How Did You First Get Into Software Engineering?
I’ll start by saying I have a very non-typical background for a software engineer. At Cleo that is encouraged and celebrated, which I love.
Before I ventured into the world of engineering, I was a ballet dancer. I danced professionally for around five years all over the world, working for the likes of Royal Swedish Ballet and Semperoper Ballet Dresden.
When I was dancing I knew I had to have a ‘Plan B’ because a dancing career doesn’t last forever. So, I spoke with my sister, who was a Product Manager at the time. She mentioned that I should consider software engineering. My dad was an engineer when I was younger, so I knew roughly what the role would involve, and I thought I’d like it.
When I stopped dancing I enrolled in a full-stack engineering bootcamp in Berlin for 3-4 months. It was at this bootcamp that I learned the basics of software engineering, and found my love for working on the front end side of engineering.
It was in my first engineering role that I found my love for fintech. The company actually had many similarities with Cleo. It had a strong brand identity and design and bold objectives. I really enjoyed working there and it was this experience that ultimately led me to Cleo a few years later.
After a year in Spain at said fintech company, I moved to the UK and took on a couple of roles. Both were quite different, in the music and property tech industries.
During this time I applied for a role at Cleo and initially I didn’t get it. However, a year later another role came up. I loved Cleo’s mission and aesthetics, and the interview process was great the first time around, so I decided to re-apply.
Second time lucky, I was offered the role. At the time I was interviewing with Cleo, I was in the process of deciding to move to France with my partner. Cleo were super supportive of this, and have allowed me to work remotely from Nice ever since.
What Does Your Typical Week at Cleo Look Like?
In my squad (like most squads at Cleo), we work in two week sprints, meaning I work with everyone in my squad on a daily basis. We have daily standups where we catch up on general life updates. We start every day with a moodboard which is always good fun.
Within our squad we generate ideas on how we can help our users, gather requirements for how we can make it happen and spend time preparing tickets. During the sprint, we work on those tickets.
I’m one of two front end engineers in my squad, so we often organize between us to decide who is picking up each task. It’s good to have someone doing the same role as me, as I can bounce ideas off them and sense-check my thoughts.
One thing that stands out at Cleo compared to other places I’ve worked is the data-first culture. We build and ship A/B tests constantly to see which changes our users find most valuable before releasing full features. Most tests last a minimum of three weeks so we have an accurate data set to make decisions with.
Read more about how testing works at Cleo.
We have a front end chapter at Cleo, where all front end engineers (there’s currently 17 of us) meet biweekly. In these meetings we discuss what we’re working on, any issues we’re facing and any improvements we can make.
Recent examples include increasing test coverage, doing app releases and upgrading libraries.
The chapter piece of work that I’ve been working on recently is upgrading the React native version of our app. Even before I started working at Cleo, I’d been interested in diving into the Native side of things. I wanted to learn more about how to programme in these languages, so it’s nice to get the chance to do so outside of my squad work.
This piece of work has had a great impact for users. Our app crashes far less than it used to (yay).
Graham, one of our Engineering Managers, has written a post about how chapters work at Cleo if you want to know more.
Favorite Projects You've Worked On?
My favorite project that I’ve worked on was setting up the Cleo card for Apple Wallet. This allows users to add their Cleo card and spend via their mobile.
We’d needed to add this feature for a while, as we knew there was user demand. I knew this project would require major native code changes, which was something I’d been interested in for a while. So, I put my hand up for the opportunity.
It took around six months to implement, as the project involved working with our card provider, doing testing with Apple and gaining relevant approvals.
What Do You Like Most about Working at Cleo?
It may sound cheesy, but I really do appreciate the people I work with. My colleagues feel more like a group of friends that happen to work together during the day.
Although I work remotely and the majority of my colleagues are in the UK, I still feel like I get a good level of interaction due to daily standups and check-ins.
I have actually met my team twice in person, once at our annual offsite in Spain, and once during firebreak week in London which were both great experiences.
Where Can We Find You When You're Not at Work?
Most often, you’ll find me walking my dog around Nice. I have a cat and a dog - cat is very doggy and dog is very catty, meaning they get on like best friends 💙
I also spend a lot of my time swimming and doing crossfit too.
Thanks Nacho. Any Advice for Potential Applicants?
We care far more about delivering value for users than the technology we work with. Our tech often isn’t sexy or cutting edge. But it doesn’t have to be. If this resonates with you, then Cleo could be the place for you.
If you’re personable and care deeply about empowering people to build a life beyond a paycheck, then we’d love to hear from you.