Sinisa is a Scala Backend Engineer at Spotcap, a fintech business lender financing SMEs headquartered in Berlin, Germany. Sinisa is currently working on developing REST APIs with Scala and related technologies. In this blog, Sinisa discusses the role of ownership, continuous development and leadership within Spotcap’s engineering team.
Ownership: the secret sauce
Throughout almost a decade of experience I’ve worked with countless of engineers. While their skill sets or interests may differ, they typically have a common understanding of what drives a ‘thriving engineering culture’ –– and that’s ownership. Ownership comes up again and again, as does the need to grow, mature and test out new skills or tools. For us at Spotcap, ownership means that we embrace our jobs with full accountability and feel a personal stake in the company’s performance. Knowing what this culture is, is one thing. Creating that kind of culture is another.
An ownership culture is built on trust. Leadership needs to trust their engineers and engineers need to trust the judgement of leadership. It works both ways.
Our CTO, Piyush Purang, believes in a robust recruiting process where not only engineering skills are assessed, but also their critical thinking and problem solving abilities. As a result, when we step onto the engineering floor, there is an even greater sense of trust and accountability between Piyush and the team.
My first task at Spotcap was not insignificant. I was thrown in the deep-end and asked to build an important and challenging element from scratch. This was an exciting start to my career at Spotcap and representative of the culture of ownership and accountability which I’ve come to associate with the team.
When thrown into the deep-end, you’re likely to encounter some obstacles. Piyush pushes us to work independently, but he is always on hand to provide us with guidance and support when needed. As a team, we also learn from one another, and regularly work together to identify ways to improve our processes. We come together daily to discuss what we have achieved, what is standing in our way of success and what we will tackle next. The process is often referred to as the boring stand-up process. However, at Spotcap this process is a valuable and effective practice that keeps us motivated and on top of our day-to-day operations.
We develop with the product
We are encouraged to think outside the box and stay up to date with what is happening outside of our four walls. We regularly attend tech and software conferences. This year we attended Scala Days, a conference focused on creating applications with Scala, Akka, Play, Typelevel projects, and other community libraries and tools. I also attended Scala eXchange in London, where I learned a whole lot more about functional programming concepts – I summarised a piece about theirtopic approach and key learnings on Medium here. Conferences like these give us as engineers an opportunity to cater to our sense of curiosity. That way we don’t get stuck in the day-to-day and can focus on the bigger picture.
Our tech-stack is world class
We don’t work with old stale systems. Piyush has an ‘open door’ policy when it comes to innovation in the engineering space. We are encouraged to bring ideas to the table and discuss the possibility of experimenting with new tools and libraries. That doesn’t mean reacting to every buzzword and jumping on every new library as soon as an article about it appears on Medium. But it does mean keeping up-to-date with best practices and tools, instead of sticking to rusty systems out of fear it won’t work.
Most importantly our work is valued
We are a team of skilled engineers who do not leave things half-baked. Simply put, we are given ownership and we take pride in what we build. That pride and ownership we put into our work is what sets us apart and makes us truly valued at Spotcap. Our work doesn’t just consist of small bits and pieces, but we get the opportunity to understand how our work fits into the overall picture.
Originally published February 13 2019 , updated January 22 2020