From a commercial pilot to a backend developer. The role of communication in technical development.

We have sat down with Frederik Sonsky to chat about his experience working in the Platform Developer Team at Plugsurfing.

Hi Frederik, can you tell us a little about your background?

Before getting into tech, I worked for 14 years as a commercial pilot. As a captain, you must make critical decisions under pressure with little to spare. During my time in the airline industry, I underwent regular communication training to help improve team resource building. It emphasized the importance of communication and efficiently solving problems at hand.

The knowledge obtained as a commercial pilot gave me a better understanding of following guidelines and standard practices. Now, as a developer, I can look at the bigger picture to fix the current bugs and mitigate future problems, potentially saving us a lot of money in the long run.

How did you get into the IT industry? What do you enjoy about it?

When COVID forced me out of the aviation industry, I thought it might be time to try something new. Since I have always been interested in Software Development and had some projects on the side, I decided to undertake a 12-week intensive boot camp in Java, which eventually helped me land a Junior Developer position at Plugsurfing.

At Plugsurfing, I started programming and participating in projects, which taught me a lot about the industry as I not only modified the code but had to build up endpoints from scratch.

Before I joined, other developers had set up the basic foundation of API (Application Programming Interface). We used that foundation to develop our APIs to build customer experiences. Since then, our team has grown a lot.

One of the best facets of my time at Plugsurfing has been the growth opportunities. Despite being “just” a Junior Developer, I could use my previous experience to develop innovative ideas to speed my team along.

“Everyone in Plugsurfing gets to be reformist and lucid.”

I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the support from work colleagues, especially the senior backed developers in the Developer Platform Team.

What is the favorite part of your job?

I enjoy a challenge. With years of knowledge in air navigation, I can quickly imagine developing Plugsurfing’s public features, like the Geosearch-route, and its mathematics. Thanks to my experience, I improved the Geosearch-route to get better search results at the start and end of the route.

Often when a customer sends information about a charging station, I have a good idea of where this station is located just by seeing the coordinates, especially in Europe. So, for example, N59, E18 is around Stockholm, and N52, E/W 0 is close to London.

There are programming libraries that calculate coordinates. Still, air navigation has taught me how I would actually create a programming function that could calculate the distance between two coordinates. For example, it’s easy to calculate the distance from north to south, but east to west is more complex.

How has being a commercial pilot helped you in your current position?

My background helps me see things from a different perspective than other IT professionals in the industry. As a commercial pilot, you do not have the option to get into a last-minute meeting to discuss options. The aviation law dictates that your superiors can provide support but can never tell you what to do. At the end of the day, you are responsible for your own actions, have to manage last-minute issues, and think effectively under pressure.

In my years as a pilot, I have flown with pilots from almost any corner of the world. It made it a lot easier to collaborate with people from different nationalities and work cultures.

That is very interesting. Do you believe your experience has positively impacted your work colleagues?

I have done traineeships where I taught new pilots traditional leadership skills. It is interesting how you can make a huge difference in a company when changing how you communicate with others.