An interview with Zdenko Vrábeľ, Infrastructure Engineer
Zdenko Vrabel is one of our Infrastructure Engineers based in Košice, Slovakia and he joined Kiwi.com in September of 2020. During his days at work, he spends a lot of time responding to developer requests and focusing on building new software. His biggest passions are working with technology and spending time with his family. With two children, Kiwi.com allows Zdenko to have the perfect balance of work and leisure. Outside of work, he enjoys mountain biking and exploring the trials of Košice.
Tell me about your current role at Kiwi.com. Can you describe a day in your life?
Every day working for Kiwi.com is different. I am either on-call responding to developer requests and dealing with different problems as they arise, or I am focused on working on one specific work task during the day. I have to be very flexible and respond to new requests as soon as they come. The main goal of my job is to keep the system running and keep it reliable.
What inspired you to be an Infrastructure Engineer?
I have always been passionate about computers, even as a child. I wanted to be a programmer and spend some time as a software engineer. A lot of my peers at my age work as managers and architects, but I knew I wanted something different. I strive to be as close to technology as possible. I would never want to lose touch with my passion for computers and technology.
What are your favorite things to do in Košice?
Košice is a small and quiet city. My favorite thing to do is mountain biking. We have amazing biking trails that are built completely by volunteers. The city is surrounded by mountains which enables me to go hiking and biking with little travel. You can wake up early in the morning and catch a train and be on the high-top grounds in an hour and 20 minutes.
How did the pandemic affect your work performance? How did you communicate with your coworkers during Covid-19?
It was difficult. Working at home with two kids is not easy. I got hired at Kiwi.com during the pandemic and I was amazed at how easy the onboarding process was. Not only was the pandemic new for me, it was also new for our company and no one knew the correct way to approach the situation. I did not know about Kiwi.com before I applied and I learned quickly how nice and helpful they are. They did a great job of keeping in touch and communicating thoroughly during the onboarding process. I have not yet met with the other engineers at other Kiwi.com offices face-to-face because of Covid-19. I am very eager to meet the people of the Brno office and start discussing new ideas with them.
Do you use your talents elsewhere besides Kiwi.com, per say, taking on small projects at home or playing around with new software?
I struggle with detaching from my work. I am constantly thinking of new software developments or ways to improve. I enjoy playing with technology in my free time. I love to read newsletters and social media posts about technology. I am not the kind of person who can turn off my cellphone when I am at home, I like to be available to help those in need at work.
How do you keep up with the constant changes in the IT industry?
I like to learn by reading. During all of these years I have realized one thing, technology is constantly changing, and it becomes hard to keep up with the trends. Trying to keep up with all of the trends is exhausting. I started focusing on the history of technology. Right now I am not studying the newest frameworks. For me, it is more interesting to read about the past 60-70 years of technology. We are reusing all of the old concepts all of the time, and so I like to educate myself more and more on the unique and more interesting building blocks of history.
After retirement, what would be your dream life? Would you still incorporate engineering into your retired life?
I can’t leave technology, it is a big part of my life. I would like to build small useful tools for other developers and play with useful tools that can help people in the future. With my free time after retiring, I would love to be able to create the things I have always wanted to do while I was busy working. My wife and I enjoy going hiking and mountain biking together and that is also something I would enjoy doing more of after retirement.
What do you value most in your professional and personal life?
There is one thing that I value in both my professional and personal life, and that would be psychological safety. Do not be afraid to experiment and fail. This is something that is very important to me, and I have realized, it isn’t about being afraid to fail at work, it is something you can apply to your personal life. You can build this safety in your family and with your kids and it is truly amazing. It is something from my personal life that you can bring into play while at work.