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World traveller landing in Denmark: From self-taught to tech lead
11 Feb 2022
Andrey Dotcenko is into reggae music and has the hair to go along with it, and he’s also a very talented, self-taught Android Developer with a positive can-do attitude and curiosity that has led him to many parts of the world. Now he’s settled down in Denmark and leading big projects at Shape.
Andrey came to Shape in the beginning of 2020 – yes probably during the worst possible time if you look at the global situation. However, for Andrey and his family it was the next logical step.
“I had just become a father, and my wife and I were deciding where we wanted to raise our daughter – in Russia or somewhere else.”
And after a conversation with a friend, who worked at Shape, they decided to uproot their lives and move to Denmark, even though it wasn’t a place either of them had been before.
“It was a crazy decision, but we read some articles and did a little research, because we actually didn’t know what Denmark or Copenhagen was like. Although we did know that we liked Europe and would like to live there, since we’ve been to several European countries, so it was a great opportunity.”
But moving during a global pandemic couldn’t have been easy.
“I think, the move was as smooth as it could possibly be. The flight was longer, because the connections were changed but other than that it was actually not too bad, and since there was a national lockdown, Copenhagen was very calm when we arrived, which was pretty nice when you’ve been travelling for 48 hours.”
Even though relocating to a new country with a wife, daughter, and dog can seem like a daunting task with a lot of paperwork – well it is, but thankfully the process was made smoother with a little help from the Shape office.
“I still get a warm feeling in my heart when I see Martin. He was a big help with the documentation and just answering all our questions. He also helped us find a place to stay in Copenhagen. We really couldn’t have done it without him.”
Where did it start?
But let’s go back to the beginning. Why and how did Andrey become an Android Developer?
“I’ve always been very interested in technology, but my curiosity for tech is what got me here.”
While dabbling in other careers and trying different things, he always came back to the same interest – tech.
“One day I just decided to look under the hood and see what was going on. I wanted to understand some nitty-gritty details about our digital world and improve people’s lives with cool technology. That was my motivation that drove me and led me to the place where I am today – a self-taught Android Developer.”
But why Android?
“I compared Android and iOS when I started, and I found Android to be more flexible and open. It’s not just limited to mobile devices, since it uses Java under the hood, which extends far beyond the world of mobile devices.”
A true team player
Andrey previously worked in Californian and Russian start-ups as an Android Developer and a team lead and also tried his hand with self-employment, however, that wasn’t his favourite way to work.
“I wanted to be a part of a team. I’m very much a team player, and I like being around and working with other people. I genuinely just like people.”
And when he started at Shape as an Android Developer, he quickly discovered that people are the essence of the company.
“I always have the opportunity to ask for help or advice among the others at the office, just like they can always come to me. I think that’s really important, because when you’re stuck on something – which you are from time to time – it’s great to get a second opinion or some good advice, and I think we’re really good at that here.”
Taking on a new role
Optimising processes, keeping an overview, and making things better is something Andrey always strives to do – a quality which was quickly discovered and prompted a new role at Shape.
“Last year I became a Technical Project Lead on the Dixa project, which was really cool. I was responsible for the communication with the client, and organising the development process based on the statement of work etc.”
Even though being the Technical Project Lead may mean less time for coding, it doesn’t make it less exciting to work with.
“I get to switch between a lot of different tasks, and I really like that. I see code as a tool, and while I do enjoy coding, I’m more concerned with the process than the outcome – coding is a part of it but not all of it.”
But surely no coding would be dealbreaker?
“Of course, I would be sad if I didn’t get to do any coding, but fortunately that’s not the case. If 30-40 % of my job is coding, then that’s fine with me.
Many things can be your favourite, right?
Working at Shape, means working on many different projects and getting to try many new things, but when Andrey was asked which project was his favourite, he couldn’t give a definitive answer.
“The project I’m currently working on is usually my favourite. I just really like to learn new things and going through the entire process. Even the project we’re working on right now is still in the strategic planning phase but it’s very exciting.”
So, what’s his favourite part of the job as a developer then?
“I really like the fact than I’m so close to the end user. I can see the results of what I make. It goes directly to my friend’s phone or my mum’s phone, and I feel like I’m making a difference. Also, it doesn’t hurt that what I do is quite eco-friendly, since all I need is a laptop and a little power, which makes waste fairly limited.”
What makes Andrey a great developer?
“I’m very open minded. I like to start working with something completely new – I consider it a very interesting challenge.”
And he proves that point by jumping into new and uncharted territory.
“I’m not scared when I see something new. Last year I was asked to try working with iOS development, and I liked that I got to learn something new. I’m obviously not as fast as a trained iOS Developer, but I did pretty well.”
The open-minded friendly face is also what the clients meet, when they get Andrey on their team.
“First I listen. It’s almost like a therapy session, because I really want to know what the client wants and needs. Later I take charge and become someone you can trust to get it done and done well.”
So, who is he around the office?
“I hope they see me as a nice guy. Someone they can come to. As I’ve said before I like people, and I hope I give off that vibe around the office too.”
Since Andrey is a very open-minded and culturally curious person, Denmark seems to be a good place for him to have settled down with his family.
“The culture here is very open-minded. Especially in Shape, where there are so many people from different countries. I love that. I love to travel and have done it a lot, and my goal is never to see the beautiful mountains or touch the Great Wall of China but to be in touch with people from other countries. This is also why I like to stay at hostels, because it’s just one big soup of cultures. That’s actually a bit like what the Shape office is too.”
If you ask him what his favourite trip was, two come to mind.
“I rode alone on my motorcycle from Moscow to Barcelona with my luggage strapped to the back and couch surfed my way through. That was amazing. It took me about one and a half months there and back. The second trip was hitchhiking from St. Petersburg to Phuket, Thailand. These are the memories that stick with you your whole life.”
And even the family dog, Chewie, has seen his fair share of countries.
“I think he’s probably been to around 10 different countries. He’s perfect for travel because of his size, and he’s a big part of our family.”
Travel is not the only hobby that Andrey enjoys in his spare time.
“I like to skate. I have done it for many years now, and I try to keep doing it as often as possible. I also play the guitar and if I want to get really nerdy, I brew a large cup of coffee and open some technology framework I know nothing about and try and learn it.”
But with a young daughter, wife, and of course the dog, Chewie, most spare time is spent with family.
“It’s mostly about family time now.”
Getting used to a new normal
And family time is mostly spent in Denmark, which they seem to enjoy, however, the language is not always straight forward.
“I am taking Danish classes at Shape twice a week, which I have done for a while. But especially the pronunciation is hard. Thankfully almost everyone speaks English, so it’s not a problem.”
But surely Denmark and Danish culture can’t be all rainbows and butterflies? There must be something he finds odd or annoying.
After chewing on that question for while…
“The high taxes are something you have to get used to. In Russia they’re very low, but we also have broken roads for years. Here you can actually see what the taxes do. We have beautiful parks, good biking infrastructure, health care, and education etc. So, I actually don’t mind paying them, it’s just not something I’m used to.”
So, did this crazy decision to move to a strange country pan out?
“Yes. I’m very happy, and I love it here.”
Come join us
“I’m always thinking about, who I know that would be a good fit for Shape, because I really think it’s a great place to work. Additionally, Copenhagen is a wonderful city to raise children in, and the work life balance is excellent here.”
Could Shape be your next adventure? We’re currently looking for Android Developers among other positions. Check all of them out right here.