Silvia Macovei, our Cloud Business Manager

10 Jun 2020 5 min read

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Silvia Macovei, I'm 34 years old, a third of which I've spent at XWiki. I'm currently growing our cloud and apps business and my (almost) 4-year-old son.

I enjoy reading, British TV & humor, old movies, rock music, podcasts, Coca Cola (rarely), coffee (way too often), and sushi. In my spare time, I've started two nonprofit projects. The first one is Drepturile Parintilor (translates to "Parents Rights"), an online community that I began in 2016, which keeps parents updated about their legal rights and (real) news that might impact their lives. The second project is JobFlex, the first Romanian curated board for flexible jobs. Anyone can use it for free to post high-quality flex employment opportunities.

in 5 things
  • Favorite artist: Stephen Fry
  • Best book ever read: Anything by Milan Kundera
  • Dream destination: Mount Fuji
  • Quote you live by: “When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.” ― Elon Musk
  • At the office or remote? Both, in moderation

The journey to XWiki

What were you doing before XWiki? Did you change careers when joining our team?

Before XWiki I had studied computer science in high school and had begun reading Law at University, later on specializing in data privacy. In my second year of uni, I worked as an intern in a law office and then did my legal practice in the Public Prosecutor's office. While I enjoyed these experiences and I am technically a legal consultant, I never really practiced law. However many of the lessons learned in uni served me well in tech environments, like asking the right questions to identify the correct problem before jumping to finding a solution, identifying patterns and applying rules and best practices, doing in-depth research, but also quickly looking things up, zooming in and out between details and the big picture.

In the summer of 2006, I was lucky to be asked to join a new US tech startup that was seeking help to open and manage an office in our city. I worked there for two and a half years. In a startup, you get to do a bit of everything. So half of my time went on administrative and legal work. The other half was spent learning how to write technical documentation, testing, and product marketing. It was a great experience that changed my life.

I joined the XWiki team on my 23rd birthday, initially part-time, after Oana recommended me. I wouldn't say I was changing careers at that point. In the previous job, we were working on organizing the world's e-commerce data. At XWiki we work on organizing knowledge, so teams can thrive.


Silvia holding a presentation at StepFWD 2019

What is it like to be working at XWiki? What was your career evolution like?

I joined XWiki full time after spending five months doing part-time work. I was helping with testing, documentation, marketing, and managing projects like the company website, the intranet, and our customer documentation system. For the next four years, I led the client support team, then expanded my role to operations, including HR, admin, budgeting, financial reporting, and company strategic projects. After my maternity leave, I took the business leadership in the newly formed Cloud and Apps squad, the cross-functional team in charge of scaling our product offerings.

When not in lockdown, a typical day starts around 6AM, checking my work emails over coffee, prepping for the day ahead. We have customers all over the world, so it sometimes happens that important updates occur overnight. After that, I'll exercise and get the house and my son ready. By 9 o'clock I'm usually back at my desk, officially starting work. The beginning of the day is quite standard, checking sales requests, orders, metrics, and support tickets. After that I could be working on anything from our roadmap, to marketing, documentation, doing sales calls, chatting with our users, meeting with the team to discuss priorities and any issues we're facing, testing the product and apps updates, doing HR work. Throughout the day I'll always go back and forth to sales and support to check the latest updates. My day is pretty fragmented, which is something many people might not enjoy, but I love it. No two days are ever fully the same.


Silvia's (at home) desk

Working at XWiki is different from what most people are accustomed to. Firstly, you get to work with a multitude of stakeholders, from colleagues to the Open Source community of users and developers, to clients and partners. There is an entire ecosystem around an Open Source business and many employees wear several hats, supporting colleagues and customers, while also contributing to the Open Source project. I am privileged to interact almost daily with XWiki users and get their feedback first hand.

Secondly, it's a place where you get a lot of autonomy both around what you work on and when you perform the work. The team can adapt the schedule to their needs and also work remotely. In return, it's important to be self-organized and accountable for your work.

Thirdly, while we have managers and leads, de facto we're a small company with a pretty flat org. Everyone rolls up their sleeves to get things done. Dialogue and transparency are valued, with many decisions being taken collectively.

Open Source impressions

Was Open Source something you had an interest in before XWiki?

Open Source software was something I had heard of through my studies and had used in my previous job. But I hadn't been part of an OS community before joining XWiki. One common misconception is that to contribute to an Open Source project you need to be a developer. However, there are many other ways one can help, through testing, documentation, support, localization, feedback, and spreading the word about the project.

What's the Open Source value you appreciate the most?

The Open Source value I admire the most is transparency. It requires nurturing and commitment from everyone, but it's always worth it.

Being an XWikier for 10 years and counting

What has kept you at XWiki so far?

The values, but also people's commitment to align values with virtues.

If you ever wished for a job change, what made you decide to stay?

For the past 11 years at XWiki, I was lucky to be able to change jobs AND stay.

What were the most important or drastic ways in which XWiki changed during the years you've been around?

This is another great question and a quote from The Leopard sums it up better than I could: "If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change". So many things have changed over the years, from colleagues leaving to new people joining the team. The product has seen many iterations and improvements. Our business model has evolved. But at its core (if you'll pardon the pun), XWiki remains the same. Open source has been its North Star, while open values have served as the compass in its 16-year journey.


Silvia and some of the team at FOSDEM 2020

Lessons learned

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at XWiki?

The most valuable lesson has been that of humility, which, I know, is such an awfully unhumble thing to say, so definitely still working on that. When you're surrounded by such a diverse bunch of brilliant people, you're both aware of your own shortcomings and feel encouraged to grow and become a better version of yourself.

The XWiki experience

If you could describe XWiki in one word, what would it be?


What is your favorite memory of the years as part of XWiki?

The XWiki Olympics.

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