Coding Community

What do you do when you are an engineer and there is a war in your country?

Real Name: Igor Kuzmenko url:

Languages: C#/.NET JavaScript HTML/CSS

Originally from Odessa, Ukraine

Currently lives in Basel, Switzerland

Q. Hi Igor, thanks for talking with me. So first of all, can you tell me what you do for work?

I’m a lead front-end developer in Novartis AG. Currently I’m developing a portal for business users using Angular.js. Do a lot of other things across the whole system when needed, but when I have a free minute I usually spend my time by looking for bottle-necks and optimizations.

Q. How did the war in Ukraine impact you and your family?

In a nutshell I cannot go home now and I don’t know when I will have this opportunity. Thus, the impact is quite significant. Although my hometown has relatively low level of danger at the moment, I cannot see my parents, my sister, my friends. 

I moved to the capital of Ukraine one year before moving here, so my attachment got weakened and I’m used to see them not too often. But now the last time I saw them all was almost a year ago and this really upsets me. 

My mom and sister visited me, but it’s not like being at home. 

If not for my fiancee I would easily lose my mind here. Although I have some friends here, I miss this kindred spirit of people I know.

I do love my country and I’m really sad with what is going on there.

Q. When did you decide to move out of your hometown in Ukraine? Was it a deliberate decision?

Actually I moved from my hometown to Kiev when I was 22. I always wanted to move to Kiev due to bigger chances of moving abroad. Initially I was thinking to live there for about 5 years and then to move out, but I moved a year later. So essentially that was a deliberate decision, but this happened much earlier than I expected. And eventually I successfully handled this.

Q. Which company did you work for while you were in Ukraine? What was your main programming language there?

I was working for a company that produces set-top-boxes called Dune HD for a year.

My team was developing UI for these boxes and I used several languages, but mainly JavaScript, but I used C++ for deeper understanding, how everything works and PHP to develop some utilities. 

I was a part of the incredible team and I learned a lot there. Unfortunately my whole team was fired “due to the tough situation on the east of Ukraine”.

Q. How is your new town in Switzerland like? Do you see any difference between the way engineers in Switzerland work vs. Ukraine?

It is very very small town comparing to cities where I lived before, I still cannot get used to this. And for me it’s a pretty much boring place, though it’s a good place for travelling and self-development. 

What does every programmer when he gets bored? Right, learns and develops something new. 

Oh, yes, difference is huge. My team here is multi-national and I can see a quite significant fundamental difference. Ukrainian development style is much stronger in the speed of development, speed of solving issues, finding workarounds. Engineers here are more relaxed and a lot of those who I know are doing this because it’s a well-paid job, not because they really enjoy this, unlike those people I know in Ukraine.

Q. What is the one surprising thing you have learned so far about Swiss engineers? 😉

They are never in a hurry. Like really never. I’ve never seen developers like here. 

Q. Which programming languages are you focusing on now while in Switzerland?

JavaScript. I really want to master it, because I’m a huge fan of performance optimizations and without really deep knowledge it’s pretty difficult. In parallel I’m trying to learn Go and occasionally I use C# just not to forget it. 

Q. What are you currently working on when you stream?

I’m working on the service called LCTVAlerts. The service is going to offer different types of alerts and statistics for the streamers, like “new follower”, “new donation” and so on.

Q. As a streamer, do you have anything to say to your viewers?

Never hesitate to ask questions. After all, we stream here for you, not only because we want to show you what we can do, but to answer your questions and help you to overcome difficulties more quickly and easily than we did a while ago. When you do not ask about what you do not understand, you leave gaps in your knowledge, and somewhere in the world one new bug appears 🙂

Also, do not forget to subscribe if my videos are useful to you. And many thanks for those who have already done this.

Q. What would you say to a student considering programming/coding as a profession?

For those who just wants to make games and thinks that it’s pretty easy, this path can become a huge disappointment. But if you know what to expect and you accept the fact that becoming a good developer is an enormous effort then my congratulations. You will never regret about your decision. After you become a part of such incredible world, the world of zeros and ones, all doors will be open for you.

If you think you want and can do it, just go and do it. Learn and work. More and harder. You need to do all your best all the time, sometimes that will require some sacrifices, but believe me, it worth it. And, again, learn-learn-learn.

Q. What do you do when you get stuck at a dead end while coding?

It depends on the type of a project. If I’m stuck at work and it’s not a week before release, I just go to grab some coffee, turn on some classical music, go outside and just sit on the bench, or switch to another task and eventually ideas start appearing. If it’s a deadline time, then I just do what I need to do until it’s done, using from time to time a whiteboard to write down some ideas. Just because I find whiteboards so useful for this type of things, I bought one to use in my side projects and when I’m stuck at a dead end simply by writing the problem on it may help. But sometimes it really helps if I switch to different things helps, such as playing Counter Strike, listening to music, walking, reading a book, sleeping etc. Books always inspire me, so I refer to them pretty often.

Q. If you were not a coder, what would you rather be? Why?

A sailor. Why? My dad is a sailor and when I was a child I was reading his books and I have passion to this and already some knowledge, so I would try to be a sailor if not a developer.

To be honest, the day before applying for the Maritime University I changed my mind and applied for Odessa National University, the Faculty of Mathematics.

Q. Who would you rather be: CTO of Apple or Samsung?

That’s not an easy question to be honest. I don’t like both companies though they make nice products. Samsung has more space for innovations. Apple has a strong focus on existing products, on optimizations and polishing.

I would rather choose Samsung because the quality of their software is still on the low level although the hardware quality is improved. Every time I use their software I just cannot stop complaining. So it can be a bit easier to succeed if you have more space for improvements.

On the other hand, I’m really into optimizations, polishing, alongside with focusing on a pair of products. So by doing what I really like doing I could easily succeed in Apple.

A big thanks to Igor for taking the time to talk with us! 

Check out what Igor is working on at:

About author

I, Dr. Michael J. Garbade is the co-founder of the Education Ecosystem (aka LiveEdu), ex-Amazon, GE, Rebate Networks, Y-combinator. Python, Django, and DevOps Engineer. Serial Entrepreneur. Experienced in raising venture funding. I speak English and German as mother tongues. I have a Masters in Business Administration and Physics, and a Ph.D. in Venture Capital Financing. Currently, I am the Project Lead on the community project -Nationalcoronalvirus Hotline I write subject matter expert technical and business articles in leading blogs like,, Cybrary, Businessinsider,, TechinAsia, Coindesk, and Cointelegraph. I am a frequent speaker and panelist at tech and blockchain conferences around the globe. I serve as a start-up mentor at Axel Springer Accelerator, NY Edtech Accelerator, Seedstars, and Learnlaunch Accelerator. I love hackathons and often serve as a technical judge on hackathon panels.