Interview with Emily Stolfo

We proceed with our initiative to get better acquainted with our wonderful speakers. This time we had a little chat with Emily Stolfo.

Emily works on the Elasticsearch Ruby client and the Rails integrations gems at Elastic. She is also an adjunct faculty of Columbia University where she has taught courses on databases and web development. Although originally from New York, Emily lives in Berlin. She enjoys running at Tempelhofer Feld and making ceramics in her free time.

Emily is an experienced speaker and often takes part in various Ruby conferences across the globe (Iceland on Ruby, RubyKaigi, Brighton Ruby Conference, Barcelona Ruby Conference etc). We are very excited with an opportunity to welcome her in Kyiv!


As one of the main authors of Mongoid and the Mongo Ruby driver, do you still commit in them?

When I moved on from MongoDB, I left the project in very capable hands. It was time to make room for fresh perspectives and the current maintainers are doing a great job!


Do you have any current pet projects?

I am an adjunct faculty member of Columbia University so I am often studying to teach a new course or updating the content of a course I have given before. I have taught classes on web development and NoSQL databases and I have found it both useful for my own knowledge and fun. As everyone says, you do not *really* learn something until you try to teach it!


What is your stance on soft skills and hard skills? Do you consider one more important than the other for developers and if so, why?

I think all skills are valuable, regardless of whether they are considered “soft” or “hard”. You need a balance of both on a team. Some people are naturally more skilled in one way over another but that doesn’t mean that they can’t develop in certain areas and attain a balance.


Do you find it comfortable to work with remote team members?

I love it! Working remotely gives you a lot of flexibility in your life and allows you to avoid long commutes so you can get more work done =) One thing I like in particular about working at a company that is entirely remote is that conversations are more frequently public, recorded and shared. This makes it easier for everyone to be on the same page and express opinions equally.


Could you share your best piece of advice for an engineer who is about to begin writing complex software?

I think breaking things up into smaller, manageable pieces and writing down a plan, is the key to completing a complex project. You can then work through the list and have a sense of accomplishment with each step.


You are a frequent conference speaker. Do you find that it interferes with your work?

Luckily, my company encourages us to speak at conferences and allows us the time to do so. It’s great for the community and for personal development so I appreciate that I can pursue speaking opportunities as part of my job.


The topic of Applications and Distributed Systems is quite well-known. What new material will you add in your Rubyc talk?

I haven’t seen so many conference talks that include Computer Science theory but I think a little bit of textbook material can greatly enrich our ability to code. I will take the audience back to university Computer Science class and share some things that are very relevant to modern web development.


What is your current favorite RubyReading list?

I don’t read as much as I watch conference talks. I enjoy the presentations because they are focused, fun, and usually involve a real-life problem.


Thank you!


Presentation from Brighton Ruby Conference “Do-it-Yourself Testing”
Presentation from GoGaRuCo “Thread Safety First” 
Presentation from Barcelona Ruby Conference “Release Responsibly”