Q: What do you do at Jumio?
A: I have the good fortune to be leading the web development chapter, meaning I oversee the engineering effort behind the parts of Jumio’s technology that end up running in your browser. Other than just marvelling at the great work the team does each day (and making sure they get credit for it), I also try to ensure everyone is motivated and making good progress in their chosen careers. Ensuring the dev team has a voice in strategic discussions is another central aspect of my role. Sometimes I even dive in and build stuff myself – although these days I have to fight harder to secure time for that!
Q: What was Jumio’s selling point for you – What made you say “I wanna work there!”?
A: I was mostly attracted by the prospect of building things that would be used by vast numbers of people every day. Working with colleagues who are real experts in their fields, and know how to stay calm in a crisis, is something I have come to cherish since joining.
Q: Before Jumio, did you have similar experiences at previous companies or was this rather new to you when you started?
A: I’d never previously worked on products that see such high usage. This inevitably changes the way you work: you have to find a way to remain innovative and daring while keeping things on an even keel in production.
Q: What are the most interesting / fun bits of the role?
A: So many things: Individual discussions with team members that help me understand what’s working and what’s not; releasing new features that immediately become available to thousands of people around the world; constantly learning from my team-mates; having the freedom to make choices about the team and technology without having to worry about endless bureaucracy; and Mario Kart.
Q: What do most people get wrong about the role?
A: It’s not my job to order anyone around. My goal is for everyone to be pulling in the same direction, and in my role that’s a question of advocating transparency, ensuring the free flow of communication, and jointly coming up with meaningful, lean processes that empower individuals to decide themselves what to do next, and how to do it.
Q: What surprised you most about the role?
A: The amount of freedom I have to define my own role is a breath of fresh air.
Of course this comes bundled with responsibility and pressure, but I wouldn’t change it one bit: deep down it’s about trust, and in my experience people generally respond well to feeling trusted.
Q: How do you know when things are going really well?
A: Everyone’s in a good mood, people aren’t working ridiculous hours fire-fighting, and we’re making progress that is in keeping with what the business is asking for.
Q: What challenges did you face and what did you learn from that?
A: I joined as someone who’d most recently been focusing on technical project management. I had to work really hard to sharpen my technical credentials again, and I was grateful to my colleagues for being patient during that period.
Q: What would you say to potential employees wanting to work at Jumio? What qualities should they have?
A: Be willing to face challenges head on, and to be undaunted by them. Be prepared to take responsibility for yourself and your work, but be equally ready to seek help and support whenever you need it. Learn how to recognize your own blind spots and do whatever’s necessary to improve. Be positive but know how to fail.
Ultimately be someone you’d want to work with.