Roberto Busó-García, Technical Manager at Unqork, has brought his passions of worldbuilding and diversity to each of the career paths he’s pursued.
To begin, can you tell us a little bit about what a Technical Manager is and what your role at Unqork entails?
Roberto: I’ll start by saying that Unqork is a startup currently in hyper-growth mode, so definitions are fluid and we all wear different hats every day. As a Technical Manager, I lead the Integrations team in the Professional Services Organization, as well as serve as a Solutions Architect and Technical Lead on specific projects. My team of direct reports tackles some of the more technical aspects of the creation process from the delivery side, while the Integrations Team also sets up and troubleshoots a host of different integration-related tasks for ongoing builds.
As a Solutions Architect, I work as a consultant on some projects and am more hands-on for other ones. For those specific projects, I jump in from the requirements stage through delivery, trying to help establish best practices when approaching specific challenges. I also help shepherd Creators through the more challenging technical aspects of their projects. There’s never a boring day at Unqork.
When you talk about wearing many different hats, are there previous experiences that made you especially suited to such a fluid workplace? What did you do before Unqork?
Before Unqork, I had a very different life—I spent 25 years in film and television. I was a writer, director, executive producer, and I worked as a film acquisitions executive for HBO. I also worked in academia, founding the Master of Arts program in film, television, and new media at Johns Hopkins University. I ran the master’s program for a few years while acting as a professor teaching at the college and graduate levels.
"Before Unqork, I had a very different life—I spent 25 years in film and television. I was a writer, director, executive producer, and I worked as a film acquisitions executive for HBO."
Then, one day I said, “You know what? I’m done with this.” I had made a life in the industry that encapsulated my passion for storytelling, but I realized I didn’t want to be a part of that industry anymore. I still loved storytelling and I wanted to continue to find ways to tell stories, but not necessarily within the confines of the film and television industry. To do that on my terms, I had to shift careers.
I went to a coding bootcamp, graduated four months later, and became a software engineer. I was a freelance full-stack web developer in New York for a few months, and this provided me a luxury that I’d never had in my life before. It was like, suddenly I had skills that people wanted to pay for! I could have lived as a freelance web developer in New York, but I really wanted to be a part of the tech industry and have a richer experience. So I waited for the right opportunity for a while and eventually said yes to Unqork.
That’s an incredible journey. Can you tell us about what you think makes Unqork truly unique in the tech industry?
In many ways, Unqork is a lot more accessible than code and it brings the creator a lot closer to the user experience as you build. For instance, one can certainly learn Unqork without knowing anything about software development. That in itself is unique, but our platform takes that a step further. Once you start learning how to build with Unqork, you naturally start learning about things like user interaction and how to optimize the user experience. We’re building worlds for people to live in and use, and we provide really intuitive tools that help people achieve their goals.
Do you see any connections between working with no-code and working in the film industry?
I’m incredibly interested in how Unqork helps people learn how to think about design without it being like, “Oh, I’m taking a class in architecture or UI/UX.” It’s more about thinking about how things ought to work, which is a deeply valuable skill even outside of software. Creating in Unqork encourages you to do that—and if you’re already doing it, Unqork helps you grow. You have this platform where you can build complex applications with an incredibly simple and straightforward interface, and in a way, it’s like poetry. You can have the most powerful poems made up of only 15 words. With Unqork, building applications becomes more than telling stories—it’s like creating worlds.
You mentioned that when you’re learning to build with Unqork, you naturally start thinking about the user experience and the user interface. Having gone to a coding bootcamp, do you think that you start designing for the user earlier with no-code than with code?
I believe so—you’re much closer to the end product from the moment you start. In Unqork, you throw a few components together, hit preview, and you can immediately see it in an application. You constantly place yourself in the position of the user. When you’re testing, you’re not testing the code, you’re testing the experience. Being so close to the end product means you can test and understand the user experience much quicker.
When I was at bootcamp, people were so into figuring out whether they needed an extra dash or not that they forgot why they needed it in the first place. At the end of the day, people might have learned a programming language, but they ended up making many useless applications. Unqork helps prevent that by keeping you connected to what you’re doing.
Unqork has just been named the number one place to work in New York, which is really exciting. What are some of your favorite things about Unqork culture?
At Unqork, we constantly grow in different ways. The work here is so collaborative, and you’re always working with other team members in a way that helps you learn about the many different aspects of the business and how they each come together. That spirit of collaboration is in the DNA of our company. Especially with everyone working remotely in this disembodied way, I think those collaborative values really help keep you connected to something.
"Another thing I would say about the Unqork culture is that growth is not only vertical, but also horizontal. I’ve been on a few different teams since I started a year and a half ago. It’s a testament to the vision and flexibility of top management that they’re willing to see and trust that someone may be more effective on a different team."
Another thing I would say about the Unqork culture is that growth is not only vertical, but also horizontal. I’ve been on a few different teams since I started a year and a half ago. It’s a testament to the vision and flexibility of top management that they’re willing to see and trust that someone may be more effective on a different team. I think that’s very special. If anyone’s looking to grow professionally, Unqork is a splendid place to do that.
Speaking of growth and working with other team members—what do you think makes a good manager?
Listening. I talk a lot—I’m very verbose and I tend to take over meetings, but when other people talk I truly listen. When people say things, you have to internalize the information, open up your perspective and throw out your preordained notions, and really take it in as they’re talking. As a manager, you’re tasked to help someone reach their potential—or if they don’t know it yet, help find out what that potential is.
Everyone is so different. And not only are we different, but we’re different in a variety of contexts, and you’ll never know the full extent of where they are at any given time. When I’m managing a team, I try to embody and understand the world that each person lives in within the company at that moment.
As someone who switched industries and started learning code and no-code further along in your career, do you have any advice for people looking to get into technology?
It’s about commitment. Nothing ever starts in life unless you’re committed to it—but if you’re committed to learning something, you’re going to do it, particularly with Unqork. If you learn to code later in life like I did, you have to think about how to change your lifestyle for a set amount of months so that you don’t have an excuse to break the commitment. It requires restructuring your life a bit, but as a writer I was used to it.
Finally, do you have any thoughts about how no-code fosters diversity, equity, and inclusion?
Well, I’ll add that diversity and inclusion is another really great thing about Unqork culture. They find spectacular people—not just smart people, but really great people all around. I’m a proud Puerto Rican, and that’s been an issue at some places, but never at Unqork. It’s inclusive in the right way.
All my life, I’ve been interested in and involved in the idea of access at every level for minorities. When I was in academia and in film and television, my master’s program was almost 70% female and 75% African American. People would ask me, “How was that achieved?” And the answer was, well, we just invited everyone! I made it known that the program was truly for everyone, so everyone interested should apply. And they did—so we got to choose from the best. And the best of everyone is usually diverse.
When it comes to no-code, if you think about knowing code as an access barrier, it’s kind of the same thing. The best people who know how the app should work and what it should do are the ones who should be building the app—but with code, they might not be able to. When you use no-code, you can include all the right people from all backgrounds in the development process, and the right people will make the right choices. I think Unqork is going to end up being a great equalizer in that way.
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