Next up in ’10 Questions…’ we have the enigmatic Gherry Harahap – one of the very first hires to join the rapidly-growing team, who’s been with TradeGecko for over a year and a half now.
Hailing from the Netherlands, like many others in the team here, Gherry is truly a citizen of the world, having spent significant time in Indonesia and Singapore to date.
A philosophical deep thinker, with a multi-faceted personality, there’s much to him that lies beneath the surface, so here’s the story of Gherry Harahap, Software Engineer extraordinaire.
So who's Gherry, and how did you end up at TradeGecko?
Well, Gherry is simply someone from the Netherlands, who just happens to be in Singapore right now. I love the engineering aspects of a startup, to help build, develop and manage a product from scratch. I first got to know Cam, Carl and Bradley from our days at JFDI – when they successfully raised seed funding for TradeGecko, that’s when they approached me to be a part of the team.
You've had a very interesting background - tell us a little about your life journey through Holland, Indonesia and Singapore.
I was born in Malang, Indonesia, where I lived, studied and grew up till senior high school. My dad’s Dutch however, which meant that I always had duo nationality. The problem was that at 18, I had to give one up – either my Dutch or Indonesian passport.
As it was also around the time I was contemplating my University options, it kind of made sense to me to move to the Netherlands instead, as there were probably far better education options there.
After graduation, I founded a startup alongside some friends. We were really looking for the adventurous option – so we jumped on a plane halfway across the world for JFDI, and the rest as they say is history.
So, a little bird (Fazri, Customer Support) tells me you have a thing for robots, anime and Spiderman. Care to elaborate?
Well first, I have to say that I don’t think the robots part is true!
However, I do love anime though. While many might think anime is ‘silly’, to me the content is extremely deep and meaningful. There is often a lot of philosophical questions posed and raised within the storylines, which seriously make you stop and think.
An example would be ‘Attack on Titan’, a famous anime/manga series set in a world where humanity lives inside massive domed cities surrounded by enormous walls, as a defense against ‘Titans’ – gigantic humanoid creatures who devour humans seemingly without reason. In the story, mankind feels almost akin to cattle, and the story of how they band together to save humanity is truly inspiring.
As for Spiderman… Well, Fazri and Bob (ex-engineer with TradeGecko) often ask me which animal would best represent me, and I always answered a spider.
Why you say? Because well spiders are pretty small, but scary. Others would typically answer lions, horses etc – but I just like spiders!
What's the absolute best vacation you can possible imagine?
Some place, any place where there is lots of activity going on. In particular, I love cities – I can spend the entire day outside just walking, looking at architecture, people-watching.
I haven’t been there, but I’ll like to go to Tokyo or Seoul one day. Very modern places, I’ve always been intrigued by the culture, and I’ll like to experience it one day.
If you could choose one superpower, what would it be and why?
I would choose to be invisible.
It’s human nature for us to act and behave different when in the presence of others, as opposed to when we are alone. It’ll be fun just seeing how my present influences those around me, and to see how different people act.
Boxers or briefs?
Briefs - I've never actually tried boxers!
Name me the one biggest misconception people typically have of you.
People often have an impression that I’m not very approachable. The truth is, I’m rather introverted and shy, so I might come across as a little distant.
I don’t usually initiate approaching people when I first meet them, it’s more of the other way around.
So yeah I would say that’s the biggest misconception about me, it’s just my shy nature!
What's the stupidest thing you've ever done in your life?
Well, that’s probably doing my Masters degree in media and knowledge engineering (a combination of artificial intelligence, user experience and data mining)! I appreciate knowledge, and I definitely found my course very interesting – but it took my three whole years. I probably lost two years there, which definitely could have been time much better spent.
I’ve come to realize that without actually taking the Masters, I could have learnt much of those stuff much faster, just by studying case studies, or actually starting work earlier…
What is the meaning of life?
To me… there is no meaning of life! It’s something that YOU HAVE TO CREATE YOURSELF!
Life only means as much as you want it to be, you have to create as much experiences for yourself as possible.
Last but not least, why are you always appearing offline on Slack (our internal messaging platform)?
I’m avoiding support! Just joking…
It doesn’t really work now, but I actually discourage people from direct messaging me because I need to keep my concentration up.
Founder of Y Combinator, programmer and venture capitalist Paul Graham has written a famous essay analyzing the way different people work – namely the difference between the ‘Maker’ and the ‘Manager’ schedule.
The latter is typically cut into specific, shorter intervals, just like a traditional appointment book. Most developers however typically operate on the Maker’s schedule, whereby meetings can be a disaster which severely interrupts longer work-flow.
So that’s… why I’m usually appearing offline!
An anime fan? An introverted philosopher yourself? Drop Gherry a note at email@example.com!