We chat to Nicole and Jacques who form part of our global team of developers in Cape Town. They share how they’ve grown their careers from a love of technology and how, through working with colleagues around the globe, they’re building beautiful, user-friendly solutions to real world problems.
What inspired you to become a developer and how has your career evolved?
Nicole: I began my career in law before venturing into the world of development. I’ve always loved technology and computers and how things work so I was keen to figure that out. I found a Microsoft Course at college and never looked back. That was almost six years ago now!
Jacques: The common thread is always a love of tech. At school I struggled to find what I wanted to do and then I found computer science. I went on to study Multimedia because this was very broad, and I realised I don’t just fit into one box. From there computer programming won and I decided I wanted to get into software development. I set out to pursue this dream 10 years ago, making a big move to Cape Town. I’ve since worked in a variety of roles in this field in different sectors before moving into FinTech with IDR.
What type of projects have you been involved with at IDR? What are some of the highlights and challenges.
N: I started out with the rapid response team, where I was involved in fixing bugs and dealing with problems as they were identified! Now I’m part of our FATCA Dev team. Having to fast track my system knowledge in the rapid response team was challenging but a great opportunity to learn as it touched every part of the system. It’s been satisfying to see how what we’re doing is enhancing user experience through providing solutions to problems.
J: I’ve been working on the new UX project and have been involved in a lot of the preparation work that’s gone into it to make sure we can use the latest technology with the existing system and then deploy it without breaking it! Whilst it’s been challenging to learn the technology and the system, it’s also been really satisfying to rediscover parts of myself through using skills that I haven’t used for a while around making things work, making them beautiful and making them easy to use.
How does the development process work at IDR and what guides your development decisions?
N: It’s similar to most agile processes out there, we work in little sprints (usually 2 weeks each). Planning is important, we want to be clear about what we need to achieve and how it can be done.
J: A lot of the decisions come from the business, they have a problem space which we work to fill so we’ll be asked “is this possible, how can we do this?”. Ultimately, we’re there to define what’s possible and to work together to deliver a solution. Managing different opinions and bringing together the views and requirements of our global team and finding a global pathway can be interesting. People management is definitely part of a developer’s role, alongside the development itself.
Describe your typical day as part of the #IDR Development team.
J: Lots of coffee!
N: As part of the agile process, each day usually begins with a stand up, this is an opportunity to come together as a team, pose any questions or raise any challenges or concerns. Thereafter you are free to code away!
J: Working as part of a multi-national team, balancing time zones gets interesting, with colleagues in Mauritius the UK and Cape Town. It’s good exposure to work with people from different cultural backgrounds. I love the gentle approach of our Mauritian colleagues.
N: My team is also multi-national, with colleagues in India and Mauritius. We’re a small team but we get a lot done!
What advice would you give someone who is just starting out in a tech / dev role?
N: Get comfortable with making mistakes, it’s going to happen, do not be too hard on yourself, take your losses in your stride, there’s a lesson in every failure.
J: It’s never too late to start, as someone came to tech 10 years late it’s still possible to start later on and still make an impact. It might be hard to make the shift, and learn that new skill, but keep on keeping on.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
J: Only learn what you need to, no one can know everything. When you need something new, learn it and add it to your arsenal of tech skills.
N: Be inquisitive and open to learning new things, growth happens outside of your comfort zone. Also don’t forget why you started developing and what made it fun for you.