An interview with the VP of Engineering
Viktor has recently become Clearmove’s VP of Engineering. Having years of experience and a strategic mindset, he is perfect for this management role as he knows how to optimize work and develop professionals at the same time. Today he’s sharing with us his thoughts on management and leadership, why it is useful to be a developer, and what is a perfect engineering team in a perfect world of a product IT company.
About you and your profession
Many engineers say their first interest in programming started at school age. Were you the same?
Of course! Like many kids of my generation, at school, I liked computers because they had games. Later I was more interested in what the internet was, how it worked, etc. I remember how we studied Pascal, wrote very primitive programs, and faked emails for fun. And then I entered a University.
My specialization wasn’t exactly about programming – I was in the Technical Cybernetics Faculty and we had proper programming courses only in the third or fourth year. At that point, I could code better than our teachers. Work-wise I started to make money with web development during the second year of study. I knew photoshop, my friend knew how to code, so we cooperated and created our first web development company.
So is it correct to say that you started your first company at the age of 19?
Absolutely. At that time we delivered our services only to FFF – fools, family, friends. No advertisements, no marketing budget whatsoever. Very quickly FFF finished and so did our enthusiasm, so the company stopped its existence. But I learned how to code, so it was a great experience for me. The design per se wasn’t my passion anyway, since I always put UX over UI.
Was it the only company you established by yourself?
No, I moved further on right after and started a second company with my classmates. This was way better because I was the head of the company, aka VP of Engineering. I talked to clients and sold them our products, and did programming at the same time. We took on any project, from hand-made jewelry e-commerce to hotels and building companies. When the university finished this company also stopped working. And then I started the third one with my friend. That, the third one, was quite successful in the web development world and used to be in the top-3 in this field in Crimea. I left Crimea and the company in 2013 and moved to Kyiv. However, the company still exists and is still quite prosperous, even though it isn’t anything big like Clearmove.
What projects did you work on after moving?
What do you like about being a developer?
I appreciate having an opportunity to improve my life with coding solutions. I have many examples from what I’ve done myself. A chrome-extension currency tracker so that I know when to change money and where. An in-browser movie collection that has lots of filters and features, such as IMDB syncing. Oh, and my favorite one – a Slack bot for coffee breaks at my previous job. It could randomly choose a person who’s “on duty” to brew coffee for their colleagues because we could never decide it ourselves. Also, it automatically downloaded news topics to talk about during the coffee breaks, filtered who’s on vacation or took too many turns recently, etc. Small but useful things that I can make with my hands and brains, to make life a bit easier.
What is your biggest hobby?
Basketball is my favorite. Also, skateboarding and traveling.
Do any of them help you achieve work goals in some way?
They help me because these activities help develop a sense of teamwork. At Clearmove we used to have basketball sessions and it was really cool that we could cooperate not in a work atmosphere. It’s a pity those meetings stopped because of the pandemic. By the way, it was my idea to implement weekly basketball meetings, and the HR department gladly approved it.
You aren’t only a developer, but also a successful team leader. Why is management attractive to you?
Having a strategic mindset, I see what processes and people we have and know how to optimize them. We can help people improve their skills to make them more successful developers, in turn creating better products.
What is the difference between leadership and management?
A leader is the one who is trusted and being followed, there is a broader moral component. A manager is more about work and business responsibilities.
What technologies do you use when creating products at Clearmove?
At Clearmove we are enthusiastic about new technologies, so our stack is: TypeScript, NestJS, React, PostgreSQL, Redis, GraphQL, Apollo, and Docker. Also, we are using the monorepo for convenient CI/CD.
Many Ukrainian developers work for outsourcing firms. Why do you prefer a product company?
I haven’t worked for outsourcing companies in my life, so I can say only what I have heard from colleagues and friends.
When an RnD office works on its product, people become personally attached to it. Therefore, they are trying to make it super nice. Also, because usually developers work on a long-term basis, they are writing a good quality code, since later they might need to change something or add more functions. It is easier to work with the code when it’s of good quality.
With outsourcing, the opposite is true — normally there’s a short-term project when a client needs a basic version of an application that they will test on profitability. Then there are two scenarios: either it’s a failure (then the client makes another app, then another, etc), or it’s a success (then the application needs a lot of development and basically the company becomes a product-focused one). So the conclusion is that outsourcing is either low-quality short-life cooperation or the beginning of a proper software product company.
In addition, a product company typically has a closer atmosphere, everyone knows what they are doing and are trying their best. But this is just my point of view.
How do you make engineers grow and develop?
I’m not a big fan of personal development plans. Commonly I do it this way: find what gaps in knowledge a developer has, give them tasks on this topic and watch them doing this task. Several experienced engineers would mentor a developer during the process and later do the code review for them. This is a good way to give needed experience.
How do you see the tradeoffs between quality and keeping to a schedule?
It is a difficult task indeed. At Clearmove, quality is generally a priority. And when you prioritize quality, the schedule can be sacrificed. It is a normal part of the process.
What kind of developers are you looking for to join your team? Do you judge by hard skills only?
Hard skills are listed in our job description and I don’t need to introduce them. And yes, soft skills matter a lot to me, as for the VP of Engineering. At Clearmove, we would like to see positive people who love new technologies, with a good sense of humor, and are ready to improve the Global Mobility sphere (and learn more about it of course).
How do you keep people motivated?
I believe in a team-building culture. Developing a good team spirit ensures that we can deliver something together. Another way to develop this spirit is having a good sense of humor, things like sharing jokes and memes between each other, it helps build a proper team spirit between team members.
By the way, as we already touched on, Clearmove used to have team-building activities before the pandemic and even some when the restrictions were eased because we understand the importance of building a proper supportive environment, where colleagues assist each other and enjoy working together.
Do you prefer working online or in the office?
Flexible work would be the best choice. Online is good because we don’t need to commute and spend time for unnecessary travel, going for lunch, etc. On the other hand, working offline is more efficient because it’s easier to cooperate when we are all in one office. We can quickly come to each other and point on the screen to discuss something, whereas when working online we need to schedule meetings, find slots, have annoying calls with interruptions, etc. So from my point of view, a flexible working style would be perfect.
Which of the company’s values (Innovation, Initiative, Responsibility, Leadership, Resilience, Teamwork, People) resonates with you the most? (and why)
“People” value is the most important for me, with proper people we can maintain all other values.
Describe your perfect team and working process in it.
As I mentioned before, my perfect team consists of non-conflicting people with a good sense of humor, who would like to develop Global Mobility from the ground up. In the ideal world, our perfect team works fast, with ease, and has fun while doing so.
Day or night? Night
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Cats or dogs? Both
Tesla or Mercedes? Tesla
Ocean or mountains? Both
Apple or Android? Apple
Do you want to work together with Victor and use the latest technologies to solve tasks in the Global Mobility sphere? Then join us!