We have a section called “Company dinosaurs,” and our guest today is Pavel Gorlov, a developer who’s been with us for 9.5 years now and will celebrate his 10th anniversary soon. Pavel shared his first work experience in the industrial area of St. Petersburg (Russia), his favorite programming languages and learning methodologies, and he answered the question about Jira benefits, once and for all.
- At the age of 10, I had already realized that I wanted to be a programmer and was telling everyone about it. I was good at mathematics and even took some dedicated courses to learn stages of web-programming. I thought that it could be a good option, because you can make a lot of money in IT.
- In my youth, I worked as a courier and delivered papers and leaflets during the elections. I don’t remember what candidate we distributed them for, but I still can recall that I was paid a huge reward at that time – almost $50 per day. Apart from that incredibly high remuneration, I was making as much money as all the other couriers.
- I graduated from the Baltic State Technical University in St. Petersburg with a degree in Information Systems and Technologies.
My role at Travelpayouts
- I’ve been working at Travelpayouts for 9.5 years, almost since its foundation.
- I’ve tried to explain what I do at work to outside people a few times, but it’s useless. I usually say that I work as a programmer and build websites. If it makes sense to explain Travelpayouts in detail, I can give some partner links.
- Today, we have seven developers and make a solid team. Together with Igor Vechkanov, we have been working for eight years on the same projects. The last one who joined our team was Pavel Kozelsky.
- It’s been a long time since the moment we stopped saving on our developers. Initially, we hired students or newbies for our IT department. Now we look for real experts of the middle and senior level. At the same time, we still don’t have too many free developers who could transfer the experience to newcomers. Sure, we consider newbies, but will only hire one of them if they are very talented and stand out among other competitors.
- For a long time, we put stickers with tasks on a corkboard in our office. It was such an agile board.
- Before, we used Pivotal tracker, and at that time, it was one of a few usable online project management tools. Then, we had training in agile-development and started to use a corkboard. At some point, we started to warm up to working remotely and even put a camera in front of our board so that remote employees could see it at any given moment. But, on the other hand, they asked to change the task order so often we ended up using an online project management system. At first, it was the simplest option – Trello, but it didn’t let us describe the tasks in detail. Today, we use the Jira task management tool. It has very flexible settings allowing to tune the board to our needs.
- Jira’s interface works super slow, especially on old computers and we are still trying to find a good alternative. There are some options, but none of them are flexible enough and do not offer as many opportunities as Jira does.
- The biggest task for our development team today is to build a new version of the affiliate personal account. We constantly introduce new technologies and try out new ideas such as the latest framework version or the database engine. While working on a new version of the affiliate personal account, we tried to introduce technologies that are proven in practice. But, even for us, some of them were new. For example, we decided to implement ClickHouse to store statistics and generate reports for the backend. As for the highly loaded parts of the application, we write them on Go. Speaking of frontend development, we write SPA with the help of TypeScript and React, which is a novelty for us as well.
- My favorite programming language is Ruby. It is easy to read and write with. Naturally, I know other languages, the latest one I used was Go, and now it is very popular for highly loaded systems. Also, we plan to use TypeScript a lot, I like it as well. The only thing is that all the languages with static typing have a higher entry threshold, and it’s better to avoid learning to program on them.
- Not long ago, I became interested in data analysis and machine learning. So, if I had more time, I’d put my energy into studying the R language. It’d be great to compare it with Python in terms of data challenges.
- I often have to learn new languages or frameworks, and I use a very specific approach. When learning something new (electronics, for instance), I carefully read the instructions first to see all the opportunities and limitations of a new tool. If it’s a language or framework, it is a reference. Then, I put my skills into practice. I take an interactive course or work more often on a real task. And yes, before getting behind the wheel for the second time, I thoroughly read that enormous book that comes with the car in the J package.
- Almost every language/tool has a website. Generally, every library has links to documentation on its Github page. Dash is a handbook on everything, but I rarely use it because it’s much easier to just Google the question. All of this is publicly available on the internet for free or with a small fee. Also, I took a couple of courses on Coursera. Books, on the other hand, become outdated when published, especially in Russian. So, it’s better to spend time learning English to read information online.
- Eventually, every developer in Travelpayouts wants to write a resource on flight tickets/travel to make money on their own affiliate program. I am not an exception, and my desire grew into a project that I’ve abandoned for some time now, and I’d be ashamed to show it. This project still brings me some bookings thanks to one article about people with disabilities. It was written by my wife and it somehow became popular in Yandex, Russian’s most popular search engine. Because of that, our customer support regularly receives requests from people with disabilities who want to purchase a discounted ticket. We do what we can for them, but most often we have to redirect them to airlines because of the complicated policies in this regard. I want to upgrade my website and add mobile support, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
- I found this fateful job posting for Aviasales on the HeadHunter website, the most popular Russian online job board. At that time I had no idea what Aviasales was, I was just looking for a job. At that time, Aviasales had just grown from the Konstantin blog and didn’t have brand recognition. I did a test task and received the job, and maybe because of the commentaries, I added to the code.
- I was interviewed by Konstantin Kalinov himself, the founder of the Aviasales.ru (Russian brand of JetRadar). At that time, I was completing my university studies. I remember, he told me that I’d have to move to Thailand for work. I’d never been abroad at that time and didn’t even think it was possible. In light of all this, the offer sounded unreal, but it turned out to be true. After that interview, I spent about one more year before graduating from university and then I moved to Thailand where I worked until 2015.
- Our first office was in the industrial area of St. Petersburg. It was in the same building with the faculty of electric power engineering and high-voltage technology of St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. Our office occupied 15 square meters, there were some ordinary desks with desktop computers. We only worked there for one year as a startup company and enjoyed the freedom in a good way – it’s nostalgic to recall all this. The backyard of the office looked like this:
- Our famous Phuket parties are a great tradition. They are crazy, but also nice and fun. They help newcomers to fit in, meet everybody, forget about the grayness of Russia and enjoy life in a new way. Also, I like the freedom, but not because of an opportunity to do nothing. Such freedom allows me to make a difference and make decisions on my own. It’s great that a developer is able to voice their vision, which will be heard. Another awesome tendency of the last few years is to do sports. There are many surfers on our team, for example.
- People always want more, but if we were to let go of this desire, we could say that our company is very close to what we call a “dream job.” Some people just don’t like our values and leave. For me, a dream job is a place where you are constantly developing and are surrounded by experts who you can learn from and where your voice is always heard.
- I now work in the St. Petersburg office, where there are mostly account managers and mobile developers. Even though I am far from the main office, I try to not miss out on anything and take part in all the discussions. My Skype is always switched on, and in Phuket office, they have this big screen on the wall connecting me to them. I listen in on all the meetings and voice my opinion.
- I believe that every programmer is a loner at heart, and for them, the best way to work is to not be disturbed and so they can write everything on their own. But in fact, being on a team is much more fun and efficient because decisions are made together. Colleagues can show when you are incorrect and those discussions lead to a strategically correct solution, which can influence the development process a lot in the future.
- I love programming and enjoy the fact that it is actually possible to influence results in our company. We discuss many things with designers, and product managers listen to our opinion as well.
- For me, it is very important to bring benefits to society and the world. If we were some kind of hustlers, I wouldn’t stay at the company long.
- Travelpayouts brings double benefits to people. We provide a useful product for both the end-users who buy tickets and the affiliates who make end users happy with the help of our tools while making money together with us.
Things I’d like to improve
- We are now actively growing and once again face the problem of upscaling, but this time it concerns Travelpayouts. Our task volume started to overpower our opportunities. We focus so much on personal account development and some of our projects are not being taken good care of. Now we are looking for developers. It’d be great to find experts and stabilize processes. Hopefully, we’ll do it soon, so everybody’s happy.
- I’ve been studying product management for some time now, and have shown good results in curricula. I try to apply my knowledge in practice. I perfectly understand that now we need new developers and that the development process can slow down when I switch to product management. At the same time, I hope that once we solve the current issues related to upscaling, I’ll receive an opportunity to work more on product management.
Let’s get personal
- If aliens come and ask where to go on vacation to understand the human race better, I’d recommend they go to Georgia where we had our last corporate party: Khinkali and the local wines are worth trying.
- As for my future traveling, I’d like to visit Iceland and New Zealand. My wife loves a warm climate, but I am interested to see the Northern beauties.
- I believe that one of the most influential events in my life was the fact that Konstantin Kalinov invited me to work in his company.
- I prefer to listen to audiobooks and it’s usually non-fiction. Among the latest books, I can highlight “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman and “The Goal” by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.
- I am not a good DJ, and I normally listen to what iTunes offers me. But, let me give you these three tracks for a corporate party:
- Prodigy – Poison :F:
- C Bool – DJ Is Your Second Name
- Scissor sisters – Laura
- I see myself as a successful businessman and a family man in 10 years. Dare to dream, right?