Decent Team Spotlight: Andy

Andy Skiba
Jul 17, 2018 · 4 min read

Hi there, I’m Andy and I work at Decent.

What is your role at Decent?
I am a software engineer and together with Sean we’re responsible for delivering, what we sometimes refer to as, The Platform. What it really means is building the software that will run Decent and will make our users’ experience excellent.

What is your background?
When I was around thirteen or fourteen my uncle showed me Emacs and Tcl/Tk and introduced me to the concept of programming. I did it on and off for the next couple of years until sometime in 12th grade, my parents sat me down for a conversation that lasted about 30 seconds and went something like this:
— Andy what are you going todo in college?
— I don’t know, I thought about Architecture or Computer Science…
— Well, if you want to do Architecture you should start taking drawing classes.
— I’ll do CS then. Can I go now?

I guess I was a busy guy in high school but I never regretted that decision.

I started getting freelance web development gigs around the freshmen year of university. After the second year, I landed a full-time job as a web developer. Out of college, I joined forces with some awesome designer friends and for two years we tried to make a living building web sites. It’s a hard business.

After that I decided to move into a more corporate setting and I worked for a number of companies building software in areas of finance, risk management, or scheduling.

Why were you motivated to join Decent?
I have spent the last five years working on financial software for banks or large corporations. The work there was challenging and interesting, but at the end of the day it felt like its whole point was to make more money for the bank. So for the past two years, I have been looking for a way to marry technology and solving problems for real people. When Mike reached out with an offer to join Decent, it was not a question of whether I wanted to do it but whether I could organize my life in such a way to be able to do it while living in Poland.

Why is improving healthcare important to you?

I live in Poland where we have universal healthcare and the system here has its own problems. In December of last year, I had my appendix removed, but before appendicitis was diagnosed I had two ultra-sonograms, a CT scan, and a colonoscopy over a course of two months. Fortunately I had a private healthcare plan from my employer, so I didn’t have to wait for any of these procedures. If I only used public healthcare, the process would have taken much longer.

I consider access to healthcare a human right. It shouldn’t matter where you live, how rich or poor you are, you should be able to get treatment that you need. I happen to live in Poland where the healthcare system has different issues than the ones in the US, but in the end it doesn’t matter whether you have to wait for a CT scan for three months or you can’t afford it.

My hope is that whatever improvements to healthcare we achieve at Decent can later be transplanted to other parts of the world.

Describe something not-work related you are passionate about.

Over the years I’ve picked up many things that I would be really passionate about. I played Go intensively, I drew and painted, I did 3D graphics, I trained rock climbing. All these things defined me at some point, but now I’m mainly a husband/father and so I spend my free time in the kitchen cooking vegetarian food for my three favorite women.

If you ask me where the passion for cooking started, then it would have to be with me spending three summers in Cambridge, UK working as a chef at a pseudo-Italian restaurant. It wasn’t a proper kitchen but I’ve learned at least three things there:

  • how to properly hold and use a knife (it makes cooking much more enjoyable),
  • how to fry a perfect sunny-side-up egg (it is surprisingly hard),
  • and not to be afraid (you can always throw stuff in the garbage and start over)
Andy in the Bella Italia kitchen, circa 2005

Today, the most satisfying moments in the kitchen for me are those when I open the fridge and it looks like there’s almost nothing there. In those situations you have to improvise, and if you see a four and a two year old eating away you know that you have succeeded.

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