Michal Nawrot
Senior Full-stack JavaScript Developer

In this interview, we sit down with one of X-Team's full-stack JavaScript developers, Michal Nawrot.

This is a man who embodies the word 'diverse', from his various passions, to his ability to jump into any JavaScript project and make an impact.

Take me back to your first days of programming, what originally hooked you?

I was a very indecisive teenager torn between opposing choices. I had an episode with electronic music and wanted to become an audio engineer but I couldn't find a proper path for that. So I decided to study IT which was tough enough to keep my gray matter busy and worked as a freelance graphic designer in parallel to have some artistic relief. Soon enough, I started coding animations and more complex web UI and thus quickly moved closer toward front-end development.

What motivates you to keep programming (and growing) today?

I would say the same thing. A challenge always turns me on. Deciding on a non-trivial technical matter, seeking the best / mot suitable solution or sometimes learning a new language just to understand and solve something. Challenge is necessary but insufficient. I need to be convinced that it all makes sense and adds some value to a product.

I may enjoy solving an algorithm puzzle but only if it's part of an adjusting process to some planned step forward or to understand some details of a project I’m contributing to.

When it comes to challenges, what are some of the bigger milestones you're hoping to achieve this year?

Basically, setting long term goals kills the flexibility which is quite essential to me working as a software engineer. I learn fast and, in my case, it’s rather an ad hoc thing. I can definitely tell you what I'm going to focus on in the next 2 months: mastering Golang and Groovy.

After that I would love to progressively move toward mobile apps development. I had an episode with React Native and I want to go deeper with it and also refresh my native iOS programing skills. But this can change or get postponed if something else become more convincing at the time. Value matters more to me than the technology used to achieve it.

Outside of coding, what other passions are you pursuing?

I’m kind of addicted to sport, so I tried a few things: biking, martial arts, running, rock climbing, crossfit, swimming. The last couple of years, I’ve been focused more on endurance disciplines, like triathlons. This summer, I want to try a bit of mountain running, too.

Roughly 1/4 of a year I spend on traveling to discover different places and cultures. I love my motorbike and I take longer trips on it from time to time. Besides, I love to socialize with people so I need time to hang out with my buddies, too. This part triggered my interest in wine history and production because there is nothing better than tasting a good supertoskan while talking about politics.

Let's talk war stories. What's your favorite memory as a developer so far?

At the end of my studies as part of my master’s thesis, I was assigned to a group of scientists working on a risk and quality assessment methodology. My part was to invent and implement a visualization module for a tool supporting all of that science.

The fun part was I had a chance to work on an SPA at the time when IE6 was the newest IE release. Nobody used RESTful API then and we used SOAP for the client / server communication.

After tons of optimizations it worked like a charm. At least our team saw it that way ;)

Another great memory is related to the early stage of my software developer career. It was my first real job right after studies and it turned out to be my dream job very soon after. I was assigned to a project taking care of a chatter bot visualization used for automated customer help. We had pre-recorded video sequences of actors making their speeches. These videos looped and, combined with a synthesized voice, were used to simulate intelligent talking avatars.

I worked as a Flash developer there, but I also had a chance to prove myself as a director. We were a small company and we needed dedicated video sequences for a bigger client, so I had to deal with actors, stylists, and camera operators.

Has being remote helped you become a better developer or build bad habits?

I focus easily no matter where I am. It can be a crowded cafe, a train or a plane; I just need an idea first. The best ideas come out when I'm distracted. To figure out a solution to code, I need to go for a walk, have a lunch or go do a workout.

Commuting to spend 8 hours at the office has never been effective for me, because I'm not creative sitting the whole day in front of a monitor. Remote allows me to balance my focus and creativity time.

The great advantage of working remotely is that I can do it when traveling. There are so many great things all over the world that can inspire me.

Basically, to think outside the box, you need to escape from it first.

In my opinion, an office space marks a boundary between the inside and outside also in terms of knowledge and development practices. Developers in offices end up shaping internal fixations which are hard to overcome.

As a remote developer I interact with people from other cultures. It gives me a wider perspective and makes me more open to discuss new solutions. Different timezones force better planning and status verbosity, which in turn boosts the effectiveness of using agile. All in all, remote works better for me and also for the projects I participate in.

And last but not least...what dent do you want to leave in the world?

I mentioned I don’t have precise plans for a distant future, but like everyone, I have dreams.

Many people don’t believe that dreams may come true. I say it depends on the way you see them. For instance, a marathon is just 4 hours of hard work. People work 8 hours a day and are perfectly fine. If you want to be an astronaut check out the Virgin Galactic and start saving money! Sounds easier now, doesn’t it?

I have finished a full Ironman race and practiced muay thai in Thailand. I’ve traveled on my motorbike across the Europe and tasted wine from the top vineyards. I had a kangaroo for dinner on an Australian farm and experienced a philharmonic concert at the Sydney Opera House.

Anything is possible if you’re focused on what’s important in your life. I’m a professional who makes his dreams real. Anyone who seeks a change to their routine life is welcome to join me.

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