ZEF Warrior Stories Part 4: A Problem Solver Thrilled by Simplicity

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ZEF's values are made of love, passion and bravery. We want to change the world. We love what we do and want to be the best in it. We act bravely to reach our dreams. In ZEF Warrior Stories blog series our employees share their stories. When did we follow our heart? What lights up our inner fire? How do we overcome obstacles?

“His brain is working in an unbelievably fast pace and technology is like an extension of his mind. When you ask something, he has already Googled it and watched a YouTube video before you finish your question.”

This is how a fellow Warrior describes our Juha, and I get a living example straight away. When asking him, how many years he has been working at ZEF, Juha says: “Let me check on LinkedIn… Four years. Well, that went fast.”

Juha is our bright brain behind the Livezhat service which is to a large extent his masterpiece. He's working as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and has about 17 years experience in software development.

Back in the days, Juha was studying math and computer science at the University of Oulu and had "a firm intention to finish his studies". However, tech companies could not keep their hands off him, and finally he decided to work for his passion instead of studying. “Maybe once I retire, I’ll finish my degree for fun.”

The Thrill of Problem-Solving and Simplicity

When talking about the work life highlights, there’s one thing making Juha’s heart burn above everything else: problem-solving. Aha moments give him the thrill at work every day. “I like it when at first you beat your head against a stone wall and then suddenly can see everything clearly. That’s why I really enjoy coding. Getting over that moment of total block gives such a great feeling.”

Another thing Juha cherishes at work is simplicity. He says everything should be optimized to be as simple as possible: “You can code a new feature in thousands of different ways - but the simpler, the better. If you can choose whether to do it with 10 lines of code or 1000 lines, well obviously there’s a smaller risk for bugs if you manage to do it with only ten.”

What Juha also finds thrilling is that simplicity has no limits: “Whenever I have an idea, I take another look at it, and think if I can make it even more simple. You can always get better in simplicity and your logical thinking improves day after day.”

Growing Grapes and Running Marathons

The appreciation for simple beauty is also present in Juha’s free time. Spending time at a cottage, fixing things and gardening, are close to his heart. “I spend all the weekends at my cottage 80 km from Helsinki. There’re lots of small things to renovate and it’s a great way to turn off one’s brain after a hectic week.”

Gardening, in particular, is Juha’s way to hit the reset button in the brain. He excitedly explains how he’s growing four different grape cultivars at the cottage. “And I recently read that in one certain place they’re selling a grape cultivar which is completely seedless – I immediately went and bought it.” His passion is to try exotic plants barely surviving the Finnish winter - such as apricots, plums, pears and Magnolias.

As his favorite sport Juha mentions running. “I actually ran a marathon in Venice, Italy once and got quite a nice result. Now I have quite a threshold to attend another one because, of course, I must be better than the last time and it requires a lot of training.”

This story also reminds him of another kind of marathon. Namely, he recalls that there were times when his passion for work tended to get too tense: Once he spent 38 hours in row in front of a screen, coding. “That’s absurd. If someone at ZEF did this I’d intervene. I’ve learned that it’s a must to get enough rest and separate work from free time to keep a good energy level.”

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Meaningful “Why” Gives a Kick

The greatest motivation for Juha at work is the feeling of working for a cause. He stands 110% behind ZEF’s purpose of being which is to help people in decision-making. “Developing the products is motivating when there’s a clear, noble purpose. It is not only about some lines of code but actually helping people.”

Having work experience from a range of companies, our dear coder-gardener concludes that ZEF is quite a unique work environment:

The atmosphere and the way people communicate with each other at ZEF is simply wonderful.

Not least because of this sweet gentleman.

One more thing...

Let our Warrior present his daily toolbox:

  • “Our products are built using Google’s servers, Google Cloud Platform, especially App Engine, Compute Engine, Cloud Storage and Big Query. All these are new and developing technologies which it is absolutely interesting to work with! As programming languages we use Java and JavaScript."
  • “In the programming, I code mostly with Netbeans IDE tool. To some extent, I also use Sublime editor and Eclipse. In an important role there’s also Git source control and Google tools with which testing and updates are integrated directly into the coding editor (Netbeans / Eclipse). An important tool is also Flowdock which we use to communicate continuously with the tech team. We also use Trello to manage the features of products and for scheduling.”
  • "At the cottage I use a Fiskars shovel and a Senco frame nailer..." :)