and been exposed to many systems and processes across companies, and these experiences are now very valuable to me in my day-to-day work.
🟣 What do you think of the current state of Android navigation?
Navigation is one of the tricky things in this world of ours. I believe the state we are in right now is because historically, there was no guidance on how to do navigation, and everyone came up with their own solutions, and we are now trying to retrofit those custom solutions into the new APIs provided.
One of the contentious topics about navigation on Android has been the back button, and I think with the predictive back gesture APIs in Android 13 & 14, users will see when they are leaving the app, and we won’t have so many cases of accidental app exists.
That said, I have used the navigation library and found it quite easy to use but also quite easy to complicate. I haven’t used Jetpack Compose navigation in a production project, but it seems promising.
🟣 Did you have the chance to try Kotlin multiplatform for any professional projects? how did you leverage it?
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to use it in any professional project. However, I have been keeping up with the technology and following some projects that use Kotlin multiplatform.
🟣 What hobbies do you have outside of programming?
Outside of programming, I play the bass guitar and occasionally jam with friends. I also attend many events, particularly events centered around arts and music.
I had not done any of these for a while because I was busy pursuing an online Master's degree in CS, which I am done with now, so I intend to play around more with learning how to DJ (like everyone else that lives in Berlin, lol), and photography.
🟣 What do you think of foldable devices? Do you think it is worth providing support for them with the current device ecosystem and adoption?
Supporting foldable devices is definitely worth it and something everyone should have on their roadmap for two main reasons. First, these devices are gaining popularity and will become everywhere. Second, supporting foldable devices implicitly means that you support adaptive layouts in your app, so whether or not it is run on foldable devices, the layout is ready to fit in various screen configurations (landscape, square, portrait, etc.) and form factors (TV, tablets, etc.)
🟣 How much is remaining of that little boy you were in your childhood, back in Nigeria? Do you miss him? do you ever think of getting back to your homeland to live there again?
I’m still very young at heart. With all the privileges I’ve gained from living abroad, I am starting to pursue many things I dreamt of doing as a child, so the little boy is still very much here. The only difference is that I’m doing it away from immediate family and with new sets of friends I worked hard to make (adult friendships are hard!).
I don’t think I will go back to live in my homeland in the near future; however, if there is a significant improvement in the economic and political situation, I can consider it.
🟣 Where can readers find you?
🟣 Thanks so much for sharing with us Segun 🙏 appreciated. See you around 🙌
Thank you so much for having me. See you around!
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