Fay, our Talent Partner, talks to John - Technical Lead at Capital on Tap about his typical working day, the best challenges, and what he's excited for in 2021
It’s been a difficult year for many businesses, not discounting our own, however, we have been fortunate that we have been able to continue to grow. We anticipate that this will continue as we scale internationally, which puts us in a strong position to help even more small businesses! Our passion for collaborating and helping small businesses thrive has only increased as a result of the current crisis and our work is certainly becoming even more interesting.
As a result, it means we’re on the lookout for strong developers to join our team and help us on the incredible journey we have ahead of us. To give a great insight into what it’s like working in our dev team and the type of projects the team have worked on over the past year, I chatted with John Cyril, one of our talented Technical Leads. It’s always a pleasure speaking with John and I certainly learnt a lot about the team’s achievements and the fun John has had along the way - I always thought recruitment was the role for me but maybe, just maybe I’ll see if Jamie (CTO) will have me in the team.
Tell us about your journey to CoT and why you chose to work with us.
My software development career began on a grad scheme for an investment bank. After just over 7 years in investment banking at 2 different companies, I felt that the technical direction was not the way I wanted to go and I felt I'd reached a ceiling within that industry. This, in addition to the numerous times I was working late into the night, led me to look for another role in a more vibrant, dynamic company.
Luckily I met the Capital on Tap team at an SMR recruitment event in May 2018 and it took only 5 days from the event until I had an offer on the table. Everyone was so accommodating and I was able to interview in the evenings which not only showed me how flexible the business was but how dedicated they were to their work and business. Aside from this, the main reasons I joined CoT were because I could see that the business seemed to be heading in a really positive direction, with lots of interesting work in the pipeline. I had some really open and honest conversations about the work that had been done and what the team and business needed to change in order to improve - I loved the transparency.
During my interview, I met multiple people who were all so friendly and incredibly intelligent. One of the people I met was our CTO, Jamie and (don't tell him this) but after meeting Jamie I was sold - I thought I could really work for someone like him.
What exciting projects have you been a part of during your time here?
Loads! There’s always exciting work happening at CoT. I started off working on a lot of technical debt items - basically behind the scenes improvements that customers don’t necessarily interact with and I also got involved with a pilot for accounting software integrations (this didn’t actually go live in the end as we went with a different solution - you can’t have an ego here). I was then lucky enough to pilot the start of an event-driven architecture - working on a text messaging service that informed customers of things such as insufficient funds.
The project I’m most proud of is our migration to the new Visa credit card which for me meant a lot of work integrating our product with a brand new card processor. It was really exciting due to the number of technical challenges involved and the fact that we got the opportunity to design things from the ground up. It was potentially a bit more work than all of us anticipated, but I felt I learnt a great deal. I definitely improved my ability to design and implement a SOLID architecture.
Selfishly speaking too, as a developer you often interact with the software you write, but rarely can you physically touch something you have had input in creating. However, with this work, it’s a physical card that I helped create and I get to carry a test card around in my pocket day to day for R&D! I feel so fortunate to have worked with the people I worked with and to have been involved in that project!
What do you enjoy most about working at Capital on Tap?
The people! I work with people who I consider friends and I feel I can socialise and work with anyone here; everyone is so friendly. I really like how the development team has great relationships and collaborates with stakeholders across different areas of the business. It’s quite different from my roles in previous companies where the development team was very much siloed. The structure is incredibly flat which means you can have intelligent and insightful conversations or a general chat and a beer with all levels within the business.
I also love the ‘professional informality’ as I call it. We have a great, laid back culture; we have a lot of fun (I regularly play pool and enjoy the monthly socials) whilst still getting our work done. I think that comes easily when you are truly passionate about the product, the people around you and achieving really cool things together as we all do at CoT.
What are you excited about moving forward at CoT?
At the beginning of the year, we had quite a lot of architectural discussions as a development community and everyone got the opportunity to put their ideas and opinion forward. Some common themes became apparent, which we discussed at more length in smaller working groups. It was mainly about our code culture, code health and how we architect our systems, components and databases. It was quite refreshing to get everyone's input and we came out of the discussions with tonnes of action points - those that we want to do immediately and those that are more aspirational. These now feature in our technical road map, alongside a lot of other exciting projects to work on. I know internationalisation and the ability to scale quickly will be a huge focus for the team this year as well as some radical changes on how we manage and detect fraudulent card spend. However, with the way CoT operates we could easily have something else pop up unexpectedly off the back of someone’s great idea that we’ll have to react to quickly. It’s definitely never boring here!
What else have you got involved with at Capital on Tap?
In order to ensure we have plenty of fun things to look forward to at CoT, we created ‘Happy Club’, a group of people from all corners of the business to help organise the monthly socials that we all love to get involved in. I’ve been part of Happy Club from my 3rd or 4th month and have helped organise a few of the events such as one of our Christmas parties and Quiz nights with a whisky tasting. I had a particular interest in this last one due to my love of whisky!
Tell us more about yourself - what do you like doing in your spare time?
I used some of my ‘Anniversary Reward’ last year to go on a stand-up comedy course which has now become a hobby of mine. My initial motivation was to improve my confidence in public speaking, which is definitely achieved. The course itself culminated in a comedy show in front of a live audience and I’ve now entered myself into a national competition, with the winner getting a spot at the Edinburgh Fringe. It was the most terrifying experience ever but I felt I genuinely learned a lot and ended up loving it, in a scary way!
As much as I love coding I also really enjoy spending time away from screens. I do this by immersing myself in cooking- I’ve hosted some cooking classes and shared some recipes with the CoT team over the lockdown period which has been a great way to share something I‘m passionate about. I'm also a bit of a coffee snob and enjoy refurbishing old coffee machines - I’m currently fixing one up as a wedding present to a friend!