Commuting from the playground: How a Platform.sh engineer shaped the company’s biggest department with his toddlers on his lap
In 2014, Ka Shing Chan, better known as KS, was living in the Chinese city of Shenzhen while commuting two hours each way to his engineering job in Hong Kong. He didn’t mind the four hours a day he spent on the train. He used the time to read books or tech newsletters. When he got home each night at 9 pm, he and his wife would share a late dinner and swap stories about their workday.
But everything changed with the birth of his first child. Although his mother was able to look after his son while he and his wife worked, KS mourned the time he was losing with him. Each night he would come home only in time to help his wife tuck the boy in bed.
“As my son grew older,” KS says, “I realized I wanted to spend more time with my family instead of wasting all those hours on a train.”
KS began to search for a job that would allow him to work remotely. In 2016 he came across Platform.sh—at the time, a small company with a headcount of only 25 people. Platform.sh was looking for a customer agent to support its growing customer base in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region. They wanted someone in the APAC time zone who had a deep understanding of engineering and development. KS turned out to be a perfect fit.
“I was very excited about the opportunity. Not only did I get to work in an international environment across different regions of the world, but I was finally able to spend more time with my family. Not to mention the four hours of commuting I was saving each day.”
Naptime shifts and a shag carpet desk
KS joined Platform.sh in a customer-facing support role, covering the APAC time zone as well as a part of the EU time zone. Back then, the support team contained only three people. Today, it’s the company’s biggest department with 40 Platformers. Even though KS enjoyed engineering, he says working in support provided the perfect work-life balance, especially with a toddler in the house.
“For engineering, you need several hours in which you need to be fully focused on your work in order to get things done. In support, the needed attention span is much shorter, 30 minutes to an hour, max,” he explains. “Working in support allowed me to remain productive while taking care of my son.”
KS would start his day with a morning walk with his son before taking care of support tickets until noon. After lunch, KS would return to work while his son napped. In the evening, he played with his son then put him to bed just before joining the daily call with the support team at 10 pm.
“My son did a good job in understanding the pattern, that I couldn’t play with him when I was in front of my laptop,” KS says. “Sometimes I just sat next to him on the floor working when he played with his toys.”
Time enough for two
KS and his family moved to Hong Kong right as his son began kindergarten. The once busy days became quieter for a while—until the birth of his daughter. Platform.sh continued to keep his work schedule in harmony with his family schedule.
“I needed the flexibility Platform.sh provided more than ever,” KS says. “Changing diapers and bathing came back easily to me. However, my daughter used to vomit a lot after breastfeeding, and I spent a lot of time doing heavy cleaning everyday.”
Around this time, KS became the APAC support team leader. He established new tools in the team’s workflow, provided training to new hires, and wrote documentation. He also played a significant role in scaling the support team, redefining and optimizing its functions.
When the team shifted its working hours closer to the Australian time zone in order to accommodate customers, KS took the opportunity to move to the engineering team, which was more aligned with the European time zone.
“I wanted to be able to spend more time during the day playing with my kids. Moving to engineering allowed me to work longer hours at night.”
Currently, KS works on the authentication layer while still helping the support team maintain their tooling.
By joining Platform.sh in its infancy as a company, KS was afforded the opportunity to spend time with his own infants and watch them mature into happy children. At the same time, he was able to watch his small team grow into one of the largest and most influential teams in the company. He played a part in helping both his children and Platform.sh grow up strong and healthy, without ever having to sacrifice his attention for one in favor of the other.
“During all these years with Platform.sh, I was able to work in different positions and fill in different gaps depending on what the company needed during its growth.” KS says. “I am happy and proud to see how Platform.sh has grown from a small but passionate group to a mature organization.”