A behind-the-scenes look at the people who make us great.
Welcome to the latest edition of the Cogent Crew series, where we invite you to get to know the people who make Cogent what it is.
This month Ben chats to Ivan, Cogent’s Principal Developer. Ivan has been with Cogent for over 4 years but has held CTO roles at other companies during this time. In this post, he tells us what keeps him coming back to Cogent, why he loves uncovering other developer’s mistakes and just how much he hates pumpkin.
Name: Ivan Vysotskiy
Job: Principal Developer
Time at Cogent: 4 years
Ben: Ivan, how long have you been at Cogent for?
Ivan: My history with Cogent goes back a long way, I started at Cogent about four years ago. I joined as a contractor and was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I decided to go out on my own and consult as a CTO, and during that time I engaged Cogent as a customer to help build a few projects for my customers. Cogent engaged me a couple of times as well, it was kind of a low frequency, low attachment relationship. I rejoined Cogent on the same day as you Ben, about seven months ago.
Ben: There we go, okay. So, tell me what does a typical day looked like for you at Cogent?
Ivan: I don’t think I generally have a typical day, there’s no such thing. Right now, I’m working on a large project but even so, I could end up anywhere during the day. Generally, I get to the office pretty early after the gym, check my emails, then we’ll have a standup for our project. I like to stick to a schedule and try to always have lunch at noon because I get hungry or hangry after that. On a typical day, I usually have some project work, some business development for Cogent, some people management for Cogent and sometimes some hiring.
Ben: So, how’d you get into what you do? Have you always been doing this?
Ivan: Not always, no, but I started early on. I think at the age, well definitely under ten, I got introduced to computers, and in the country where I’m from, those computers were very rare. So, my first computer was a black and green screen, Intel XT something, jeez, I don’t even remember.
It was so long ago, it had about 20 megabyte hard drive, two five inch floppy disc drives, and a really noisy, dot matrix printer. So, that’s where it all started, that’s when I created my first programme. It was downhill from there, and I couldn’t stop.
Ben: If, you could be doing something else professionally, what would that be?
Ivan: Airline pilot.
Ben: Airline pilot, okay. Say no more! So, tell me a little bit more about the projects you are working on at the moment.
Ivan: The biggest project I have at the moment is working with a large organisation, a big player here in Melbourne and a big international player. We are building a product for them, and we’re doing it in-house at Cogent which is unusual for a large organisation, they would usually have us build within their team. We have a team of nine people working on that project, just helping them build this new product.
I also have some other smaller projects, I’m working with a small startup, providing advisory services. Like CTO for hire, CTO by the hour. I also run our Review service which is a fairly new service for Cogent.
Ben: Is that code reviews?
Ivan: Yeah, code review. But it’s not just code review, because we try and not limit ourselves to just code. It’s a whole system review; architecture, product approach, code. There’s a lot of aspects to software development and we work on them all.
Ben: Sure, sure, sounds interesting. Where’s the best place you’ve ever been to?
Ivan: I think the best place I’ve ever been to is still here, where I’m at right now.
Ivan: Melbourne. Yes, absolutely. Although I live in country Victoria, so it takes me an hour to get to Melbourne, but even that area I would consider part of the wider metropolitan. It’s Melbourne’s spill off.
Ben: Yeah, you’re out a little bit but still close enough to be able to come here to work every day. What’s been your favourite project that you’ve worked on at Cogent so far?
Ivan: It would have to be one of the Reviews I did not that long ago. It was pretty interesting to dive into the product. Pure code Reviews, not bigger reviews, usually start by getting a repository of code which you’ll look at it and you have to understand what’s going on there. You have a very limited time to do that, perhaps just one or maybe two days. But in this time you need to understand what’s going on there, what the product is about, whether it’s fit for purpose, whether there are any hidden problems. For this specific Review we were able to identify quite a few hidden problems. The previous developers had done a few things which weren’t the best fit for the business, perhaps it was great for them but not for the business, and we were able to uncover this. That’s what I liked about it, that when you give your findings back to the people who asked for that Review, it’s usually a very eye-opening experience for them. They are not technical people, they don’t understand what’s going on and that gives them clarity, that gives them some assurance. So, it’s very fulfilling.
Ben: Yeah, I imagine it would be. What’s your favourite thing to do on the weekend?
Ivan: I don’t know where to start! Last Summer I got into open water swimming so that’s what I was doing every weekend, which meant I had to travel at least an hour to get to the nearest open water. Soon I’ll go back to training Felix, my dog, we do agility work together. Living in the country, and living on the farm means that there is always a list of things I have to do on the weekend which is something that I get excited about but also dread, depending on what’s on that list.
Ben: If you had a private chef for a night, what would you get them to make you? Pumpkin?
Ivan: Yeah, jeez, pumpkin. Anything but pumpkin. Yeah, I don’t really have a favourite food, I don’t have something I would sell my soul for. But I would probably ask for the chef to surprise me, as long as it’s not pumpkin. Any surprise is fine, as long as it’s not pumpkin. And if it requires pumpkin, just replace it with sweet potato.
Ben: Sounds fair enough. Okay, last question. What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?
Ivan: It’s that not everything in this life is black and white. It’s also, that it is very rarely black and white, there are always shades of grey. I used to tend to see things in extremes, and then somebody gave me that advice. It’s taken a while but trying not to think in those categories is something that I’m always working on.
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