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Arnaud Tanielian, Engineer Manager at Shopify

23 January 2024 Portraits
Published by Sophie JEAN
Viewed 234 times

A graduate of the Concepteur Réalisateur Multimédia program in 2010, Arnaud Tanielian is currently Engineer Manager at Shopify. He worked in Canada and Australia before moving to New York in 2014. He has worked for marketing agencies and creative studios, including clients such as Spotify and Google Creative Lab. Together with other students, he also helped create the school's first BDE.




Could you summarize your career path since graduating as a Multimedia Designer-Director in 2010?

I did my work-study at Megalos & compagnie, then started work at Big Youth, in Paris, after graduating. I stayed there for a year, then moved on to Soleil Noir, a studio well known at the time for their expertise in Flash. I was their first recruit as a javascript developer ! I stayed there for 6 months, and it was a great experience, which enabled me to learn a lot and make lots of contacts for the future.


In 2012, I went freelance and moved to Canada, near Vancouver. I traveled and worked for about a year. Being in the English-speaking part of the country, it was a good opportunity to learn English. I continued to work with the companies I'd worked with in Paris and won contracts with American and Canadian companies (Odopod, Barbarian Group...). I specialized more and more as a front-end developer, using the latest technologies.


I then spent 8 months in Australia, where I again traveled and worked for Parisian and local companies.




Site interactif créée pour la marque Chobani pour une campagne publicitaire

Interactive website created for the Chobani brand for an advertising campaign




In 2014, I had the opportunity to land a full-time senior developer position in New York at Stink Studio. I was already working freelance for their Paris office. I obtained a 3-year O1 ("exceptional talent") visa, thanks to the numerous awards won by the projects I'd worked on, and was thus able to try my luck in the United States.


I stayed with Stink Studio for 5 years. I worked on the same type of site, but for bigger clients. I worked for Google, Spotify, Subaru.... I worked my way up to Technical Director.


Then I moved to Work & Co, in Brooklyn, an agency specializing in the product. It gave me the opportunity to discover other, much longer projects, with different challenges. It was very interesting to be able to bring an interactive experience to sites with a larger audience.


In May 2022, I was hired by Shopify as Engineer Manager, within one of the marketing teams...




After traveling and working freelance from many parts of the world you settled in New York in 2014, why this choice?

It's quite a coincidence. I saw Stink Studio's offer at a time when I needed something new, and I didn't have any particular appetite for New York. On the other hand, I knew three former GOBELINS students, from the class just below mine, who were already living there. The three of them were roommates, and I was lucky enough to get the room of one of them who was moving to Los Angeles.




Création d’un site interactif à l’occasion du centième anniversaire du « National Parks Service »

Creation of an interactive site to mark the 100th anniversary of the National Parks Service

You're an Engineering Manager at Shopify. What does your job involve?

I manage a team of 6 developers and contractors within a total team of 25 people (developer designers, content designers, motion designers...). We're like a small agency within Shopify. I'm in charge of recruitment, and I coach developers to help them complete projects and grow in their careers.


I also take care of project management, working with the other leads to determine tasks and deadlines.


In theory, I'm not supposed to code, but my developer background helps me a lot to support the team. I can unblock a projectso that the team doesn't have to work all night or all weekend. But it seems to be a trend in the industry, with more and more managers getting their hands dirty.




What impact do you think AI will have on the development profession?

For the moment, AI is more a tool to help developers be more efficient. Code is only one aspect of the dev's job, and AI won't be able to replace (at least for the time being) other, more "human" aspects, such as managing conversations with stakeholders (presentations, feedback...).


AI may eventually replace certain tasks or even junior jobs , enabling devs to move faster, but it will also open other doors. For example, some devs specialize in writing effective prompts for GPT chat (Prompt Engineers are appearing on LinkedIn).


At present, despite the large number of developers, there are still needs on the market.




Expérience interactive autour de la série "Mad Men" pour Google Play 

Interactive experience around the "Mad Men" series for Google Play

You have won several awards (The One Show, The Webbys, Ciclope Festival, Shorty Awards, Awwwards, FWA, Cannes Lions and D&AD...) can you tell us more?

There are lots of awards you can apply for when creating websites. They don't all have the same value, but it helped me get my visa.


Historically, there are two major awards for front-end and advertising: FWA and Awwwards.


The FWA (Favorite Website Award) has been around for 20 years, and was originally created for flash websites. The jury is made up of web professionals.


Awwwards is now undoubtedly the most influential organization, with a large community. The sites selected are recognized by the profession. They also organize conferences. I was lucky enough to be able to give a talk in New York, which enabled me to take part in other conferences afterwards.




Which project has impressed you the most?

I'm quite proud of a project I worked on for Spotify. For a few years now, the application has offered " Wrapped ", a recap of everything we've listened to in the year. It used to be a separate website, called "Year in Music". Each year, a different agency was in charge of the site's design and development.


In 2015, when I was at Stink Studio, I worked as lead developer on the annual version of the site. I was very proud of that, as it's a highly anticipated site at the end of the year, reaching two or three million users.


I also really enjoyed working on the " Stonewall Forever " project, in partnership with The Center, to mark the 50th anniversary of Gay Pride. The project was funded by the Google Creative Lab.


It was a website with a 3D component, which allowed the user to be able to wander around a digital building, initially located in Christopher Park, just opposite the Stonewall Inn bar, where the riots took place in the 1960s.


We also designed an AR app that allowed you to walk through the park and see the building in 3D with your phone.


I worked with Samuel Honigstein (better known as samsyyyy) on this project. He graduated in 2015. He's very well known on the world scene as a WebGL developer.




Projet "Stonewall Forever"  

Stonewall Forever" project

How has your training helped you in your career?

My training has helped me enormously. The sandwich course made a big difference. Being able to work in a company, on real projects, was very formative. It also gave me something to show when I entered the job market.


At the time, there were 10 developers and 10 designers in my class. This mix creates generations of designers and developers who know how to work together, which is essential in the industry. It really set us apart when we left.


The GOBELINS network is gigantic. I've met a lot of alumni from other classes throughout my career. In the field of dev and especially creative dev, but also in motion and animation, GOBELINS is the best there is. Many of our alumni have gone on to set up their own companies and recruit other alumni, so there's a lot of cross-fertilization going on, and that's another of the school's strengths. When I need to recruit a designer or develop a product, the fact that I'm a GOBELINS alumnus comes into play.


GOBELINS is really recognized in our industry, especially by agencies. Graduating from the school is a stamp of approval for agencies.




Site "A Year in Music" pour Spotify 

A Year in Music" website for Spotify

Can you tell us one good memory from your years at GOBELINS?

GOBELINS also holds a special place in my heart, not least because of the people I met there. I also helped set up the first BDE with Marcel Villoing, the deputy director at the time, and other students.


It was great, we were able to do lots of things, organize lots of inter-departmental parties, competitions, ski trips... It was a great experience.




What advice would you give to a recent graduate?

You haveto try. The beginning of a career is the perfect time to follow opportunities as they arise. You can't ask yourself too many questions.


At the beginning, especially at GOBELINS, you don't count the hours; you're passionate. You have to translate that passion into action and get going.


Coming from a small commune in the south of France, Paris was the end of the world for me, the culmination of my studies and the start of my career. I had never flown before GOBELINS, and ended up living in Canada, Australia and, for almost 10 years now, New York... If I could do it, you can do it, really. You just have to try.




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