Inside Qonto

"As Android Engineers, our goal is to be the owners of the application."

October 23, 2020 by Jean-Philippe Denis

1. What is your background before you started at Qonto? (Studies, professional experiences etc)

Basically, my background doesn't have much to do with the Tech world. I have a law degree, and a Master’s degree in Business. But through professional encounters in my first life as a sales representative, I gradually approached the world of mobile apps. 

After 3 years as a Business Manager, I worked on mobile application review sites and soon many publishers were contacting us to give visibility to their applications. So I quickly decided that it was time for me to start learning how to code these applications myself. I started my training as a mobile developer at CNAM and like many developers, I started my new career with an internship.
I then worked at Captain Wallet (formerly Carving-Labs), (big kudos to them for raising 2 million euros recently!). My following job was to work for a digital services company where I gained knowledge about many different architectures, but also about different ways of working.

Among other things, I spent more than a year in an innovation lab at PSA.

After working for large companies, I wanted to test out the startup world. For three reasons: the wide field of action, the involvement in the missions and the concrete impact that one can have on every level. Additionally, I knew that I would find incredibly motivated people ready to give their very best.

2. Why did you join Qonto?

To give you some context, it was 2017 and Qonto was a very young start-up. I had never heard of it before. One thing for sure was that I wanted to join a start-up that had a great product and dedicate myself full time to creating an application that would be useful to everyone.

What was decisive in my decision to join Qonto compared to other startups? Without a doubt, Alexandre Prot’s (co-founder) speech when he first reached out to me. Everything was crystal clear and well thought out. Qonto’s path he presented at the time is precisely the one we are on today. That was more than 3 years ago, I can definitely say his vision was on point. In short, there was a customer need, a market, and Qonto was there to meet it. What could be more challenging and exciting?

It is also important to add that our two founders Alexandre Prot and Steve Anavi (co-founder) already had an entrepreneurial success with smok.io, which was one more reason to trust them and follow them in their project.

3. What aspect from your recruitment process impacted you the most?

Once again, the processes we have in place today are incomparable to those in the early days of Qonto.
For my recruitment process, Alexandre Prot called me directly, and that same evening I was taking the technical test. The very next day he called me back and offered me an interview with Steve Anavi, Gabriel Klein (Tech Team), an iOS developer and a mobile designer.

So I would say the aspect that impacted me the most from my recruitment process is the speed of execution and the feeling that things have to move forward, and fast.

4. What moment stood out from your onboarding at Qonto?

In a word, intensity. 

As soon as I arrived, I had to start the development of the application from scratch and aim for MVP (Minimum Viable Product) delivery in only 3 months. To those who do not know what this entails, we basically had to develop the login, the transactions (list and details), the possibility to order a credit card, to be able to see and manage your cards, and many other settings. Yes, that was some intense 3 months… 😅

But, we reached our goal thanks to the consistent communication within the team and because the initial trajectory was well mapped out.

5. Can you define your role of Android Engineer at Qonto ?

In digital services companies, the client’s demands always had to be implemented keeping in mind what they cost in terms of man/day. Based on this postulate, quality and maintainability are put on the backburner.
Challenging specs and demands do not often seem to be an option when we know how often the customer is reluctant to be charged on an average daily rate for a Product Manager. "It's what the customer wants, code it! But it's an iOS design ... never mind, go ahead".

At Qonto, it's quite the opposite, all features are challenged by all the key stakeholders involved, Product Managers, Designers, Developers and so on.

Our role as Android Engineers is therefore not only limited to coding the specs we are presented with, but also to challenge them, right from the “Tech Challenges” phases, where we discuss what we did right and what we can improve.

6. What qualities does an Android Engineer need to have?

First, benevolence. Indeed, for a team to work, each member must feel good at work every day. Each feedback on code reviews that we exchange must be constructive, educational and/or relevant.

Second, to have total control over the product. As Android Engineers our goal is to be the owner of the product but also to look beyond as we will probably have to review the code we wrote at some point. 

All in all, we need to be curious and keep up to date with best practices and new features constantly.

7. If you had to sum up your daily life in 2 sentences at Qonto in the Tech team?

Following our daily meeting, I spend most of my time coding features, dealing with bugs, development needs, but also reviewing my teammates' codes and taking into account their feedback on mine. So yes, I do Android development as you would expect. 😉

In parallel, we have “Tech Challenges”, as well as weekly Tech meetings where the tech teams present their current projects, and monthly Mobile meetings during which we discuss the priorities of our development needs.

8. What is your biggest challenge and/or success as an Android Engineer ?

My biggest challenge on a daily basis is to be at the same level of my teammates, who are all experts at what they do.
My biggest success as an Android Engineer is to have achieved a 180° career change and to know that the Android developers I've been lucky to work with so far would see themselves working with me again.

9. Among the 4 Qonto core values (Ambition, Mastery, Teamwork, Integrity) which one speaks to you the most and why?

Not trying to give you a political answer, but I saw Qonto grow from 15 to over 250 employees in less than 3 years... This shows great ambition, which necessarily relies on our three other core values.

10. If you had to give a message to future Qonto candidates?

Qonto is a huge adventure, with a start-up spirit. 

I've seen dozens of internal promotions of brilliant and motivated people, each taking their job further than what is mentioned on their job title. Not because we are asked to do so by the management team, but because we have the opportunity to do so.

Managers give us the freedom to think and put forward new ideas. We look for people before we look for extra arms.

11. Do you have a quirky or fun story to share with us since you joined Qonto?

Since I arrived, Qonto has already moved three times to absorb its hyper-growth.

I still remember when I had my interview for the job on a small bench in Le Sentier (Paris 2ème)... Then we moved to Richelieu, then back to Le Sentier and we are now on rue Lafayette in a 6-story building we are renting from WeWork just for us! In short, it's like a huge coworking, but just between Qontoers!
Actually, I can say that I have changed offices with Qonto more often than when I was working for a digital services company. 😂

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