Copilots Series Special: In conversation with iversonLv

iversonLv, has been a Topcoder member since 2009. He is a seasoned development competitor and experienced reviewer for the development track challenges. He recently donned the cap of a copilot as well.

As part of our Copilot Series Specials, hi4sandy interviewed iversonLV about his learning curve as a copilot at Topcoder.

As a Copilot…

iversonLv copilots projects that involve backend requirements, frontend requirements, to predominantly design requirements. hi4sandy began by chatting him up about his project preference as a copilot.

“I have been competing on UI prototype challenges, so I definitely prefer to manage a project with more frontend requirements as I can give more professional suggestions and keep an eye on the whole status.”

However, iversonLV doesn’t want to limit himself with a particular preference.

”As a co-pilot, I hope to learn the overall project process and help clients/PMs make an outstanding production. There are lots of great Topcoder co-pilots who handle everything from design to final production. That is my final aim.”

Topcoder copilots have a lot on their plate: from interacting with clients, updating admins about ongoing projects, to answering queries from competitors and reviewers. Coordination among all these stakeholders is an uphill task given the physical distance and different time zones. So how does one guy from China handle all of that?

“First, I helped Topcoder managers to enhance the review scorecard. Now I have launched my first project in the UI-prototype track, so I will take the co-piloting experience from that. Different time-zones are a problem especially on weekends when most admins and clients are offline. However, anytime I have questions I will send an email or use Slack”.

iversonLv also makes it a point to collect as much important information as possible during work days, so he can answer questions posed by competitors during weekends, in case the clients/PM are not available. As for competitors and reviewers, interacting with them is not much of a problem as they are quite active and prompt on forums. In short, distance is not a problem at Topcoder, he adds with a smile.

Cost of projects depends on the model that clients choose. For example, most frameworks like ReactJS or AngularJS have became component based, these days. Atomic Design Principles are widely preferred by many to meet their requirements. Others prefer to go the conventional way and choose a model that might initially look cost-effective but eventually ends up being more expensive. So, does iversonLv help customers make an informed decision?

“Sometimes, the client has their own thoughts about the technologies, I do share my thoughts as well. Finally, we (client and copilot) confirm what technology is to be used.”

For iversonLv, the graduation from competing, and reviewing challenge submissions, to copiloting is mostly about taking up more responsibility.

“A copilot has more responsibilities and needs to pay attention to all aspects: Client, PM, Competitors, challenge health status, frequently feedback, etc. from the beginning till the end of project.”

Beyond Copiloting…

Copiloting means less vacation time. And iversonLv knows ‘all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’! So, he lets the work days take care of most of his copiloting responsibilities and devotes the weekends to take breaks, when he can.