He does both: succeeding as a high-flying engineer and a creative freelancer

Ghanaian-born Alex Gameli Heyman is a Software engineer and app developer.

In our regular series We Make Denmark Work, meet the internationals making an impact on Danish business.

Alex Gameli Heyman, from Ghana, moved to Denmark in 2015 for his master’s degree. He graduated in 2017, currently works as a software engineer and has also developed his own apps, after taking up app development as a pandemic hobby.

He has recently released his Parking Zone app – which helps users to find free and paid parking – for Copenhagen and Frederiksberg.

On Parking Zone, users can search for any street in Copenhagen and find the parking rules that apply. They have all the information they need to avoid fines at their fingertips.

It can be confusing to interpret Danish parking signs as an international. For that reason, the app is in English – though Danish version will be developed soon.

Could you briefly describe your work history?
I started as an application analyst at Grundfos, in Bjerringbro. I moved there right after I graduated from Aalborg University. After living there for 14 months, I moved back to Copenhagen because I missed the vibrant life in the city. I joined Banedanmark as a project engineer working on the Danish signalling program. After a year, I moved to Maersk where I work as an automation engineer for the Cloud Platform.

READ ALSO: Tips: How to get along with your Danish colleagues

What is your current role and what does it entail?
Now I am a software engineer at SimCorp – a financial software company servicing banks and investment firms. At the beginning of this year, I was promoted to senior product owner. Currently, I’m working on a cloud platform delivery. We are in charge of providing security best practices for all the products or projects that are going to production in the cloud. We also provide infrastructure components for their cloud projects, and advisory or subject matter experts for every project produced in the cloud.

I’m very passionate about my job and I put a lot of effort into pursuing studying and taking certifications to get better at my profession.

Will you focus entirely on app development at some point, or continue in both fields?
The plan is just to do both. I love my day job at SimCorp, and app development is a hobby that I do in my free time. So, I am not planning any time soon to switch to one side. Writing code gets me excited, so I will keep doing that.

Is this the career you envisaged when you graduated? 
I would say yes, this is my dream job. After working in this industry for a little more than five years, I am very much settled in. So, this is something that I want to continue to work with.

Has your international background given you an advantage over your Danish colleagues?
As a foreign national in the Danish job market, I bring my diversity to the host country. I bring a blend of my cultural background, the knowledge I acquired during my Bachelor’s in Ghana and my Master’s here.

My education here in Denmark was a blend of software engineering and entrepreneurship. These two things were a great mix and have helped me a lot in my career as I can keep developing software while also considering the business aspect of the company.

Meanwhile, cultural difference helps a lot when interacting with people. My open mind helps me to understand the various cultures that the other employees and customers come from. That is a big advantage as most of the companies that we work with are international and I have colleagues from all over the world.

Did you consider any other countries in which to complete your masters?
No – I only applied in Denmark, so the plan was to come here. Since the moment I was accepted, I did not look anywhere else.

What’s it like being an international in a Danish work environment?
In the beginning, it took some time to get used to the very flat hierarchy of the Danish job market. Where I come from, there are many stages that you have to pass before getting to the top.

It was new to me, but I quickly learned to like it. Things move quickly when you can speak directly to the right person. Something else that I appreciate a lot is how much trust is given to employees. The company encourages us to be innovative and to bring out new ideas that can help the business grow.

What three things have surprised you most about your working life in Denmark?
I can get a lot of paid vacation every year. There is also a lot of flexibility concerning working hours, you can choose to work from home and spread your mandated hours across the day as it suits you.

What do you consider the biggest benefit of working in Denmark?
The best thing about working here is that there are a lot of opportunities to grow and explore within a company.

What do you miss about working in your home country?
In Ghana, it is quite common to become friends with your colleagues. It goes deeper than just being co-workers. You can invite them over to your house and have parties. Here in Denmark, however, I don’t see many instances where I can become very close friends with my colleagues. I miss that part.

What advice would you give to somebody considering a career in Denmark?
Mention all your qualifications in your resume and on LinkedIn because I do think Danish employers will appreciate that. Including everything from soft skills such as communication, to hard skills, will help you to enter the Danish job market.