Q&A with Helin, Technical Lead at TransferWise

EngineeringLondon

In many places I’ve worked, I’ve seen engineers alienated from the product, and as a developer, it’s easy to end up in a place where you have no say in the vision. Here you can have an impact, and your voice is heard. However, nobody’s waiting for you to give input, you have to put yourself out there and be vocal.

In a nutshell, what do you do at TransferWise?

I’m a Technical Lead in the Small and Medium Business Team. We make the TransferWise product more viable for our business customers. This could mean creating a better onboarding experience or bringing about new features and even speeding up the product, so more business users sign up and benefit from using TransferWise.

Have you done any other roles at TransferWise?

Before becoming a team lead, I was a full stack engineer, focusing mostly on back end and still looking after our business customers. I was working on features like batch payments and multi-user access and also some refactoring projects to scale up our back end platform.

There are lots of opportunities to do other roles at TransferWise, and you shouldn’t hesitate to explore them. If you tell your colleagues what you want to achieve and where you want to go, you’ll get lots of feedback on how to improve to help you get there.

What’s the biggest challenge working here?

Nobody tells you what to do. People will guide you, but you define your own destiny. And that takes effort. It’s definitely easier to listen to someone say, ‘you should do A and B’.

Working so independently can be challenging. It also doesn’t mean you can do whatever you want. You work with your team to always make decisions based on what’s best for our customers.

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

Building multi-user access for our business customers. It touched so many things within the TransferWise domain, and there were so many things to consider. I learnt inside out how our verification process, payment processing and critical flows work.

Thinking about the project from our customer’s perspective was crucial. It’s all about building a scalable product and finding a balance between getting the feature live without loads of niggles that cause our customers to call into our Customer Support teams.

During this project, I learned loads about user testing – working alongside copywriters, UX researchers and product designers. It was great to see the project come together end-to-end.

Where’s the most interesting place you used your TransferWise card?

There’s so many I could think of! Paying for paddleboarding in Spain, Pálinka in Hungary and a day on a boat in Turkey. Although, maybe it’s the Ocarina flute I bought online for my mom!

What’s your team’s fun tradition?

We play Mario Kart regularly in the games room. We also have a team lunch together – every week someone picks a place to eat.

What does working in an autonomous team mean to you?

It means the chance to contribute to the vision of our product. As a team, you’re the closest to our customers and understand the context so you can decide what should be built. This helps us operate very fast and ensures we’re focusing on the right problems.

What’s your side hustle?

I love building electronic pieces. Lately, I’ve been trying to build an EEG to read brainwaves. So actually, the most random thing I’ve used my TransferWise card for has been the conductors. It doesn’t work yet, but I’m not giving up!