Author Archive

LLI spotlight: Piotr Gawlik

Welcome to our first LLI spotlight of 2023! We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Piotr Gawlik, our Ruby on Rails Junior. Tune in as we dive into Piotr’s experiences at LLI to date as well as some of his personal hobbies and inspirations.

Tell us a bit about your role and work at LLI.

I’m a junior Ruby On Rails developer, and I work as a dev for one of our clients. Mostly, doing a typical developer’s job, but I’m also trying to work on my Vue skills working on some of the frontend tasks. 

Recently, I’ve also been involved as a mentor in an internship project where, together with the help of others, I’m trying to work on learning Ruby on Rails with our new interns.

What have been your biggest accomplishments at LLI?

Since I’m at the beginning of my developer experience, I do believe that the most difficult and challenging tasks are soon to come. But recently, while I was working with my dev team on implementing a new big feature to the client’s application, I was assigned an interesting role.

More specifically, I was appointed as the person that should wire up all separate parts of the feature and should be contacted on what should be fixed and how at the end it should separate parts work. It happened to be not exactly what was intended while sprint planning, but in the end, after a few meetings and discussions, my idea was decided as a better solution. 

I feel like this has been one of my biggest accomplishments because it was more of planning the architecture task rather than just reading the requirements and implementing some small and repetitive parts of the project. This was something new and challenging for me.

How would you describe LLI’s company culture?

I feel like our company culture can be described as open. In my opinion, LLI’s culture allows people to feel comfortable because of our transparent communication. When something isn’t going as intended or there’s a topic that needs to be discussed, I know that it will be – and to do so, it’s as simple as asking someone to talk about it. 

Also, when I was starting out at the company, I was surprised at how easy it is to have a talk about a topic and how easy it is to reach out for help when it’s needed. I feel that this atmosphere is really healthy and it creates trust among people. 

I must admit that I was a bit worried whether or not I would be able to fit in here, but now, I feel that I’m comfortably representing LLI’s values.

Who are some of your current professional mentors or role models?

For a long time, I was convinced that having someone as a role model is a bad idea. I feel like everyone is good at some things and not as good at some other things, and the question if a certain skill/behaviour is good or not depends on the point of view and context. 

For example, I have a colleague that really inspires me in the case of doing additional work on clients’ projects, refactoring things, and taking care of the codebase as a whole. On the other hand, in the case of my communicating and cooperating with people as well as trying to work with my team in the best possible way, I feel like my mentor is our own team’s Mariusz Pikula, who has been helping me with these topics since I started working at LLI. 

Overall, my approach is to find things in others that I see as valuable in some way and that I’m trying to implement in my own behaviour.

What are your favourite hobbies?

I feel like I try a lot of things and don’t always stick with them for a long time. However, I do have a few hobbies that I’ve been doing for a few years: First, I play tabletop RPG games. I started over two years ago and I’ve been playing them with close friends since then around once a week. They help me with my soft skills and are some kind of way to make use of my imagination and will to create stories. Also, they’re a lot of fun and I recommend everyone to give them a try! 

My second hobby is reading. I’m reading mostly horror books about philosophy or other topics that I find interesting. Finally, a third hobby of mine is philosophy – especially ethics and religious philosophy.

What’s the quirkiest job that you’ve had that taught you a valuable skill?

I remember one of my internships that I was doing a few years ago. I was introduced to the company by a friend of mine that I met while playing video games. I needed to do some internship to finish my studies, so my friend told me that his friend is looking for someone who will be able to implement a side project web service for the company from scratch. It sounded like a good opportunity to gain some experience. 

When I began the internship, though, I was left alone with the task of creating the whole project out of some unfinished example sites – that was too chaotic for me to work on. So I ended up doing everything from the ground by myself (I was only invited to some milestone meetings on how things are going). 

It was a huge challenge, but it taught me a lot about being independent and all areas of developing websites that real users were using. This experience helped me learn just how important it is to have a positive working environment.

Thanks for taking the time to tell us about your career and current interests, Piotr!

If you’d like to check out more of our LLI spotlights, you can read our first, second, and third instalments of the series. Stay tuned for more upcoming LLI team members to be featured.

In the meantime, would you like to know more about LLI’s team culture and open positions? Check out our Careers page and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook

LLI spotlight: Shuhan Hu

We’ve already made it to our third LLI spotlight! Today, we’ll be sitting down with Shuhan Hu, LLI’s Ruby on Rails Junior, who joined the team early on this year.

Shuhan is originally from Taiwan and has been enjoying growing her career at LLI while living in Warsaw. Let’s jump in!

When did you first join LLI and what initially drew you toward the company?

I joined LLI officially in February 2022, but before this, I had already been in touch with some people from the team.

The first thing that made me want to join LLI was the team’s vibe. Before starting the interview process with LLI, I had the chance to meet the whole team in a restaurant to grab a beer and chat with people. 

My first impression of this company was that if everyone can work in a delighted mood here, the organisation must be doing something seriously right. I verified this assumption after I joined. This is a team where people say, “There are no stupid questions.” Your coworkers are never afraid of getting their hands dirty with you together even though you may work on a different project. 

What has been your proudest moment at LLI so far?

I actually just recently had quite a thrilling moment at work. 

Lately, I noticed a pattern of code repetition in one of my project’s features. Therefore, I chose to spend some time in order to achieve the same work in a more concise way. Sometimes, it may seem that we spent more time and the user would not notice any difference, but in fact, not a second has been wasted. 

In the future, these sorts of tasks will save even more time for the whole team to locate, add, or revise the same feature. It is similar to anyone who spends time adding formulas in an Excel file instead of summing thousands of numbers manually.

Meanwhile, I felt so much encouraged that the customer developer team not only adopted my improvement idea but also enlightened me on the bigger refactoring scope.

Who do you go to on your team when you need support in overcoming challenges at work?

Whenever I feel stranded while working, I separate the subjects into work culture, frontend technology, and backend technology. And luckily, there are plenty of people able to ask for help in each topic internally.

For example, the company assigned a Ruby on Rails peer mentor for me in the first three months, and this mentor gave me a lot of useful tips in both soft and hard skills.

How has LLI helped you in developing your career?

The process of LLI hiring me as a RoR developer in and of itself has been a great step in my career. Anyone who’s looking for a job or seeking to change their career path knows what a pain in the neck getting that first job can be, so this was a big deal for me. What’s more, with trust and ongoing support, the team encouraged me to work as a developer for one of LLI’s biggest clients.

Furthermore, LLI encourages everyone to keep improving. In a one-on-one meeting with my team lead, I once asked what I should focus on in order to become a next-level developer in this company. Their response was to keep learning, start a new self-learning project, and share the result in our learning channel with everyone. On an ongoing basis, my team lead even provides extra resources, such as the option of arranging a front end developer for me as a learning project mentor. And I’m being given any sort of special treatment – these sorts of opportunities are open to everyone at LLI!

As a Ruby on Rails developer, which technologies and/or initiatives are you interested in at this time?

I’ve recently been fascinated by diving deeper into the Ruby language itself, since I’ve realised how powerful it truly is. Every little piece of the algorithm that I have practised always comes back to me on a specific day that I need it.

Many newbie developers may be tempted to dive right into a framework before gaining a proper understanding of the programming language, and this reminds me to keep polishing my Ruby skills.

What’s something that some people may not know about you?

When I was 16, I dreamed of becoming a performance art actress. I announced to my family that I was dropping out of regular senior high school (and out of the exam-oriented education system), which drove my traditional family crazy for a while at the time! 

Eventually, I went back to prepare for the general test for applying to university. I don’t regret anything, though, and I laugh every time this memory pops up in my mind.

Besides performance art, I love freediving. I started to practise freediving and meditation at the same time, and they have a surprisingly similar effect in slowing down a person’s mind and achieving mindfulness.

We’ve loved talking with you, Shuhan, and we’re proud to have you as a valuable part of our development team.

If you’d like to check out more of our LLI spotlights, you can read our first and second instalments of the series. Stay tuned for more upcoming LLI team members to be featured.

In the meantime, would you like to know more about LLI’s team culture and open positions? Check out our Careers page and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook

LLI spotlight: Isabelle Krauze

Isabelle is originally from Curitiba, Brazil, and she now lives in Krakow. Join us as Isabelle tells us more about herself and her work at LLI.

How do you usually get your day started at work?

As a fully remote worker, I start my day by turning on Slack. This, for me, is the equivalent of arriving at the office! Now that the weather is getting colder, I light up a scented candle and pour myself a cup of tea (with honey, of course).

At this point, I get started on my set of day-starter tasks: First, I’ll open my company profile at Google chrome, with the same set of tabs on it (email, my personal task tracker on Notion, my calendar, and GitHub).

Next, I check all the updates and unread messages on Slack. I then go through my weekly tasks on Notion (that I define first thing on Monday mornings) and plan out the day ahead. I’ve also been using Tomito as a Pomodoro timer (which is essential for me).

Each morning, I have a project stand-up in which I inform my team members of my current plans. Sometimes these plans change according to the project requirements. If they do, I reorganise my daily plan accordingly. And finally, around 10:00, I start working on my tasks for the day.

What are you most proud of that you’ve recently accomplished at work?

I think I don’t have one particular accomplishment that I’m most proud of; instead, I continuously love the feeling of having solved a problem.

I’m very dialled into the process of things, and I can be just as proud of the path that my thoughts and ideas took to produce something as I am of its final result. With that in mind, what has been making me proud lately is to have received really positive feedback on my latest deliveries for a big project that I’m currently working on.

What do you love about being part of the LLI team?

I really appreciate the sense of trust that we have at LLI. Nobody is breathing down your neck to monitor your work, nor is anyone just killing time. Being a remote-first company, these can be issues that require expertise to handle properly.

My feeling is that the company’s approach is to expect the best from everyone and that we’re all doing something to add value and growth to ourselves and, consequently, to what we produce. For me, that’s gold!

Which tools or resources do you use or refer to to keep improving your professional skills?

On a daily basis, you can find me watching a lecture or listening to a podcast on YouTube or Spotify. I usually refer to them either when trying to learn something new or when looking to hone my knowledge on something that I already know about. 

Some resources that I particularly like include:

Any words of advice for those getting started out in a career in design?

Be meaningful. User experience design as a career path is very hot right now, and as a result, there is a significant amount of “Become a UX Designer in 6 months” messaging (and related courses) circulating around the internet. I’m not against these – I am 100% pro people having easy access to knowledge – however, it’s not because it’s easy to learn about it, that is going to be easy to do. So, go deep, investigate, be critical, explore. 

Furthermore, be meaningful in what you do. Don’t rely on your own assumptions. Don’t choose a colour just because you like it. Don’t design it for you; instead, understand who you are designing for and create something meaningful for them.

Tell us about your favourite weekend activity.

A perfect weekend for me would have more than one kind of activity. I need to go out of the house for a few hours to compensate for the amount of hours I stay inside during the week. So, going for walks, meeting friends around the city, going to a museum, cinema, anything goes.

But I also love to stay at home doing some sort of handmade crafts. I’m currently knitting a sweater, but I can also be found painting with watercolours, sewing, or trying out any other kind of arts and crafts.

We’re so glad to have had the chance to chat with you, Isabelle! 

If you’d you check out more of our LLI spotlights, you can read our first instalment of the series. Stay tuned for more upcoming LLI team members to be featured.

In the meantime, would you like to know more about LLI’s team culture and open positions? Check out our Careers page and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

LLI spotlight: Grace Macej

We’re proud of having a diverse, talented group of professionals at LLI.

To showcase some of the awesome people that make up our team, we’re starting a series of LLI spotlights – in-depth articles that highlight specific members within the company, what they do at work, and some details about them as individuals. 

Starting off our LLI spotlight series is none other than Grace Macej, LLI’s Content Marketing Manager. Grace (or Gracie as a nickname!) has been with LLI since January 2021, meaning that she’s approaching her two-year anniversary with the company in a few months!  Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, Grace has been calling Europe home since 2013.

We sat down with Grace to ask her a series of questions about her work, hobbies, and more. Let’s dive in.

What is your daily “bread and butter” at LLI?

I manage marketing activities at LLI. Whether it’s writing and publishing blog posts, coordinating the communication strategies of our team’s current initiatives, or keeping track of our internal content calendar, I can be found creating and thinking about the materials that we share with the world and the way in which we’re perceived as a company.

I collaborate with various members of our team as needed. I’m often in touch with our designers, but I also occasionally work with our project managers, developers, and others to ideate, create, and deliver different forms of content and marketing materials. 

What have been your biggest accomplishments at LLI?

One of the first things that I did upon joining LLI in early 2021 was to revamp the content on our website. This was part of a larger initiative to optimize many of our customer-facing materials from a linguistic and grammatical point of view. 

Over time, I’ve also worked together with a few members of the team to update our brand messaging and values and have incorporated these on our website. Lastly, on an ongoing basis, I help spread the word about our brand through creating and publishing thought leadership content on our marketing channels.

What do you love about our company culture?

Remote-first environments give LLI’s team members the freedom and autonomy they need to thrive as individuals and professionals. Working remotely allows me to work when I’m at my sharpest and in an environment in which I’m the most productive. 

I feel supported in this model, and whenever I do feel like spending time with colleagues in person, I know that I can pay a visit to the lovely city of Warsaw and pop into the office.

What is the best lesson that you’ve learned in your career so far?

Always leave room to keep learning. Whether it’s learning through others, through your own challenges (and the process of eventually overcoming them), or taking the time to invest in targeted education to keep furthering your skills, there’s always something new that you can add to your individual skill set. And no matter how knowledgeable you are, stay humble.

Tell us something you’re passionate about.

I’ve played the piano since I was six years old. I was classically trained throughout my childhood and teenage years, competed for a handful of years in regional competitions and events, and I actually started out in university studying piano performance before eventually switching to my marketing degree! Today, I continue to play for pleasure and occasionally accompany the choir that I sing in.

What are the three words that best describe you?

  1. Adaptable
  2. Reliable
  3. Observant

Thank you, Grace, for taking the time to discuss these points. We’ve been ramping up our marketing efforts over the course of the past couple years, and you have been a key part in that effort.

That’s a wrap for our first LLI spotlight installment! Stay tuned for more upcoming LLI team members to be featured.

In the meantime, would you like to know more about LLI’s team culture and open positions? Check out our Careers page and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Why having a good QA engineer is essential for your project’s success

Question: What do Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter have in common?

Answer: Software bugs that could have been avoided with proper testing and quality assurance  (QA) during various software development processes. 

The case of Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5

In June of 2008, a number of significant, large-scale problems cropped up during the opening of Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 5. After the brand new baggage handling system shut down, things went downhill. A total of 42,000 bags were left behind and 500 planes were left stranded at airports, causing flights to be canceled. This resulted in a loss of approximately £16 million as well as a large hit to British Airways’ reputation.

So, what was it that caused this series of unfortunate events?

Due to a lack of sufficient quality assurance, several real-life scenarios were not thought through during the opening of the terminal. First off, the loading staff were unable to log in to the baggage validation system. As a result, they resorted to validating bags manually, which caused flight delays. Another problem was the situation in which customers asked for their luggage, e.g. because they had left their passport in it – the airport system was not able to return the luggage.
Furthermore, Terminal 5’s system did not receive information about baggage transferred to British Airways from other airlines. Thus, unrecognized baggage was automatically sent for manual sorting at the terminal warehouse. Each of these oversights ultimately caused the system to become overloaded and cease to function.

The failed mission of NASA’s Mars Climate Orbiter

During a mission to Mars in 1998, NASA’s Climate Orbiter, a robotic space probe originally designed to study Martian climate and atmosphere, eventually went missing in space. After extensive investigation into the error, it was discovered that a subcontractor on NASA’s engineering team had failed to make a simple conversion from imperial to metric units. 

This simple error caused the $125 million spacecraft to come fatally close to the surface of Mars after trying to stabilize a too-low orbit. Flight controllers believe the spacecraft fell into the Martian atmosphere, where the associated stresses crippled its communications, leaving it hurtling further through space in orbit around the sun.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

These two stories have something in common: in both cases, their failures were caused by a lack of proper QA. They’re a testament to the power of QA itself, as well as the important roles of the engineers responsible for carrying it out. When solid QA is put into practice, it prevents errors that can result in financial or reputational loss. It also yields products that are delivered on time, designed according to business requirements, and are well documented and supported.

What are QA engineers responsible for?

In short, a QA engineer safeguards a company’s success and reputation by making sure the product meets requirements.

Over time, quality assurance has undergone a transformation from testing to a QA process throughout the product development lifecycle. One responsibility of the person responsible for QA is to conduct tests and confirm that a given functionality meets requirements and is free from errors. However, there’s more to their work than just testing.

Importantly, QA engineers support project owners and development teams by conducting research on what should be tested as well as how and under which conditions the tests should be carried out. By doing this, QA engineers transform use cases into test cases. QA actively participates in the project by implementing the testing strategy, thus minimizing the risk of errors in the project.

Having a good QA engineer on your team is invaluable for your project as a whole.

While automated testing is performed by coding and running scripts (for example, written in JavaScript using Cypress), manual testing is an important activity performed by QA engineers. Manual testing allows for creativity in finding errors and inaccuracies, while automated testing will perform strictly defined operations described in the code. Automated tests can be executed more quickly, but at the beginning of development, their creation consumes a good deal of time.

By combining manual and automated testing, teams can bring about great results, increase the quality of the application they’re working on and implement new functionalities faster. What’s more, by mixing various testing methodologies, QA simultaneously creates test documentation and regression tests. These tests are used before each release to the product environment to scan for appearances of errors that could cause serious financial losses.

QA engineers make sure that appropriate tests are launched at the right time, integrating them with continuous integration (CI/CD) tools to speed up and largely automate the testing process. Importantly, QA starts the testing phase from the very beginning of work on a new functionality. It’s an iterative process: when functions are developed, QA engineers test them, send them back to developers if necessary, test them again and move them forward in the process. Eventually, the functions are developed and new features are deployed, and the process begins again.

Furthermore, QA makes sure that the acceptance criteria defined in the user story (in other words, a description of a software feature from a user’s perspective) are provided before starting work on the functionality. Based on the story, QA creates a test case that describes in detail how to test the function, any necessary test data, and what is the pass or failure of the tested function. Rigorous application testing significantly affects the risk of failure in the production environment and contributes to the achievement of a high quality system, and manual testing increases confidence in the quality of the software.

Why should you have a QA engineer in your team?

Put simply: Whenever it’s possible to do so, preventing problems altogether is cheaper than fixing them after the fact. 

A quality assurance engineer is responsible for identifying errors, weaknesses and inconsistencies in the product in each of its stages. Therefore, QA safeguards not only the quality of the product, but also the reputation of your brand.

An efficient QA engineer will bring many unique qualities to your team:

In today’s competitive business landscape, delivering software that meets customer requirements is paramount. The amount of technology that modern businesses make use of has grown to the point that without having proper quality processes in place, it’s virtually impossible to deliver top-tier software.

While many businesspeople think themselves capable of performing sufficient testing on their products, this is rather a task designed for qualified QA professionals. This is because more often than not, bugs that are invisible from the user’s point of view (and that of a non-QA professional) are the cause of subsequent costly failures. Undetected flaws and defects can lead to serious business losses, which is why it’s so important to have dedicated team members regularly carrying out QA processes. Finally, having a QA specialist on your team will make your development more productive and your developers work more efficiently.  

The above knowledge paints a clear picture of how important QA is to satisfy customers and increase sales. In the past, QA services may be seen as an additional and unnecessary cost, but forming a deeper understanding of the product lifecycle and associated business needs have helped businesses across the globe appreciate the value of having proper QA in place.