June 10, 2021
Yaroslav Korshak on viewing the journey as the goal
What is your role?
I am an engineering manager and was also the first hire here in our Amsterdam office.
Describe what you do in a few sentences.
My role is to organize our engineering team so that it can operate in the most efficient way possible. I also work with the broader engineering organization to ensure that we are hitting our goals to further our mission. Right now I am focused on hiring great people to grow our team in Amsterdam.
Tell us about the culture of inclusion at Plaid.
Prior to joining Plaid, I was looking for a company that was committed to creating a diverse workplace. Throughout all of my interviews with different Plaids, I could tell that inclusion was very important to the team. Since joining the company, I have seen firsthand how we have created space for employees to feel comfortable ranging from our different Plaid Community Groups to our Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging town hall meetings.
Our mission is “to unlock financial freedom for everyone”. Everyone being the operative word. We are building financial tools to help individuals from all different backgrounds achieve financial freedom. As an engineering manager who is actively hiring a team, I understand the importance of building a team of people who represent a multitude of perspectives. I believe that innovation stems from collaboration of different backgrounds, experiences, and working styles.
What sets Plaid apart from other places you've worked?
This is an easy answer. The people. When I was going through my interviewing process at Plaid, I felt a connection to each person. During every conversation there was positive energy, kindness, and a forward way of thinking that was refreshing. I felt that Plaid was special. Now that I have been here for over a year I can genuinely say that the people are what make Plaid a great place to work.
Let’s rewind to the beginning.
Talk to us about life before Plaid. Walk us through your journey.
Where to start...ha. Well, I have always had a passion for making the world a better place. This mindset started when I was a young child. I would read books by Jules Verne and Mark Twain and dream of how I could make a difference. I also felt, and still feel today, that every person can make a difference, and no deed is too small to matter. As I grew up, I decided to pursue law so that I could help others and have a positive impact on society.
So, you were set on becoming a lawyer?
Yes. I studied law for a good eight years. I almost did my master's as well. However, two months before defending my intermediate diploma towards my master's, I realized the passion to become a lawyer was no longer there. So, one day, I left the university building and never looked back.
After closing the chapter on law, what did you decide to do next?
I was always interested in a particular programming language called Perl. In the Ukraine there was a community group dedicated to hosting different initiatives centered around Perl. Shortly after I joined the group, the organizer moved abroad, so I ended up taking it over. The community quickly grew from four people who would meet maybe twice a year to chat about Perl into more than 100 people around Ukraine, who would exchange ideas, write software and even organize informational conferences. This was a great experience for me and helped me develop my coding skills as a hobby. The community group also taught me that I love building and creating.
When I was ready to try something different, I had conversations with a variety of people across different industries. Based on my conversations, I felt that design could be an interesting fit as it would give me an opportunity to tap into my creative side. I ended up pursuing design and was a designer for seven years. Although I built a team and enjoyed my work in a few leading publishing houses, I felt that I could have a greater impact elsewhere. What I loved most about being a designer was the problem solving element and wanted to do more of that, so I next had my sights set on becoming an engineer.
I was already writing code in my free time for my personal website, so I continued to practice and read different books to improve my skills. By leveraging my past professional experiences, I was able to work on different freelance projects and eventually found success in landing a job in an international company. When I got my first job as a software engineer, I knew this was the career for me. As I have grown my career in engineering I have had the opportunity to build amazing teams and work with incredible people. This is my favorite part of my job.
What advice would you give to others about navigating different career paths?
Firstly, I recommend having conversations with friends or friends of friends to get a sense of all of the different jobs that currently exist. It is really important to collect as much data as you can because during this process you will get an understanding of the different skills needed to pursue specific industries.
Secondly, I don’t believe that there is a defined end goal when it comes to changing careers. I have found that it is all about the journey you take. I have had about 20 years of transitions and all of these different experiences have taught me invaluable lessons and helped me get to where I am today. It is never too late to learn something new, so I encourage you to embrace the uncertainty. Personal growth is the best kind of growth.
Why did you want to work at Plaid? How did you make it a reality?
I knew that I wanted to work with talented and great people. It was very important for me to find a team that I would be comfortable working alongside and could learn from. Moreover, I care about making an impact. I firmly believe that the problems we are solving at Plaid today will leave the world in a different and better state in the future. I definitely prepared for my interview. I first applied through the Plaid API, which was really awesome. I then researched Plaid’s website, found articles, listened to different podcasts, and read through the engineering blog. The engineering blog was a great way to prepare for my interview because I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the engineering organization at Plaid.
And then, I started studying to learn what is the business model? How does Plaid work? What is the scale? What is the mission? Who are the customers? The interview itself was quite rigorous. Beforehand, I set some time aside and just practiced coding questions to refresh my knowledge. The day of interviews went well and after I received my offer the next day, I was ready to accept.
What are you looking forward to, right now, at Plaid?
I'm looking forward to building my team. There is no better time to join Plaid than now, especially in our Europe office which is rapidly growing. We recently signed a new office lease to move into a space that is more than triple the size of our original office. I'm excited for our product roadmap over the next 5 years. Knowing that the work of my team will have a serious impact on making finance better and more accessible gets me incredibly excited!
What are you proud of?
I care about leaving a positive impact on the world and my determination to make this happen has continually pointed me in the right direction. I feel proud to have helped others grow both personally and professionally in my past jobs. Helping others succeed drives me and brings me joy.
We are hiring in Amsterdam and across all of our offices. Join us!