Meet Team Kwara: Fadik, Software Engineer and Scrum Master

Lewis Kang'ethe Ngugi

Team Kwara

Much of the work that goes into shipping value to our SACCO management platform customers on a regular basis happens behind the scenes. At Kwara, ensuring the team lives agile values and scrum foundations that help balance the cost of changing course with the benefits of efficiency to best accomplish goals —is largely the role of the Software Engineer doubling up as a Scrum Master.

Meet Fadik, Software Engineer and Scrum Master of Kwara. She's a Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Game Developer, and sewing hobbyist. Her personal experiences in Game Development influenced her career trajectory. We sat down with her to hear the full story.

How would someone describe you?

I think of myself as a calm, organized and empathetic person. I strive for openness in my relationships with others. And I can only hope for similar descriptions from that someone and get a “good sense of humour” on top of those too!

So you were a Game Developer? What was it like?

Yes, for almost 5 years, specifically building social mobile games. It is a very vibrant and fast-paced environment to work at. And you get to work with creative personalities closely and the job within that space is quite fun but also challenging and exhausting because the industry is very competitive and you want to release games, push features as soon as possible. I think as a developer it taught me to be patient - time spent just playing the game while building it - and thorough in my work as well as the value of writing tests because a game’s logic is usually working against you!

So, you had all those experiences in Gaming from your previous work. Why the shift?

After all that excitement and energy spent in those years, I realised that something was not right still. I actually didn't enjoy spending time playing what I was building and I never turned into a gamer either. Although I liked the work environment, more and more I started feeling distant to the culture and to the product. And it was time that I closed that gap.

What got you interested in software development?

I studied Computer Science in Istanbul Bilgi University, but tragically that was not the thing that got me interested in software development. Against all the odds I finished my studies and started my internship as a developer. My interest grew only after I became aware of the opportunities in software development in various creative industries. I didn’t realise the playfulness of it at the time as well as how empowering and freeing it can be. 

How did you come to work in the fintech space?

Kwara’s mission of strengthening existing member-based financial institutions that serve the 3 billion un- and underbanked people in emerging markets and vision of being the leading digital banking platform for savings and credit cooperatives, and their members, to enable even the most vulnerable people to become financially healthy are quite impressive. That’s what got me interested in this position, to begin with. Fintech only happened to be the tool for it.

When talking with other software developers I have the feeling that there’s no standard definition of software development. How do you interpret your role as a Software Engineer in your company?

I contribute as a Frontend developer. And that requires a lot of collaboration with product managers and designers. I would say  “A translator with the privilege of adding personal interpretation between product owners, designers and computers”.      

You focus on being one team. You remain accommodative for everyone. You are respectful of differences. You actively eliminate implicit biases. You don’t discriminate.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?” – Henry David ThoreauStrength in diversity

What’s it like to work as a developer in a startup? What are the best parts and what do you struggle with?

We are a small team and I enjoy that. This makes everything easy in terms of communication, collaboration and focus. You know everyone's name in the company and can have actual relationships. It creates less space for workspace politics and that leaves you with a lot of energy you would have spent otherwise. The smaller team also creates an environment to respond better to rapid change. I can also add that every contribution, idea becomes more visible and important therefore it creates a better sense of gratification for one's job. But of course, a small team has its challenges too. There is always a lot to do, not enough people and the deadlines usually are tight, but we will always find an efficient way to accomplish our goals.

As a Software Engineer, what does your day look like?

My day starts with me admiring my pink/white keyboard. After that, I try to shift my focus to the board of tasks and Pull Requests that are waiting for code review in GitHub. I rarely spend a full day on my own just writing code. We are a product development team and that means a lot of collaboration in every step of the way. Our team has 2-week sprints and throughout the day I try to focus on our Sprint goals as much as possible. (Did I mention that I am a Scrum Master as well?) And the path to that consists of me switching between tasks, slack messages, code editor, google and Github.

What do you like best about working at Kwara?

The team and the culture. It is a very motivated, ambitious, young spirited, respectful and supportive team.

What’s your proudest achievement since joining?

We are a very small team in the Berlin office currently. But wherever we might be, we all have lunch benefits 😊 After working closely with my 2 colleagues in Berlin, I realised that we all have something in common… that is cookies. My proudest achievement was to use some of our lunch benefits budget to buy cookies for the Berlin office. That certainly elevated the mood for some days.

What makes you excited about Kwara products?

We are trying to make it easier and secure for the members in SACCOs who have to deal with all the complex operations that come with fintech daily. Soon we will have a member-facing product, Kwara Member Portal. Members can view their SACCO account digitally from anywhere, they will have a  real-time view on their finances, accessible only by them. It really ensures transparency, building up trust that the members’ accounts are secure, and the financial health for SACCO members grows by harnessing digital innovation through their mobile. All these empower the people in different ways as well as cause social impact.

If you weren’t an engineer, what would you want to be? 

Actress, comic book writer, dancer. Let me stop there for now and say I haven’t given up on any of those!

What inspires you to keep going?

As we have a customer-centric company culture, getting qualitative feedback from our SACCO platform users and seeing the direct impact of how a small feature can improve the everyday life of a person makes my day.

What do you do in your free time?

I try to spend my free time away from my laptop as much as possible. I come up with projects that are only done using a sewing machine.

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