10 Years in Professional Software Development
Slavik, Team Lead of TrustYou Messaging, has spent 10 years in professional software development this year, a third of his entire life. Time to pause for a moment and look back at the beginning of his career, from when his first interest in code developed when he grew up in the Ukrainian city Dnipro, to now, where he has become a true TrustYou adventurer.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
As a boy I wanted to be an astronomer, I was obsessed with the cosmos. Together with my best friend at that time, we would look at the Moon and wonder what actually was out there. We would imagine the craters were hiding of chocolate or toys. Outer space has always fascinated me. When you think about how small we are on this planet, and how large the universe actually is, you realize that there are just a few things which really matter. Later I became more interested in Chemistry and Physics but also wanted to build robots. The idea of creating something intelligent intrigued me. That’s why I became passionate about software development.
How did you become interested in coding?
My friend’s older brother was a software engineer and the only person I knew who had a computer. He showed me how a bunch of letters could transform into and create a whole website, as well as how text could be depicted with different colors. So I absolutely needed to have a computer. When my parents were able to buy one, I immediately jumped on it to learn HTML. I read everything I could find. My grandma greatly contributed to my knowledge gain by financially supporting the books in which I was interested.
What was your first day like at work as a Software Developer?
When I started studying computer science, I lacked a connection to the industry. So it was super exciting when I finally started working for an IT company. During my first day, I was introduced to the products, primarily software for web servers, and I met my team. We were only four developers and I was working as a support engineer for the products. Moreover, I enjoyed attending my company-paid English classes. I had never been interested in learning a language, apart from computer languages. However, when I went to the language school twice per week and I realized that I totally loved it because it was so different from my language learning experience at school. When I was finally able to understand English books and movies, it felt like discovering a new superpower.
Which people inspired you the most during your journey?
I’ve always been inspired by people who are able to do something better than I am. I like to learn from people who have experience in an area where I do not. One of them was my English teacher. He was a guy who made the class very entertaining and incorporated jokes and humor. This is something I greatly value about the TrustYou engineering team, too: we also work well together because we have a lot of fun and do not take ourselves too seriously.
Would you have changed anything in the way you approached your career path?
With hindsight, I would have moved to another country even earlier. It is just such a great experience, also for my family. You meet people from different cultures and walks of life, and gain endless opportunities to learn. In my previous role as the CTO, I was still trying to compete with my team as a developer. Since I was the youngest team member, I felt the need to prove that I am not the least experienced. This led to a crazy amount of work and I was simply overwhelmed by leading a team at that early age. Now, as a manager, I am not trying to compete anymore. I focus on collaboration and helping team members to develop and train their skills. I hope to help people grow in my team and learn as much as possible.
Would you have any advice for young developers?
Try to constantly learn new things and practice as much as you can. One of the most important things is that you find yourself environments where you can grow. Within TrustYou, there is a lot of space for this, as well as room for everyone to learn and develop - both professionally and personally. Growing implies multiple things: growing in terms of experience, skills, technology, and the way we improve our products. Recently, we integrated our messaging product with WhatsApp*. It’s been a great exercise in software architecture, testing, and collaboration between all team members. Thus, a major achievement by my whole team, and we all learned a lot on the way.
You’ve been with TrustYou for one year now: what are your main takeaways and to what are you looking forward?
I think my progress is mostly most in terms of my leadership skills. I have the chance to exchange best practices with my fellow team leads and the tech leadership at TrustYou. In regular one-on-one sessions with the VP Engineering and also the CTO, I can openly address topics and benefit from their many years of experience in leadership positions. Leadership to me means that one should actually create more leaders. People are moving into the directions they would like to go, I see my position as supporting them with their goals while also challenging them. You need to build trust with your team members, grant them the freedom to try, fail, and learn. Thus I am looking forward to continuing this journey and providing an environment for growth.