The farmer who went from agriculture to hi-tech culture

Shlomo Glikman is a full-stack developer for the fintech firm Capitolis. But just five years ago, he was a camel rancher with little-to-no technical experience.

 Glikman working on the family ranch (photo credit:  Shlomo Glikman)
Glikman working on the family ranch
(photo credit: Shlomo Glikman)

My first impression of Shlomo Glikman was “clever.” As we sat for our (online) interview, he seemed both reserved and intelligent – the latter trait was proven to be more than apt once he explained to me how he went from raising camels and goats to landing a job at a leading Israeli fintech company.

Born to a family of ranchers, Glikman began working for the family business from an early age. His family owns the Ayalon Valley Ranch, located west of Jerusalem.

“I didn’t know anything about development; I just spent my life working on the farm, basically since childhood,” Glikman said.

Following his service in the IDF, Glikman worked with his father to transform the ranch into an educational farm, hosting students and special needs children expeditions from all over the country.

Running such an establishment requires a fair bit of logistics work, though, and Glikman took that work upon himself, managing salary software, supply/provider programs, customer relations and whatever other tech-related jobs needed to be handled to keep things running smoothly – despite the fact that he had absolutely no technological experience.

 Shlomo Glikman, full-stack developer, former rancher. (credit:  Shlomo Glikman) Shlomo Glikman, full-stack developer, former rancher. (credit: Shlomo Glikman)

Glikman's change

“I had a lot of complicated tasks that I needed to manage so I started researching how to do it in a more efficient way. Like problem-solving,” he explained. Much of Glikman’s work was on Microsoft Excel, a spreadsheet program.

As he worked, Glikman discovered that it was way easier to manage Excel spreadsheets by programming some basic commands within the software – so he did, with a little help from Google.

Over time, Glikman picked up more knowledge, learning more advanced coding tricks for Excel and reaching out to a private tutor who gave him online coding lessons.

“I took like five lessons with an Access developer who showed me how to use MS Access [a more complex management platform],” he said.

When the lessons were finished, he asked his tutor: “Okay, so how does the code behind it work?” Glikman recalled. “He showed me, but he told me ‘you’re not a developer, what do you want to learn this for?’ That was when I really started surfing the Internet and teaching myself how to code.”

Shortly thereafter, he began taking free online programming courses, culminating in his development of a management program custom-tailored to the ranch’s needs.

Upon discovering that he had an aptitude for coding, Glikman set his sights on the Israeli hi-tech sector and continued to broaden his well of knowledge while hunting for a job.

Earlier this year, Glikman was scooped up by the talent acquisition team at Capitolis, an Israeli fintech company, as a full-stack developer. The move from camel ranch to a hi-tech fintech firm took a little bit of adjustment.

“It’s a major change in my life. I don’t see a lot of daylight,” he joked. “But my children like my current job more, because I’m more… I don’t know. I’m not exhausted all the time.”

“It’s a major change in my life. I don’t see a lot of daylight, But my children like my current job more, because I’m more… I don’t know. I’m not exhausted all the time.”

Shlomo Glikman

I was shocked to discover that the 36-year-old’s entire journey from managing Excel sheets to full-stack development transpired in “two, maybe three years.”

I asked him for his thoughts on the adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. “In my point of view, it’s an old-fashioned idea,” he answered.

“Nowadays, you can start doing anything whenever you want,” he said. “Your age doesn’t matter. It just matters what you feel now, and how you can implement your ambition. Maybe tomorrow, I want to be a pilot, I don’t know. And if I can do it, I will do it.”

Today, Glikman lives with his wife and kids in a home that’s close enough to the family ranch; they love to visit and lend a hand on the weekends.