Constantine Nicolaou is a Ruby on Rails coder with an exceptional background. He completed a BA in Management Information Systems studies at Haigazian University, Lebanon where he co-founded, designed and published a business and informatics magazine (BE-News). During his studies and in addition to working as a sys-admin and web developer for Saint Mary’s Orthodox College, he started surfcampus.com, an academic social portal for Lebanese students.
Seeqnce interviewed Costa a few months ago and early this week we had a short chat again.
He landed in the UK early 2006 and joined a local District Council where he first started using Ruby on Rails. “Coming from the world of PHP, Ruby on Rails was love at first sight and I soon became heavily involved in bringing legacy applications to the world of Rails. In the meantime, at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, I joined Matt Wood’s team behind Sequencescape, which formed part of the Institute’s next generation sequencing platform. At Sanger, I had the chance to work closely with scientists and talented developers on complex requirements — specifically, handling and curating large data sets by building and integrating apps and API design” said Costa.
What is Costa doing right now in Lebanon? He is the new CTO of Monaqasat.com, the leading eTendering solution in MENA region. They are opening up a design center based in Beirut and looking for software developers to grow their development team.
Moving from the UK to Lebanon is probably not such a common thing among exceptional coders. However, Costa decided to move back. Why? Besides the personal reasons, Costa foresees big opportunities in the region: Internet speed off and plenty of talented people who want to get things done and make impact on society, were among the reasons having influence on his decision to move back to his home country.
Furthermore he strongly believes in the quality of Lebanese developers and their skills which he claims are absolutely internationally competitive. He said: “I would dare to say that plenty of Lebanese developers are already competing internationally. And there are really good quality apps and companies being born here. To name a few: Woopra, Yamli, Naharnet and Birdy Nam Nam. However, we can have more, the more the merrier”.
Nevertheless, coders in the region face a lot of challenges when it comes to user and community support. “One of the major challenges I find between Europe and the Middle East is the lack of user and industry backed community groups and events”, said Costa.
What cool technologies excite a coder like Costa? He named a few of them: Emerging technologies, cloud computing, NoSQL movement, DSLs (Domain Specific Languages), mobile devices, mobile apps and UI interfaces. “I’m huge fan and a loud voice on TDD and BDD (Test and Behavior Driven Development)”.
Finally Costa gave his advice to other developers in the region: “My advice is to embrace new technologies, to not be afraid of pushing forwards and getting outside the comfort zone, challenge yourself and try new stuff. So don’t take everything for granted, keep on looking, keep on researching, keep on trying new stuff”.
You can read the full interview transcript here.
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