A Day in the Life of... Our Web Development Team Leader
Welcome to today's installment of 10Clouds’ ‘A Day In The Life’ series in which we’ll be talking to our Web Development Team Leader, Radek Kowalski.
Radek has more than 3 years of experience in web development, and is a specialist in Python, Django and GraphQL APIs. He has developed products for global companies of all sizes, in industries ranging from mobile games to forex trading.
Welcome Radek. Could you tell us a bit more about what your role involves?
10Clouds was my first full time job as a developer after finishing Wrocław’s University of Science and Technology. During my studies, I’d heard about 10Clouds and attended a meet-up where a former team member was talking about the company. I applied to a few different software houses and decided to work for 10Clouds. I liked the fact that there was an office in Wrocław, because I enjoy having a hybrid way of working. I think it’s important to have the chance to see your colleagues in person, to socialize and to get to know them as people.
I started in July 2019 just after finishing my Masters, alongside two other people at the Wrocław office, one of whom I still work with. It’s been an interesting journey ever since, in which I’ve learnt a huge amount and grew professionally thanks to the support from my team leader and colleagues, who all have different strengths and skills.
About a year ago, we had a change of direction as a company, and we’re now much more focused on the areas of FinTech and DeFi. At the start of this year, my own Team Leader went to set up a dedicated DeFi development team and took part of the team with him. That was when I had the opportunity to step up and manage the remainder of our team of Python developers. It was a big learning curve, but I was encouraged by my senior colleagues to take up the role. We’ve already grown since then and currently there are four people in the team including myself.
Could you tell me a bit more about your team and how you work together?
The culture in our team, as in the entire company, is based on collaboration and support. Most of the time, we’re working on different projects, but we take the time to discuss our latest challenges, brainstorm solutions, offer one-another support and discuss matters outside of project scope.
I have one-to-one meetings with each team member every other week, in which I check in with them on how they are doing, how their product is progressing, whether their workload is manageable and whether they’re experiencing any blockers that I can help them with. On alternate weeks, we’ll also have whole team meetings where we talk through top level things like strategy, goals, OKRs and of course, socials. It’s important for us to get together in person outside of the work context every once in a while! With a remote-first approach it is hard to gather all team members in one place, so from time to time we use our social budget for online catch-ups where we order food and drink and get to know each other better.
Part of the team at the Boiling Frogs 2022 event
Could you tell us a bit about your role as a Team Leader? What do you think is the most important responsibility of a TL?
I think the main responsibility is to make sure that everyone in the team is happy and that team members have job satisfaction. We want them to stay with us as long as possible. It’s also about making sure that they have projects in which they can develop and grow. That’s what allows them to advance in their career.
I want to be open with every team member and to find out the areas in which they want to develop.
For example, my colleague Ania recently wanted to become a part of our tech recruitment team. After brief onboarding and shadowing a couple of tech interviews she already helped recruit a few new developers, one of whom just became our new team member. She is now his buddy and together with me, as his Team Leader, we are onboarding the new recruit to his position.
What are your favorite things about working at 10Clouds?
I think our ‘humanism’ quality here is the most important. 10Clouds hires people who truly care about each other and want to help each other develop. I think that’s illustrated through my own career journey.
In my first project I had a problem with convincing a client to introduce a good REST API structure and accompanying practices - the set-up takes longer, but it saves time in the long term. My team’s Tech Leader stepped in to support me on my point and in doing so, helped me to learn how to discuss technical problems with not-necessarily technical clients.
On another project we had a strict deadline for developing a Minimum Viable Product, as our client wanted to present it to investors at a conference a few weeks later. Thanks to exceptional teamwork we’ve managed to deliver this on time. That project taught me how important effective cooperation and proper planning are.
With shorter projects one can quickly try different technologies and strategies, but where I’ve learnt the most is on the SEEEN Creator Suite project, which I’ve spent almost two years on. It started from Design Sprint workshops and ended with providing support to the Maintenance Team. It took me on a journey in which I grew to become a Senior Python Developer and acted as a Tech Leader. During the project’s planning we decided to go with GraphQL API instead of the now classic REST, which meant I had the chance to master a new way of designing and implementing APIs. I also learnt about video processing and streaming, extensive use of asynchronous task queues, and had an opportunity to integrate with AWS services and third party APIs.
Any advice to anyone just starting out on their web development journey?
Yes. Let me start with some really valuable tips that I was given by my mentors and manager:
- Don’t be scared to take on responsibilities that you’re not comfortable with (I was initially scared to become both a Tech Leader and a Team Leader, but these positions have taken me on an invaluable journey.)
- Believe in yourself and dive in deep. In one of my reviews, I was told: “Be more brave. Step out of your comfort zone! Take what is yours!” and that truly helped me to get to where I am today.
And if I were to give some advice myself, I’d say it’s good to have a solid understanding of the computer science basics and to learn different technologies and practices at the beginning of your career, but it’s also important to specialize relatively early.
Fullstack is becoming rarer - and jobs are usually quite specific, so it’s good to find your niche and become irreplaceable in your area. Nevertheless, do not forget that you are working with your team and client, coding is just part of it – do not underestimate social and ‘soft’ skills.