Today I will go quickly through the time I lived in he PACA region (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) in France, where I’ve spent 13 months.
In fact, during my last year at the ENSIMAG (2007), I was hired by Amadeus as a full time employee thus I moved to PACA right after graduating.
Amadeus is the worldwide leader provider of IT solutions for tourism and travel industry, and is running the biggest non-military datacenter in Europe (>5000 transactions per second, 200,000 terminals connected, and 24/7 operation). It was founded by Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa and SAS airlines in 1987.
Amadeus systems are very complex, developed in C++. To give you an idea of the complexity, here you have an interesting quote extracted from an interview of Bjarne Stroustrup (C++ inventor) :
What is the most interesting program that you’ve seen written with C++?
I can’t pick one and I don’t usually think of a program as interesting. I look more at complete systems — of which parts are written in C++. Among such systems, NASA’s Mars Rovers’ autonomous driving subsystem, the Google search engine and Amadeus’ airline reservation system spring to mind.
So, it’s not difficult to imagine what kind of work I did there, isn’t it? Of course, I was part of a C++ development team and we coded parts of the internal system.
Although Amadeus has hubs in many countries around the world, its main locations are the headquarters in Madrid (Spain), datacenter in Earding (Germany) and the development center in Sophia Antipolis (Nice, France), with more than 4,000 engineers from the top European Universities.
Sophia Antipolis is a technology park created in the image of the America’s Silicon Valley, and it houses primarily companies in the fields of computing, electronics, pharmacology and biotechnology. Its location is great because it is in the middle of a regional park with beautiful landscapes, and next to the sea and the tourist French Rivera (10 Km from Cannes/Antibes/Juan Les Pines, 30 Km from Nice). Also, the South Alps are about 100 km distance. For that reasons, the life there is really attractive with a good mix of work opportunities and high life quality.
The best thing of Amadeus in Sophia is its offices/facilities, and the company culture. It reminds me of Google in California. There is an awesome restaurant with very good food, sport installations and it is next to tennis club which you can join almost for free. Also, within the company you can enjoy from many courses from music to Chinese for example, there are clubs of sailing, climbing, ski, and others. In my opinion, they do their best to make the worker happy.
As you can imagine, apart from French people, there is a big international community at Amadeus in Sophia, and most of all a lot of Spaniards (90% from Madrid and Barcelona) and British. There are many parties organized in apartments and in Villas every weekend, and if not, you can always go to Antibes or Juan Les Pines to have a beer (or more) in pubs such as La Gaffe.
As I said above, the region provides many opportunities to have a high quality of life. You can enjoy the sea as much as you want during 6 months a year (or even more) because the weather is wonderful. Also, you can go to the Alps during the full year. The region is not as close as Grenoble from the Alps, but it is not too far. In a one hour driving you can be at the feet of 3,000 m height mountains, or only 30′ from pre-alps mountains chain where you can find many trails for hiking, climbing places, rivers, etc. Of course during winter there are several ski resorts nearby. Finally, the region is well situated for traveling. Italy is less than a one hour driving distance, and the North of the country is very accessible for even a weekend short trip (Milan, Torino, Genoa, Florence, Venice, etc.). Also, Monaco is right next to Nice (I assisted to the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix, it was awesome!).
Maybe you are wondering why I decided to leave that idyllic place? Well, first of all I wasn’t really motivated working at Amadeus because of the work I was doing (very technical one). Second, I always wanted to work in the US and I’ve found a good opportunity (mission VIE) within Société Générale Investment bank. Finally, I’m very interested about the Financial Industry (I’m the kind of guy that reads ‘The Economist’ or visits weekly economic websites), so that opportunity was one of the opportunities that come few times in a lifetime and that you cannot let it go.
See you next time.