Meet Alexandru Ilovan, Salt & Pepper’s Head of the Mobile Team

Flavia Mocan
Flavia Mocan
Published: 07.06.2021

Alexandru Ilovan is Salt & Pepper’s Head of the Mobile Team, a soon-to-be double major in Computer Sciences, and a YouTube streamer. His knowledge in the technical field is unquestionable, as well as his charismatic persona. He is a dedicated, hardworking, and ambitious young man with incredible potential.

Why did you join Salt & Pepper?

Around three and a half years ago, I had to make a decision and choose between joining a big company or a startup—playing it safe and going for an already established company or jumping headfirst into the startup scene. I’ve chosen the startup, and here we are.

At that time, I already knew Cristin (CEO of Salt & Pepper) for quite some time, and when he offered me a place in his company, I simply said yes, even though it got me out of my comfort zone completely. I knew what kind of man he is, what values he believes in, and that’s why I was sure that we would fully sync.

Alexandru during a YouTube stream

How did you go from being outside of your comfort zone to being a team leader in such a short amount of time?

I would have to say work. A lot of work. My ‘work hours’ at the moment take up around 13-14 hours/day. This represents the total amount of time I spend working on S&P projects, the time I spend working on my own projects, and the time I invest in my continuous learning. I’ve been doing this for 3-4 years. It’s a lifestyle already.

Working and planning ahead (as much as one can) because there is no other secret. If you do the work, at one point, you will reach a level in which you start relying on your experience, not just textbooks.

I know the motivational/hustler videos that say the secret is ‘waking up at 5 am, starting the day with push-ups, a 10-mile run, and 30 minutes of meditation’, but I honestly believe it’s simply putting in the work, going the extra mile, for yourself and your own development.

And putting in the work can be translated to all aspects of life. Maybe you want to improve your social skills or your writer’s talent. No matter what, if you make that extra effort, it will pay off at some point. Maybe the key is consistency.

Feeling thoughtful at work

What did you find to be most challenging in the transition to becoming the Head of the Mobile Team?

Usually, careers start out with learning how to do things, how to code. It’s a trial and error phase. Then, after a while, people start to acknowledge your answers, your knowledge, and you realize you’re in a new position that’s more focused on helping others too. Or at least, that’s what happened to me. It’s a complete shift, from 100% engineering to people management, check-ups, mentorship, and decision making.

The decision making part was challenging because when colleagues would first come to me for advice to make a decision, I realized that even if I had the experience and the know-how, I always had that voice in my head that more or less told me that I need to be extra careful because my words had greater consequences now.

What’s your secret to keeping the team happy?

Common sense. One of the easiest and most effective methods is talking to your teammates. Are they happy, do they need something, can you be better for them?

Sometimes it’s just the ability to listen to your colleagues and just let them vent. If they had a tough day, a difficult week, you name it, it helps a lot to just be there for them and listen to what they have to say. Let them know that you actually care about them. Maybe the secret is actually caring, being there for them.

Taking a hard-earned break

How do you spend your free time outside of work?

My entire time is spent between Salt&Pepper and academia because right now I am studying in Brussels and working on my double major (MSc in Distributed Systems and Networks from Technical University of Cluj-Napoca and MSc in Applied Computer Sciences from University of Brussels, Vrije Universiteit Brussel).

Also, since the beginning of the pandemic, I started a YouTube channel. I managed to form a small team that helped me grow an online community.

What made you start your gaming channel?

It was a passing thought at first, an impulse. I just wanted to see how it feels to stream what I’m playing. I started playing games when I was really young, three years old to be exact. I never viewed games and gaming just as a ‘chill time with friends’ but rather always admired the art behind it all, the art of making games. I loved the core of creating another world. That’s why I love the stories behind them, the plots.

I am so happy that I managed to gather this team of five people that help me every day. I couldn’t do it without them.

What’s your all-time favorite game?

The first Doom game. This was one of the first games that I had on my computer. I don’t even remember what computer I had back then. It was such a long time ago, in 1996. I was three years old, and I was playing Doom on my computer.

The game did scare me at first, as I was just a small kid, but as I grew older and became a computer engineer, it was mind-blowing to think back on this game’s ingenuity and mechanics.

If you could be a character in any game, movie, or comic book, who would you be?

Considering my background and education, I will definitely choose the absolute God of all engineers, and that’s Tony Stark! I would love to have his impressive mind that can design a fully-fledged AI and a collection of power suits. I don’t have that…YET (laughs)!

I also like Doctor Strange a lot, and would like to choose one more: I know he wasn’t a character, and maybe he doesn’t quite fit in here, but I would love to be able to walk in the shoes of Leonardo Da Vinci.

What’s that one word that your best friend would use to describe you?

BRILLIANT! But in a very sarcastic way (laughs)!

Do you have any guilty pleasures? What would they be?

Gummy worms. I LOVE them! Gummy worms, Toblerone, and Whiskey. Not in this mix nor this order, but yes, I love all of them!

Meet our team!

We’re a bunch of interesting personalities in the Salt & Pepper HQ. If you enjoyed reading Alex’s answers and are curious to learn more about him or our team, let’s connect!

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