My name is Alex and I was feeling my self an engineer as long as I can remember myself. I'll tell you my story to get you idea of who I am and where I'm going.
I've started my professional engineering career back in 2002 but I was building software and hardware since my early years in school. In 1997 (13 yo me) I've built and sold my first application (FoxPRO database for clinic's reception in my hometown).
Years passed by and I was interested in how world of money works. I chose to get my first degree in Finance. I was building software in my spare time and finally decided to also get degree in IT. I was bored in University and I had plenty of time for my personal projects. During early years of my student life I've met one talented and ambitious person who offered me to join his company as hardware engineer to build cardiological equipment.
That was a great opportunity to get experience in building real world things that help in saving people lives. Plus it was perfectly aligned with my speciality in the university. I started next day. Team was small and I happened to be the only one responsible for software development and digital part of our hardware. Other guys were working on assembling devices and designing analog parts of the hardware we built. Founder was the one with outstanding medical background which allowed him to generate brilliant product feature ideas. Together we were able to compete with big players in industry (like General Electric, Siemens). Our devices were much more cheaper and much more feature rich.
When I turned 21 yo I've decided to move from my hometown to the capital of my home country (Ukraine). I've packed my belongings and jumped on a bus. After 5-6 interviews I chose my next company and that was a start of my not too long corporate career. I joined outsourcing company and I quickly made it to Team Lead position. I liked building products but I didn't like that I didn't see the value it brings to businesses. At some point I've joined GIS startup where was only 2 engineers including me. Again, great experience but still it looked like outsourcing to me and I eagerly looked for building product and not another one project.
In 2006 I got infected with Agile and XP I've joined Agile Initiative Group within another outsourcing company. We were able to experiment with development methodologies and technologies that were on hype those days. I learnt a lot about development and management processes. Pair programming was my everyday routine. Team was amazing and I miss all those guys I've worked with. Great team mates and friends.
Then I've met another bright mind entrepreneur and we started building finance startup. I had lots of unused domain knowledge from my first degree in finance and I was starving to apply it somewhere. That was just 1 year before World's financial crisis. The product we built was targeting to solve exactly those problems that lead to that crisis wave. But we were to late. Investments were frozen and we've moved on.
At that point I've decided to switch to web development. Did too much C++, C, Java and .net for many years in a row. I started looking for options and I've met very talented HR who got me. She introduced me to a person who looked for developers and they were planning to launch very ambitious crowdfunding platform (yes, before Kickstarter and others were launched). I've jumped on board. We didn't launched that crowdfunding platform due to some internal reasons I'd rather not disclose. But I've met many great engineers and was wearing many different hats. We launched many other great projects together. One of that projects got me out of that company with whole team transitioned to work on very interesting startup targeting mobile application markets and peer-to-peer buy/sell transactions. We gathered top notch engineers and started moving from idea to product. Everything was great from business perspective and from engineering standpoint. DRY and automation of everyday routines was our mantra. Not sure it's a good thing to say, but I started loosing my interest after the launch. Don't get me wrong here. I do enjoy bootstrapping products and companies. I do enjoy learning something new every single day. But that spirit of innovation was fading away for me. Another great opportunity arrived just in time. I've transitioned all my key responsibilities and joined local established company working in online advertisement and publishing business.
Advertisement technologies and human behavior online was something I was interested those days. My friend invited me to work with him on innovative ideas in ad space. Imagine having access to behavior patterns of over 50% of Ukrainian Internet audience. That was big for me! We started out with polishing existing in-house ad techs and planning implementing new ideas that we had in mind. But due to political situation in Ukraine these days it was hard thing to pursue our goals since our publishing holding was in a lot of pressure and all ongoing financing was on hold. Then top management changed as changed business course. It become impossible to and keep up without being able to hire great engineers and even keep existing teams happy. Big part of top managers quit and I quit too.
That's how my sabbatical period started. I got rid of my car, packed everything in two backpacks and left to South East Asia where I spent all Autumn, Winter and Spring of 2014-2015. I started digging deep in machine learning and AI algorithms. That was something I was missing all the way from my job in medical industry. I've picked few online learning courses, compiled list of books to read and started spending whole days in that great state of learning without interruptions. Also I didn't stay long in one place. In average I was making 3K kilometers per month on two wheels exploring surroundings. On the road I was helping out to my friends online doing free consulting. Till that day I travel and invest all my time in learning new stuff.
My engineering story doesn't end here. I keep pivoting and writing it ;)