Mindaugas Mozūras: Musings on personal and professional growth

Meet Mindaugas — one of Vinted’s first employees, who joined us as a developer and is now Head of Engineering.

Mindaugas, you joined Vinted 4 years ago. What does Vinted mean to you today?

Before joining Vinted, I worked in another great local IT company called Adform. It seemed that I would stay there forever, but then…

One day I got a letter from Mantas, Vinted’s COO. He invited me to come over and see Vinted’s office. In his letter, he wrote that Vinted is growing at the speed of light. I have to admit I was skeptical about that. However, I did know a little bit about Vinted and the people who worked there, so I decided to check it out

The days spent together with Vinted’s team changed my mind. I understood it would be a great opportunity to be a part of this special journey. Vinted isn’t just a job — it’s a mission. It’s not just a company, either — , it’s a vital part of the whole Lithuanian startup ecosystem.

Being able to reach my goals and grow as a person and professional is so important, and I get to fulfill my ambitions and beyond at Vinted. I am happy for the opportunity to work on big goals with a wonderful team and develop a great product.

1.5 years ago, your colleagues decided it was time for you to become Head of Engineering. What has that meant to you?

The trust my colleagues has shown me is inspirational . I’m responsible for the technical strategy and the business goal alignment with technological goals. I used to spend most of my time writing code at work. Today, I spend most of the time planning, writing, working with people and thinking how to empower them better.

This new career has already taught me a lot of valuable lessons. It’s still a challenge that compels me to learn and become better.

What would your perfect day be like? What is it like in real life?

During a perfect day, I’d learn something new. Of course, all the days are different, but they are rarely boring. I usually arrive at the office thinking that I’ll tackle some challenges, but once there I face completely different tasks. Working in a startup is less stable than working in a bank. And I wanted that, because I learn more in such an environment.

What was your biggest challenge at Vinted? How did you overcome it?

It’s really difficult to pick one challenge as the biggest. There have been quite a lot of them, so I’ll talk about a more personal one.

A programmer’s job isn’t as lonely as it seems. Yes, you spend a lot of time sitting at the screen and thinking about or writing code. But you also get to review what other colleagues have written, talk to them and look for solutions together.

I used to be extremely critical and wasn’t afraid to speak my mind. I thought that being straightforward is good, regardless of the form you use. So no, there were no smileys in my comments and replies. I seemed a bit harsh to my colleagues, but it’s great that they were able to speak to me about it and help me grow. When Justas, our CEO, explained how my communication style limits me, I understood that I could be more positive and open.

It took a while for me to change. For the first couple of weeks I was merely pretending. I was like an actor, playing the “New Mindaugas” role. I did this until it became natural. It wasn’t easy, as I had my share of doubts. Today I’m happy that I’ve grown not only as a professional, but also as a person at Vinted.

What does working at a startup mean?

It’s constant challenges, changes and instability. It’s not for everyone. If you aren’t interested in growth and personal development, if you are only interested in a comfortable workplace, a startup isn’t for you.

What do you love most about your work?

It’s a chance to grow, learn and change.

You’ve spoken at many conferences. What was the speech that took you the longest to prepare for? Which of them required the most time rehearsing in front of a mirror?

I don’t rehearse in front of a mirror. I must move while talking, so while rehearsing, I always walk from one corner of the room to another.

It would be difficult to choose only one speech. I think all of them required about the same time to prepare for. I could only evaluate them by the stress I’ve experienced while on stage, the higher heartbeat and the amount of butterflies in my stomach. The speech that made me lose my sleep the most was my LOGIN presentation Engineering for Engineering’s Sake . I’ve watched the video, and it looks like I’m not really anxious. Trust me, this wasn’t true.

Who inspires you professionally?

There are many people who inspire me in different ways. John Carmack, the 3D graphics innovator, is probably an inspiration for every developer. He’s already a legend, but he keeps rolling, currently working with VR. I’d recommend Masters of Doom — a book about him and John Romero — to everyone interested in IT.

Zach Holman, the developer who worked at GitHub — his speeches inspired me to talk. I did imitate him quite a lot in my first speeches.

I could think of a dozen more people who inspire me. Not all of them are famous. I’m happy to be surrounded by inspiring people at work. I learn a lot from them.

What speech inspired you the most?

For me, as a technologist, one of the most unforgettable talks is Rich Hickey’s Simple Made Easy. The differences between simple and easy are often confused. They are not the same. It’s important to see the differences and know when to choose one over the other.

Also, Susan Cain’s speech The Power of Introverts was a real eye-opening experience. After reading her book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, I understood myself much better and started accepting myself more as I am.