Patrick Waks, Nansen’s First Employee, Talks Accessibility Trends, Fishing, and the Love of Craft

Patrick Waks, Nansen’s First Employee, Talks Accessibility Trends, Fishing, and the Love of Craft

Front-End Technical Lead Patrick Waks is one of the founding members of the Nansen family. As our first employee in Sweden and one of three team members to migrate to Chicago and help establish Nansen in the U.S., Patrick knows the space, the company, and the work we do better than almost anyone. Read on to get to know this aspiring woodworker.

What path led you into a career in front-end development?

Coding—mainly just being really interested in it. I had my first website, a private website, up in 1996. You can still find it online today, which is a little bit annoying. It’s a lot of “under construction” animated GIFs.


In your view, how has coding evolved since the early days of the ‘90s?

The front part has changed incredibly much. Back then, you didn't really have any tools to lay out the page well. Nowadays, not only do we have incredible tools at our disposal for design, we're also thinking of accessibility online and stuff like that. It doesn't matter if you're blind or hard of hearing, color blind, all of that. You should be able to experience everything online just as anyone without disabilities. 

So there has been great progress, definitely.


What would you say is unique about Nansen's work?

It's incredibly well-coded. The people we have are incredibly senior. I think the love of our work shows in the work. No one works at Nansen just for money and fame. We're all here because it's a bit of a lifestyle. We work with our hobby.

I think we all, as coders, we're always curious in a way. So just finding an outlet for all of that creativity and thirst for knowledge is great.


What do you like to do outside of work and coding?

I definitely like being out in nature. Fishing is a big passion. Definitely harder to do here than back in Sweden where you can just any lake and not care about who owns the land. But I love that. Woodworking a bit as well. Would like to do more stuff with my hands. Slowly but steadily, I'm setting up a little bit of a workshop out in a garage.


What excites you most about the future of Nansen?

For me, it's more just, being on the journey. As the first employee, I've been with the company since the inception essentially, and I just feel incredibly loyal to Nansen and it's a little bit my baby. 

When it comes to the culture part, I think we definitely have a really good thing going. Pretty much all my co-workers are among my best friends, and should be, because this is where you spend the majority of the hours of your life, in a way. 

We're all in it for exactly the same reasons, just for the love of the craft.