Clément Aubin, our Account Manager

24 Jun 2020 5 min read

From intern to developer to account manager

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Clement, I am 24 years old and I've been at XWiki for 3 years now. Currently, I work as an Account Manager in the Client Team. When it comes to myself, I'd say I'm a bit of a geek. I'm the kind of person who goes on the weekend and develops an application, but it's becoming less and less the case lately. As for hobbies, I enjoy biking and I'd probably do it every day if I could.

in 5 things
  • Favorite artist: Phil Collins
  • Best book ever read: "Empathie - Manifeste pour une révolution", Roman Krznaric
  • Dream destination: Yosemite National Park
  • Quote you live by: I don't personally have one
  • At the office or remote? At the office

The internship experience

How did you find out about XWiki and what made you choose it for an internship?

I first found out about XWiki in 2017, while in Engineering school. At the end of each year, we are required to do an internship in a company that is related to development. Because I was already interested in Open Source, I was looking to work in a company that did Open Source, but which was not that large. This came from previous internship experiences that I had in organizations with over 3,000 employees where I found it difficult to understand or have information on what other departments were doing. What happened was that I discovered the IT department at my school was using XWiki for internal needs, so I got into contact with the system administrator there, who told me more about the company behind XWiki. It fit with what I had in mind, so I went ahead and applied.

What was your internship experience like?

I have to say it, it was quite fantastic for me. What I found the most incredible was the fact that everything you do in the Product team is public, so you are directly contributing to the Open Source ecosystem. I didn't have much experience in developing software, especially one which is used by thousands of people, so XWiki was my first experience with something like this. The number of challenges I encountered solving an issue in the most efficient and reusable way was new and engaging. This continues to be the case even today, but I think that's also due to the nature of the software itself since it's built to be extensible and adaptable to anyone's needs. 

Something I wasn't used to was also the idea of focusing on the quality of what we want to deliver and proving each person's idea matters. In a standard development team, there might be chances that you aren't able to question the way the solution is put in place. But with XWiki (and Open Source), you have your own freedom and can do more. 

What did you find to be the most interesting and challenging tasks?

The element that struck me the most when I first started at XWiki was the amount of rigor used when developing the software. I remember the first task I worked on took ages to be integrated into the product because I was continuously reviewing it and having discussions with the other team members about it. Through that task, I learned what it takes to properly do something that can be pushed into the product. With XWiki, once you start working on it, you have to learn a set of habits about the way you code, but once you've got that done it's much easier to work on the product in a clean way, so to say.

The feeling that I could do more qualitative work with each passing day was the most satisfying part of my the entire internship experience. 

And what about the integration process? How easy, or difficult was it for you?

All in all, integration was quite easy for me. I never really had any issues with that because everyone was friendly and willing to help me learn the ropes. XWiki is a small company, so it's easy to get to know each other well and bond, especially when working on so many common tasks.

To me, XWiki is like a big group of friends.

Open Source impressions

Was Open Source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

Yes, I was into Open Source prior to working at XWiki. During Engineering school I was actually the president of a french non-profit organization, called ATILLA (translated in English to Organization for Internet Technologies and Open Source software), which still exists. What I am most keen on when it comes to Open Source is the idea of the community. You can use it to improve the product (through the resources it provides), but also give back to it. In the case of proprietary software, you aren't ever really sure who you give back to, but when you look at Open Source as a whole, what you take is almost always what you give back.

What's the Open Source value appreciate most?

What I really appreciate about Open Source (and specifically, XWiki) is that we create software that helps with knowledge management. This is an issue everyone has, whether it's a small or a large organization. Before XWiki, I didn't get to understand the importance of knowledge management. I remember from past experiences, working in large companies, that there was no knowledge management. While there was documentation about the basics of the company, within the teams, there weren't any specific guidelines or procedures on how to do certain things. So I had to learn by asking or sitting through training, which isn't as efficient.  

It's very hard to define the value of knowledge, until you really need it.

At XWiki, through what we do, we manage to provide a solution for that. And the fact that even the smallest group of people can use it is a very important thing for me. For some people, Open Source is about being able to go through the source code and audit it by themselves. For me, it's the idea that even if the company were to disappear, the software would remain as is because of the community, continue to benefit everyone, and be used by everyone. This is the one idea I refer to whenever we stumbled upon difficulties or encounter challenges when conducting business here.


Becoming a full-time XWikier

After the first internship and before becoming a full-time employee, you came back two more times at XWiki. How did that happen?

Yes, being at XWiki has been a bit of a special journey in my case. I became a committer on the XWiki project after my first internship on the Product team, but I continued working on it even after the internship ended. I then returned to XWiki, working part-time for a couple of months in the Marketing team. In 2018, while studying Business, I was required to do another internship, so naturally, XWiki was my choice again. However, this time I joined as part of the Sales team and have been part of it ever since that moment. what was it that kept on drawing you back to XWiki?

At the end of my first internship, I already wanted to go back to working at XWiki. I didn't think I would come back as quickly as I did, but it happened and I was happy to get the opportunity to. I enjoyed my time at XWiki, especially because of the team and the people I interacted with. While I have been fond of Open Source long before XWiki, I can't say I would have expected to make it a full-time job. I didn't think it was doable to pursue such a career, but now that I see it's possible I definitely know it's something I want to do. Today, even if I were given the chance, I wouldn't go back to a company that doesn't do Open Source.

Did you feel like anything changed after this in the way you view or do things?

Things changed, mainly in the way I viewed things. I switched teams and became part of the Client team, where I started working on Sales. The switch was difficult, not because of the company, but because of my engineering background and the way I viewed things. It was hard to understand how to provide value to the product through sales, so going from development to working on the business side changed the game for me. In the end, I went from being in a team where the goal was to design the best possible solution to a team where I needed to actively work towards bringing clients in. It brought in more responsibilities and made me feel a bit more pressure, but also encouraged me to evolve and learn more.

Lessons learned

What is working as an account manager at XWiki like?

It's definitely not boring. One thing I really like about XWiki is the ability to be ambivalent and do different things. While my full-time job is as an Account Manager, when we hit maximum capacity, I switch to doing development because it helps reduce the load on the team. So in the morning, I could be doing sales, at noon plan a project for a new client and in the afternoon, switch to doing development. I don't have the time to say "I'm tired of doing the same task and need to change" because things are always changing and I just need to adapt.

To me, working as an account manager at XWiki means no day is like the other. 

This part of technical work helps me go back to doing what I know best while giving me the possibility to also improve on the account management side. The added value I have is the ability to do development on a project and also understand the technical background on what needs to be done. It's way easier to talk about a project when I know exactly how its implementation would work.

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

I think it's the importance of transparency. Knowing how the company is doing, what's happening, or being able to freely discuss doubts and concerns wasn't something I was used to from past experiences in other companies.  It was also one of the major differences I noticed coming to XWiki - not having restrictions when it comes to voicing my opinions, and being able to ask questions without feeling judged in any way for doing it.

The XWiki experience

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

Team focused.

What I really value about XWiki is the team spirit. To me, XWiki is a team of friends more than anything. It's a group of people I'm happy to interact, work, and be with.

Finally, what's your favorite memory at XWiki, so far?

Definitely the first seminar I was part of. It was, by far, the best week that I had in the past years. It was an opportunity to meet some of the team, in person, for the first time. Up until that moment, I only interacted with some of them online (since so many are working remotely or from Romania), so it was great to finally have face to face interactions. It felt like reconnecting with a couple of friends after not having seen each other for a long while. And it's been the same for each seminar since then, the highlight of each year.


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