Serhii went on a long path from being an iOS Product Engineer to leading a team of engineers himself. He was attracted by Readdle’s mission to create valuable products and wanted to be a part of it, helping ignite the productivity of millions of users worldwide. The product just so happened to be as challenging and interesting as he expected – Documents is a super app with many features that allow iPhone users to store and manage their files.
Serhii thinks the product has a lot of ambitious goals that his team will help achieve, and managing a team takes more skills and even knowledge of psychology.
Let’s hear Serhii’s story of joining Readdle, input on Documents, and managing a team of engineers.
How did you join Readdle?
More than six years ago, I worked in an outsourcing company. I worked on many different projects, and I thought that I knew about iOS development, if not everything, but at least a whole lot. I didn’t have plans to leave that company in the near future. But one day, Readdle Chief of Staff, Olha Pochtarenko, contacted me and proposed to participate in an interview. I was skeptical about moving to Odesa, and I told Olha about that. However, I believe she has a real talent for persuasion.
She told me about the company, about projects, and a lot of other things, and I was really impressed. I realized that this was a huge opportunity for my career, so I decided to try it out. After a couple of stages of interviewing, I received an offer, and two weeks later, moved from Mykolaiv to Odesa with my family.
In the first month at Readdle, I realized that the Documents app was much more challenging and interesting than any project I had worked on before. Also, I like working on meaningful things. And Documents is a product that creates value for millions of people. I learned a lot from my teammates. I discovered new areas where I could become better, which I hadn’t even suspected to exist.
What are your responsibilities as Engineering Lead at Documents?
In Documents, we have a lot of ideas for the future of our product. To make these ideas come true, it’s really important to work effectively. So my main goal is to build a highly effective development team. This includes hiring, constantly improving current team processes, inventing new ones, and building an environment that helps our team be productive.
I regularly share knowledge about our project with new team members. And, of course, I invest a lot of my time in various development tasks: writing code, code review, developing the architecture for new features, etc. This helps me to more deeply understand where we’re doing well and where we can still make improvements.
I’m proud to be a manager of such a team because all of us strive to achieve great things in our work, and we can learn a lot from each other. Also, we constantly work together to make our team even more effective.
What projects are you working on right now as a team?
We work in parallel on a couple of features. This includes support of existing features and development of completely new ones. We’re trying to spread the load out in such a way that we could make smaller releases while we’re working on big features. This helps us to be flexible, gather feedback from users and analytics more quickly and still make some significant updates within the app.
What do you like about Documents the most?
A large number of features makes Documents challenging and, at the same time, interesting to work on. You don’t work each time on similar features. You can gain experience in various areas.
And you don’t receive just tasks. Each task that goes to development is thoroughly investigated and designed. We listen to the feedback from the entire team about the features, which may change what goes into development. And after release, we receive information about the results which feature show. These feedback loops allow us to improve even more on each iteration.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
After switching from a Product Engineer, I learned that "Programming isn’t as hard as managing people.” *laughs*
As a manager, you are responsible for people other than yourself, which also relates to psychology. Knowing management theory is basic, but every team is different, so you have to forge the path yourself and gain your own experience anyway; learn by trying, so to speak.
What do you love the most about what you do? What inspires you?
Understanding the ambition of the product, seeing its potential, and realizing how we can get there. Looking at the goal so great and ambitious we have, makes overcoming challenges easier.
I believe the team and project push you to become better. I always have to be conscious about what to do and what not to do. I always have to think about where we can improve in processes and the product and where I can improve. And looking back, I see a huge progress in my knowledge over time, which I definitely like.
Do you think you have grown professionally and personally?
I learned a lot being an iOS developer at Readdle. The complexity of the product, its size, and its challenges facilitated my professional growth. But it’s also connected with smart people who work here. It's amazing how you can learn a lot from the people around you. But when I became a manager, I also had full support from the HR team; they assisted me with many management-related questions.
Other than that, company-organized courses helped a lot. And my manager Eugene Plokhoj gave me many pieces of advice and suggested various books that showed me what exactly a good manager is and how to get there. So at Readdle, I discovered completely new areas of knowledge. And it only became deeper, more diverse, and broad. Also, I understood what a great company culture is and how important it is when you work in a team.