Meet the Team: Maya Kowalewska, Software Developer

January 20, 2022
6 minute read
Lucy Drennan

Tell us a bit about your educational background and previous roles before you joined Phlo

My path to software engineering has been unusual as I come from a scientific background. I graduated in Medical Biotechnology and worked as a scientist on medical devices. That required collaboration with software and hardware engineering departments which I found fascinating.

During my master’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology, I was exposed to several coding languages such as Python and Java, commonly used for scientific programming and processing data at a scale. I realised then I wanted to solve problems closer to everyday life, so I enrolled in an immersive bootcamp and caught the ‘coding bug’ for good.

What attracted you to work for Phlo?

From the beginning, I was struck how well aligned Phlo’s core values are with mine – helping people with managing their health by innovation. The mission to get patient’s medicines delivered quickly and safely to their door seemed like a much-needed shift from the usual queues in front of the pharmacy, especially if you’re unwell. I wanted to be part of making this change happen!

I used to work with medical equipment and have first-hand experience of poor user interface on these machines. I can reassure this can be a source of frustration. Getting involved in building and improving our Pharmacy Operating Systems has been a great fit as it’s part of my mission to help our Pharmacy staff focus on delivering the best care to our patients without technical glitches. 

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day starts with a morning stand up, where we discuss our achievements from the previous day and upcoming tasks. When one of us picks up a development issue, we often collaborate by so-called mob coding in a group of engineers at varied levels of seniority and experience. That approach helps us to go through troubleshooting and reviewing the code faster and more effectively.

Once a bulk of work is finished, we need to demo the outcome – be it an updated version of the Pharmacy Operating System - to many people within the company so there is a good variety between your working days.

What are the key skills required to perform your role successfully?

As I mentioned before, it is not a lonely line of work so being a good communicator is important. Sometimes there is a need to explain a difficult concept in an approachable way to quickly resolve any queries – and it helps you in remembering the solutions to problems!

On top of that, a decent attention span and problem-solving skills are required for tackling tricky coding bugs or adding new complex features to the app.

What do you enjoy most about your role and what are the most challenging aspects?

The rate of change is incredible, here in the engineering department as well as Phlo as a whole, and it is exciting to see our horizon constantly expanding. I enjoy the real impact our work has as I’m a keen advocate for managing your health on your terms. We can see that happening from happy reviews we receive and growing numbers of patients making Phlo their pharmacy.

What I find most challenging is hitting a wall when a complicated issue arises within our systems, however, the mix of relief and satisfaction from solving a complicated issue is a big reward!

What makes Phlo different and why should people join us?

Phlo is made of truly caring, passionate and innovative people. We see and support each other.

If you join us, feel free to get inspired and motivated to help our patients on their journey to health by working in a progressive, patient-first and respectful company with great prospects for the future.

What piece of advice would you give someone wanting to work in the software engineering industry?

Software engineering is a great fit for people with a thirst for knowledge and novelty. Hone your drive for learning something new every day and it can lead you to great places.

As cheesy as it might sound, being comfortable with being uncomfortable is a great policy in this ever-evolving industry as it doesn’t allow you to settle for too long before a change comes.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I love exploring Scotland’s natural beauty, be it hiking, cycling or wild swimming. I’m a book worm and as my screen time extended in my role, I find audiobooks a great replacement.

Maya kayaking in Loch Faskally

I recently finished an autobiography ‘And Away…’ by a comedian Bob Mortimer which was a source of joy and reflection during the shortest days of the year – a great ‘listen’ as it’s read by the man himself.

If you’d like to join the Phlo team and help us shape the future of Pharmacy, check out our careers page.

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