An interview with Volodymyr (Vova) Piskun, Engineering Lead at Kiwi.com
Volodymyr Piskun has been an Engineering Lead at Kiwi.com for the past two years. After gaining experience by running his own business and freelancing, Volodymyr was eager to see what it would be like to work in a larger company. This curiosity eventually led him to intern at Kiwi.com, where he has continued to grow and develop his leadership skills through the company’s mentorship program and other resources.
“I am a problem-solver and a creator. I enjoy finding non-trivial solutions to problems. Growing up, I was always interested in building and fixing things. This drive to learn and create has carried over into my career at Kiwi.com,” said Volodymyr.
In this interview, Volodymyr shares his professional journey, talks about women in technology and the gender gap, highlights the importance of building trust in leadership, and offers advice for those looking to improve in their careers.
Hi Volodymyr, please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I lead a team of software engineers and ensure that our projects are delivered on time and to the highest quality. I enjoy the opportunity to mentor and guide my team and help them grow and develop their skills. I also appreciate the opportunity to learn and improve myself continuously. The support and resources provided by Kiwi.com have helped me to do so.
What enabled you to become an Engineering Lead at Kiwi.com?
First and foremost, I have always been a dedicated and hardworking individual, willing to put in the extra time and effort to ensure that I am constantly learning and improving. It has allowed me to excel in my role and take on more responsibility within the company.
I was fortunate to have role models who inspired me and gave me valuable advice and techniques for becoming a strong manager. These mentors and team leads offered me great support and guidance.
Secondly, effective communication is another must-have for any leadership position and I have worked at developing my communication skills over the years. At Kiwi.com, we have an open environment where everyone is encouraged to share their thoughts and ideas. Such an environment has helped me build trust with my team and establish a positive, collaborative work culture. In addition, I have learned to be an effective delegator.
Finally, it’s essential to be assertive and push back when necessary, ensuring that my team has the time and resources they need to deliver high-quality work. The ability to say “No” is essential and helps keep the deadlines or scope realistic.
What are some of the biggest challenges and hurdles you’ve experienced on your professional journey?
Being a freelancer was one of the biggest challenges I faced early on in my professional journey because I had to manage my own time and resources effectively to deliver projects on time and to the satisfaction of my clients.
Another hurdle I encountered after joining Kiwi.com was the learning curve that came with moving from freelancing to a larger company. The key driver to managing it was the willingness to learn and adapt, together with the ability to seek guidance and support from my colleagues and mentors.
Overall, my professional journey has been filled with challenges and hurdles, but each has taught me valuable lessons and helped me grow and develop as a professional.
I first came to Kiwi.com as an intern just to see how a bigger company operates. After my internship ended, I continued working as a freelancer before applying for a full-time position at Kiwi.com. What drew me to the company was its focus on innovation and its commitment to creating a product that would improve the travel experience for customers. As someone who loves to travel, I was excited about joining a company dedicated to making travel better and more enjoyable for others.
Overall, I feel Kiwi.com is a unique and exciting workplace. It’s a company that is always looking for ways to improve and innovate, and it has allowed me to be a part of something special.
Can you describe your day in the life of an Engineering Lead?
As an Engineering Lead at Kiwi.com, my day is varied and dynamic. It’s a challenging but rewarding role that requires strong leadership skills, technical expertise, and the ability to communicate effectively with diverse people.
- One of my role’s most important aspects is to ensure that my team is aligned and focused on our goals and objectives. I do this by starting each day with a virtual meeting with my team to discuss current priorities, address any issues or obstacles, and plan our daily tasks.
- I usually have one-on-one sessions distributed throughout the week. I also spend a lot of time communicating with other team leads and departments to ensure that our work is aligned with the company’s broader goals and to identify any areas for collaboration.
- I’m also providing code reviews for my team and helping them improve their skills and knowledge.
- Creating an environment where my team can work efficiently and without interruptions is crucial for me. It means providing them with the necessary tools and resources, setting clear expectations and goals, and giving them the space and time they need to focus on their work.
Overall, my day is a balance of managing my team, communicating with stakeholders, getting rid of different blockers and aligning the team towards the selected goals. It’s a rewarding and challenging role that allows me to impact the success of our team and the company as a whole.
What is your opinion on the gender gap in technology?
I believe that there is a significant gender gap in the technology industry. According to public studies, women represent only 28% of the workforce in the tech industry. Efforts are being made to address this issue, with groups such as PyLadies and DjangoGirls, who provide guidance, activities, and mentorship to women who are interested in pursuing a tech career.
Additionally, the stories of successful women in technology can serve as positive role models and inspirations for others. While the gender gap in technology is a significant issue, many efforts are being made to close it and increase diversity in the industry.
I believe that anyone in the world should have opportunities to do whatever they want in professional terms, regardless of any aspect, such as gender. It’s vital to ensure there is no discrimination against anybody.
As a Lead, how do you and your team address the bias related to women in technology?
One way I’ve contributed to reducing gender bias is by participating in a mentoring program at my organisation. I was honoured to take on a mentee who really wanted to become a software engineer but needed to gain experience. By guiding her through the Backend Developer Roadmap, I am proud to say she successfully transitioned into a Junior Software Engineer position at our company. This example shows how we can serve as role models for others, helping to dispel illusions that may prevent women from entering the tech industry.
What would you like to see happening in the future when it comes to women in technology?
I have a vision for the future where women are just as equally represented in the technology industry as men. In this future, there are no longer any illusions or biases based on gender, and everyone is given equal opportunities to pursue their passions in the tech field. The tech industry is a dynamic and rapidly evolving field and it is essential that it reflects the diversity of the world we live in.
I hope that in the near future, the question of gender bias in tech will become a thing of the past and everyone will have the chance to contribute their unique perspectives and experiences to the industry. The end goal is not just to increase the number of women in tech, but to create a truly inclusive and equitable industry where everyone is able to thrive and succeed, regardless of their background.
What is the best thing about working at Kiwi.com?
My favourite thing about working at Kiwi.com is the people. The company has a very welcoming and inclusive culture, and I feel like I am part of a community here. I appreciate the transparency and open communication. It’s great to have a clear understanding of our goals and where the company is heading.
Another aspect that I appreciate is the focus on employees. Kiwi.com puts a lot of effort into ensuring that we are happy and healthy at work and in our personal lives. There are many activities and programs available to support employee well-being, and it’s clear that we are valued here.
Overall, I am very fortunate to be part of the team and am grateful for the supportive and positive work environment I am a part of.
What are some of your favourite projects you have worked on so far at Kiwi.com?
One of my favourite projects I’ve worked on here was the new version of the career framework skill matrices. As part of the focus group, I had the opportunity to contribute to the development of a transparent and objective system for evaluating and advancing employee skills and careers within the company. I’m proud of the result and believe it is a valuable tool for individual and team growth at Kiwi.com.
Another project I enjoy is Python Weekend, an educational event here I’ve had the chance to mentor and organise as a Lead. It’s an intense and immersive program that covers topics like best practices, Databases, APIs, Redis, and Docker. Being a mentor there helps me improve my communication, critical thinking, and presentation skills. It’s also been rewarding to see the event’s impact on the attendees, who leave with new knowledge and skills that they can apply in their careers.
What resources do you use to keep up to date and learn?
One of my favourite resources for staying up to date and learning is attending workshops, conferences, and talks on various leadership and personal development topics. Additionally, having regular conversations with colleagues and friends with different perspectives and areas of expertise is very valuable. By discussing and sharing our experiences and insights, we can learn much from each other and keep each other motivated and engaged.
I also make sure to set aside time for personal learning. For me, it’s essential to balance learning new things and applying them in my work and life. Some of my favourite books on leadership and personal development include “Manager’s Path” by Camille Fournier, “Surrounded by Idiots” by Thomas Erikson, and “Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity” by Kim Scott. These books provide valuable insights and practical advice that I can apply as a leader and team member.
What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
I love to travel and explore new places, try different types of food and experience different cultures, ski and spend time in nature. I’m an avid reader and always have a book or two on the go. I also enjoy tinkering with gadgets, electronics, and DIY projects around the house. While I don’t have as much time for computer games as I used to, I still enjoy playing them when I can. Overall, I balance my hobbies between activities that allow me to relax and unwind and those that challenge me and help me learn and grow.
Do you have any favourite games?
When it comes to games, I have a soft spot for those that involve strategy and communication. One of my all-time favourites is a board game called Resistance, where players must identify and eliminate spies within their team.
In the past, I was a big fan of Starcraft and Dota 2 computer games, and these days I enjoy playing Apex Legends. I appreciate games that challenge my strategic thinking and require fast decision-making and good communication with my team.
Overall, I find that playing games – whether board games with friends or computer games with a team – is a great way to relax and have fun while also exercising my mind and building my skills.
How do you motivate others?
One of the key ways that I motivate others is by creating a positive and supportive work environment and it consists of checking in, providing constructive feedback, and offering support and resources. I also foster a culture of open communication where team members feel comfortable sharing their ideas and concerns. Another factor in motivating others is communicating expectations and goals. I also ensure that each team member has a sense of ownership and responsibility for their work, as this helps to increase motivation and engagement. Finally, recognising and celebrating team members’ hard work and achievements is critical for maintaining motivation.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Looking back, I realise that one of my biggest mistakes when I was younger was focusing on short-term gains rather than long-term success. I would cut corners and save time by skipping certain steps or putting in less effort than I should have. But in the end, this always ended up costing me more time and causing problems down the road. My advice to my younger self is to do things properly and take the time to do them right the first time.
We are always on the lookout for new people to join our team. If working at Kiwi.com sounds interesting, look at our open roles and apply.