In this interview, we speak to one of ALLSTARSIT's employees, Yevhen Batsiun, about his journey with the company. Yevhen shares details about his career path, starting as a full-stack developer and being promoted to team lead, which you can read below.
Anastasiia Cherkasova: Do you remember your interviews for ALLSTARSIT? How were they?
Yevhen Batsiun: Honestly, I landed that interview by accident; I wasn't looking for a job, I wanted to start my search in about half a year, but I decided to go for it anyway, just to try.
The first one was with the HR manager, and it was relatively standard, just going through my skill set and experience.
Then came the one with my future manager Eli Zakashansky, where it seemed to me that I could have performed better. I think that probably because of my perfectionism, I felt like I could have shown myself from an even better side. However, a couple of hours after the interview, they contacted me again and said they were ready to continue the process.
Eli was very pleasant and created a friendly interview atmosphere where there was no sense of superiority or anything like that. Of course, it was stressful, like any interview, but my overall experience was excellent.
AC: Well, isn't this an example of "whatever happens happens for the best"? :) Do you remember your first work day?
YB: Of course, I do! My first day was offline in our Kyiv office. I came there after my swimming practice, literally to the minute by the appointed time, had a small chit-chat with everyone, and a minute later, I already had my first meeting with the manager.
Before ALLSTARSIT, I had never worked on a MacBook, so I wanted to hold some initiation ceremony for it: to get it out of the box nicely, blow off the dust from it (like they do it in ads), put it on the table and all that, but in reality, I didn't have time to do all this -editor's note: And since he opened his Mac on his first day, he never stopped.
AC: Tell us a little bit about your career path. You have started as a full-stack developer; how and when have you been promoted to lead?
YB: When I started working, the Ukrainian team was just being created, and there were 6 or 7 people in it, so at that time, we were integrated into the Israeli full-stack team, and we only had one lead, who was managing 13 people. It was not easy for him, and he decided to break this large department of ours into three sub-teams, and it was decided that we would change the team lead every three months.
The first lead in our team was my colleague Sergey, and after discussing this topic with him and learning how stressful this job is, I even wondered whether I wanted to be a team lead. However, the day of choosing a new lead was approaching, so I decided to offer my candidacy anyway and was selected. This was after half a year of working at ALLSTARSIT.
I was a team lead for only three months when Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. To make it less stressful and keep everything familiar to everyone, I remained the lead further for the "second term."
When the situation stabilized a little (if I can say so), I asked my teammates if someone wanted to replace me, but no one volunteered. So I offered my candidacy as a full-time team lead and received a positive answer after a month.
So in total, I was officially promoted after a year and a month of working.
AC: That does sound like a true success story; congrats! Now, please tell us more about your team and project.
YB: Roughly speaking, our project tracks everything that happens with ships in the world's oceans.
Ships travel, go fishing or hunting, deliver goods and perform many different actions. Before the existence of this project, all these processes were not structured and not centralized, and this domain was quite secretive and not studied. It was easy to perform some illegal actions, as no one kept track of anything.
But of course, sea transportation is highly integrated into many businesses and is an integral part of them. So what we do is we buy data on the ship's movement and add our algorithms to it. In this way, we structure all the data on the history and movements of certain vessels, and based on this, we generate some solutions.
For example, some ships can enter sanctioned ports, which is not a good sign for a company considering partnering with the shipping company that owns the vessel. Smuggling, transportation of people, unauthorized fishing, cooperation with sanctioned states — all this can be tracked thanks to our product.
In short, our clients are companies that want to know who they should and should not work with in the water transportation business.
AC: Wow, it sounds fantastic and handy for the modern world. Now, if we travel back in time, do you remember when you realized you wanted to be a developer?
YB: Oh, that was some time ago. :) Sure, I do remember. I studied at the Faculty of Chemical Technology of Kyiv Polytechnic Institute. I enrolled there because I liked chemistry, physics, and mathematics. However, even then, I suspected that, unfortunately, all these sciences are only somewhat applicable in Ukraine in the volume and format in which I would like them to be.
In my 4th year of studies, I got a job at the Ministry of Youth and Sports and Family. It was a part-time job in an anti-doping laboratory; my salary was 1000 hryvnias. But at the same time, I was playing sports with some of my friends (who also weren't majoring in software development at uni) who were working in IT companies, and they would tell me about this industry, what they do and how they work. I realized that it’s an up-to-date, well paid and highly demanded job, so I decided to learn more about it and try myself in it.
So I remember very well how, once on a sports ground in Nyvky, I realized this is what I wanted to do too. I was 20 or 21 years old then. And after that moment, while still working in the chemical specialty, I began to learn programming little by little and in small steps, and then I managed to start this career.
AC: So from an anti-doping committee to a team lead, huh? :) That's what we call a career path, haha. What are the things you love the most and the ones you find most challenging in your work?
YB: Let's start with the challenging ones. Multitasking — when you are a team lead, you are a so-called help desk responsible for the entire team. It means that people come to you with any questions or problems. Of course, I don't have to solve them all, but I should refer my teammates to someone who can solve this problem. This whole process takes time and is distracting.
There are also things that are both good and bad simultaneously. When you are a developer, you have a narrower focus and fewer unknowns. My current position involves a lot of uncertainty. For example, I am given a task, and I have to think of a plan for its implementation, understand who will do it, calculate the risks, follow up, etc. It is undoubtedly exciting and surely boosts my growth (both career and personal), but it is also difficult.
Another exciting thing is that I now see a more global picture, more context: I understand what's what, why we are doing this or that. I also see how my team members do the tasks, so I expand my horizons. I learn from them because everyone has their approach to work and gives something to learn from.
AC: Got it. Well, we always grow through challenges. I wanted to ask about your free time and hobbies — how do you rest from work? As I know, you are into sports and music — you play in the ALLSTARSIT band and are also involved in charity. Please tell me a little bit more about all of this.
YB: At the moment, I distract myself from work by reading. But reading also needs certain conditions — I need mental capacity for everything to be well and in place, then I can distract myself from everything, sit down and read.
I also love sports, and I believe that everyone should do sports at least twice a week! But this also requires resources. When I just started at ALLSTARSIT, I was preparing for an Oceanman competition, and I was in a swimming group. I recommend it to everyone because it's very cool. It is some constant competition with yourself; you always want more and do more, but it only brings pleasure, no negative emotions or feelings.
Now I also go swimming and apart from that I am doing Thai boxing — another way of distraction for me.
Talking about the ALLSTARSIT band, I have had a guitar since 2008, but I didn't know how to play it before I started working here. The initiative with free lessons within the company is just what I needed. At first, I just went to classes, but then my teacher invited me to join the band, and it's much more fun and inspiring. It is a very cool switch from everything.
As for charity, yes, of course, like all Ukrainians now, I donate. Before the full-scale invasion, I was also involved in charity work, but this is not something to brag about. I care about people who have some kind of problem.
AC: That is multitasking at its best! And lastly, which advice would you give to people who are just beginning their path in IT or those who are just thinking about it?
YB: It is important to find your community — it can be anyone: classmates, colleagues, or friends interested in technology and walk the path together with them. Meet like-minded people, discuss everything you are interested in, and learn something new from them and with them.
Look at the world broadly, look for options worldwide, and have a conscientious attitude to work, work for quality and results.
The specificity of our field is that you need to learn and discover something new for yourself constantly, and you always need to gain new knowledge and be proactive.