This time SolDevelo took a distant route to one of the most famous cities across the globe -Hong Kong. Our journey started in November, which is actually recommended time to visit this region – because of acceptable weather (only 24 degrees!) and end of “typhoon season”. Objective of delegation was to finally meet with our business Client, for whom we create products for almost four years now, if we include time spent on previous project. We wanted to summarize last year of cooperation, our next challenges, and draw a roadmap for the future. And that’s exactly what we did.
While we were waiting for our flight, roughly thirty minutes before departure it was announced that our flight was cancelled – because of bad weather conditions, our plane couldn’t land. We needed to take our luggage and go back to the airport entrance, to SAS department. Luckily for us, they were able to find us a new route… through Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and then to Hong Kong! We’ve accepted, and long, almost 24 hour trip from Gdańsk has started.
There are few differences between Hong Kong and Gdańsk that are easy to notice, like:
- It’s too hot outside to wear that sweater or jacket outside,
- it’s too cold inside to wear just t-shirt (because of Hong Kong obsession about air conditioning),
people are driving cars on the wrong side of the road, just like in Britain, and there are not that many cars for a city that has over 7 million people in it,
- all cabs look the same and all buses (and trams) seems to be double deckers,
- majority of people seem to be Asians (probably over 90%) but there is plenty of people from other ethnic groups!
But there is that one thing which stands out as soon as you leave the airport island– you’ve never seen that many skyscrapers in a single place. I’m truly sure about this – because Hong Kong for many years stands on a first place in a list of cities with the largest number of buildings taller than 150 meters. Right now, that means 353 buildings. Indeed – you can see that’s true in every corner of the city. Actually, it’s very hard to find a spot without any tall, fancy building on it.
Need some space?
Place, in general, is very costly in Hong Kong. There is not that much space left – so city is actually forced to build tall buildings. Unfortunately, this is costly process – and because of that, price for a square meter of apartment in Hong Kong goes from 70 000 to even 110 000 PLN, while average salary is 9000 PLN. All rooms, offices and other places are using every inch they have to the most.
Other great thing about the city that we’ve noticed right away was the Octopus Card and public transport in general. Hong Kong actually managed to encourage inhabitants to favor metro, buses and trams over having their own car. In such huge city, we’ve seen traffic jam maybe just once. Octopus card is basically a normal contactless smart card that you can use to pay for transportation or in many popular shops. The reason why it was introduced is obvious – every morning hundreds of thousands of people go through Hong Kong metro, and they don’t have to buy/use paper tickets, and even what is more important – noone has time to check if passengers actually bought it in the first place. You use card while going into the metro station, and when you leave it. System automatically counts and transfers ticket payment so you don’t need to do anything, and it’s really fast. Other great thing – it’s anonymous. If you lose it – it’s not a big deal, similar to losing raw cash. I hope Gdańsk will do something similar one day!
After we have arrived, there was no much time to do sightseeing, because we knew that on the next day we will finally meet our business partners.
Even though buildings are really tall, rooms aren’t. I really felt that.
Week of discussions
Client’s headquarters are localized on 20th floor of Leighton Centre in Causeway Bay area, world’s most expensive place in terms of shopping area renting prices.
On the first day we’ve met with Dr. Vignesh , our data analyst, Rohit, the Senior Vice President of Operations and IT, and of course – with Aaron, our lead technical architect. We’ve been working with Aaron since the beginning of cooperation with our previous client, roughly four years now. Together with Ryan and SolDevelo forces (at that time) of myself and Radosław, we’ve managed to design, develop and deploy some products, and right now – one new, which will be available soon. Throught the years, team has increased, and at the top time there were eight SolDevelo warriors in our team.
This cooperation was a challenge, because of timezone differences, as you can see below:
That fact only increased excitement related with being – finally – together, after all these years, in the same room, at the same hour, to brainstorm new ideas.
During each day we had plenty of meetings and discussions. I had opportunity to talk in front of many important stakeholders, including
- Senior Vice President Mark,
- Senior Vice President Dr. Kevin,
- Vice President Jim
to which I presented most important facts about SolDevelo company, team responsible on working on the product and our engineering process, including Scrum. They presented their goals for the future, ideas, and overall point of view. It was eye-opening experience, especially that we don’t really had time to talk before, since they are all extremely busy people. Gathering them all in one place was a great idea.
Basing on stakeholder goals, together with Aaron, Rohit, Kyle (the UI/UX designer) and Vignesh we’ve managed to make some future architecture drawings, ideas for epics, next milestone goles, most important objectives to catch in next few sprints before the end of the year, and release timeline. I cannot tell you in details what are product future plans right now, but I can assure you it’s exciting and development team prepares for it already.
Below you can see few pictures from the meetings. And yes, we had meetings on balcony, on 20th floor, surrounded by buildings that were two times taller.
City that never sleeps
Our schedule was very fast-peacing, and after rapid breakfast we were hitting straight to the metro and then to the office, working them together with Client till evening, to utilize best the short time we had together.
However, after work, we’ve found a little time to do some sightseeing, and even go to the horse race. One day we’ve decided to come back to the hotel on foot, walking during night, to see city in laser light. Below you can see few pictures from that part of our journey!
In the end, the common experience for both us and Aaron who was here for the first time, was that we were moved somehow to Nightcity from Cyberpunk 2077. Other common description is a “concrete jungle” and trust me, it really matches.
I’m hoping we will visit Hong Kong once again with larger team one day. Next year, Client’s team is planning to visit our office in Gdańsk – can’t wait to show them our skyscraper (we have one nearby).
For more photos visit our FB channel: