Career Advice, Interviews

Inside the Software Developer Role at Philips

High angle view of young multi ethnic computer programmers coding on laptops at desk in small office

As one of the best jobs in America for 2019, the role of Software Developer is core to any thriving, innovative tech company. From design to coding to testing, software developers are a jack of all trades and in demand from San Francisco to Amsterdam and back. Just ask Philips.

The healthcare tech company is eager to hire developers straight out of college or early in their career, and not only are they looking for the technical chops but soft skills are in hot demand as well. “Soft skills are hard to groom,” says Youssef Hawili, Senior Director of Innovation, Technology & Architecture at Philips. “Technical skills you can always teach someone as long as they have the ability and willingness to learn.”

To prepare yourself for a software role at Philips, Hawili shares interview tips and secrets.

Glassdoor: The role of a software developer is very popular right now. It’s hot and in demand for a variety of industries. In your experience, why is the role crucial for Philips?

Youssef Hawili: Software today has invaded or permeated our society in every aspect. Whether it’s our dating lives, with communication, our cell phones, our cars, our financial assets, healthcare, it’s really everywhere. And it’s growing more and more with this new digitization of healthcare. Philips has transformed into a healthcare software company. So, as a result of that, software is extremely important in every aspect of our work.

Glassdoor: When you’re interviewing candidates, how important is it for them to understand the business of healthcare tech? What should they know about the problems that Philips is trying to solve?

Youssef Hawili: I, personally, don’t look for healthcare experience as a requirement because it’s hard to find people with healthcare background as well as computer science background, as well as a specific type of technology and soft skills that we are looking for. For my team, as long as you find the right minds that are able to understand requirements, translate them into designs and architecture and build a system out of it, then they can learn the domain of healthcare as they move forward.

Glassdoor: Working with teams to develop and support solutions and experiences as a developer can seem broad and somewhat intangible. How would you describe a developer’s day-to-day at Philips?

Youssef Hawili: On a daily basis, the team jumps right into designing, architecting, problem-solving. We plan and execute what’s called a sprint, which is a two-week integration. Every Friday we have our team breakfast to build teamwork and have fun. About four or five times a year, we have coding marathons for a week or two where we sit down in a big conference room or an area that’s just wide open to house the whole team. We bring a lot of sugar and a lot of pizza and we have the 10 to 20 people literally start designing and building together. The reason why we do coding marathons is it really pushes the development cycle much faster. It allows us to collaborate together with other teams in order to build what the customer is looking for. The most important thing we have is the one week of innovation during the year where the team is free to do whatever they want. They can go to Best Buy and buy some new gadget and program it. They can download a new technology and hack at it then demonstrate what they’ve done. In some cases, it translates to something that we want to use and in other cases it an exercise in expanding the mind.

Glassdoor: When you are interviewing candidates, what are you looking for? How imperative is it for them to know Philips inside and out?

Youssef Hawili: If you’re asking whether I actually expect them to understand the problems and opportunities we have at Philips, I don’t. However, I expect them to have enough initiative and drive to go online to do their homework, look at Philips, look at the sector we’re in, look at what products we have. Candidates should come up with questions during this homework process and be ready to ask them. My first question for anyone interviewing at Philips is “What do you know about Philips?” followed by “What questions do you have for me?”

Glassdoor: What are some of the technical skills that are imperative for candidates applying to this role?

Youssef Hawili: There are two camps of technology stacks that we are looking for. The first is the traditional technology like Microsoft technology, C-Sharp, .net, SQL and that type of programming. The second is cloud technology. Cloud technology includes Amazon Web Services, cloud computing architecture and the underlying structures of the programming language. I’m really looking for modern technology, cloud technology. As long as candidates have the basic job of programming, that is enough from a technical perspective because I really focus more on the soft skills than the technical skills. Soft skills are hard to groom. Technical skills you can always teach someone as long as they have the ability and willingness to learn.

Glassdoor: What are some of the soft skills you look for in candidates?

Youssef Hawili: In all honesty, I look for passion and inner drive. If they aren’t passionate about software, they’re really not going to succeed. The inner drive drives a couple of things: One is the ability to learn something new as the technology changes as we know technology keeps changing all the time nowadays. And it also allows them to learn on the job, whatever we need them to learn. So inner drive and passion are must-haves.

Glassdoor: Lastly, what do you love most about working for Philips? You’ve been there for 23 years, what has kept you engaged and innovating at Philips?

Youssef Hawili: In interviews, I talk about my journey a lot because it’s important for them to know what we stand for. 23 years later, I’m still here. The reason for that is that we have transformed our business many times over and we have had to reinvent ourselves in the last 20 years because medicine is advancing, clinical practice is changing, technology is moving at the speed of light. This is what has kept me engaged and innovative all of these years. That’s why I’ve stayed for 23 years.


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