010: Member interview: Zhuo-Fei Hui

Hello world, it’s us again! You last heard from us a while ago. We were not hibernating through this awfully long winter but focusing on our client work and also busy with hiring. Now that we’ve been wrapping up some projects, we regained the headspace to resume this newsletter.

Posted on Mar 24, 2023; updated on Jul 07, 2023

Over the following four issues, we will introduce the people behind Village One – one person at a time, in no particular order, giving you a little glimpse into who we are and why we founded this cooperative. And if you liked our profiles and want to collaborate with us on a project, don't hesitate to reach out! We have some availability soon for projects and are always happy to jump on a call.

In this first instalment, we're introducing Fei! Let's ask her some questions, shall we?

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you, and what did you do before joining Village One?

Hi, 👋🏼

my name is Zhuo-Fei (pronounced as “jour-fey”), but I usually introduce myself as Fei since most people don’t know what to do with the “Zhuo” part.

I was born in China and grew up in Germany. I came to Berlin in 2005 to study computer science and stayed here after my diploma.

During my first two years after the uni, I worked as a scientific researcher focusing on computer graphics and computer vision. But then I decided I wanted to produce less theoretical things but more work that gets used by real people in the real world, so I became a back-end developer and have been working as one for almost a decade now.

My last job was in a Berlin startup. As a senior back-end engineer in cross-functional product teams, we shipped features in a bi-weekly Scrum cycle, and I also worked there as a data engineer for one year.

I currently live in Neukölln (Berlin) with two adorable, mischievous, hilarious cats who love to sit on my keyboard in the morning to prevent me from working.

Fei’s cats

2. What motivated you to join the Village One Co-op?

This is a huge question. Work has always been more to me than just earning money and paying rent. I've always cared about who I work with and whether the result of my work would have even so little positive impact on the world.

After quitting my last job in May 2022, I sought a company that would fit my values more. I wanted to work in an organisation where everybody feels the urgency but also has the power to change the status quo of how work, money and power are distributed within the organisation - and through that, also somewhat in our society. And I want to use my skills, time and energy to work on more meaningful projects where instead of mindlessly “disrupting” existing communities and structures with technology and ignoring the people who get left behind by these disruptions (usually those with the least power and resources), we would share the advantages that technology can bring us with people from within the communities and structures, and empower them to learn and gain from it.

So when I started talking to Christoph, Harry and Doro right after I quit my last job, and we realised very quickly that we all share similar values, motivations and vision, it just clicked! Cooperatives seem to be just the perfect organisational form to reflect the values we share and the vision we aim for.

If you want to dive deeper into this, Harry wrote this great garden page about “Why Village One (is) a cooperative”, which contains all the values and ideas I share with the rest of the team.

3. How does your work day usually look like?

I'm a habit creature, and I need my morning routine. My alarm usually goes off at 7 AM, and I get up 30 minutes later. I then listen to the news on the radio while feeding the cats, exercising, taking care of a few chores and getting myself ready for the day.

While I check my work messages around 9:30–10:00 AM, I'd drink my cup of matcha with oat milk and eat something small for breakfast.

I'm usually quite productive in the morning but get into an afternoon low after lunch. The lovely thing about not having too many meetings and working remotely is that I can take a more extensive break when I feel tired - go for a walk, play some ukulele or take a power nap.

Around 5:00 PM, I usually get another energy boost. That's where I often do another big chunk of work and preparations for the next day, until 6:30 PM.

4. What do you do when you're not sitting in front of a computer screen?

Making music has always been an essential part of my life. I played classical piano and sang in various choirs for a long time. During the pandemic, I started to learn how to play the ukulele. It's such a fun instrument! I also like to scribble things on paper or in Procreate and make fun of myself through a web-comic version of myself. And I like being in nature, so whenever I get the chance, I go on hiking, diving or sailing trips.

Fei sailing, and Fei as her cartoon character

The cats Oskar and Bandit are also two big attention-seekers. They constantly follow me around (when they're not napping) and beg for food or cuddles.

Working from home sometimes feels isolating, so I regularly attend meetups and conferences. They always give me a big motivation boost, and the Elixir and Ruby communities are just the best! And almost every Friday, I meet with friends after work, and we try to go to a bar in Neukölln that none of us has visited.

Fei with her book “The well-grounded Rubyist” and at a conference

5. Anything else you would like to share?

My ideal project would involve building a tool or a platform for education. I firmly believe that education is the foundation for growing open-minded citizens who can ask critical questions and participate in constructive democratic discourses. So if you have a project around education and need a passionate team to help you build it, let me know!

You can also find Fei here: LinkedIn, Website, Mastodon, Twitter.

Stronger together: Come along for the ride!

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