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Finnovating (F): Some are genetically «loaded», others decided to write their favorite game themselves, another dreamed of a startup. Was your path to computer science supported by some original desires too?
Paweł Zaraś (PZ): I have always been curious about computers. When I got the first one of my dreams – I was 12 years old at the time – my fascination with its possibilities went through many stages. It started with games, of course, and ended with the exploration of what manufacturers have hidden in the casing. My first programming adventure also began in middle school – in Logo Comenius. I remember the first commands to move and draw spirals, rosettes, and geometric figures. I remember those days with fondness.
(F): Computer science is a pretty broad term. When did your developer identity begin to take shape? Where did you start? Did you have any particular, specific interests in computer science back then? What goal did you want to achieve? HR professionals have a sacramental question they ask candidates for the position they are recruiting for: where would you like to be in 5 years? That’s right. Graduating from college, did you already know what you wanted to be doing in 5 years?
(PZ): I clarified my career expectations pretty quickly. I already knew in high school that I wanted to study computer science, and I wanted to specialize in that area. In fact, by my sophomore year, I was already working as a programmer. I started working on a big project in the telecommunications industry on the Polish market. It concerned the migration of resources. Initially, I was a PL/SQL programmer. Later on, my development took the form of a snowball – everything was happening faster and faster, I was learning more and more, I was getting into more and more complex projects. I «grew» with programming but also with the atmosphere of the broadly understood IT world.
The following years of my «solidification» on the market also changed my professional expectations. I liked specific professional challenges. I have such an impression that they like me too.
(F): In your Curriculum Vitae, we can find such a large brands such as Orange Polska or e-Health Center – the Polish government agency dealing with the digitization of healthcare in Poland. How has working for them changed your idea of working as a developer? Its role in the application production process and service delivery? Is that when the term DevOps appeared in your dictionary for good? Was it a revolution for you?
(PZ): Working in each of the companies I have worked for so far brought me specific knowledge, built skills, and allowed me to gain the necessary practice. So I was an analyst, architect, and eventually a programmer. I watched and learned how to work on large projects in large teams. But I also gained knowledge of which patterns I absolutely should not use. How not to build teams, and how not to construct your own company.
The e-Health Center, a government unit, plays a particular role in the evolution of my professional career. It was a great adventure. I say adventure, but I mean a sensitive, multi-threaded, collective project that required great responsibility from me. We had to build everything in it from scratch. We had to define the requirements related to development competencies, create and define team tasks, and learn to manage them. It was a big challenge of shaping and developing e-health services in the healthcare area in Poland. It was then that this thought popped into my head, an idea related to changing the methodology of designing and implementing applications and services. The DevOps methodology became the natural choice, which allowed building interdisciplinary teams. The teams that will both create, maintain and develop our software, and at the same time will not compete with each other but cooperate.
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(F): After the corporate experience, it was time for your own company. A new Software House, DevOpsi, appears on the Polish market in Warsaw. The name itself indicates the methodology in which your company intends to implement projects. These were your ideas? The company, its organizational culture, and company name?
(PZ): The idea of creating my own company germinated in me for two years. But I started implementing it a little differently than I usually do. This is because I needed a project that would become the basis of operations for my company. And that’s the project I found. I already knew beforehand that there were people who were willing to team up with me in my new venture. Today it’s DevOpsi’s core team. And where did that name come from? There are no legends associated with it. The reason was prosaic. Since the DevOps.pl domain was taken, we started looking for another, similar one. It fell on DevOpsi.pl and stayed that way. There was no hard work by brand managers involved.
(F): You have quickly and strongly entered several areas of software companies’ operations: modern authentication solutions, software for the FinTech area, e-health.
(PZ): Indeed, our activities in these areas have been successful. However, it is not without significance that DevOpsi creates experts with me, who have gained unique knowledge and experience in many complex IT projects. We’re specialized e-health projects implemented by the public e-Health Center. Today, it is difficult to imagine the functioning of the healthcare system in Poland without the effects of this work. Our contributions include the architecture of the e-prescription and cross-border prescription system.
We provide advanced Big Data solutions in healthcare, related to the collection, processing, and sharing of medical data. We develop solutions for multidimensional analysis and data processing. We have expertise in optimizing existing solutions.
We provide products considering the legal regulations of the Polish and European healthcare systems, in international interoperability standards, i.e. information sharing – HL7 and DICOM.
But DevOpsi also has many implementations in the fintech area or authentication solutions based on Keycloak. We have gained strong footholds in these sectors as well.
DevOps sp. z o.o. has carried out many successful implementations. One of the biggest was a web application for the Brokerage House operating at the Polish Power Exchange.
The team implements projects in.: Java, Spring Boot, PostgreSQL, Angular, Flux, Keycloak.
(F): What direction will DevOpsi take in the coming months, or perhaps years? How far along are you with your business development plan?
(PZ): Starting in 2022, we are first launching our proprietary project – Full Stack Developer Academy. At the same time, we are venturing into foreign markets. We have defined several areas of activity – in the financial, health, TSL sectors. We are in talks with our partners, with whom we are already closing the terms of cooperation. Perhaps we can make it the first quarter of next year, but we don’t want to jinx it. And the third area of our expansion – it’s our eyes at the moment – is our DevOpsi product in blockchain technology.
(F): Professional work is important to you, but the world outside of it exists for you too. You are known for your activism on behalf of others. On the occasion of your next project – Full Stack Java Developer Academy – you are doing a community project. What is its concept, and when will we hear more about it?
(PZ): If I can, I will help. I learned this principle from my family home. We live in a specific social environment to which everyone contributes something. It only depends on us whether it will be good and how much of this good we will gain for others and ourselves. It is not worth focusing on the situations that burn us down.
And why, when wanting to recruit new people to work, not to organize training that would bring added value? Do you want to become a developer? Do you wish to learn? Then learn, and let’s help others together!
That’s how the idea of our Full Stack Developer Academy was born, as part of which my employees and I will teach and train on what is the most important in the developer profession today. We prepared it in such a way that everyone who completes it, after 3, 4, 5 years of practice, will be a great employee. We derive knowledge from theory, but above all from practice, from what also created us as programmers.
And since practice, since we will be implementing a specific project within the Academy anyway, why not combine it with doing good? We addressed several foundations working for children. We presented our initiative to create what is important – pro publico bono – software that could support their activities. The response exceeded our expectations. We have chosen a foundation for which we will prepare a dedicated application as part of the first edition of our Academy. However, we already know that if everything goes according to our expectations, we will also carry out similar projects during the further editions. In addition, our best students will have a chance to undergo paid, three-month internships in DevOpsi. They’ll not only develop the application created during the training. Also, they’ll take part in our new projects.
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