Stiff corporate reality? Not my cup of tea – interview with Daniel Dekański

It is the people that make a company a great employer to work for and a great partner to work with. At Goyello we have a team of awesome specialists. They are truly devoted to what they do at the office and deeply passionate about what they do after hours. We would like to introduce them to you. Today we are starting a new series, entitled Goyello People. We will be publishing interviews with our team leaders, developers, project managers, marketing specialists and designers – just to let you get acquainted with members of the team that play a crucial role in everything we do.

In the first interview in the series we asked Daniel Dekański, Goyello Senior Solutions Consultant and blogger, to reveal the advantages of having two professions, to share his opinion on how the humanities can be useful in a technical job and to tell us about his great passion for travelling. Hope you will enjoy the read.

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Daniel, how did it happen that you started working at Goyello?

I came here 4 years ago. I sent my application, was invited to an interview and eventually got the job. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t looking for a full-time job then. One day however I saw my friend’s message on Facebook, saying that Goyello, a company he worked for, was looking for a person. The job profile matched my experience so I decided to give it a go. 

If you were not looking for a job, what made you apply to Goyello then?

Before I sent my application I had worked in a bank. You know, it was all that stiff corporate reality – fixed nine to five working hours and limiting Internet access for employees.  Not my cup of tea. What I liked about Goyello’s job offer was a promise of flexible working hours and the fact they said they trusted their employees. They didn’t block the Internet as they believed everyone was able to manage their time in a reasonable way. That is what finally convinced me to give it a try.

Why was a vision of working “nine to five” not that attractive anyway?

As a matter of fact, from the very beginning of my career I spent some time working full-time and then as a freelancer and then again I landed myself a permanent job. What was the reason? I don’t really like routine. In contrast, I love changes. Running projects whose implementation lasts long months is not the kind of job that would give me satisfaction. I prefer smaller projects that tend to be more challenging, but get done in a shorter timeframe.

I’m not really fond of spending 40 hours a week at the office either. A lot of tasks I’m assigned I can do from any place I wish, so why not take advantage of it?

What did you do at Goyello at the beginning?

I started as a member of the mobile team. It was the time when Android apps started to be developed and that was what I wanted to do. Then I was offered a position of head of the mobile department, which I accepted. Gradually we decided to move from strictly mobile products towards more complex solutions. Compatibility with mobile devices still is an important feature of those products, but it is not the major one.

Is your work at Goyello related to your education? Are you a trained programmer?

I have a degree in electronics and telecommunication. It is the kind of faculty where the only people you meet are geeks. At one point of my studies there I realised I needed a change and wanted to turn towards a less technical direction. In the fourth year we had few lectures and classes and I had always been into English very much. So for a change I started to study English at the English Department in Bydgoszcz.

And how did you like it after 3 years spent at the technical university?

It was perfect! A great change in fact. No geeks, only humanities students. Also, unlike electronics and telecommunication, it was a mixed-sex faculty. That resulted in a completely different atmosphere than the one I had known. I didn’t finish my English studies. Due to personal reasons I decided to move to Tricity after 3 semesters. But to tell you the truth, the time I spent studying English was one of the most important steps in my education. Why? Well, thanks to that I can now not only develop software but also translate texts.

So in fact you have two professions?

Exactly, and both have let me earn my living so far. As I have already mentioned, I used to be a freelances several times in my life. I worked as an interpreter then and I could not complain, either about not having a variety of tasks, or not earning decent money.

In what way can the humanities be useful in a technical job?

I think you’d rather ask my employer this question. From my own experience I can tell that there are loads of talented engineers. There are also numerous soft skills experts. However, there are really few people out there able to communicate a difficult, technical issue to the client in such a way that he or she understands.  That is where people like me can prove useful. Besides, as regards the results of my work, I have always taken its end users’ perspective. I believe there is no bigger mistake than to develop products that are impractical and incomprehensible for their ultimate users. That is why looking at a product you are creating the way its users would see it is your duty, no matter if you are a programmer, designer, project manager or anyone else involved in the development process.

What are you working on at the moment?

With a team of several people I am responsible for a new consultancy project. We are working on a business concept for a new client from the education sector. Currently, we are doing research on whether a new product that is just about to be created will sell and which of its features have a chance of becoming a market breakthrough. However we aren’t looking for the answers to these questions in our heads. Instead we are doing research among people who will be the end users of the solution. We want to learn what their needs and expectations are. We work according to Lean Startup methods, which is about making a new business model fit into the current market conditions. You’d better spend less money on research to find out how the market responds to your product idea than allocate a much bigger budget to the actual development of a product that won’t sell. We have already run several fruitful workshops with the client and we keep on working.

It has been 4 years since you started working for Goyello. How do you benefit from it?

The main advantage is the sense of freedom I got at the very first moment I came here. A month after I got employed I decided to quit. I didn’t like the idea of working nine to five. Besides, my girlfriend was going abroad and I wanted to go with her. Peter came to me then and asked whether, instead of quitting the job, I could work remotely from Portugal where I was going. That’s what I did and for the next six months and a while after our return I was working on a remote basis.

Today I still work part-time, which it is perfectly OK with me. Thanks to that I was for instance able to watch the latest solar eclipse at my place, through my own telescope.

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Solar eclipse of March 20, 2015. Photo: Daniel Dekański

Besides, Goyello gives me an opportunity to work on various projects and that is what I like as I said. I have already been responsible for the development of mobile apps, now I’m in the team working on the consultancy case. No time to get bored, to tell you the truth. 

When I first heard you speak English I thought you must have spent many years abroad. And now you are telling me you spent 3 semesters at the English Department. That’s impressive!

Well, as a matter of fact, I spent 6 months in the States, working for one of my previous employers. But I actually learned English from cable TV. In the nineties, when Poland eventually began to open to the world, the first cable TV was installed in the housing estate I lived in. There was a Dutch channel called FilmNet, broadcasting movies in the original language version, with Dutch subtitles. I learned English to be able to understand those films. Apart from television, I also had a chance of learning English at school. Native speakers of English used to come to the “Wild East” those days, attracted by the exotic post communist country Poland used to be at that time. They worked as English teachers and usually disappeared with the first signs of winter but English classes run by them were priceless. As a result, I never needed any language courses at all.

You run classes in an IT course at the University of Gdańsk. Why did you decide to take on that additional job? To earn extra money?

As we all know, salaries are not high in education, so money was definitely not the reason. And I believe knowledge gets a special dimension when it is passed on among people and generations. There were actually two reasons why I decided to run those classes. Firstly, it is not a strictly IT course. It is called IT Applications in Business, so it combines technology and soft skills, which you can actually notice when talking to students. And secondly, I was absolutely taken by professor Stanisław Wrycza’s innovative concept of the so called dual studies, where lectures are given by both academics and business practitioners. We all know that graduates are confronted with the job market reality which is quite far from what they have learned at the university.

And after hours?

And after hours I spend my time exploring urban solutions from all over the world, solutions whose aim is to re-orient the design of modern cities towards people – pedestrians and cyclists – in line with the ideas of a great Danish architect, Jan Gehl. I also attempt to implement such concepts to our local ground. Poland is a country where solutions favouring cars and roads capacity still prevail despite the fact that they have been long abandoned by the world’s top urbanists.

I’m also a keen traveller. It is absolutely fantastic that my job – the money I earn and flexible hours – lets me visit places I have always wanted to see. As already mentioned, I spent 6 months in the States, working for my former employer. I had an opportunity to travel across the USA then. I travelled much in Latin America. I went there twice and spent 12 weeks altogether. There were also journeys to Asia, the Maghreb, the Middle East, the Balkans and Georgia. You know, when you set out on a journey with a light backpack and your best friends, seemingly important issues don’t matter anymore. And a breakfast  on a rubble looks like a masters’ feast. Masters of absurd of course.

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Pangong Lake, Ladakh. Photo: Daniel Dekański

Which of the places you have been to are particularly worth seeing?

Israel and Palestine, that’s for sure. That’s my favourite part of the world. It is an incredibly diverse land where you can find the whole range of climate zones. There are ski slopes there, three deserts, three different seas: The Mediterranean, The Red and The Dead Sea. Numerous ethnic groups inhabit those territories and it is also a place where three main religions meet. I have already been there several times and I’m going to come back there often. Tel Aviv is my favourite city. I like it for its being a combination of pleasant climate, relaxed atmosphere and modernity with all that shabbiness, dustiness and mess typical for the Middle East. After all, as a great expert of the region, Pawel Smoleński, points out, the word “bałagan” (mess) is common to Polish, Yiddish and Hebrew.

But you are not planning to leave for good, for a place where the sun shines all year round and time passes slowly, are you?

No, I’m not. At least not at the moment. For me it is important to live in a place where the sea is within a short walking distance.  The centre of Gdynia where I live is such a place. And as for another long journey, well, I can pack and leave anytime I want.

 

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Aspire Blog Team

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