Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Meet Tomasz

This Senior Software Engineer and Co-Founder of Codility might not get enough sleep, but he makes sure that the non-techies at Codility can keep up with our Software Engineers by offering them basic programming classes. Tomasz Waleń has been involved with Codility almost from day one. When he is not in the office he teaches Computer Science at the University of Warsaw. In his limited free time he takes pictures of Warsaw by night.
Q: What does your typical day involve at Codility?
TW: I dig through the code, take care of relationships with clients who have problems with candidates who cheat, and I create prototypes. The next one will be the front-end tests.
Q: As a Founder, how was the idea of Codility born, and what was the most exciting thing about it?
TW: I was always involved in the olympiad of informatics, and I thought that it would be a good idea also to test job candidates. I spoke to Greg and it turned out that we both had a similar idea in mind—to transfer what is done during programming contests to business. Some people did not believe that this would work, but it did. We started from a small room in Warsaw, won Seedcamp, and the rest is history.
Q: You have known Codility from its earliest days; what has changed the most?
TW: We have developed a lot of really necessary procedures and divided responsibilities, and everything is much, much better in order now. We no longer face situations where one of us goes on holiday and the company has to stop its operations. We are able to complete the missing pieces.
Q: What is the killer feature of Codility in your opinion?
TW: The team. We all complement each other. We have a good balance of soft skills and hard skills.
Q: What is your growth plan? What do you want to achieve in your career?
TW: First on my list is to get my habilitation degree.
Q: If you could add anything to our office, what would it be?
TW: I would install a fireplace. After all, winter is coming! Plus, it is very cosy and a source of inspiration.

Q: What has been your biggest achievement here at Codility?
TW: A lot of things that I created at the very beginning are still used at Codility. Of course, many things have changed and been updated since the beginning, but there are some functions – such as checkers and task creation – that have remained more or less unaltered.
Q: You have a final 60 seconds. Brag about something.
TW: I can boast that I had a chance to play on an Odra computer—a Polish machine from the 1970s. Naturally, I did not play on it in the 70s, but in the 90s, and the computer I played on was one of the last working ones.
Q: What game did you play?
TW: It was a plane that was bombing skyscrapers (City Bomber). One other thing that I can brag about is that some of my photos were used as decoration in a Polish TV comedy show, Szymon na Żywo.

Feel like getting in touch with Tomasz?
drop him an e-mail: walen@codility.com
or check his LinkedIn profile

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Meet Zuzana

For style advice we always go to Zuzana, our Head of Customer Support, and we can always count on her honest opinion and insightful comments. She always wanted to be a singer, but instead, having lived in four European countries (France, Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic), she became our office polyglot. In her free time she diversifies her wardrobe, and goes to the gym.
Q: How come you speak several different languages?
ZB: I studied translation and interpreting because I realized that the only things I can be successful in are fields that do not involve any mathematics! ;-)  I was always very good at French and English so I decided to go for that. To those two add my mother tongue, Czech, plus Polish and German and we have five languages.
Q: You tried to make our developers more stylish. Did you succeed?
ZB: I gave it a try and I think I managed to make some changes, such as convincing some programmers not to wear socks in sandals. Certainly, my greatest success was to ban socks and sandals.
Q: What is your growth plan?
ZB: I am currently figuring that out; still looking for a goal to go after.
Q: What does your typical day involve at Codility?
ZB: I come early, and the first thing I do is to check my schedule. Then I take care of urgent customer queries and see what I need to check up on to make sure that the customers and candidates are happy. Currently we are recruiting another Support Specialist in the US, so I am also involved in that.
Q: What makes a good customer in your opinion?
ZB: I like all of the customers, really; they come from start-ups and modern companies and they are really easy to work with. We work in the B2B environment and the people we have the pleasure of dealing with are very professional, so I really enjoy working with them.
Q: Out of all potential employers, why did you choose Codility?
ZB: I wanted to work in a start-up because I was fed up with corporate processes and procedures and with the fact that a lot of things are done inefficiently. I wanted to find out what the start-up culture is like, and what is it like to have that kind of freedom. When I saw the job ad, I needed to do it. I wanted this opportunity to see what is it like to work in a place where you build things from scratch and test your capabilities.
Q: If you could give your position any name, what would it be?
ZB: The helper. I am the helper.
Q: In your opinion, what is the killer feature of Codility?
ZB: The whole idea of Codility. Greg was the first person to implement this idea, which came from experiencing the acute pain of tech recruiting. And he decided to solve this very difficult problem.
Q: What has been your funniest moment at Codility?
ZB: I was once nominated as Chief Style Officer by our CEO, Greg. What happened was that I was really working hard to make people stop wearing socks and sandals. It worked to the extent that, even if it was very cold and one of the developers was offered the opportunity to wear a pair of socks with his sandals, he refused, saying that I had forbidden it. There was another funny moment when one of our interns wore shorts and a T-shirt for his thesis viva and I could not help screaming: IN THOSE CLOTHES?!
Q: What’s your favorite pair of shoes?
ZB: BERTIE, that I bought on sale in Dublin: purple ‘snake skin’ sandals on a high hill. :-)
Q: You have a final 60 seconds. Brag about something.
ZB: This is a difficult one. Here we go: Once I came in second place in a French song competition. I sang Amsterdam by Jacques Brel. I am now Head of Customer Support at Codility. That was difficult; the process was very demanding. I also mastered a rabbit dish with cream sauce and knedliky; now it is my signature dish. :-) Recently I caught a bouquet at a gay wedding.

Feel like getting in touch with Zuzana?
Drop her an email: zuzana@codility.com

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Meet Marek

Marek Rusinowski our Software Engineering Intern has always been the person who likes to test new technologies that were not used at Codility before. In his free time he travels a lot between Krakow (where he studies) and Warsaw, enjoys reading both things related to informatics and Sci-Fi and hangs out with his fiancée. He constantly learns new things such as ... yo-yoing.

Q: What’s with the yo-yo? Where did you get that idea?
MR: A few years ago I started to play with it and I liked it. I decided to practice more, so I read things about it (there are even championships in yo-yoing) and watched a few YouTube videos and got really into it. I really like the fact that you can do so much with such a simple toy. At the same time it is a very relaxing activity. What I like most about learning new tricks in general (apart from the fact that they are new and reveal many new possibilities) is that, once you learn something, it is not easy to forget it and very easy to get back into practice.

Q: Last year you revolutionized our lunch system and worked on our accounting system. What was your pet project this year?
MR: I did a lot of things; not just one particular project. This year I came up with my own idea for a project, but also took care of customizing Codility for MHacks and came up with the idea of doing something cool with the candidate interface and created the facility to automatically highlight mistakes in the code and suggest names for variables, functions etc. while typing, so now I am finishing that.

Q: What did you learn this summer?
MR: I simply wanted to learn new things, and I did! I wanted to learn from others and their experiences, and I had a great chance to do that. This is a challenging job, but in my opinion if you do not go to a place where you face challenges, it makes no sense to waste your time.

Q: In your opinion, what is the killer feature of Codility?
MR: People! That is most definitely the most important factor. The other is that every voice is heard and everyone can influence the company’s direction. Anyone can suggest an improvement, project or idea and it will be taken into account.

Q: What is your growth plan? What do you want to achieve in your career?
MR: I want to be a great programmer, but I am still looking for my own specialty—a field in which I’ll be at my best and able to create cool things.

Q: What has been your funniest moment at Codility?
MR: It’s really hard to think of the funniest moment at Codility. A lot of funny situations just come up during conversations. I remember this year, during the welcoming party for Bolutife, a few of us were playing Dixit and it was really funny to hear what other people thought up during the game.

Q: You have a final 60 seconds. Brag about something.
MR: When I was at primary school I started to learn programming by myself. I did that for three years, and once I felt comfortable with my skills a friend from middle school and I created an electronic door lock together for his house. I programmed the device and helped to design the circuit, and he took care of the rest. It worked flawlessly for five years! Later, in high school I organized an IT club/workshops that I ran for two years, and I managed to get people involved to the extent that I am not in high school any more and the club is still run by other students.

Feel like getting in touch with Marek?
Drop him an e-mail marek@codility.com
Or check his GitHub profile

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Meet Sebastian

This fan of algorithmic trading likes to sleep a lot but is far from being unproductive. In his free time he prepares highschool students for the Polish Olympiad of Informatics. Sebastian Jaszczur, our Software Engineering Intern, is yet another teammate with a passion for teaching.
Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching others to program?
SJ: I like to create things from scratch. That’s why I enjoy programming. Teaching is similar to programming in that sense. When I teach someone I feel as though I’m taking part in creating, forming that person and allowing her/him to create something her/himself.
Q: You are currently an intern at Codility. You have your whole career ahead of you. What would you like to achieve?
SJ: I would definitely like to visit Australia. From a professional point of view I would like to work for or set up a company just as awesome as Codility. Maybe algorithmic trading would be a good idea for a business, and I would definitely use Codility for recruiting Software Engineers! :-)
Q: What is the killer feature of Codility in your opinion?
SJ: We have a great office full of beanbags. We have a hammock, radio-controlled helicopters, unlimited drinks, nuts, coffee… We all work together in an open space. If we need to, we have a place to rest or read books from our growing library – and it’s nearly impossible to read through all these interesting books. I feel that the office helps us all to be more productive, and it helps to create the most amazing atmosphere is which everyone cares deeply about their job and our customers.
Q: What do you remember the most from your recruitment experience at Codility?
SJ: It was my first serious job interview. I did not know what to expect. And, on top of that, my first ever interview was in English! That was a little bit intimidating, but it went well. The process was fun and it gave me a chance to learn a lot about myself. I received useful feedback after the process. That really helped me improve.

Q: What were your expectations regarding the internship?
SJ: My expectation was that I would have the chance to create something practical that people would actually use. During my interview I described a project I would like to work on, and I ended up doing it! For the whole internship, the fact that I have been designing something useful has helped motivate me to get up in the morning and go to the office! :-)
Q: What have you achieved so far as an intern here?
SJ: I created an interface for an internal tool all by myself – I learned how to design a user-friendly interface and read a few books about usability and usability testing. Also, I learned a lot about designing the code. I sometimes wanted to rewrite the whole thing, but that means I learned something.
Q: What has been your funniest moment at Codility?
SJ: The funniest moment was when Zuzana (our Head of Customer Support) was trying to convince some developers to wear more stylish clothes and generally to care about their looks more. It was funny to see both her persistence in giving them fashion tips and the developers’ resolve in not listening to them! In the end, I think everyone should wear what they personally like – some people prefer to wear more comfortable clothes, some want to clothe themselves stylishly, and some don’t want to waste time on thinking about either approach!
Q: You have a final 60 seconds. Brag about something.
SJ: I remember that, when at primary school, I had a dream of becoming a programmer but I did not know much about it at the time. I expressed my interest in it by drawing a picture that presented a binary code with an underlined ‘2’ – not much different from our Codility T-shirts!

Feel like getting in touch with Sebastian?
You can reach him on: sebastian@codility.com
or check his LinkedIn profile

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Meet Tomasz

When he joined Codility he was working partly in the Task Team and partly in the Development Team, which gave him the opportunity to see both sides of the story. Recently there has been a merger of those two teams, as he jokes – in order to make his work easier. When he is not working with us as a Senior Software Engineer Tomasz Idziaszek is the Scientific Secretary of the Polish Olympiad of Informatics, the chief judge at the Polish Collegiate Programming Contest, and he prepares tasks for the “Algorithmic Engagements” contest – all these events are organized by the University of Warsaw. He also helps preparing programming camps and is an editor of the popular science monthly “Delta”. In his very limited free time he enjoys playing the piano and badminton.

Q: How serious are you about badminton? Do you take part in any competitions or is it purely recreational?
TI: It is my current way to stay fit, so I am a rather amateur player, but I take part in competitions with people of a comparable skill level. In one of them I even achieved third place in doubles at the end of the whole last season (mostly for attendance, though). I think the social perception of badminton is not very accurate: people think it is an easy and effortless sport. However, the truth is that it is really demanding, both physically and technically. Otherwise it wouldn't be an Olympic sport, would it?

Q: And you play the piano. What is the best piece you can play?
TI: I like to play film music, and my favorite song that I can play is “Conquest for Paradise” by the Greek composer Vangelis.

Q: Out of all potential employers, why did you choose Codility?
TI: I was referred by Marcin (our Chief Science Officer), with whom I work at the Polish Olympiad of Informatics. What was most important for me was the fact that Codility allows me to continue being a part of the programming competitions community (Codility was in fact established by people from this community). I like the fact that my day-to-day job and what I do outside of the office are connected. I also like it that we can share our knowledge through challenges, tasks and programming lessons at Codility.

Q: What is the killer feature of Codility in your opinion?
TI: I’ll be fairly unoriginal and say that it is our team. We are a group of quite smart people who get along very well.

Q: Why do you enjoy cooperating with Olympiads and competitions? What is the most interesting part?
TI: For me, the most interesting part is preparing tasks. Polish contests are known world-wide for their original and high quality tasks. Teams from various countries use these tasks during training, even the ones that are available only in Polish. And preparing a good task can be a very challenging process. The task I am most proud of (published in the “Looking for a Challenge?” book) took me five years from coming up with a problem to the moment when I figured out a solution. You can easily get frustrated when you work for so long and cannot come up with anything satisfying, but it is very rewarding when you finally nail it. The whole process is very similar to doing research. When I was at the beginning of my professional career I thought I would stay at the university and become a researcher, but my life turned out to be different from my initial plans.

Q: What is your growth plan? What do you want to achieve in your career?
TI: I have just recently finished my PhD in computer science, and I will take this opportunity to stop for a while and think properly about this question. For one thing, I would definitely like to learn a new foreign language.

Q: You have a final 60 seconds. Brag about something.
TI: In primary school I won a national recitation competition whose final was organized in the Royal Castle in Warsaw. During my studies at the University of Warsaw, I participated in various programming competitions. My biggest achievement was winning first place at the Central European Programming Competition in 2004, which gave my team the chance to represent our university at the World Finals in Shanghai. This was the first time I met Greg: as we were in China we took the opportunity to visit Beijing, and Greg was our tour guide. He showed us the Great Wall of China and took to a cool restaurant, where we had Peking Duck!

Feel like getting in touch with Tomasz?
Drop him an e-mail: idziaszek@codility.com

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Meet Magda

You can count on her for being up to date with current cheap flight offers. Magda Tworek, our Administrative Manager, makes sure that all the unnecessary worries are taken off our developers’ shoulders. She also spreads around the office her passion for traveling and encourages us all to go on a trip around the world. You start in one place, then go east or west and end up back in the same place. Are you adventurous enough?

Q: What is the strangest thing you have seen abroad?
MT: I was very, very pleased and surprised with the quality of long-distance coaches in Argentina. If you buy tickets for the best class, the seats can be reclined until they are completely flat and you have a proper bed! Also, they serve food and drinks inside the bus (included in the ticket price) and sometimes they organize games of bingo. On another note, when I was in Rio de Janeiro someone told me that they serve sweet pizza in one of the restaurants. A few weeks later I ended up in another pizza place in Foz do Iguaçu where they served this type of sweet pizza. I tried one with chocolate and strawberries… and I liked it!
Q: We had team members from Malaysia, Ukraine, Nigeria, Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Poland. Which of these countries would you like to visit most and why?
MT: Nigeria. The reason is that I have never been to Africa and I do not know much about the culture there. It is the most exotic destination of all those mentioned above. The European countries I can visit when I retire ;-).
Q: Out of all the potential employers, why did you choose Codility?
MT: There were several reasons. The team is great and the company is in a rapid growth phase. A lot is going on right now. Thanks to that, every day brings me something new. Even though my job is quite repetitive, I often face special challenges, such as hiring a colleague from Nigeria, which I have never done before.
Q: In your opinion, what is a killer feature of Codility?
MT: The fact that we really invest in people, take care of their development and make sure that all of our mates feel good here. It is very important for everyone to create a pleasant workspace. Everyone has a say in what is going on and in which direction we go. There is a flat hierarchy and thanks to that everything changes really quickly.
Q: You take care of different things in the company, including making Codility mates happy. What is the key to keeping us all happy?
MT: In my opinion, the most important thing that keeps Codility mates happy is that their work is challenging and creative. Joanna and I try to sweeten their Codility lives by making all their dreams on our office wish board come true and by organizing company parties ;-)
Q: What has been your funniest moment at Codility?
MT: I remember two really funny moments. The first was when Marcin was warming up his cold lunch (pierogi) above one of the lamps. It was at the very beginning of Codility when we still did not have a microwave. The second was when we were making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It was cool transporting it around in Joanna’s car when it was fuming.
Q: What is your growth plan? What would you like to achieve in your career?
MT: I would like to learn more about labor and employment law. And I would really like to focus on learning languages, especially Spanish. English is great but it does not open all of the doors and people will be more open to you if you try to speak their native language.
Q: You have a final 60 seconds, brag about something
MT: I went on a trip around the world just by myself. I am proud that I had enough courage. I went to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. During that trip I even hitchhiked on a yacht ;-)! I climbed peaks that had never before been explored or climbed, and I had a chance to name one of them. Together with some other climbers, we reached a peak and called it ‘Akuku’ (peek-a-boo). I am proud of that as we got to give it a Polish name (read more). There is one more thing. During one of my trips I swam with dolphins, caymans and piranhas and whatever else was in the water in one of Bolivia’s rivers.
Feel like getting in touch with Magda?
Drop her an email: magda@codility.com 
or check her LinkedIn profile.