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From the inside

Career Development at Criteo: The Upsides of Mentoring

Posted by Sebastien Vaconsin |

Have you ever mentored or been mentored by someone at work? Well, Sebastien has, and it sounds like quite an enriching experience. Let's discover how meeting his mentor Julien helped him diversify both his hard and soft skillset.

Can you tell us what it has been like for you since starting at Criteo?   

I joined 12 years ago; quite a long-timer, I know. Though I started as a DBA/ops, the company was way smaller back then, so I ended up wearing multiple caps. As a DBA, I helped set up the first HADOOP cluster before stepping into an EPM team lead role. I worked in our Ann Arbor office for five years as an EPM and PRE engineer. I now work from France as part of the PRE-Platform team.  

It sounds like you have gained a variety of experiences within Criteo. Where do you see your career going?  

Perhaps not being a manager, per say, but I would like to learn new tools to be even more equipped to successfully help my team (or anyone) to reach their goals.  

Is Criteo a place where you can see yourself grow and thrive?   

I couldn’t have stayed in a place if I felt it was keeping from growing, so yes. What has helped me grow the most over the past 12 years is how my managers gave me the autonomy to explore new ways of doing things. I think I learned from success as much as failure. It helped me gain confidence and feel like I was contributing to the company's success.  

Have you ever tried out internal mobility or any other career development opportunities we provide internally?  

Yes, the first time was when I relocated to the USA (Ann Arbor, MI) to train EPMs there and help merging databases, lowering the AWS footprint. Then I did our Voyager Program, exploring several teams and areas of the business such as Finance, where I helped stabilizing the SQL Server pipeline, or Data, where I learned to build some real time monitoring around their Hadoop jobs. I also changed roles from DBA to EPM to EPM lead to PRE. Through them, I learned what prioritizing means and how to implement it: a skill still very helpful in my day-to-day work while planning OKRs with the team. As a PRE team member, I was missing some coding skills, so I had the chance to work with a mentor, Julien, who helped me gain this knowledge and be able to commit code in that language.  

Did you go through Criteo Mentorship Program to find Julien?  

Actually, no. It all came out of a casual discussion we had over coffee in the Ann Arbor office kitchen. I was expressing my need and will to learn, and he offered his help.

How was the Mentoring experience? Was it useful?  

Really great! Thanks to Julien, I have now developed both my coding and design skills.  

In your opinion, what made this experience successful? (Manager support, growth mindset, etc.)  

Mostly, we were determined to make this time count for the both of us. We had the full support of our managers, and the trust we built along the way has helped us organize our time more efficiently.   

If you had to give three essentials to enable career development, what would they be?    

First, don’t fear asking for help. There is no shame in wanting to grow in a particular area and develop new skills; asking your peers to help will benefit everyone. Then, make mistakes and learn from them. It is an efficient way to learn and grow. Lastly, make your own choices so you can be proactive and shape the career path you want.   

What would you recommend to a fellow Criteo looking for internal career development opportunities?     

If you know what you want to do, go to the people who will know where to orient you. Doing it on your own might be a bit difficult. We are lucky to be in a company which offers a broad range of different skills. It makes Criteo one of the best places to learn and be taught, in my opinion.   

Any tips to share with other Criteos when it comes to career development?   

The diversity of backgrounds Criteo consists of is a real asset to take advantage of. From our world-class engineers, for instance, there is a lot you can learn. Sometimes, it is just about grabbing a coffee with people you think might help you; if they can, great! If not, they will redirect you to someone with adequate knowledge or to the mentorship program. We have a supportive culture here, and people will help you however they can. So, never be afraid to ask around!  

Find Julien's (Sebastien's mentor) story here: Career Development at Criteo: A Mentor's Tale | Tech Innovation

Sebastien Vaconsin

Staff Site Reliability Engineer

The Future is Yours.

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