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#SKELIA_TALKS WITH RUSLAN, BI TEAM LEAD AT SKELIA LVIV

#Skelia_talks aims to tell the world about its team, its people and everything in between. We want to tell you about us, our special moments, interesting stories, and hobbies. Today we’ll be talking to Ruslan. He has been working on one of the first projects in Skelia as a Business Intelligence Team Lead.

  • Hi and welcome, Ruslan! Tell us about your experience in Skelia, how and when did you start?
  • Well, back in April 2009, I was interviewed by Olivier (Founder and COO). At that time, there were only 4 developers in Skelia.
  • Wow! So you’ve recently celebrated an anniversary in Skelia, right? 
  • Yes, I’ve been working here for 10 years. It’s quite comfortable to work with our customer. Most of all, I like that we are integrated into the customer’s team. What we do… I would not call this “to be part of the project”, our team is more of a customer’s team extension. We are involved in many projects of our customer and we work with everything connected to Business Intelligence.  Actually, we feel like we are the customer’s team. They do treat us as their employees and not just employees, but as professionals who have an influence on the construction of the solutions and technologies that are used. We receive a lot of respect and recognition. And from our side, we are committed to excellence.
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  • That’s really nice to hear. And what do you like most about Skelia?
  • You know, Skelia is a small home-like company where everyone knows everyone. I do like that. Plus, our founders often come here, they communicate with us and “stay in touch”. At my previous workplace, I lacked this so much, mainly because nobody cared about you, the only thing that mattered for everyone as if you were doing your tasks in time. But here, things are completely different. There are people with whom we have been going the same path for 10 years. Traditions do matter, you know. Plus, we adore parties here. For example, I like our Barbeque Day very much.
  • Oh really? That’s great. Yes, traditions do matter. But now, let’s come back to your work. So, you work as a Team Lead. You might have some secrets about building a solid team, right?
  • Actually, there are no secrets at all. I did all the interviews with my team members from the beginning. Our team is very cool. I am very happy to work with these people. As for methodologies, we tried to implement Agile, but it proved impossible for our project. At present, we adhere to the principle of kanban. The reason for this is that our business process doesn’t require any methodologies and, therefore, it’s difficult for us to adhere to certain disciplines. Especially, over the years, we have changed projects many times and goals accordingly as well. As for the team, we all mostly work independently. Everyone has their own area of ​​responsibility. We usually help each other, especially during the adaptation period. People can come to our team with a very high knowledge level, but it still takes time for them to understand our customer’s business processes, you know.
  • Definitely. You say that each member of the team has its own responsibility. Do you talk about it or this is “self-evident?”
  • During the adaptation, we always talk; we try to give the person a vision for the whole picture. We also make it clear that sometimes we may have to learn something out of the ordinary. For example, acquire some knowledge of accounting or finance. We remind that sometimes you just have to sit down and dig into areas you would never consider investigating before.
  • Oh, I know what you mean. Luckily, life is not only work. Let’s talk about your hobbies. I know that you adore paragliding. How have you come across it and why? Does it differ from other aerial sports and how? Please tell us more. 
  • Well, to begin with, I must admit that I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. But I didn’t have a chance to do it because of time and financial issues as well. Although paragliding is the most affordable air sport, it still requires some capital investment.
  • Of course. And what for example do you need to buy to get started?
  • Some basic equipment you need includes a wing (the paraglider itself), a paraglider harness system, a reserve parachute, electronic devices that allow you to be in the air, fly, look for thermal flows. And, of course, a helmet and gloves. That makes together up to several thousand euros.
  • That seems a lot. Is it possible to buy all the mentioned stuff in Ukraine or do you buy it abroad?
  • There are 2 Ukrainian manufacturers, both of them produce quite quality equipment. Besides, you can of course order overseas. Outfit of foreign production costs 2 times more expensive.
  • Okay then. But why paragliding? There are many more aerial sports out there.
  • Oh, I’ve got several reasons. First of all, it’s beauty. The whole process is very picturesque. Plus, your feeling as you fly… Imagine this: you’re not falling, you’re flying, you can touch clouds. I dreamed about this a long time ago, I wanted to be a military pilot at school. But it didn’t happen. I like to fly, gain altitude and see the horizon open and all this incredible beauty. Especially flying in the autumn is amazing.
  • How wonderful! But you didn’t tell us how you came up with such an unusual hobby. Please share your story.
  • Well, where did it all start for me… Let me think. Ah, yes, I went hiking in the mountains and there I saw paragliding competitions. I guess it was 2005. And I thought it was worth a try. But at that point, I somehow didn’t have time for that. And then, in 2015, we went for the team-building with our customer to Borzhava. And again – there were some competitions. At that moment, I started to get very into the topic. That was when I started reading different information and as a result, I became extremely engaged. And I knew that at that moment there was a very famous pilot in Lviv who was just teaching students, and I saw him at those competitions – I recognized him and came up to say hello. We talked and then in Lviv I signed up for a trial class.
  • A trial class. It seems hard to imagine. And how does the test session look like?
  • Well, it all starts on the ground, they show you equipment. Then you start to “run on the ground”, that’s what we call it. It mostly works with the wing – you learn to control it, fix it, bring it over your head, lay it on the ground, and, of course, to properly rotate it. I must admit that physically, it’s a pretty difficult part. All equipment weighs up to 20 kilograms. The wing is around 5-6 kilograms itself. Someone manages to fly from the very beginning, but I personally remember having problems with rising the wing for a very long time.
  • This means that you need to learn how to fly before actually flying. And how many lessons did it take you to fly?
  • I guess I tried to fly on the third lesson. Yes, it was already the third lesson. We call it flying on “remote control”. The instructor sends guidance commands what to do via radio, having visual contact. The second flight took place on Borzhava, there were some pieces of training and the instructor suggested that we could go and see what was going on there. The cable car did not work and I took the paraglider up to the mountain and the instructor said that since I had already taken it out – why not fly. The weather was gorgeous, I remember. So, I started from the mountain and for the first time, I saw such heights. Can you imagine 600 meters in height? The trees looked like toys from the height of this flight. I thought, “it couldn’t be happening to me.” I have never felt this, it can be called “an absolute sense of happiness.” It’s far more than just adrenaline, you know, I would call it pure endorphins. At first, I flew without any instruments and especially did not know what to do, so I just started turning to circle. I didn’t know it at the time, but when you lose altitude, it becomes hard for you to notice without instruments. Until the trees began to grow rapidly and I had to slalom between them. And I landed on a playground that I probably wouldn’t have risked landing on now. But that was not all. Two more people flew behind me and landed on the same spot, our instructor was in a bit of a shock, you know, as we had to land elsewhere altogether.
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  • Scaring! And what about your feelings after? What happened the next day?
  • I’d say that it was a very awesome feeling, I couldn’t sleep all night, I was so overwhelmed by emotions. On the next day, the weather was even better. I was able to find a good thermal flow and I flew for 2 hours.
  • Awesome! You mention that good weather is crucial for this sport. What are the perfect conditions for paragliding? Which weather fits best? Is there room for this in Ukraine?
  • Hah, you won’t believe but there are many places for paragliding in Ukraine. There are excellent conditions in the Carpathians, and before the war, we had Crimea, of course. Or you can always start the “winch” on the flat land. Ukraine is more comfortable with paragliding because flights over the plains can be very long-distance. There are places to fly, borders are far and there are many places where to land. When a paraglider flies a long distance, it’s called cross-country, you never know where one will land. And it’s almost impossible to plan a route. Of course, if it’s not a competition. The record in Ukraine is around 425 km. It was a pilot from Kyiv who almost flew to Odesa. Just for the record, the world’s record is about 600 km, I think it was set in Brazil.
  • You must be kidding! Is it difficult to actually start it? What do you need to start a paraglider? 
  • Well, to start a paraglider, there are two ways: you can start either from the mountain or “winch”, this is when you get pulled out by a special device attached to the car. To start the paraglider, not very strong wind is required; around 3-6 meters per second would be enough. Any start is to be done against the wind. Or if the mountain is very high, you can start in calm weather, practically without wind, like Borzhava. We don’t fly in the rain. Ideally, when there is slight cloudiness, it means that there are many thermal flows.
  • I see. When you start paragliding, no matter whether you want it or not – you start studying hydrometeorology. Is it true?
  • Oh, yes! You study the physics of the formation of cumulus clouds and accordingly each cumulus cloud is the apex of a thermal stream. Accordingly, clouds help us determine where these flows are. Birds are also friends of paragliders. Swallows are chasing insects taken by the rising flow. Storks or eagles, for instance, soar using the same principle as paragliders. They help us to see the invisible flows. We turn to the flow and rise together up to the cloud. It’s very exciting.
  • Absolutely. I can only imagine. What else do we need to know? 
  • Yea, regarding the thermals, for example. Each flow has a diameter of 50-200 meters, and to be in the air, we respectively turn these spirals and rise up and up. We can fly to the clouds as much as possible, we can fly into the middle of the cloud even, but it’s not recommended, it’s too turbulent there.
  • Point taken. And what’s the usual flight speed?
  • The average speed is anywhere from 36 km/h to 40 km/h. But also, you have to add the wind speed, that’s up to 35 km/h. Typically, the total speed reaches 70 km/h. Of course, you can still add speed by squeezing the axel, it’s a system that allows you to change the profile of the wing and can add another 5 km/h to the overall speed.
  • So, what you are saying is that not everything in paragliding is so simple and straightforward, right? 
  • Absolutely, paragliding is not as easy as ABC! 
  • I see. So, you are taking it seriously. What about competitions then? Do you participate in any of them?
  • I started participating a year after my first start. There are few disciplines for competitions in paragliding. The most common in Ukraine are competitions for landing accuracy and cross-country race. Well, the landing accuracy competition is a start from a mountain or a winch, and there is a target on the ground you have to approach and land into it or at least as close to it as possible. There are several rounds. What I am saying is, the closer you are to the goal each time, the better is your summary score. There have even been talks about including this as an optional discipline at the Olympics. And, of course, cross-country flights – there is a certain route you have to fly to the goal as fast as possible, crossing the turning points. The overall distance of the route might be up to 40-100 km. These competitions last for several days. We use GPS for navigation and tracking the route. Then all the tracks are loaded into the computer and a score of each pilot is calculated. The score is registered in the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale). There is a pilot world ranking table. Best pilots can compete in world-class events.
  • You say there is a certain route you have to fly. Okay, and what’s required to fly properly?
  • Actually, there are several factors to fly properly – equipment, the ability as a pilot to assess situations and opportunities, the luck of some. Mostly, it looks like this – there is a start window and a couple of hours to start. Accordingly, the pilot evaluates all the factors – whether or not there are flows, start now or later. Although I did not take the prize places – it was an awesome experience to participate in such competitions. Now, I am familiar with almost all Ukrainian paragliders who take part in competitions. By the way, usually, there are up to 100 people who come to the competition.
  • That’s nice to hear. What about other countries? Have you tried to fly abroad? Is it difficult to travel with the equipment?
  • Yea. Luckily, a paraglider is small enough to be stowed in an oversized backpack and light enough to carry on your shoulders. Once, we went to Tenerife, and I tried to fly there, what struck me – it was very difficult to find a place to land. Around is the city, the landscape is a rocky desert with cactuses, and you can’t land anywhere you want. This is exactly where the skills of competing for the accuracy of landing are needed. Also, I plan to go to Macedonia, I think it would be interesting. Maybe I’ll go to Turkey as well.
  • Oh, you’ve got lots of plans. By the way, what are the start and the end of the flying season?
  • Well, it all depends on the weather. But as a rule, in winter the day is short, the sun is low and the flights, if they occur, are not too long. And then – starting in early spring and ending in late autumn, we depart weekly for flights.
  • So, actually, you can fly all year round, right? And do you set any sports goals?
  • Right. As for my goals, I’ve switched to the sports class wing. In paragliding, the wings are divided into several classes. We call them ABCD. For instance, A is for beginners, meanwhile, D wings are high-performance wings; they require the pilot to have very high flying and piloting skills. Wing safety class means how the wing will respond to various factors during the flight. The higher the class, the better the wing flies, and the better the glide is. But accordingly, it’s less secure. I have now switched to class C, to the sports wings.
  • How interesting! Do you do any training when changing the wing class? Could you tell us a bit more about that?
  • No, in fact when you get the wing control skills, further, you just improve your abilities. Of course, experience in understanding the environment is crucial, the flight situation can change very quickly and quite often. You always have to think a few steps ahead and anticipate different situations. The more you fly, the better your skills. And if you don’t fly, you lose your skills. You need to be able not only to control your entire equipment but also to be mentally ready to fly. You know, “It’s better to be on the ground and regret that you are not in the sky than to be in the sky and regret that you are not on the ground.”
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  • Exactly. By the way, have you ever had any bad experience? What’s your worst one?
  • I’ve never given it much thought. I guess I haven’t had any that terrible experience … But wait, I can recall one rather unpleasant experience. When I started with a new wing. Suddenly the wind significantly increased, and I started to be shifted backward to the power lines behind me, 10 KV each. And on one of them, I’ve hanged by a canopy. Fortunately, they were inactive, but at the time of landing, I did not know it. And I was very scared, I didn’t know what to do. But I immediately realized that they were off when there were no flares or fire. I was probably not fully aware of what had happened and I was glad to come back.
  • That’s rough! Correspondinglyyou should be more careful next time. And finally, can you give any recommendations for the beginners?
  • Well, I definitely recommend starting with a good instructor. Don’t start on your own, no way!! First and foremost, it’s important to understand whether paragliding is “yours”.

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