Alex is a full-stack Engineer who joined MarketInvoice after he finished his Master’s degree at King’s College London. He has been leading several cross-functional client-facing projects, as well as infrastructure tooling and overall scalability improvements. Find out more about his role:
Describe a typical day for you at MarketInvoice.
I start my day having a flat white and 2 Jammie Dodgers. After that, we have our daily stand-up which is an excellent chance to see what other engineers are working on or if there are any blockers.
My work routine is … well, no day is ever the same which I really enjoy. As a full-stack Engineer, it usually includes building new features based on user requirements, designing systems, writing code, fixing bugs, building databases and focussing on operability and maintenance when I’m the on-call engineer, or coordinating features for the rest of the team if I’m leading a project.
I then spend ten to fifteen minutes deciding what to have for lunch before going with the rest of the team to the crossroads which has a fine selection of international cuisines.
In the afternoon, I have meetings where I provide updates to stakeholders and gather additional requirements. In other meetings, we discuss reprioritisation of the features to reflect business needs. We also have regular team updates, one-to-ones, brown-bag sessions and weekly tech talks.
What have been some of the highlights in the 1 year+ since you joined?
It has been an exciting journey for me from a lot of perspectives. I’ve grown a lot, not just as a professional, but also as an individual; changing from the nervous guy wearing a suit and tie in my first week to a Shoreditch ‘jeans and lumberjack shirt‘ guy.
I’ve been involved in a wide variety of projects since I joined. I don’t know which parts of our system I haven’t touched! I am always learning, dealing with legacy code, encountering new technical challenges. Because we shouldn’t repeat ourselves, should we?
I was really pleased with the successful delivery of the first project I was engineering lead on. The project continuously provides up-to-date data to our Risk team to aid them in their decision making. I am currently leading my second project, which will help with integration into our Confidential Invoice Discounting product.
Another very exciting part of my job has been mentoring 2 engineers. It’s a fantastic feeling to see them being quickly on-boarded into our team and to watch them grow. I’ve had the privilege to work with and learn from a team of dedicated people, very passionate about what they are doing, motivated and trying to reach their potential.
Tell us about your most challenging experience so far.
Leading a complicated project across multiple teams was very challenging. I organised meetings between stakeholders, gathering requirements to build a vision that we could all agree on of what the project will look like. Once agreed, in addition to guiding the architecture and building some of the features, I managed the work of all the teams involved (engineering, product, design and data) and planned the most efficient way to complete the project. I tried to balance the goals of the project with the individual’s knowledge growth.
Particularly challenging, was integrating a new .NET Core solution with the old legacy one and designing a new database. I also had to analyse the impact of technical decisions and estimate project delivery.
This helped me to see the things from different perspectives. Sometimes I am meticulously looking at the details of the code and other times I am thinking of the bigger picture and what is really needed for the business. It’s such an empowering feeling to know that you can help deliver a project that can have so much positive impact on the business, customers and on the Tech team itself.
What do you enjoy about working in a startup, especially within Fintech?
Maybe the after-work beers? *laugh*
What I enjoy most is the dynamic nature of this business. I am a very spontaneous guy and this environment suits me very well.The fact that you can make your voice easily heard and your opinion matters is another thing that makes a startup great.
We all want to have the feeling that, to an extent, we are changing the world by contributing in a meaningful way to something big that will make a lot of people’s lives easier and help them to pursue their dreams. This is what Fintech, especially MarketInvoice, does.
I think it is so important to work with people that you can have a beer with and to whom you’re not just a number.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Outside work, I like to do a lot of things such as travelling, playing tennis and going to gigs. One of my favourite travelling experiences was my hiking trip to Torres Del Paine National Park in Chile. I loved and hated every single moment. I slept for one week in a tent in Patagonia in the middle of nowhere. I remember pushing ourselves to do one more step in the swamps with our 25kg backpacks. We were hungry and all our clothes were wet. Really, I just wanted to get out of the park and go home. I have so many learnings to take from that.
But all in all, it has been an amazing experience and truly unique. I never compare places, because I think every place has its own beauty and memories, but the views that I’ve seen there are one of my favourite things.
If you could give engineers just starting their careers one piece of advice, what would it be?
Remember that it’s not just about making it work, but also it being well-crafted. Aim to leave good code for others. Code that is easy to change and adapt. Code that is constantly adding value. Try to see your colleagues more than just a bunch of individuals sharing the office, try to build a professional community that shares ideas and make each other the best version of themselves.
Try to practise as much as you can, do online courses, try to get an internship so you can experience a real work environment. Of course, from my perspective, a Computer Science degree would help a lot, but I know so many people with different backgrounds who are now great Software Engineers. Read books, go to meetups, go to hackathons, just do pair programming with your friends to build simple apps.
I was fortunate to receive a good education and to have great role models to follow in my family as both my father and his twin brother are Software Engineers. But I’ve seen some less fortunate situations where people have been put down, for example because they were women. Just don’t listen to anyone, keep doing it! Keep believing in yourself and you’ll see that you can be amazing.