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Advice / Career Paths / Career Stories

This Career Changer Taught Himself to Code. Now, He’s Helping Solve Supply Chain Problems.

Artsiom “Artsy” Biba, a front-end software developer at Kinaxis.
Artsiom “Artsy” Biba, a front-end software developer at Kinaxis.
| Courtesy of Kinaxis

For a software developer, Artsiom “Artsy” Biba admits his background is a little unorthodox: He was a pro soccer player in Europe and later worked in sports marketing for several years before breaking into tech.

“I have always been tinkering with computers, and after taking some courses and coding numerous pet projects in my spare time, I decided to become a full-time developer,” he says.

But even with the right skill set as a self-taught programmer, Biba says that it was challenging to land his first tech job because he was competing with computer science majors and coding bootcamp grads for entry-level positions. What helped him stand out in the end was his ability and willingness to continue learning.

“I knew that as long as I was improving my skills daily, sooner or later I would be able to find a company that would be a great fit for me,” Biba says.

And he did. Now, he’s a front-end software developer at Kinaxis, a tech company that supports supply chain planning.

Here, Biba shares why Kinaxis sparked his interest, how he’s continued growing his career at the company, and why he’s grateful for the soft skills he developed in previous roles.

What inspired you to pursue a career in product development?

There are many things that I like about software development, but two that stand out the most are solving complex problems and the never-ending learning curve. Software development provides a vast supply of interesting problems to solve, while also pushing you to constantly improve and stay up to date with the latest technologies in order to avoid becoming obsolete. To me, that sounds like a perfect combination to have in a job.

What initially attracted you to work at Kinaxis? How did you know the company would be a good fit?

I saw a job opening and when I did some research about Kinaxis, it made me curious about the company. Supply chain management and planning isn’t something I knew a lot about at the time, but it was becoming more prominent due to the pandemic. Building a product that helps companies around the world solve such a meaningful issue sounded very appealing.

What sealed the deal for me was going through the interview process and meeting the team. Working at a place with a great culture was always high on my priority list, and after talking to a number of folks from Kinaxis, I was convinced that it would be a great place for me to continue my career.

What are you responsible for as a product developer? What are you working on now that’s inspiring?

My team’s main focus right now is developing the second generation of our core application, called RapidResponse. We’re taking the best parts of the highly successful first-generation app and adding a new spin. Our in-progress version is already being used by a growing number of customers, which allows us to get some valuable real-time feedback.

Working on a large-scale enterprise application with a slick UX/UI and using a modern tech stack is very exciting, and it offers a lot of great opportunities for my professional growth as a software developer.

Why is it imperative to continue learning as a developer? How does Kinaxis support your growth?

To stay up to date in software development, one has to constantly improve their skills and learn new technologies. Personally, I split my technical learning into two main buckets: fundamental concepts and modern implementations.

While new languages, frameworks, and libraries come out every day, there are timeless fundamental concepts that guide how to write quality code. Things like code reusability, orthogonality, and concurrency are all very important and don’t change much over time. To learn these concepts, I usually read technical books that have been around for a while; I also turn to the more experienced developers on my team. (Luckily, we have a lot of them!)

As for modern implementation, I try to stay on top of the latest trends happening in front-end development and tinker with the new technology that comes out. At Kinaxis, we have scheduled training days to ensure that learning doesn’t get lost in the stream of day-to-day priorities. The company also offers a training and development budget, and I'm looking forward to buying more books, taking online courses, and possibly attending specialized conferences in the future.

What has been your proudest achievement since joining Kinaxis?

Since I joined Kinaxis, I’ve been involved in developing within many different projects and areas of our codebase. The company empowers new developers to take responsibility early on and senior team members ensure that everyone’s opinions are heard. This environment has allowed me to learn a lot while also delivering increasingly better-quality code to solve problems that our customers are facing.

Another highlight was participating in my first-ever hackathon last year. Our small-but-mighty team of three was able to make it to the final round, and we had the opportunity to present live in front of the whole company. Even though we didn’t win, it was an awesome experience.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenge was making a career change from sports marketing into software development. For me, the key was to focus on incremental progress. Each application and interview was another opportunity to learn and find out what knowledge I lacked so that I could improve in those areas. Keeping that perspective helped me stay committed and avoid getting too discouraged.

What impact has remote work had on you?

One of the greatest benefits for me is the opportunity to schedule blocks of time for deep, uninterrupted work. Sometimes I’m solving complex problems that require a certain amount of time just to “download” it in my brain.

That said, the partial return to the office earlier in 2022 brought its own set of benefits. It’s much easier to build tighter bonds with colleagues and learn from more experienced people in the company when you’re collaborating in person. In my opinion, the optimal work environment combines elements of both in-office and remote work, which is why I really enjoy our flexible schedule.

If you could go back in time five years, what advice would you give your past self?

I would probably tell my past self to get into software development sooner. This career is a great match for my personality, and I enjoy that I get to spend every day solving interesting problems by writing code.

That said, I’m very happy with the experiences I had in my previous career because they helped me advance my soft skills, which can sometimes be harder to develop than technical, hard skills. My ability to communicate and present effectively, understand the larger needs of the business, and bring a different perspective to the table has contributed a lot to my early success in this new industry.