Meet our team: engineers, project managers, leadership, and even a few interns!
Nick Gluzdov is a seasoned web developer/UI engineer with more than 20 years in the field. Nick grew up in a family of professional artists; studied and practiced graphic design early in his career before moving his focus to user interface design and engineering. He started his web career in 1994 to help bring The St Petersburg Times (formerly, The St Petersburg Press) online. Nick is passionate about high performance, code quality and user experience. He has a versatile, cross-industry background and has delivered value to clients such as large, high-traffic web portals (over 3 BN hits/month), online retail, education, entertainment and mixed media; several years of UI engineering and tech lead experience for Comcast XFINITY and XFINITY TV web properties, delivering high performance features.
Irina's background is in aquatic ecology and paleobiology. The life of a scientist took her from the shores of Cape Cod to a research vessel in the Sargasso Sea. Irina’s interest in information design was sparked by her experiences with creating presentation materials for scientific conferences. After making the shift to web development in 2003, Irina led a team of UI designers, copywriters, and front-end developers along with database designers and engineers in an e-commerce environment.
VP of Operations
Andrii Demko is an international, multilingual, proactive, and results-oriented entrepreneur who has founded five companies in different industries such as retail, manufacturing, advertising, and technology. While running those companies, he has developed a strong understanding of how to create an innovative product and take it to a market, how to scale companies, and how to manage talented people. Andrii received his MBA from Philadelphia University.
Account Management Lead
Olga, our main focal point for customer service and feedback, is the medium through which we broadcast our love to our clients. She supports our projects from inception to launch (and afterwards), promotes coherence between departments, and mines opportunities for expanding our cooperation with existing clients.
Olga started with S&F as an intern but quickly rose to become a project manager thanks to her hard work, outstanding communication skills, ability to self-organize, initiative, responsiveness, and reliability. Her story with S&F is a living testimony to what she considers to be our core strengths – the meritocratic approach, the wide range of opportunities for growth, flexibility, and the great team spirit. Since February 2019, Olga has been almost single-handedly building up our Account Management Department virtually from scratch (which we think sets her well on her way towards her life goal of leaving behind a great achievement for the descendants and then retiring somewhere on a tropical island).
Olga holds a master's degree in biology and has worked as a lecturer and academic advisor at her university's department of forestry and horticulture. At one point in her career, she had built a football field-sized evergreen maze with a collection of sakura trees inside – and felt like she was done with gardening. In search of a new occupation, Olga was led by her love of science fiction (particularly novels by the Strugatsky brothers) into the tech industry, where she could fulfill her wish of living in the future, a step ahead of everyone else while making friends all around the world. The opportunity to do her work for S&F remotely is another perk Olga takes full advantage of. She travels extensively and repays the company tenfold with the broad perspective and ever-growing resourcefulness, as well as globetrotter’s skill of finding a common language with anyone.
Not surprisingly, Olga’s personal goals are futuristic, too, and include seeing, along with all of Earth, the nearby planets. While waiting for passenger space travel to become accessible, Olga is reaching out for her dream by climbing and hiking as far up as possible, her record to date being 16,400 feet above sea level. She has additionally developed an enviable ability to mentally go into the quiet and isolation of outer space when concentrating on something, indispensable to getting things done in the noise and chaos of today’s world.
A true believer in love that transcends differences and distances between people, Olga has watched Love, Actually more than ten times. However, she wishes there was more room in it for other things she appreciates in film, like black humor and at least a cameo for Kevin Smith. Perhaps, a script for a sequel enhanced with those additions could be her crowning legacy.
Practice Lead: Producer/QA
Stas Nikitin has over nine years of experience in quality assurance and over three years in management. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. For the past four years, he has been leading a QA team of five to six people, including both staff and contractors. Stas has participated in testing projects for Bayada Nurses, FULLHAUS, GSW Worldwide, Jason Hewitt, Newdea, PMI, Ramada, Reliable Reports, SunGard, and Tire Kingdom. He devotes his free time to photography, traveling and hiking. He has also played in checker tournaments, and holds the title of a master in the game.
Ruby on Rails Practice Lead
Ivan is fascinated by the rapid progress of web technologies. He holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and his focus is on back-end development that requires abstract thinking skills. Ivan has worked in the web development industry since 2005, and has learned a number of technologies. His primary workhorse is Ruby on Rails, and he is highly proficient in document-oriented databases such as MongoDB. His hobbies include backpacking and traveling to obscure places off the beaten path.
Java Practice Lead
As a software architect with twenty years of software engineering experience, Jason Young has excelled at a variety of projects: from modeling and simulation of space systems at Lockheed Martin to web analytics for Toys”R”Us, and to the award-winning iPaaS (Integration Platform as a Service) offered by Dell. With this level of expertise, Jason has the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary for the design, implementation, and delivery of comprehensive and scalable SaaS solutions.
Solutions Manager Lead
Irina is a passionate learner. She studied Philology and English Literature in two universities simultaneously, and augmented her education with courses in General Records Management and Staff Records Management. Her communications and effective problem solving helped her grow from Content Manager to Communications Manager and then Project Manager. Irina is always expanding her skills in quality assurance and business development. She is also a big fan of Sci-Fi literature and alternative rock music, and likes to visit festivals and conventions.
Middleware and Back-End Lead
Pastor's first name is Konstantin, but no one calls him that around here. He has been working as a technical and team leader for the last several years, leading both front-end and server-side engineering. Holding a dual degree in mathematics and computer science, Pastor has been in the web industry since 2006 and has plenty of experience in developing large web applications such as CRMs, as well as tools for business and sales. He especially likes working on architecture and structure.
When not working, Konstantin likes to spend time with his family, his main source of pride and motivation. He particularly enjoys playing with his two young children: a daughter and a son.
Jaro started working as a PHP and front-end developer while studying engineering and applied Science at the National Academy of Environmental Protection. He has been with us since 2011 and quickly became a leader who is responsible for most of the front-end development that our team delivers. In his free time Jaro enjoys cycling and weight lifting.
Anri grew up in a family of mathematicians and followed the lead of his older brother in familiarizing himself with computers and programming from an early age. Even though he now says that his origins left him no choice but to become a software engineer, before moving into tech, he first got a master’s degree in economics. That came in handy later when Anri worked on e-commerce projects as a lead web developer with a digital marketing agency, prior to joining S&F as an Engineering Lead.
Anri is exceedingly modest and does not like the concept of being “proud” of anything. He does admit though to a superb collection of funny stories, sufficient for a good book (we add, much anticipated if he ever decides to go ahead with it!). For now, it, however, remains a project of the distant future, while Anri is busy traveling and hiking with his wife, being an avid music fan, playing guitar, and watching his favorite TV shows.
Vlad has been with the company since March 2015 as a QA engineer. He comes from the game industry quality assurance background and his last position was at Arkadium, where he tested games for Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. He also has experience with testing mobile games and applications. Vlad graduated from the National Academy of Environmental Protection and holds a degree in computer science for economics.
When not testing applications, Vlad enjoys road trips, cycling, weightlifting, and spearfishing. If asked to describe himself in a few words, Vlad says, “I am so serious that I cannot laugh even at myself.”
Dmitry has more than six years of experience as a systems administrator. His previous job was with a large hosting provider. Dmitry is interested in high-loaded systems and new technologies. He likes to travel and to discover new places and activities.
Ivan was one of the first to join our team and has helped build over 90% of S&F’s infrastructure. He is now working on various tasks related to automation and Python backend development.
Despite being one of our most experienced engineers, Ivan is far from turning complacent. He is currently pursuing a master's degree in mathematics and computer science, while also improving his web development and network security skills. He is also continuously working on his soft skills through listening to thematic podcasts and daily practice.
Aside from coding, Ivan is actively interested in discovering new methods of spam detection as well as the science and engineering of making intelligent machines. In his free time, Ivan enjoys science fiction novels and online role-playing games.
Producer, Business Analyst, QA Engineer
With over seven years in project management and over five in QA, Lena draws inspiration for her multiple roles with S&F from the sense of joy shared by the client and the team at the end a good project. She equally relishes finding glitches and solutions, as both require getting to the core of the matter fast, something that Lena is immensely good at, not least thanks to her propensity to ask questions when something is unclear, without fear of ever appearing incompetent. She likes to see projects all the way through to completion and is incredibly persistent, if not particularly patient. (In fact, she hates waiting so much that she would rather show up slightly late for meetings just to avoid it!)
At S&F, Lena appreciates the close-knit team, the opportunity to interact with people of different nationalities and to keep pace with the tech progress, along with regular access to training which helps her stay on top of her profession.
Lena’s personal aspiration is to lead a life without regret. Well on track to this simple yet stimulating objective, she is proud of her nine-year-old daughter, her master’s degree in mathematics, her driving and foreign language skills, and her independence attained through hard work.
Lena loves traveling with her family (albeit always leaving one of its members, Murka the Cat, behind), playing board games with friends, and engaging in sports that value speed, like roller-skating, skiing and snowboarding. The only thing she currently wishes for is more time for her newest adrenalin fix – reading adventure novels.
Max’s goal is to develop in many different spheres, both professionally and personally, and he does not waste time pursuing it. Within the past ten years, he has ventured into a variety of web development and e-commerce directions, and now holds certificates in web design, e-commerce, database development, and web layout, on top of his degrees in engineering, applied science, and management. With S&F, Max is currently focusing on User Interface engineering, with an eye towards taking responsibility for entire projects (and their teams) sometime in the near future. Outside of the office, he has dabbled in snowboarding, kitesurfing, paragliding, surfing and photography, among other things, while constantly trying something new.
Despite his hankering for novelty, Max is endearingly pedantic in his daily habits. He wakes up with the sun and takes his Scotch terrier for a walk. Once he gets to the office, he makes sure that none of the windows are draped and that there is as much light in the room as there can be. Then he brews himself a cup of tea, the first of about twenty he drinks while working (or of about a hundred if he is having a stressful day). He is very precise in how his desk should be organized and knows immediately if anyone has touched it.
Max’s favorite aspects of his work are socializing with clients and colleagues and finding optimal solutions to people’s needs and problems. Together with his adventurous and punctilious nature, his well-developed communication skills make him particularly good at it.
Natalie started her career in tech support and eventually advanced into quality assurance engineering. She holds a master's degree in mathematics and computer science, and her master’s studies were fully funded with a fellowship. She is driven to learn new skills. Not only has Natalie a graduate degree in music, but she also earned a second master's in foreign languages. She still plays the piano whenever she has time.
Mobile and CMS Engineer
Peter is our Renaissance man. He describes himself as modest, smart, practically an Apollo, and a rare workhorse (“well, someone has to be, right?”). With such a starter kit of personal traits, he believes that his key achievements are still ahead of him, although seven years of software engineering experience, a degree in computer science, and participation in some of our most unusual projects are definitely something to be proud of.
Peter’s versatile talents are not limited to tech and encompass, among other, Irish dance, playing keyboard, and sketching. He also has a deep interest in folk and rock cultures, reads a lot, and enjoys cinema and hiking.
Regina’s love for traveling inspired her to get a master's degree in linguistics. To become an an efficient business analyst and quality assurance professional, she got certified in business management and web design. Regina has experience in economics, retail solutions, and e-commerce. She spends her free time practicing aikido
Software Engineering Lead
Web development is not a job but a passion for Sasha, and he often laments having to spend a good chunk of his time on other things, like project launch and control. That, however, has helped him reach a level of expertise in a variety of areas of S&F’s work where he can now address any issue for our clients, except contracts and invoices, something he is actually quite proud of. His primary focus, nevertheless, has been Ruby on Rails and content management systems.
Sasha has discovered his path to glory in taking over, persevering through, and succeeding in tasks that appear too confusing or insurmountable to others. He likes to treat our clients as partners in projects and counts his communication skills, along with the weight of his word in the team, among his key strengths.
Sasha’s personal goal is to find his own way in life and to consistently be able to take care of his loved ones (as well as to eventually learn to show up to offline meetings on time). He adores his wife and their teacup yorkie. A warrior at heart, he enjoys soccer, which he has played since an early age, and mixed martial arts, his newest hobby.
Evelina was inspired to start her quality assurance career by her sister Elvira. She holds a bachelor's degree in industrial and civil construction engineering. Evelina has won regional women's and youth chess tournaments for several years in a row. She also enjoys yoga.
Helen is a fourth-year computer science student in the department of applied mathematics. She enjoys camping and learning new languages, both human and computer.
Drupal Practice Lead
With 15+ years of Drupal experience, Vas initially started with S&F a few years ago as a sub-contracted freelancer and later assumed a permanent team role. He now helps the company to minimize custom development by looking for existing solutions to emerging needs. He especially likes addressing new challenges to which he does not have an immediate answer.
Vas is inspired by the idea that he may one day create a product that would attract customers directly through its webpage or a GitHub, without the need to proactively and continuously sell it. His long-term dream is starting his own business with headquarters in New York City!
Vas studied in Moscow and got a PhD in Fluid Dynamics. In 2007, much to his friends’ consternation, he moved to Kyiv - and has not regretted that decision for a day. He appreciates the more relaxed pace of life and the opportunity to often work from home, dedicates to his wife Irina and two daughters, Sofia and Margarita, the hours he would otherwise spend commuting.
Vas is very protective of his family’s privacy and possessions. That is particularly manifested in his habit of pulling heavily on the door handle of his 25th-floor apartment every time he goes outside, to be absolutely certain that the door is locked. (He admits to breaking quite a few doors handles that way!)
Full Stack Software Engineer
Tim has been working for Speed & Function since 2011. He is a charismatic individual with a unique sense of humor and is appreciated by both the team and our clients. Tim graduated with a degree in computer science and networking. This was a clear choice for him, since technology has been his passion from a young age. Tim started experimenting with coding in middle school and began coding professionally when a friend invited him to help out on a project in 2007. Tim excels at UI engineering and Node.js and plans to build more iOS apps in the near future. In addition to software engineering, Tim is interested in radio electronics. He also likes to play tabletop games and with his PlayStation, and to ride his Cannondale Trail SL4 mountain bike.
Software Engineer (Java)
Dron has been doing software engineering since 2011. His work focuses on Java, object-oriented programming, design patterns and algorithms, and the Android NDK toolset. Dron holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science. He enjoys playing soccer and snowboarding in his free time.
Software Engineer and Tech Lead (Java)
Val is a full-stack software engineer and tech lead with a focus in Java and OSX desktop applications. He holds a master's degree in math and computer science. Val has a great sense of humor; he says he likes watching fitness videos on YouTube while eating fast food.
Everyone likes Refat!
Developer (FE, BE), Solutions Engineer
Alister considers software tech to be the future and looks down upon most other occupations as “the past”. Despite that, like many of us, he sometimes feels the need to escape to tech-less worlds, giving strong preference to Middle Earth of the Lord of the Rings film series and 19th century France of the Count of Monte-Cristo, one of his favorite novels.
Vadim began his career as a system administrator, but later found a better application for his degree in mathematics and computer science in Drupal development. He joined S&F in 2016, after only three years in the field, and is now well on track to becoming a leading developer.
Tenacious and persistent, Vadim is so strongly oriented towards self-improvement that, when asked about his achievements, he would never give a straight answer. Each conquered height for him is just a springboard to see a new horizon, set a new goal, and keep moving forward.
As someone ever worried about forgetting to lock his apartment or car door, Vadim considers surrounding himself with those he can trust a key to happiness: his wife, daughter, cat, and his team at S&F are counted among the privileged.
In his free time, Vadim practices the art of ambrotype photography, finding inspiration for his work everywhere, from his family, the streets of his hometown, and simple everyday objects, to arthouse and world cinema classics like The Elephant Man or The Godfather. He also enjoys sports; snowboarding is his favorite.
Senior Software Engineer
Mitch is a software developer with a wide range of knowledge. He constantly works on expanding his tech stack with new technologies. Mitch led a team of Smalltalk developers in the early 2000s, and this prodigious experience helps him easily dig into modern object-oriented and functional programming paradigms and frameworks. Mitch recharges himself with sport activities such as trail running and orienteering.
In her early career, Maria focused on linguistics. She started by studying Greek and, discovering her passion for languages, later switched to teaching English. Maria quickly became a lead manager in a variety of educational settings. With over three years of experience in management, she took on a challenge to master the Agile methodology in software engineering. Her hobbies include reading and painting, and they help her unwind after a busy day. She also likes cycling and hiking with friends. Maria’s motto is, “Do what you love and love what you do”— it perfectly describes her attitude toward life and career.
Lucy comes from a finance background: she was an IFRS Accountant for twelve years helping fintech companies. While on maternity leave, Lucy enrolled in a QA engineering training and got inspired to move over to delivery side. She eventually took on a career change and picked up project management. Lucy graduated with honors and holds a master's degree in International Economic Relations. She loves her daughter, traveling, sport orienteering, nature hikes and working with numbers.
Julia has a dual master’s degree in mathematics and computer science. She also graduated from a music school where she studied the piano for seven years.
While studying psychology in college, Ellen took an opportunity to do a QA engineering internship with a startup and was inspired to try a variety of software development roles, including project management. She went on to lead a number of projects from inception to finish, mastering myriad tech skills along the way. Not surprisingly, when a friend introduced Ellen to S&F, she felt like it was a match made in heaven. Open-minded, extraverted, flexible, and self-motivated, she found a perfect environment to set free her infinite curiosity and realize her versatile potential.
Outside of work, Ellen maintains a strong interest in her original field of studies and reads extensively on psychology, medicine, and nutrition. These come in particularly handy now, as she and her husband recently became parents for the first time.
After doing a student exchange program in Heidelberg University, Germany, Alla was inspired to dive into technology. She has been actively involved in a broad range of projects and got a chance to experience many challenges in the area of quality assurance. When Alla has free time, she enjoys reading books, baking cookies, hanging out with her pug, and travelling. Her dream travel destination is Machu Picchu.
Anna grew up in a family of computer science teachers who cultivated her love for math and engineering since her early childhood. She graduated with a dual master’s degree in Computer Science and Management and dove right into quality assurance. After a decade in the profession, she firmly believes that a good QA Engineer does not have failed projects, only routine issues to deal with and, if treated with due care, can help shape results that go well beyond clients’ expectations. Anna’s own record of innumerable completed projects, quality products, and contented clients, is largely due to her ability to get fully immersed in her work, identify priorities, learn fast, and persevere in the face of challenges. She admits that none of her multiple certificates (ISTQB, QA automation, test management, and test analytics, to name a few), although a definite achievement, give her as much pride and satisfaction as a job well done. As one of our most experienced team members, she often takes a leading role and coaches younger colleagues, infusing them with her ceaseless excitement for new projects and ideas.
Easy-going and communicative, Anna finds joy in surrounding herself with good people and interesting events. She is proud of being a mother and a homeowner. Her free time is divided among drawing, dance, sports, hiking, reading, and watching fairy tale adaptations. With so much going on, one thing Anna never seems to find time for is getting a decent hairband: her long hair is often seen being precariously held together by a pen or a pencil. (Quite possibly, she just wants to be always prepared to sketch something – or to add another party to her diary.)
Project Manager, Producer, Agile Scrum Master
Inna has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and had worked as a UI Engineer before deciding to look for an occupation that would help her grow as an entrepreneur and a project manager. Her search led her in 2016 to Speed and Function’s team of producers where Inna finally got a chance to convert her creativity, positive mindset, and drive for quality, into an extensive portfolio of successful projects. Always in pursuit of a challenge, and detesting routine, Inna prides herself on having taken on (and won over) some of our most demanding clients.
Independent since an early age, and with a travel record of over 20 countries (including experience living in three of those), Inna is full of the most amusing and bizarre stories (none, however, are fit for print). Fearless as she may seem, Inna does admit to keeping her eyes half-closed when watching horror movies and occasionally hiding behind her cat Simba if the action on-screen becomes too frightening.
Aliona joined Speed and Function after graduating the local American College where she studied English and German. She likes cooking sweets and baking - not because she likes sweets but to surprise beloved ones.
Producer / Scrum Master
Lex joined the team in 2016. He has a bachelor’s degree in Arabic philology and taught Arabic to one of S&F employees. When the company needed a new project manager intern, Lex was persuaded to apply. He was hired, and his communication skills and passion for IT are much appreciated. In his free time, Lex writes short stories.
David studied computer science and mathematics in college, then moved to Himalayan China as a missionary for 10 years. During that time he got an MBA in international economic development, and became involved in funding development projects. He traveled all over China, and spent a lot of time in villages, farms, factories, and government offices, getting to know the local people, NGOs, and how things work in China. He later founded a consulting company and started funding and running development projects directly, the major focus being water projects, animal husbandry, and scholarships. He also founded an agricultural development company, and started three farms, growing a near-extinct kind of herb organically. He moved back to the US in 2010 for some real estate investments, building two 3-story houses by hand, which are now providing rental income. During his time in Philadelphia, he started a permaculture fruit-forest covering several vacant lots. He is block captain, and also head of the Tree Tenders for North Philadelphia. In his spare time, he started building a 3D parallel-dimension turn-based strategy war game from scratch, and soon started using games to teach programming. He started working with S&F in 2016 as a product owner for several projects. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding, and gardening.
Alex was working on a PhD in genetics and teaching college-level anatomy classes, supporting his studies through a job at a maritime agency, when he realized that he was actually an artist. Not the Van Gogh type, for he wanted to create something beautiful and useful, preferably without any risk to his bodily integrity. Alex found his calling in software engineering and Ruby on Rails, and is currently focusing on the back end, with an eye towards becoming an indispensable Fullstack CMS developer.
Alex is valued in the S&F team for his lack of preconception and prejudice, high trainability, and attention to detail. He charms our clients with the way he cares about how the projects he contributes to will turn out, as well as with his surprisingly minute reports.
Unlike many others, Alex is impatient to turn 45, the blissful moment when he releases his kids into the world. While he considers them his main source of pride and motivation, he does look forward to the time when he can finally enjoy all his favorite animated features, especially Japanese anime, in uninterrupted peace and quiet.
Alex developed a passion for software engineering through his good friend Val, who'd had over ten years of experience by that time and specialized in Java. He demonstrated impressive progress and was quickly hired to work full-time. Alex focuses on server-side technology. In addition to Java, he has built solutions using Node.js. Alex has also worked for commercial airlines. In the future, he is planning to get a personal pilot license and start flying as a hobby.
Vadim is a Java architect with 10 years of experience in delivering complex software solutions for transportation, health care, retail and even government. He was fascinated with engineering and computers as long as he can remember himself. He is a hard rock fan and for awhile was a lead guitarist and audio engineer of the local band. He dreams of a beach house and building his own electric car.
Fatima Aboul-Seoud has a Master’s degree in Psychology (with a focus on experimental computational evolutionary psychology) and is working on her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania. She has managed several research grants in psychology, including one for the United States Air Force and one for the John Templeton Foundation. She has co-authored a textbook chapter and a published research article in her field, with more in progress. Her experience ranges from data analysis and budget planning to training and managing researchers and educating undergraduates. She has conducted research on the function of forgiveness, revenge, empathy, friendship, and morality.
VP BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
* Former team member
Tom's diverse background includes a master's degree in industrial and organizational psychology, as well as two profitable start-up businesses. He uses his expertise in business management and interpersonal skills to help S&F maintain a focus on its clients. In graduate school Tom studied company culture development, and he has helped shape the culture within S&F. In his spare time he enjoys playing drums and building structures out of Legos.
VP OF PRODUCT
* Former team member
Spence spends his days making people’s innovative ideas profitable. For him, no day is better spent than whiteboarding cutting edge software that enhances a company's effectiveness or users' experiences. He is an active networker and strives to make connections that bring businesses to the next level. Outside daily operations, Spence participates in machine learning competitions and archery.
If Helen was Wonder Woman trying to go incognito in the “real” world, we’d say she wasn’t doing a very good job hiding her superpowers. A PhD in cellular biology and a bodybuilder of four years, Helen has years of project management experience and joined S&F with aspirations to become a Digital Producer. (Even if she later loses interest in this career path, her impressive skills in plucking and carving poultry have her covered!) Invaluable for her love of paperwork and keeping things organized, Helen drafts contracts, keeps an eye on timesheets, talks to clients, coordinates the team and monitors project performance. She believes that her persistence, attention to detail, constant pursuit of improvement, and ability to acknowledge mistakes and learn from them are her keys to success. We believe it’s her big heart (Helen modestly considers helping her sister conquer cancer her biggest achievement. She also once rescued a cat, but that’s just a regular day for a superhero, isn’t it?).
Motivated by the prospect of a tasty breakfast followed by at least three cups of Americano, Helen wakes up early even on weekends and looks forward to learning something new every day. (We suspect she also needs the extra hours to take care of her 30 house plants!) She likes to read popular science books on physics and biology and moonlights as a freelance translator of patent applications from English into Russian and Ukrainian. Her non-scientific interests include watching crime shows, medical dramas, or thrillers while sipping on one of her favorite drinks (whiskey or Jägermeister), and spending time with her family (mom, brother, and sister) or boyfriend (not necessarily in that order).
Producer & Project Manager
Helga contributes to S&F’s projects by monitoring budgets, timelines, and resources, as well as assessing and addressing present and emerging risks. Coming from an educational background, Helga treasures her time with S&F (five years and counting) for the progress that she has made towards her professional development goal of becoming a recognized expert in product management – as well as towards her personal goal of making the world a better place. She also highly values the S&F team, flexible hours, and access to opportunities for growth through the regular training that the company offers.
Independent since the age of 17, Helga has moved cities (and countries!) on her own and prides herself on her perseverance, communication skills, and ability to see hidden challenges. She is motivated by her keen interest in people and in learning something new every day. Helga loves solving riddles and once spent a day going through three escape rooms! She also likes horror films and theater, the latter having been her hobby some years ago. (Interestingly, Helga remembers always being cast as evil characters – a great contrast to her personality and mission in life!).
HR Manager and Recruiter
Oxana’s over ten years in HR, recruitment, staff development, and training are distilled in her simple and elegant professional motto: “No people – no profits.” Indeed, none of S&F’s projects would be possible without the best people, whom Oxana supplies with a sense of purpose, efficiency, concentration – and a pinch of salt. Proud to be a United Nations Development Programme-certified soft skills development trainer, Oxana loves communicating with people and helping them grow professionally and personally. At S&F, she is particularly inspired by the unusual tasks and situations which abound in hiring, onboarding, adaptation, and training of our team. (Once Oxana, through a humorous misunderstanding, ended up being interviewed by a candidate for an HR position with us, which she immediately used as an opportunity to assess the candidate’s skills in action!)
Oxana’s personal goal is to be happy and enjoy life as much as possible. Her husband, two sons, cat, and turtle are very much on board with that. Oxana, however, does not limit herself to a quiet family existence. Her adrenaline fixes come among others from reading and watching thrillers and crime stories, as well as from scuba-diving. (To illustrate how nerve-wracking the latter can be, Oxana recalls trying to take an impressive closeup photo of a moray eel and ending up having to run – or rather, swim - for her life.)
Full Stack Developer
Stephan is happy to wake up every day to the prospect of doing what he loves. (This includes about a hundred things – from writing code to creating estimates, assisting the sales team, and everything else, both at the front-end and server-side!) Goal-oriented, persistent, and curious, Stephan prides himself on his multifaceted skill set and ability to make quick decisions. He appreciates the opportunity to take up challenging tasks in a team of interesting individuals, which he has found at S&F.
Stephan describes his personal goal simply - “to see the world”. We suspect he wants to do that as a touring rock star, knowing that he plays guitar and is learning to play piano, or, as an amateur detective investigating macabre mysteries – considering his love of crime novels, especially those of Edgar Allan Poe.
Head of Delivery (Agile Scrum Master and Product Owner, Agile Professional, High Performers Club)
Oleg joined S&F in August 2018 to help build an organization that responds to the needs of the market in the best possible way. He has been enthusiastically leading his team towards that goal ever since, building on over a decade of project management experience with the top companies in the US, Canada, Poland, Germany, Romania, and Ukraine.
A natural entrepreneur with a long-term goal of becoming a (co-)owner of a prospering business, Oleg is proud of the delivery margins he and his team have been able to achieve, as well as the experience he has gained from managing some of S&F’s more difficult projects. The secret of his success? Prioritizing the development of strong partnerships and relationships with clients and ensuring that resource allocation and budgeting are done at the outset to meet expectations.
Oleg’s day is synced with the global nature and demands of S&F’s operations. This means that he wakes up around lunchtime, preferring to work at night to take advantage of the time differences with where our clients are, as well as to make sure that his team has all it may need at the start of its next workday. (It is quite possible that this primarily nocturnal lifestyle and leadership approach have grown out of Oleg’s 12 years of experience with Dungeons and Dragons, including as a Dungeon Master.)
Despite often staying up late (or early?), Oleg has plenty of interests that require daylight, including skydiving, airsoft, and historical fencing. With so much going on, it is amazing how he also manages to keep his wife, four-year-old daughter, and two Sphinx cats happy, while also indulging in occasional escapes to the Marvel universe. Well, one does not become a DM without having somehow mastered the art of bending space and time!
Full Stack Software Engineer
When Anatoly transitioned from freelancing to a permanent staff role with S&F, he brought with him over 20 years of web development experience, to build software applications guided by his strong vision of a quality final result.
Anatoliy likes to feel useful and in-demand and enjoys the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technology in a supportive team while dealing with something new and unexpected every day. That is not, however, why Anatoly wakes up early every morning; like many parents of young children, he has to go through a considerable ‘to-do’ list to get his two kids ready for school before he can dive into coding.
Persistent and meticulous, Anatoly can figure out anything that interests him, even if it is completely unrelated to his profession. Almost anything, that is – as long as he knows where he’s going with his research. (In one instance, just like Jules Verne’s Jacque Paganel, Anatoliy learned how to say a few phrases in perfect Portuguese, where what he actually needed was Spanish!).
Producer & Project Manager
Vicky left a managerial position in advertising to start a career as a business analyst and project manager in custom software from scratch. Goal-oriented, open to new tasks and challenges, meticulous, and attentive to detail, her personality is the right combination of ingredients to succeed in her professional and personal endeavors. Working as a Producer and Account Manager, Vicky keeps our clients abreast of the current status of their projects, informs them of emerging hurdles, offers potential solutions, and monitors budgets. She believes that the complexity of her work at S&F is exactly the learning platform she needs to implement the myriad grandiose plans she has built for her future, inspired by the success stories and biographies of famous people.
Vicky loves to cook, particularly desserts, which she rarely eats, giving preference to savory foods. Most of her creations are consumed by her lucky husband. Fortunately for his long-term health, Vicky dislikes driving and insists that they ditch the car and walk to most places. She also occasionally taps into her ten-year experience of ballroom dancing to let loose.
Vicky’s personal goal is “to seek harmony in everything,” which is essential to running her contemporary Noah’s Ark of a household. She and her husband take care of three cats, four pit bulls, a dachshund, and a parrot living under the same roof. In fact, Vicky could easily give Noah a run for his money, considering that she also manages her pets’ careers: her Maine Coon named Ashley has a large following on Instagram, and the five dogs regularly tour to participate in dog shows.
Paul is a versatile professional who can take on a variety of roles, including those of a tester, a lead, or a QA, drawing from his broad scope of experience with leading the US- and EU-based companies. His current focus is on enhancing the testing processes and products as a whole from the consumer’s point of view, adopting an approach which Paul himself describes as “pedantic” and “quality manic”.
Having chosen S&F for the opportunity to work remotely, Paul is highly valued for his confidence, strong understanding of business and product development, and the ability to effectively communicate with anyone.
Paul loves the routine and simplicity of home life with his wife and three-year-old daughter and works continuously on improving its quality, too. His free time is dedicated to professional photography.
Anastasia sees her mission in life as ‘living happily and helping others do the same.’ That is why when S&F was looking for someone who could create and nurture a welcoming, warm, and comfortable working environment at our office, we struck gold when we found her. Kind, empathetic, optimistic, and creative, Anastasia loves people and has an uncommonly high level of emotional intelligence. In addition to taking care of all kinds of household matters at our office, Anastasia plays an important role in HR management by helping onboard new staff, facilitating internal communications, and organizing corporate events, trainings, team building activities, and birthday celebrations. She also helps our overseas staff develop their English language skills and arranges tutoring, speaking clubs, and testing support.
Anastasia values the atmosphere at S&F where everyone can express their opinions freely and be heard, and draws her inspiration to grow from working with the team of bright individuals. It is easy to see how neither would have been there without Anastasia. A win-win! (Incidentally, it is one of the principles promoted by her favorite book – Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly-Effective People”).
True to the first part of her mission, Anastasia does not spend all of her time being a “mom” to everyone at S&F. Some of the things that make her life a happy one are raising her young daughter, taking fitness classes, and studying psychology.
Navi’s aspiration is to build a perfect project management process, where everyone is as effective as they can be, and the best possible value is delivered to the clients. With that goal as her guidance, she monitors our working processes to identify and address any weaknesses and risks, helps producers solve emerging problems and adopt more effective methods of project management, and generally does everything possible for our clients’ projects to be successful.
Having found her previous job in a startup constraining, Navi joined S&F for an opportunity to apply her knowledge and skills more broadly by implementing different scale projects in a more diverse team. The absence of unreasonable bureaucracy and the openness to creative solutions were her other pleasant discoveries at our company. A great believer in tech innovations as a perfect tool to create a variety of things that can be useful to many, Navi already has an experience of developing her own product (a gamified service for investment in farming, which has helped increase the availability of quality local produce), and one day hopes to spearhead a ‘unicorn.’
Navi admits to being practically haunted by her goals and ideas, and her ambitiousness manifests itself in all aspects of her life. (Even in sport, Navi could not be satisfied by just taking a class or two and went on to become a sambo champion of her hometown!) Her inspiration often comes from movies based on real-life stories, particularly those about people who achieved incredible success thanks to their hard work and tenacity, the two qualities she has in abundance.
When Navi needs a break from conquering the world, she watches freestyle wrestling, goes horse-riding, plays ping-pong, and researches beagle puppies. Getting one has been her dream since her time in London, which also gave her English a distinctly British flavor.
Born in Uzbekistan, Navi comes from a diverse background of Central Asian ancestry and speaks seven languages, including three dialects of Ossetian.
Alexander works on the front end (typesetting and coding in ReactJS) helping our clients turn a picture into a web-app, a website, or a prototype. He has a master’s degree in information systems and management and previously worked as a user interface developer with Yandex.
On weekends, Alexander likes to go for car rides with his wife and, when he has more time on his hands, to play video games, his Bengal cat at his side.
Serge was recently headhunted via LinkedIn as a solid and highly experienced Drupal developer. He now works with us on the back end, creating new features and maintaining old projects. At S&F, Serge values the good team and the opportunity to learn something from each new project. Patient and persevering, he chose the tech profession for his love of creating and maintaining things that make someone’s life better.
Serge’s personal goal is to travel more. For now, he is paving the path to his dream by watching thematic TV shows and following travel video bloggers.
Much like her favorite book character, George Sand’s Consuelo, Kristina is a self-made woman. She has a master’s degree in computer graphics and web design and is proud of having been accepted to university solely on the merit of her portfolio. Before recently joining S&F, Kristina worked on web development and tech solutions for music education, with a strong emphasis on graphic design, interactive features, and animation. In the meantime, she learned English by watching TV shows and YouTube videos, while also developing a keen interest in languages less widely spoken (her most recent fascination is Irish).
Kristina likes myths and adventure in all shapes and forms, especially if they are a product of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When not immersed in the latest Avengers installment, she enjoys alternative rock, watches TV shows (her favorites include The Office, Parks and Recreation, Doctor Who, and Breaking Bad), and cheers for ManU.
MeteorJS and FE Drupal/ WordPress Developer
If Eli had not chosen a tech profession, he would have made a perfect firefighter. Honest and responsible, he is always prepared to do what’s needed, to quickly learn any skill required for that, and to be available online for the company and the clients to help, well, put down virtual fires. He is also a capable leader having headed teams of up to 13 people, trained and inducted beginners, and managed projects inspired by his own ideas and initiative.
Just like many firefighters, Eli has rescued lots of animals on his city’s streets and achieved impressive results in a variety of sports. Idleness is inconsistent with his personal goal of living a life he would not regret, so, when not coding, Eli keeps busy raising a daughter together with his wife, cycling, long-distance running, studying the history of East Asia, mastering computer games, and playing with his two pets, a dog and a cat. (Some of our clients have actually met the latter when during calls she coughed out fur balls under Eli’s desk so conspicuously, it simply could not be ignored, and she had to be introduced). Subtlety is the only quality Eli has still to work on; although we do not necessarily look forward to the time our team conversations lose half their fun when he abandons his habit of driving them towards subjects not normally discussed in polite society.
E-Commerce Solutions Specialist
It is hard not to think of Hercules casually going through his twelve labors to eventually ascend to Mt. Olympus and rest with the gods when enumerating all of Serge’s accomplishments. His engineering degree and consequent work in industrial manufacturing resulted in an invention patent. His comprehensive ten-year experience in sales and retail led him to become the COO of his company. He has, over the past five years, built an impressive digital portfolio of e-commerce projects, primarily as a Magento developer. And in the meantime, he got PMP- and SMSS-certified, with an eye towards taking over some strategic management tasks and ultimately growing into a CEO.
Going beyond professional exploits, Serge is a husband and a father. His hard rock band has been invited to play at two international music festivals. His basketball team is prominent in the local amateur basketball league. He has won a trail run competition in the 30-40 age category. He’s written a popular blog and moderated a forum on music. He has broken his collarbone mountain biking.
So what, after all, keeps Serge grounded? His open-mindedness. A cup of coffee. Good classical science fiction or psychology book. A forest, an ocean, or another similarly beautiful view outside his window. Some good old 80s and 90s film and music. On the whole, all that stuff that makes being only a demi-deity so worthwhile.
Dmitry works on website development and support. He loves his job in tech for its ever-expanding horizons and the constant inspiration to enhance his knowledge and skills, a perfect antidote to sloth and complacency. It is also a great outlet for his stubbornness, which, as it turns out, is incredibly useful when one has to deal on a daily basis with complex problems requiring detailed research and analysis.
Dmitry’s most immediate personal goal is to obtain a private pilot license. In between flight training and coding, he enjoys good coffee and films by some of the best directors of our time (his favorite so far is Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb).
Full Stack Developer (Ruby on Rails, Angular, React)
Nazar got a PhD in Materials Science from the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland but later chose a career as a software developer instead. He saw tech as the sphere where he could get the most opportunities to create and grow continuously while working alongside some of the most interesting people of his generation.
Initially a freelancer, Nazar joined S&F on a few projects before being offered a permanent position. He readily accepted having found our team welcoming and supportive, and our working processes well organized. Nazar now develops products, provides estimates for project stages and tasks, and works directly with clients to demonstrate product features and address identified shortcomings. His current professional goal is to become an ultimate expert in his tech stack and a client relations guru while mastering other existing and emerging technologies and learning from others’ experiences of leading projects.
At work, Nazar is happiest when he gets to analyze a particularly complicated problem and find durable solutions (preferably, while sitting at a window-side desk with a steaming cup of coffee). But whatever the task is, Nazar always strives to carry it out to the best possible level of completion (he even finds it hard to leave a book he does not enjoy unfinished!). He is valued for his strong drive for quality, his patience, persistence, and openness (particularly to feedback), and his integrity is almost legendary (Nazar once saved a client from being ripped off by a graphic designer who almost sold the latter a plagiarized logo!).
Nazar is proud of his independence and motivated by anything which is a project of his own, be it his family, his work, or a personal endeavor. He loves sports and has played soccer and volleyball as part of amateur league teams both in Switzerland and back home. Great fans of the mountains, he and his wife always look for opportunities to go hiking in summer and skiing in winter. Indoors, Nazar’s free time is mostly dedicated to reading, which he has loved since being a child. His favorite book is The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, famous, among other things, for one of its characters being a mischievous talking cat. Perhaps that’s who Nazar thinks of when he often talks to his own cat Manu. Who knows, maybe one day Manu will answer back.