“You can’t be a surgeon without a well practiced hand…”

Why CTOs should write code

If you walked into the Spotcap office on any given morning, you might wonder why so many employees were away from their desks. Part of the engineer’s routine is to start the day by participating in a daily stand-up, and right in the thick of things, is our Chief Technology Officer (CTO), Piyush Purang.  

Daily stand-ups are commonplace at Spotcap, as they often are in agile software development. As a fintech business which built its proprietary credit platform in house, software engineering is, and always will be, a crucial part of Spotcap’s business.

The engineering team was the first to forego traditional meetings and periodic status emails in favour of a stand-up, but the technique has now been adopted by Spotcap’s operations and credit teams.

The stand-up, a powerful management tool, is an opportunity for our teams to discuss their blockers or hindrances, what they achieved yesterday, and what they will tackle next. It keeps the team on top of the day-to-day operations and gives our leaders a platform to manage Spotcap’s business goals.

Piyush understands how important it is to be ‘hands-on’ as a CTO. Spotcap’s engineering team deal with complex software challenges on a daily basis, often turning to Piyush for guidance and support. Therefore, it is absolutely crucial that he stays sharp.

Even though many CTOs don’t, Piyush still finds time to write code, review code and participate in architectural decisions. The continued practice of technical skills and knowledge make him a better leader.

“You can’t be a surgeon without a well practiced hand. You can’t lead a team of techies without doing tech yourself”

Leadership and management, two very different skill sets

Piyush’s hands-on approach to leading the engineering team doesn’t equate to micro-management. In fact, he sees management and leadership as two very different things, requiring different approaches.

As a manager, Piyush provides a big picture overview of the key projects which need to be completed at any given point, and lets the team decide how to accomplish them. He acts as an enabler making sure that any blockers are taken care of allowing  the team to execute a plan as frictionlessly as possible.   

Good teams self-organise to deliver on  short and long term projects. This furthers a sense of ownership and self-initiative allowing the team to learn from one another, and from him. Piyush acts as an internal consultant guiding the team by making  suggestions and helping them to decide a course of action.

As a leader, Piyush highlights the importance of empowering your team with the confidence to work independently. By putting trust in them, they grow, take ownership and become better engineers.

“No micro-management, no fear, just trust”

As a result, Piyush’s team experiences profound personal growth, while simultaneously helping Spotcap to achieve its business goals.

An experienced leader with a knack for improving efficiencies

Piyush began his career in the early days of the World Wide Web at a start-up in India. Soon thereafter he moved to Europe where he furthered his education with an MSc in Software Engineering from Oxford and a Masters in Economics and Finance from Ca’ Foscari in Venice.

Joining Spotcap was a great opportunity to practise my two passions: technology and finance aka fintech.

Piyush has years of experience being a part of diverse international teams and projects. He has held roles having worked and led teams in the professional services, consultancies, startups and multinational blue-chip companies.

He was part of Groupon’s leadership team with Spotcap’s Chief Operating Officer, Karl Sponholz, creating products with global reach.

As Spotcap’s CTO Piyush has a knack for streamlining operations, he observes the current state and figures out where to take businesses next. When he joined the Spotcap team, Piyush saw an opportunity to move parts of the current platform written in Javascript to implementing essential backend services in Scala.

“The key is to use the right tool to solve the right problem. Javascript, or rather transpiled ES6, is an excellent choice for the frontend but we require something more robust and operationally mature for running our backend services. Hence our choice of Scala, a modern strongly typed functional language on a very mature platform, the JVM.”

Piyush has a long running affinity with Scala, he set up one of Europe’s largest Scala community meet-ups for like-minded ‘Scala enthusiasts’ in Berlin.

Do your homework

When searching for new team members, Piyush looks for engineers with diverse backgrounds, a self-directive approach to their work and an innate sense of curiosity. His pet peeve? When applicants don’t take the ‘Spotcap challenge’ seriously. All engineering applicants are given a task, or challenge, to complete as part of their application process.

“We always set engineering candidates a skills task as part of our recruitment process and it is painfully obvious when they haven’t put in the work”

Spotcap is looking for skilled engineers to join our engineering team. If you think you have what it takes to thrive in a fast-growing fintech business, take a look at our open positions. Just remember to do your homework!

Piyush Purang, Chief Technology Officer, Spotcap

Piyush has more than 15 years’ of international experience having worked and led teams in the professional services, consultancies, startups and multinational blue-chip companies. As the Chief Technology Officer, he leads the engineering team at Spotcap HQ in Berlin, Germany.