Džiugas, who are you?
TL; DR: I don’t really know.
First and foremost, I try to be myself which is not always easy. To me, being myself is about knowing your identity and living for values that are of great importance. Nothing is more important to me than my family: my beloved wife and three wonderful kids. Talking about identity, I am Lithuanian, living in Norway for more than eight years. The longer I live here, the more Lithuanian I become and find new ways to associate myself with Lithuania. However, over time I am also becoming much more Norwegian than Lithuanian and getting used to the flat and tolerant society, work culture, work-life balance and the wonderful nature as part of everything. I am in a way a hypocrite who switches his identity according to the context. And those familiar with computer science terms know how expensive context switching sometimes is.
What did you do before you started working at Forkbeard and how does this experience benefit your current role?
Before coming to Norway, I worked as a software engineer and a team leader for a Lithuanian mobile operator. I came to Oslo in 2012 for a PhD position at Simula Research Laboratory, where we built a large measurement infrastructure to measure Norwegian mobile networks, with focus on mobile data reliability. At Forkbeard, I work as a software engineer and primarily develop our cloud components.
To me, the big picture is much more important than any technology or tool and therefore, I am glad that I get an opportunity to not only code, but also to suggest what and what not to code. In practice, it sometimes means that I need to spend a few days to write a hundred lines of code and that’s because I need time to contemplate what problem those lines are supposed to solve. Furthermore, I am a minimalist and always try to come up with as few lines of code as possible. Sometimes this eats a bit of time too. Luckily, in the team we have a review process for every large change. This way I can be sure that my colleagues will never let some of my unreadable code see daylight.
What drew you to Forkbeard?
I joined Forkbeard’s sister company, Sonitor Technologies, in August 2017. The main reason for joining was that unlike other tech companies, I felt they are developing a technology that solves real problems that are important to society. Sonitor’s mission is to help hospital patients and personnel to find each other. Forkbeard takes it further and brings accurate indoor positioning to every smartphone.
What’s the best thing about working at Forkbeard?
The best thing is that I do believe in the technology and the product we develop. Further, I have a lot of freedom. I can suggest my ideas and be heard, and there is no pressure at all. At the same time, I have a possibility to learn about modern technologies such as Kotlin and Kubernetes, and continuously challenge myself in writing more efficient software and package it in a more efficient way. Last but not least, at the heart of Forkbeard are highly skilled and friendly colleagues who are always willing to help and support you.
What does your typical day look like at Forkbeard?
Not all days are typical with three kids and the current working from home situation. There are biweekly company-wide standups at 08:30am and we have our cloud team standup every day at 10:00am. Those two regular activities help to maintain the pulse, get up to date and plan or present my own tasks or achievements. The rest of the day usually consists of one of the following tasks: coding a software component, fixing a bug, reviewing a merge request, having a face-to-face meeting on a specific topic or discussing some topic on a Slack channel.
Talking about Slack, we have recently started using the Donut app that helps you to get together with a randomly chosen colleague over a virtual cup of coffee on a regular basis.
How will Forkbeard help you with both your personal and professional development?
As Forkbeard grows, so do I. I think that as long as there is room for improvement, there is also room for growth. To me, growing not only means learning new technologies, but also improving your gut feeling on what is right and wrong, what works and what does not. I believe that sensing what others are thinking without explicitly asking them is as important as mastering for example Kubernetes. I get a chance to experience all of that and more at Forkbeard.
What’s the coolest place you’ve traveled to?
With so many amazing spots visited in beautiful Norway, it is difficult for me to pick just one, hence I can only objectively talk about places in other countries.
I will never forget my trip to Kamchatka back in 2005. Not only because of it’s unique landscape of active volcanoes, geysers (with my favorite smell of sulphur) and the 26 brown bears I encountered during my stay. But also, because I still can’t believe I managed to arrange the entire trip which included finding a local tour operator, visiting the Russian embassy in Vilnius multiple times and providing the necessary “invitation” documents.
I still remember the day I landed in Yelizovo airport with the shaking monster Il-96 airliner. The original plan for the first day was to relax in the warm springs of a hotel, but due to the bad weather forecast (нелетная погода), we literally had to run to another airport where we paid in cash for a trip to the Valley of Geyseres under the rotating propellors of a Mil MI-8 helicopter. With this excitement you forget about the jetlag. I also will always remember the second day. With blisters on my feet I was cursing everyone in this world for my way too heavy 20kg backpack that I had to carry for the rest of the two week hike (around 200 km in total).
Despite those first hard days, swarms of mosquitoes and other uncomfortable challenges such as having to fast and save my remaining food for several days while waiting for a better weather and the return helicopter, Kamchatka is one of those places I would really like to visit again.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Last few years have been less about me and more about what the kids. We enjoy being in the nature. It can be a day trip somewhere in Østmarka, a weekend tent tour (even in the winter!) in Nordmarka, a week in Lofoten, Senja or Telemark or cycling downhill from Frognerseteren towards home. We also like skiing, both alpine and cross country. My six-year-old son will start his third season this year and it will be the first season for my daughter who is soon turning four.
As for my personal interest, the last couple of years I have spent some time researching documents and files related to Lithuanian partisans fights for freedom after WWII. To my own surprise, I discovered so many unidentified people and unpublished stories, documents and pictures. More importantly, those people and their stories are very real. Some of them are still alive. I just felt the responsibility to do something about it. I am currently writing an article about the two letters from a liaison to a partisans’ commander. The article provides historical facts from the partisans’ documents and KGB files, and tells the personal story of how it took almost a year for my father and me to reveal the identity of the liaison.
And finally, anything you’d like to say to the reader?
For the outsiders, Forkbeard is about a precise indoor positioning and peer-to-peer contact tracing technology. For the insiders, Forkbeard is also about people. We are just a few and that is why everyone’s contribution is so important in writing the success story. Key to success is a common culture, values and our ability to unite and thrive around the same goal. I enjoy being among Forkbeard’s success story writers. It feels like our success is just around the corner.