An interview with Alexander Matečný, our Technical Team Lead
Alexander (Alex) Matečný started his career as an Android Freelance Developer in 2012. On his journey, he joined Kiwi.com to make the best mobile application for traveling and once he started here, he immediately fell in love with the platform. “There are always numerous ways of approaching problems in a mobile environment and I want everyone to be able to contribute and affect the outcome of our solutions,” said Alex.
Read on to learn more about his job, team, and responsibilities, as well as what drives him, what values the members of his team have, and many other things.
Hi Alex, would you mind sharing a bit more about your role at Kiwi.com and your career journey?
Soon after I joined Kiwi.com as a Senior Developer, the Mobile Team was transformed and split into tribes and I was chosen as a Team Lead in the Search and eventually changed position to Team Lead of Mobile Core team. Mobile Core is the team where we deal with Platform Tech, where we are putting the whole app together and coordinating the other mobile teams.
The last transition was a logical step for me. I love the platform and from that position, I was able to influence the technical direction, quality of code, and many other technical aspects of our applications. The main goal is to provide a stable, reliable, and effective platform for our feature teams to support our company goals, which sometimes poses a great challenge as I need to balance out our ability to deliver and our ideas about how things should work.
What factors do you think helped you the most to reach the position of Technical Team Lead?
I’d say that it was a combination of two factors. Firstly, I always felt satisfaction in mentoring and helping out less experienced colleagues, being part of every bigger decision that affects the direction for years to come. Secondly, the split of the Mobile Team gave the opportunity to senior developers to become team leads to manage their own teams, which was the opportunity I waited for.
How do you organize yourselves in the Mobile team?
We have 5 mobile teams: Search, Booking, MMB, Ancillaries, and Core teams and in general, each team has 3-4 developers per platform, a Product Manager, a Tester, and a Team Lead. For some teams, we’re still looking for appropriate candidates to fill the empty seats. Mobile teams are coupled a lot and we need to cooperate often and more intensively than is usual for other non-mobile platforms.
Most feature teams are focusing on their domain and the core team is building the platform to satisfy the needs and create opportunities to advance to our goal of becoming a global virtual supercarrier. Our teams are syncing on several levels: technical (Android and iOS), product (Product Managers), Team Leads (joint efforts and general direction) and finally we as Core are syncing with other Leads, where we are presenting/discussing the process and technical improvements.
What is the home office policy in your team?
We’re not holding any strict policy regarding home office. If someone wants to work from home, there is usually no problem with that. We’re a distributed team having colleagues in Prague and Brno offices, so remote cooperation is a regular thing for us. However, most of our developers can’t wait to return back to the office or are working from offices already.
How do you keep up a good team spirit during the pandemic?
Since some colleagues are working from the offices whenever they can, we see each other there. We had some online team buildings, but we’re mostly awaiting the return to the office at full. We are also enjoying our regular Thursday beer, which happened to start just recently when the situation allowed it.
How do you see your team evolving in the next two years?
I’d like to see a good distribution of seniority of our developers within our teams, to have Staff Engineers for both platforms, and at least partial ability to cooperate cross-platform in form of code review and contributions. Better integration and unification of our processes to make our cross-platform communication and understanding more efficient.
The engineers at Kiwi.com did quite a lot of public speaking at the conferences in the past. How important is public speaking nowadays in your area and how important is it for Kiwis?
In Mobile, we’re not putting public speaking that high in our priorities at the moment and we are falling behind the rest of the company. That’s something we need to focus on. We have our own training ground, which we call “Mobile Kiwi Academy”, which is a regular event where all mobile developers have a chance to present new things from their area or in fact anything related to mobile development that sparked their interest.
What are your team’s core values?
The single most important value for our people is adaptability and the willingness to learn new things every day. The mobile world is shaping and changing so quickly that if someone becomes satisfied with what they know now, they are going to miss out on what is going on really quickly. The solution that felt great one year ago is obsolete and deprecated and there is often no way to use it properly with the rest of the stack. One solution is to not rely on libraries, but then you have to write everything on your own, carrying the burden of maintenance, which is really difficult without a ton of manpower.
How would you describe Kiwi.com as a person?
It will definitely be someone, who is always looking for their own path, copying no one.
Who or what is your inspiration?
Challenges. Also, I don’t want to miss out on anything that is about to happen. That is driving me forward.
The last question for today, how do you spend your time outside of work?
I like to balance out activity and chill time. On one hand, I like to take a bike ride on a sunny day or take a swim in a pool. On the other hand, I have no problem staying home and binge-watching favorite shows and movies or spending some time playing video games.