Life at Luno London: Meet our UK Software Engineering Manager, Amo
“What’s it like working in the crypto industry? How is Luno different from other companies? How is it working with people stationed in various countries? Cryptocurrency is still a relatively new industry, aren’t you concerned it won’t last?”
These are a few of the questions we receive from friends, family, and sometimes, people we’ve just met. And while we love exalting the many things that excite us about working at Luno, we thought we’d speak to a few members of the crew.
This new series will delve into Life at Luno, from the perspectives of various employees from different countries, departments, and backgrounds.
- First computer: Amstrad CPC464
- Fun fact: Have taken-off and landed a plane
- Prized possession: Super Famicom
- Challenge: 10 countries a year
- Favourite game: Captain Commando
Team Luno: What are your thoughts on Luno and our culture?
Amo: Luno is a totally different culture to anywhere else I’ve worked at. Every time I visit the Cape Town office I come away invigorated by the vibe. There’s always a smile on the team’s faces, and I truly feel like I’ve made a few friends for life in the short time I’ve been here.
My favourite part of working at Luno is the dedicated knowledge sharing time. Each week we make sure that everyone steps away from their desk (or couch, or beanbag) to spend time with their peers. For instance, all of the back-end engineers will get together, as will the front-end, agile, product and leadership teams, to discuss relevant topics that affect our ability to move fast and take action. We’ll also take this as a chance to share successes, ideas and talk about how we can improve.
There’s the usual stuff; beer fridges, PlayStations, free food and social events but it’s the way that we all gravitate around our Moontality values that I think helps set Luno apart from anywhere I’ve worked previously.
TL: How’s your Luno journey been so far?
A: I joined the company in September 2018. My first month was mostly spent onboarding in our Cape Town office. As the first software engineering hire for the new London team, it was essential for me to spend time with the rest of the engineering team to understand the culture, learn our processes and make sure that the team I build in London is one that aligns with the Luno vision.
Setting up a brand new team, in a brand new office means there’s a bunch of ambiguity at every corner but what I really like is that I’m empowered to make decisions and to experiment.
Building a strategy around hiring, cultivating a world-class engineering team, and designing distributed teams has been my focus since joining, but that is nicely balanced with having oversight of a bunch of really interesting projects across our various pods.
Things are definitely moving fast! We’ve already built the foundations of a great team, and we’re always implementing new ways to help our distributed teams work better together; from state-of-the-art video conferencing equipment, daily ‘everyone dials-in’ sessions, and hackathons.
TL: Any advice for aspiring engineers?
A: A.B.C. - Always Be Coding.
It doesn’t matter what, or in which language, but always be coding. It’s a great way to learn new [programming] languages, explore interesting domains, and to make sure that you’re building the experience that’ll stay with you for a lifetime throughout your career.
Learning is an important way for all of us to not only develop the technical skills that we need as software engineers, but also some of the empathetic skills necessary to do code reviews, share feedback, succeed as a team, and remain humble when we stumble (I’m a poet who didn’t know it!).
TL: What’s it like working in an industry that wasn’t around a few years ago?
A: Honestly? It’s challenging.
There’s so much unknown in the domain, and a ton of technical complexity which doesn’t always have a huge amount of freely available resources to resolve. For example, if we’re solving a brand new problem around a blockchain integration, there aren’t going to be answers on StackOverflow.
Bitcoin is also only 10 years old, and with that comes a lot of volatility around market sentiment, adoption and perception. And that last part is such an essential part of our vision. We want to help our customers learn about cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and that’s where we have a massive amount of work to do.
When I speak with friends and tell them I’m working for a cryptocurrency company, there’s a mix of reactions ranging between excitement and shock. We need to help provide education on why cryptocurrencies are a safe alternative to traditional currencies.
TL: You’re known for your fantastic sense of humour around the office, how do you hit that balance between fun and work?
A: Two words, David Brent.
TL: What do you look for in potential hires when building out a team?
A: I believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast, and as we scale it’s important that we hire for culture. Let me be clear, that doesn’t mean you need to be chanting our 10 Moontality values when you apply for a job, rather when we first speak, I’ll be assessing whether you pass the Airplane Test.
That is, would I be OK sitting next to you on a long haul plane journey.
We spend longer in terms of waking hours of the weekday with our colleagues, than we do with our friends, family, partners, and children - so it’s important that we actually like each other.
My best advice to a candidate I’m meeting with is not to stress and to try to relax.
If your application gets through to the onsite interview stage, it means you’ve already passed the technical assessment stage, it means we really liked the look of your CV and past experience, and we already think you’re a great engineer - so we want to see you succeed in the interview!
And there you have it! Amo is hiring for multiple positions in his London team. If you’re interested, you’re more than welcome to message him on LinkedIn for more information, and to learn more about working at Luno in more detail.