12 Hours With Gerald, our CTO


Can you define yourself using just one hashtag?

What would you say is your definition of success?
Being able to execute what I believe in.

What would you describe as your power outfit?
I have this Belstaff Jacket V Racer which I love …

Biggest surprise since working for Stylight?
The responsibility that everyone is taking.

The last thought you had before going to sleep last night?
Why the JSON binding provider was not correctly loaded in a Servlet container … 

Can you give us a word that describes your job for each letter of your name?
Great Teamplay,

Who’s the person you’d most like to have a coffee with?
Armin Wolf, a popular Austrian journalist.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever been given?
Appreciation shown at the fare well at my last job at ProSiebenSat.1

‘Home’ means…?
Staying with the family.

Gerald Madlmayr



Usually I wake up around 7 am, without an alarm clock. I think that I should sleep as long as my body needs it, as else I’m not productive. After a quick shower I get on my bike and ride to work. My route is approximately 13 km long and guides me mainly thru the English Garden, which is pretty awesome. There is not a single day without seeing a rabbit, a squirrel or a deer. Beside the nature, I enjoy the exercise on my way work, where I also pass by the “House of Upper Austria” near the Obelisk. The long way to the office has another benefit: I placed 2nd in the bike challenge at Stylight, as I did 975 km cycling in May. 

House of Upper Austria in Munich


Around 8:00 I’m at the office in NY86, where I change my clothing and have breakfast. Stylight offers all kinds of breakfast cereals, yogurts and fresh fruits. I usually head for some muesli, an espresso and tea. Then, the first thing I do, is check if all systems are nominal. Slack (Ox Bot), PagerDuty and DataDog give me the relevant information before I dive into my daily work.

Today I want to finish some work that I was digging into yesterday. We are porting a Java application from running on Wildfly to Tomcat (to be more resource efficient). I’m working on the PoC for the local development environment based on Docker and need to get some port mapping stuff solved till 10:00 when there is the stand up in the according team. (Purple Tentacle, my Docker Mentor, always is of great help for such tasks). I try to avoid involving myself in blocking tasks for teams, but as I did a similar task in my previous job, that was an easy one for me.


At 8:45 we have our management standup. Julian, Andreas, Julian and I have a quick chat about what is going on and what are the most relevant tasks for the day. We recently launched Stylight Club and we want more detailed tracking data out of the user behavior and define KPIs that we want to measure and improve.


After the standup I finish the work on the dev setup for the product team and quickly show them the solution in the stand up at 10:00. Then I have a working session with another team on architecture and governance in our application and service landscape. We want to improve transparency of the systems to better understand data throughput.


For lunch, today, we have a Bits and Bytes, where Sergii our Data-Brain (he also is a Google endorsed developer for Machine Learning), presents the hottest news from Google I/O where he was one of the front-row guests. At Stylight most employees have lunch in our atrium, so you always have someone (new) to chat with during lunch.


As we are working in an agile environment, teams exchange on a regular basis. Today we have our engineering weekly, where all lead engineers give a quick update on the topics they are working on.

Although all employees of Stylight sit on the same floor in the same building (that enables collaboration on a very high level), I have a scooter to move more quickly from A-to-B (see Agile Principle #6). “Unfortunately”, I have to pass by the front desk quite frequently where we have our sweets …


Later in the afternoon I have a 1:1 with Basti, who is the longest standing employee in the company. We usually do a “walk-and-talk” in the hood of the office, exchanging ideas on how to improve the engineering and also how to have more fun building better systems. Today we are arguing about the pros and cons of type-unsafety in Python. We also talk about a more KPI driven product design, as aligned with the management colleagues in the morning.


I join the data engineering team, as they are working on a larger project called Holistic Traffic Management what allows us to better manage the incoming user traffic and guide them to our partner shops. For this part we make heavy use of our massive amount of data, that the data engineering team is crunching using BigQuery, Athena as well as Jupiter Notebooks and providing visualization via Periscope. The team is making impressive progress at the moment and the first A/B tests show that we are able to increase the partner value. Hence we decided to roll out the tests to other markets to gain more insights.

Right afterwards I head on over to our StackOverflow Company Page and post the most current office pictures, as there was a photo shooting in our office recently.


Before I can work on some more tech stuff, I sit together with Jan (whose team placed 1st in the bike challenge) from the accounting team in order to see how we can optimize the representation of our software and data assets in our balance. Therefore we go thru the ISA (International Account Standard) and I’m still happy, that I learnt the accounting and tax basics at school, so that I can support our team in this regard. 


After a rather busy day, I take a some personal development time and invest it into getting better at Machine Learning by working thru a Coursera training and solving exercises using Octave. This stuff is amazing – now I understand neural networks in detail and I’m able to classify numbers with some basic Matrix operations. Although it is a simple exercise, it truly helps me to understand the basic of ML and makes me more comfortable when exchanging with our data sciences colleagues.


After finishing coding, I deserve a drink. I join some colleagues who have the same idea and as the weather got better during the day, we sit outside in front of the office and have beer and Radler. The team here at Stylight is super cool, and even afterwork we talk about ideas where we could gain competitive advantage and where other players in the market are going. But today I’m discussing with Sam (who is also part of the winning team of the bike challenge), whether it makes sense to invest into a Shimano Ultegra or if my 105er is still a good choice (the outcome was, that the 105er is the better deal).


12 hours are over and I’m home again. I decided to change to the couch and watch another episode of the murder mystery “Undercover” on ZDF’s mediathek with my girl friend. As it is already pretty late, we just have some salad for dinner.


I go to bed, the last though I have again deals with the Docker Container for the Developer Setup and about the build process in CireleCI.

Written by Gerald Madlmayr, our CTO


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