January 20, 2021

Meet the MURALista: Pato Zavolinsky, Chief Architect

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It didn’t take long for Pato to discover that his passion in engineering was on the technical side. “I wake up with code in my fingertips,” says Pato Zavolinsky. “I need to be solving problems during the day.”

Which leads us to today: Pato is an Architecture Lead on our Product Engineering team, where he helps come up with solutions to our technical problems. The process starts with our Product Engineering team looking at data and user research, coming up with a problem statement, exploring the issue at hand, and establishing the scope. Then Pato steps in to figure out how to actually solve the problem they’ve identified.

“My role is to be part of the negotiation and collaboration process to find the best solution,” he explains. “I work to find a set of possible approaches and then, as a team, we reach a consensus — there’s never an imposition of an outcome, we always work together.”

The process Pato is a part of is core to MURAL’s DNA, in fact: we never want to dictate what our teams do, but instead, collaborate to find the best route forward for everyone — both in their careers or in our product roadmaps and solutions.

Pato’s path to MURAL

Pato’s journey to being a software engineer started when he was 13 and got his first computer. He quickly signed up for a basic programming course and discovered the rush he felt when he was able to build a solution. “It was empowering to solve problems using code,” he remembers. His parents then bought him and his brother two network computers, on which they’d play games and write modifications, inviting their friends over to test out their programs. At 17, he got his first job as a programmer: “I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to code,” he says.

A few years into his career working as a full time software engineer, Pato noticed the pain he and his team felt when it came to code reviews. When he ventured from a large corporation to his first startup, he joined a company that was building a code reviewing platform. And that’s where he got hooked on building tools that other developers use  — ultimately, this is what led him to MURAL.

“I’d used MURAL before and shared an office with the team, so it felt like a natural place to transition,” Pato says. But what intrigued him more was the ability to build tools that other developers across the globe would use. He joined our team in 2017.

Getting meta: Using MURAL to build MURAL

Pato loves that MURAL helps people solve problems, because it helps him become a better problem solver, too. “The fact that the product I’m helping to build helps engineers be better at their daily work is incredibly motivating to me,” he says. “Software development, as a craft, is all about finding solutions together — MURAL helps me and my team do that and empowers other teams to find better solutions together too,” he adds.

The idea of working together is something that Pato values and consciously strives to incorporate into his environment. He not only believes that when people work together they can find the best solution to a problem, but also that the more diverse perspectives involved, the better. “Diversity of thought helps us see the range of possibilities and truly choose the best way forward,” he says. “MURAL, the tool, helps us gather those ideas, collaborate, and accommodate all kinds of perspectives.”

So when he uses MURAL in his day-to-day, Pato can’t help but appreciate the fact that the tool he’s helping to build is not just serving our customers, but it’s helping him and his team find better solutions, too. “It’s a virtuous cycle, if you will,” he explains.

The role of design thinking: What is a brainstorm?

Finding and implementing solutions starts with ideas, so it’s no surprise that Pato thinks about the ideation process a lot. “I love the concept of design thinking and that I get to apply it to my day to day,” he explains. “Not to mention that MURAL, as a tool, is extremely aligned with facilitating the process, too.”

One of the first steps of design thinking is ideation, or what we often call brainstorming. “If you ask a software engineer if they’ve ever been part of a brainstorm, 99 percent will likely say yes,” Pato says. “But if you ask them if they’ve ever worked in a session to come up with as many solutions as possible — no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘incomplete’ — most engineers will say no,” he explains.

The issue is that most brainstorms tend to discount ideas that are too out there, or might not seem relevant — when those are in fact the ones that will help a group find the best possible solution. “I want to infuse this knowledge into my daily work,” he says. “I want to help our teams come up with many possible solutions so that we know we aren’t missing any opportunities to make our product better, and then make MURAL the kind of product that facilitates inclusive, comprehensive brainstorms for everyone,” he adds.

Pato and his team believe that a process that is inclusive of all ideas will ultimately improve MURAL and have a trickle down effect to both Pato’s team and all teams using MURAL.

Not to mention, the skills Pato is learning and applying while building MURAL — skills around collaboration, problem solving, and design thinking — are all things he’ll take with him no matter what team, problem, or product he’s working on. “That’s one of the purest benefits of this whole process,” says Pato. “Learning problem solving, applying it to the product to empower others to become better problem solvers, and becoming more empowered engineers ourselves — it doesn’t get much better than that!”

As a natural born problem solver, Pato continues to solve problems for MURAL — using MURAL to guide his process — and developing our team’s best practices for finding solutions as we scale.

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Want to join Pato on this virtuous cycle? See our open Product Engineering positions here.  

Adriana Roche

Head of People, Culture & Places @ MURAL | Empowerer of Teams | Facilitator of aha! Moments | Global Explorer | Mom

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