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Behind the Code and Facing the Challenge: Valentyna Yurtyn's Story

Cox employee working on computer (3)

Valentyna Yurtyn is Principal Software Engineer at Cox Automotive. Keep reading to learn about her experiences behind the code at Cox.

Valentyna Yurtyn is always up for a challenge.

She’s an active person who can often be found hiking, biking, going to CrossFit and swimming in the Pacific Ocean – and the promise of adventure was the very thing that attracted her to a career in technology.

“What brought me to software engineering is the challenge,” said Valentyna, Principal Software Engineer at Cox Automotive. “I enjoy the changing environment.”

If you’ve ever shopped for a car online, chances are you’ve interacted with Valentyna’s work. Her group develops and maintains high-traffic websites for Cox Automotive brands like Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.

“Cox is ahead of the curve for things like native ads,” Valentyna said. “Sometimes I hear about companies doing things and I think ‘Oh, we’ve been using that technology for a while now; we integrated it a long time ago.’ We’re using a breakthrough approach. Our tech stack is wide and we have lots of different projects.”

Elaborating on the tech stack, Valentyna shared that her team builds micro-frontends with JavaScript ReactJS. For backend development, they build services using NodeJS, Microsoft ASP.NET Core and Java. All infrastructure uses cloud-based architecture with Amazon Web Services (AWS).

One of the most impactful projects for Valentyna’s team is working on web performance optimizations.

“Web performance has been at the top of the list in discussions within web developers’ communities,” Valentyna said. “Our company leadership made a commitment to focus on user-centric performance, and engineering teams work in coordination with ad sales, operations and product teams to identify performance opportunities.”

Valentyna’s team looks at different aspects of web performance and have been able to significantly improve user experience and performance metrics. They’ve driven server-side optimizations that improve response time and improve data query speed. They’ve driven content delivery network (CDN) updates for fast protocol, compression and image optimizations. They’ve driven UX and accessibility updates, like optimization of JavaScript bundles and improving cumulative layout shift (you can learn more about that project on our blog), as well as optimizations for analytics scripts and other third-party libraries.

“As I work on projects as a software engineer, I can see connections from start to finish and the results of the project,” Valentyna said.

Connecting business and technology

Valentyna didn’t originally plan for a career in information technology. Her background is in business, and she slowly merged into a tech career when she realized she enjoyed its pace and potential.

“My degree in business actually helped me quite a bit,” she said. “It’s beneficial to have an understanding of business and good coordination with product teams.”

Software engineering teams at Cox are knee-deep in collaboration, often working in cross-functional discovery groups with colleagues in UX, analytics, research and more. Valentyna said that’s why she loves hackathons – a fast-paced event where different teams join forces on a project.

“It’s new and exciting to work with the team in quick sprints,” Valentyna said. “Not all ideas lead to successful implementation but executing on ideas and running user testing allows us to stay current with ever-changing environments.”

Initiating change

These are particularly challenging times for Valentyna, who is from Ukraine. While she has lived in the US since 2001, she has many friends and extended family who still reside in her home country.

“It’s been really scary and painful to watch,” Valentyna said. “It’s been hard to concentrate on anything else.”

Valentyna stressed the importance of staying informed about the current situation in Ukraine, contacting elected officials, keeping perspective on the impact of economic sanctions on Russia and making donations (the James M. Cox Foundation is leading by example by giving $500,000 to the American Red Cross to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian refugees).

“My biggest fear is that people around the world will get used to the war in Ukraine and move on with their lives,” Valentyna said. “Russia must be stopped. The war must be stopped.”

During a time filled with upheaval, Valentyna’s commitment to creating a meaningful impact stays the same, both at work and outside of it.

“To me, that’s what innovation means: responding to new environments and initiating change.”


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