By Lucie Sáblíková | 5/17/2021

Radek Forgač: The young Applifter's journey from development to DevOps team leader

Culture - 2 min read

At 19, Radek is still the youngest Applifter. He started with us at the age of 17, and he is still the baby of the Applifting family. And that's not all. He switched from being a developer to DevOps, which he enjoys, and he even became its team leader. We talked about what led him to change, his journey through Applifting, and what the DevOps work entails.

How long have you been working in Applifting?

I'll be here for three years this summer.

You are the youngest Applifter. How did it happen that you started with us, and why did you decide to start working so young?

I've been working from the age of 14, creating websites on WordPress, and then being a network administrator. That led me to a higher interest in IT. I started working at Applifting in the summer of 2018. It was serendipity. I actively coached for Czechitas, and there I met Dominik Snopek, who worked as a lecturer there at the same time. We started talking, and because I was not satisfied with my current job, we agreed on the next steps. I called Applifting's HR and started working in less than a week.

What was your position?

Dominik nr. 2 :-D Officially a Ruby on Rails developer.

And what's your job now?

I am a DevOps engineer. I am in charge of managing and creating the infrastructure.

What led you to such a change?

It was a coincidence. From the beginning, I enjoyed DevOps a bit; I was attracted to servers because through their management, I got to programming. One day Vráťa (Kalenda - Applifting founder) came to me with a request for rescue as there was a lack of people on the BankiD project. And because I couldn't refuse and like challenges, I went for it.

I've also tried the Python backend for about 4-5 months, but I enjoy DevOps thousand times more. Development is an attractive hobby for me, but not a full-time job. DevOps is the direction I want to go.

What does DevOps in Applifting entail?

Everything :-) It’s different with us—DevOps people are usually hired by companies and work on one application or product of their company. In Applifting, because we are a software studio and we have exciting clients—you can try great things. Once a complete infrastructure for a banking application, then an innovation for a multinational energy company, once you are building a trading platform and infrastructure from scratch. You will try all possible technologies, tools, providers, ways to approach it. Even the business is always different, as is the work. DevOps is always about something else, and I can do it in virtually any technology stack in Applifting.

What do you enjoy about DevOps?

Diversity - I enjoy it the most. When one sees the results very quickly, you see the deployed applications, and the cycle is running. The feeling that the wheels you set spins and spins the way you want is unreal. And you see it right away. Plus, you have tremendous power. At Applifting, everyone can do anything. Even juniors can deploy.

And what do you enjoy about Applifting?

Opportunities, power, freedom, diversity, culture—what we truly are. Everything is related to everything. It's emotional for me. I like to describe it this way: I've always wanted to have my own company, be the master of my time and have power, but since I'm in Applifting, I don't have that need anymore. Because I'm experiencing it all here, I can create a company within the company in my position. Maybe a tribe in the future. Possibilities and freedom are simply the most. In terms of work and human life, there is incredibly great freedom at Applifting. They are all open to new ideas, no one is ossified, we have processes, but when they are stupid, we replace them with new ones.

It's nice that one day I can have the opportunity to run for the Council of Elders and influence the company much more, which doesn't happen to an average person in a regular company. Here, you can run for the elections, people will vote for you, and you will have more responsibility. And that's what I enjoy the most - being responsible for the things I do, for decisions, for myself. I try to recruit people to the team who have no problem with responsibility and can be independent and make decisions when needed.

You are a team leader. How do you feel about it?

Thanks to our culture, I don't see it as being privileged. I take it that not everyone has the desire and capacity to take care of the team. Usually, these positions come naturally. One has to enjoy work management. It is needed in DevOps, especially when there are many projects.

It's all about communication. A team leader's main task is to have the whole vision, projects in mind, have an overview of everything happening, and lead the team where it should go. Determine the direction. And from a human point of view, the team leader should be interested in the team's people, check whether they are satisfied, and talk to them. One probably has to be more communicative, ask questions, and prevent problems so that the team does not fall apart.

What advice would you give to others thinking about a career at DevOps? Why should they choose DevOps?

Being a good developer is one thing, but it's difficult if you can't deploy the application. I recommend trying it because one gains a much greater awareness of development from the other side. Simultaneously, it opens the door to software architecture because DevOps is connected. The diversity could convince hesitant people. And I would advise you not to be afraid to try it. We want a person to know what Linux is, how it is used, language awareness, responsibility, networking - we hire juniors, who then grow with us.

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