Hello everyone, I’m Alexandre (Alex) Poulin and I am a Senior Software Engineer at EP. I was born and raised in Dunedin but my family is originally from Montreal, immigrating to New Zealand in the early 90s.
I started at EP way back in late 2012, working part time in the Languages Content Team while I finished my Computer Science degree at the University of Otago. My ‘interview’ for the job was conducted while playing Four Square with a Swiss Ball, having to answer questions like ‘If you were a utensil, which one would you be?’ (the answer is spork, obviously) and having to make my best dinosaur impression. It was clear from then that I knew I would enjoy working here.
Tell us a bit about yourself! (personal and/or work life)
I grew up playing outside with friends, then I found the internet and computers and haven’t left my room since. Okay that was a slight over exaggeration, I still played badminton for Otago and went on walks when my parents forced me to but otherwise I was playing games on my laptop (mainly RuneScape and Battlefield 2 🤓). I’ve spent most of my life in Dunedin but have been fortunate enough to travel to over a dozen countries with my family, usually following my Dad to a conference that he would attend and then taking some extra time to sight see. The next two locations on my hit-list are Japan and somewhere in Scandinavia.
These days I spend a lot of my spare time hanging with friends or learning about a variety of topics on YouTube. I love learning, mainly – Tesla/SpaceX news, latest green technology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, spirituality/meditation to name a few. I also love listening to music, if you know me even a little bit then you’ll know I love listening to the band Tool but also listen to The xx, Parcels, Red Hot Chili Peppers, A Perfect Circle, Sticky Fingers, Kendrick Lamar, and Mako Road to name a few.
Why do you love working at EP?
Hands down it has to be the people and the product. The team at EP have to be the most caring, supportive, and hard-working bunch of people that I have met. They’re always keen to have a laugh but know when to knuckle down and get the big jobs done.
As for the product, I love solving real problems for real people and to be able to do this while also providing a world-class education platform is extremely rewarding. I think educating future generations (and current generations too) is key for the long term success of humanity. We need a lot of smart people to solve many difficult problems for us to become a sustainable and long lasting civilisation. It’s also extremely motivating for me to think about how many thousand hours have been saved by teachers, and how many millions of questions have been answered by students as a direct result of the code I have written.
Favourite feature of the platform?
My favourite feature would have to be Dash. It’s a fast and competitive revision game that students can play after each lesson, they can either play ‘offline’ against ghost players or online against other students. It is my favourite feature because it was really fun to build, it was the first real bit of gamification that I was able to work on and I was able to work closely with a colleague, Mark van Rij, who taught me a lot during that project.
What advice would you pass on to a younger version of yourself?
Solidify and refine your goals. You’re full of potential, which is great, but if you don’t turn your goals into something which you can act on then you will only ever be potential.
It’s too easy to stay in the world of potential, whether it’s your fear of failure or inability to commit to a decision that’s holding you back, you will only get what you want out of life where the rubber meets the road.
Tell us about a time when you viewed an event or occurrence as a negative, though in hindsight it turned out to be a positive.
This might be an odd answer but a ‘negative’ event that turned out to be positive was my separation from my then wife, Kirstie. This whole experience has been such a great vehicle for teaching me about change. At first I was a bit shell-shocked, we had been together for over 10 years, married for over a year, had a house together and a whole bunch of life plans. Now, we are both much happier with healthy social lives. We are both on the paths that we want to be on, and we continue to support each other as good friends.
Since then, I have learnt how to be more independent, that living alone can actually be quite fun and that the end of a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that something has gone wrong. Not every relationship that you enter needs to last forever, sometimes you are only meant to be together for a certain period in your lives and once that relationship has reached its natural end, you can part ways on good terms knowing that you both have bright futures ahead of you.
Any last words you would like to share?
Time only moves forward, so should you. You will only ever experience this moment once, 5 seconds ago will always be 5 seconds ago, it will never be now again. Be present in this moment as you will never be able to experience it again, laugh when you want to laugh, cry when you want to cry, just don’t take it too seriously. ✌️