Q&A with Sigrid, Software Engineer at TransferWise

EngineeringTallinn

The most interesting project I worked on was when we onboarded a new vendor that allowed us to verify our customers automatically. Verification had been an NPS score downfall for us, so it was good to take the hassle away for our customers. We automated the process, so people have a better experience, and we have less cancelled payments.

As I’d been dealing with verification issues before, the integration project was great for me. I built about 90% of the product, implemented it and delivered the integration. It was the first time I’d set up a whole microservice from scratch. It was a great feeling to jump into microservice architecture and build something other teams can use too.

Why did you join TransferWise?

I used to be an architect. I was looking for a change of career and wanted to work in a startup culture. I thought if this doesn’t work out I could always go back to architecture later.

I was using TransferWise when I lived abroad and really liked the product and found it useful. So it was a combination of liking the product and hearing great things about the international and open culture at TransferWise.

In a nutshell, what do you do at TransferWise?

I’m currently responsible for delivering our product to North American customers – solving problems and building new features. Overall, it’s about making sure our products in North America work smoothly, while trying to find ways to make our product more efficient to cut costs for our customers.

Have you done any other roles here?

I started in our Customer Support team, helping out our customers and learning about our product inside-out. After 6 months, I felt I wanted to have a bigger impact on our product, so I moved into Operations. I was handling more complex issues, and it was a very fast-paced job. But I wanted to get more involved in our product. So I started learning to code, taking classes every few weeks and doing the rest online. After learning this on my own, I did an internship here and was hired into the team as a Software Engineer.

Why did you want to make a career move and what steps did you take to do it?

In Operations, I was solving problems and moving millions every day, which was a huge responsibility. However, I couldn’t be involved in fixing the core product issues, I could only report them to our product teams. I was passionate about fixing these myself, so I invested lots of time in learning to code. I also did side-by-sides with our engineers to find out everything I could about their jobs.

I was then asked to intern in an engineering team that needed help. I did all the interviews, and the technical tests and they said I had good enough technical skills. After my internship, they kept me in the team as a full-time Software Engineer.

What’s the biggest challenge working here?

Autonomy. As we’ve grown, having lots of autonomous teams can be difficult to coordinate. That’s why it’s essential to keep up to date with what other teams are working on and why so work isn’t duplicated. Ensuring cohesiveness in the product with so many teams can be challenging. But at the same time, autonomy allows us to move very fast.

What’s your side hustle?

Having been an architect, I’ve always been into sketching. I do illustrations every now and then. I don’t really advertise myself, but my friends sometimes do. I used to do more illustrations, selling them to articles and things. But now I just do it for fun, for example drawing people for their birthday cards.

Actually, I ended up doing a TransferWise animation for our Summer Days company holiday one year. It was an animation of our employees holding a piece of paper in our offices around the world and the animation came to life on the paper. It was all about coming together to build TransferWise.

Tell us about a time you went out of your way to help a customer

When I was in Customer Support, there would occasionally be customers who accidentally sent their money to an incorrect account. I remember one customer called me in tears and he was scared he wouldn’t get his money back. It felt rewarding to help customers resolve these sort of issues and let them know we’re always here. It can be anything from weddings to hospital bills. It always made the work feel important when you saw these urgent situations.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at TransferWise?

After 4 years, there are so many things! I have a massive fear of heights, so jumping off scaffolding to a blown-up cushion during the 2015 Summer Days felt absolutely crazy. Also, I’m really not a stage person, so being on stage in front of the whole company when the animation I created was shown.

Favourite slack group?

#boardgames because I’m a huge board game fanatic and often organise our game nights in the Tallinn office. Also, #lanwise, which is a computer and video game channel and #dogs-of-tallinn because I love dogs!