Taras Matyashovskyy recently returned to Ukraine after 3 years in Silicon Valley and became our first engineer in Lviv. We spoke with him about his career development, the changing Lviv IT scene and the type of engineers he wants to work with
In 2010, about five years into his tech career, Taras Matyashovskyy made one of the best decisions of his life and moved from his hometown of Uzhhorod, to Lviv. In the years since then, Taras has made a name for himself in the Ukrainian tech scene. After starting out as a software engineer, he evolved into a team lead, a tech lead, a staff engineer, and a solutions architect.
Lately, not long after returning to Lviv from 3 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, he was started working as Wix’s first engineer in Lviv, and our R&D Manager in the city. We took the occasion to talk with him about his career, Lviv’s IT market and the reasons he chose to join Wix.
Taras, tell us a little about your career path so far
“My professional career in tech started about 15 years ago while I was still studying at university. Back then I was coding in Delphi and C/C++, but Java was love at first sight. I am and will be forever grateful to my friends who introduced it to me and gave me the opportunity to kick off my professional journey. Typical to Ukraine, it has started with the small and cozy service company in Uzhhorod. Luckily, I was surrounded by amazing mentors who reinforced my passion for software engineering.
“When my closest mentor and friend left for Kyiv, I headed to Lviv, and it rewarded me with new challenges and professional growth, smart colleagues and it became the place I call home. In 2017 I was offered a unique opportunity to live and work in the Bay Area. I led technical pre-sales, sales engineering, thought leadership at Lohika/Altran North America, and delivered consulting engagements onsite. I’ve collaborated with clients from different stages, sizes, and domains, although I have always preferred startup environments due to their fast pace, inexhaustible enthusiasm, and ruthless desire to succeed”.
After his return to Lviv, he took 4 months of time-off, and in December 2020 joined as the first Wix engineer in the city.
Was the Lviv IT scene similar to how you remembered it?
“I think It has significantly changed in the last five years. In addition to services companies, now there are more well-known product companies and unique VC-backed startups. In addition, more and more businesses are emerging in Lviv - small services, design, and product companies - making the tech market more diverse. As a result, the variety of challenging products/projects has increased significantly.
“It’s worth mentioning the rise of quality education programs thanks to Ukrainian Catholic University and Lviv Polytechnic National University. Plus, business programs became more popular thanks to the Lviv Business School (LvBS). Having the perspective that I have, it’s easy to see how the industry and city itself have progressed. However, although lots of strong specialists are leaving Lviv, mainly to the EU and the U.S., some of them might be back with new experience, knowledge and connections, just like I did”.
Why did you choose Wix? What’s different about it?
“Wix is providing a unique website building platform to about 200 million users around the world. Many times when you open a browser and visit the websites of your favorite restaurant, hotel, photographer, or internet blogger, you don’t realize that behind the scenes it has been seamlessly served by Wix infrastructure, which is a strong recognizable brand that directly impacts millions of businesses of all sizes around the globe. Wix enables anyone to create their professional web presence and provides them with a complete suite of tools to manage the business and grow it.
“I was impressed that key Wix products like Payments by Wix, Wix Stores, or Editor X are being built by Ukrainian engineers in Kyiv and Dnipro. So, product engineering teams in Ukraine can directly impact the product roadmap, engineering culture, and the company's future. Being the first one to join the team in Lviv is both challenging and exciting. The company gives me both freedom and responsibility to start from scratch and build something that aligns with the company’s culture with Lviv’s unique flavor and twist.
“I need to mention here that Wix has a matrix structure - verticals are groups/companies (Editor, Bookings, Payments, etc.) and horizontals are guilds (Frontend, Server, Mobile, etc). That leads to a unique onboarding approach. Before joining my specific group, in this case, the Wix Innovation Team, I’ve spent a whole month learning about the company and its culture, understanding 'The Wix Way', getting acquainted with our strategic focuses, and trying out Wix products”.
Can you tell us about the technologies you’re working on?
“I am part of the Innovation Team at Wix led by one of the co-founders and first CTO of the company, Nadav Abrahami. The team creates advanced developer tools and new technologies for the web. Our current project is building an IDE for React components that can be used concurrently by programmers and designers. As of today, there is no classic backend with API and database. Instead, there are a few Node processes, web workers, and the product can be run in a browser or as an Electron app.
“We are on a mission to make the existing product feature-complete, and, in parallel, to allow users to work with it without any download or local installation and get the full capacity of features while using only a browser. Technology-wise, we’re mainly using Typescript, React on the frontend, and Typescript and Node.js on the backend. However the main complexity lies in the unique features that have to be designed and implemented”.
Why should people join your team? What are the unique challenges that will await them?
“First of all, they’ll have a unique opportunity to join a well-known public product company with a strong engineering culture. In Ukraine, unfortunately, there are not many options to work for companies like Google or Facebook. In my humble opinion, working for Wix is a similar experience and achievement. You can live in Lviv and work closely with company leaders, product visionaries and exceptional engineers to improve the existing product portfolio or to shape and craft the future ones. We’ll soon have multiple open opportunities in our Innovation Team and we are growing rapidly. The first team members will take a significant part in shaping the new Lviv team and setting its core building blocks in place”.
Product Companies Vs Outsourcing
In Ukraine, many companies offer outsourcing engineering services to international companies.
“I’ve worked for many years in a services company that provided engineering teams that were considered an integral part of the client's engineering organization. As a result, we had detailed visibility into the product roadmap, contributed to the same product backlog, delivered and supported core features from a business point of view.
“Unfortunately, in most cases, outsourcing is about siloed delivery of non-critical tasks and without a clear understanding of the reasons things are done the way they are, and without any touch with the end-users. However, product companies focus primarily on building the best product in the world, its success, customer satisfaction, and future growth. This focus eventually leads to a different mindset when each employee takes more and more ownership and responsibility for the overall product and company success. As a result, typically, the focus on the people, the teams and the culture becomes more prominent”.
In your opinion, what makes a great engineer?
“I think that the days in which engineers were assessed and graded purely by hard skills are gone. We’re looking for people with a sense of transparency, ownership and accountability. Getting stuff done mentality, critical thinking, ability to communicate clearly, provide and accept direct feedback are extremely important soft skills from my point of view. Software engineering right now is very collaborative, distributed, and multicultural. And, due to COVID-19, it has become even more isolated and remote.
“So, I’d add that self-management skills such as resilience, stress tolerance and understanding of cultural differences while working in collaborative, multicultural and diverse environments are becoming increasingly important too. Finally, in most cases, engineering is a way to solve business problems, so, getting yourself acquainted with the business context around the product/industry you are contributing to, is never harmful”.
We're growing in Lviv.