Apr 6, 2023

From biotech to Python with Ada — the journey of a software engineer

Blog Cover: Ada Blank

Our engineering team builds the technologies powering Wolt, involving the full lifecycle of our products from release to maintenance. Our apps connect millions of customers, hundreds of thousands of courier partners, and over a hundred thousand shops and restaurants.

We spoke with Ada Blank to discuss her path into Wolt as she switched from biotech to software engineering. We also asked her advice to young women who want to get into the tech industry.

Ada, could you tell us what you work on at Wolt?

Sure. I’m a Python developer. I work in the Payment Integrations team, where our goal is to build a world-class payment infrastructure with a great customer experience. In practice, this means building smooth integrations to different sets of payment system providers to allow Wolt’s customers to use our service in the most convenient way across the 23 countries we operate in.

I work on integrating various payment methods including cards and digital methods like e-wallets. I enjoy developing robust payment solutions ensuring high system availability and keep risk under control. I find it rewarding to know that my contribution to the platform makes a measurable impact on the company's expansion and helps my team stay at the forefront of technology trends. World-class customer experience, for me, means a more delightful experience for the customer while using our product.

You started your career in biotechnology. What sparked your interest?

How the world is made and how it functions were questions that I was always inclined to answer. To understand this, you need to learn everything from the start: at the molecular level, looking at physical chemistry. I’ve always been curious to understand human nature, such as how my brain functions and how I function.

Studying biotechnology gave me a fundamental understanding of logic, mathematics, physics, and chemistry; all of the fundamental stuff that I wanted to know to feel comfortable around things in life. But when I started putting it into practice in the laboratory, I realized it wasn’t for me. I wanted to do more computational work such as making analyses.

The world of informatics was a game-changer for me and shifted me toward software development. Life science and computer science combined all the cool stuff that I loved. I was like, “Oh okay, I can do both, this is so cool!”. It was a really fun time. It took me some practice to understand what brings me more joy: the life sciences, analysis, or software-related stuff.

How did you make the move from Biotech to working as a Python engineer? 

I was a bio-physicist from the beginning. I graduated from Moscow State University, and then I switched to bio-informatics. I started to be involved in data analytics, specifically working on platform development for genetics data analysis where I worked on analyses and web development. At that moment I was trying to understand where my heart lies.

Although data and genetics analyses were very exciting, I felt like I was more involved when I got things done step by step such as building something like website architecture. Not exploring the unknown, but fixing the things that can be used right away, was a very rewarding feeling. 

I stopped doing any biology-related stuff and found my first job in software development. It was a cool startup that branched from a big Russian company. We were doing a Russian Netflix clone. I was doing cool projects supporting both the video streaming platform and payments. This was my first experience in payment services. I was there for three years. The folks were amazing and I learned a lot. When I felt I’d learned all I could from that place, I switched to another startup which was a great learning journey as well. After this, it was time for my Wolt story to begin.

Wow, what an inspiring journey. How did you end up here at Wolt?

Last year I moved to Georgia to search for a new job. Wolt was everywhere in Georgia. I started using it and loved the user experience. On Linkedin, I saw an ad for a Python developer in the Payments Integration team at Wolt. I got interested and applied. I enjoy solving multi-faceted problems, and working in a hyper-growth company is an appealing challenge to me.

Wolt is a strongly software-driven company and its operations’ success heavily relies on the quality of the technical component. I share Wolt’s values focusing on bringing happiness to users by delivering a high-quality end product. I see engineering as a highly creative field that inspires those who seek answers and want to explore better ways to get things done. I’ve always been driven by curiosity and the desire to understand how complex things are built.

What do you like the most about working at Wolt? 

Everyone is highly experienced. It’s cool and valuable to work with such professionals, from whom I can learn. It’s a pleasure to interact daily with people who care about what they’re doing and put lots of effort into it. You can always feel this and it’s such a good feeling when you’re involved in something that’s constantly living and growing.

The system and products we’re building are always changing and it continues to get better and better. Folks are suggesting new improvements and there’s always somebody who says, ‘Okay, we can do this’. Then we’re doing it. Improvements and suggestions are never left unnoticed.

What’s your advice to women who are aspiring to make the move into the tech industry?

Maybe it’s an unpopular opinion I have about this topic, but I never felt that tech is an unwelcoming field for women. I always felt more than welcome during all my journey. I was never treated like a woman; I was treated like a professional. That’s all I wanted from my job and that’s how it is. I believe it’s the only way it should be. I feel like if you love this stuff, you shouldn’t be afraid of potential obstacles because you’re a woman. There shouldn’t be any. 

To be successful as an engineer, I’ve always needed two things: to pay attention to details and to be a nerd. I don’t want to sound vanilla, but you need to love what you’re doing. You can never get motivated or involved enough if you don’t get these nice warm feelings from the result of your effort. 

I don’t know why girls don’t prefer math and sciences as their majors. Maybe it’s because they are often told, ‘No, this isn’t for you’. I’ve been told that this career path wasn’t for me and that I should rather do some management-related stuff. I took it as a challenge and chose not to believe that. I just wanted to be happy and followed my passion.

My advice for those wanting to get into tech would be to believe in yourself and listen to your heart to figure out what makes you happy. I think this is the only way it can work out for you. For me, this has worked out.

Want to join our team to build Wolt together? We’re hiring!

Check out our open engineering roles here.