A day in the life of a Zego engineer: Jono Allen
At Zego, we love putting the spotlight on the people who help make our product amazing. We chatted to software engineer Jono Allen about what a typical day looks like for him, and what it’s really like building an insurance company for the 21st century.
First up, would you be able to tell us a bit about yourself and your role here at Zego?
I’m a mobile and web developer, although I’m mainly responsible for the app. I’ve been at Zego for two years, having moved to London from New Zealand three years ago. I’m a self-taught mobile and web developer - I actually came from an electrical engineering and farming background originally.
Starting from when you get into the office each morning, what does a typical day look like for you?
I usually start my day by going to the gym before work, and then come into the office at 9:45 in time for a 10am standup with my team. After that, I’ll check through the error system for any problems that have cropped up overnight, and get to planning my day. Generally, my day is structured around meetings and interviews: we’re actively interviewing for developer roles at the moment, with current engineers like myself involved to screen people so that we can see who we think would be a good fit for the team.
In the afternoon, I’ll pick up some tickets to start on some pull requests and then block out time to get stuck into some code. It's easy to get distracted with reviewing code and other support issues that come up - these are equally important, so finding a balance is critical. I mostly work until around 6 or 6:30pm, although I might occasionally leave earlier depending on what I have on that day. We're not asked to stay late here at Zego, but most people feel a sense of accomplishment in working a couple of hours extra to finish off a task. Generally I’ll end my day with a quick scroll on Twitter, and check Hacker News for any updates: I like to keep on top of things that are going on in the industry.
What’s your favourite part of your day?
One of my favourite parts of the day at the moment is being a part of the interviewing process - it’s really great to see who we could work with as the team is growing fast. It’s always exciting to meet interesting candidates and see people’s passion for the job. Another guilty developer pleasure is re-factoring. I always love finding little bugs or improvements that I can make.
Generally, I really like seeing the impact a small amount of code can have on the overall product - particularly hearing from customer service about how we can improve based on what the customers need. This is great for constantly challenging the way we develop our solutions.
What’s the best part of your job?
My favourite part of my job is definitely having the chance to learn from talented developers in an open feedback environment, and being challenged to push myself further and improve code beyond what I thought I could do. I get pushed a lot in my role, which is something I really value.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in your day-to-day work? How do you resolve it?
One of the biggest challenges of my job is ensuring the system is always customer-focused. It’s important to constantly be looking for ways to make purchasing insurance as simple as it can be, and finding creative ways to do this. Although we work in a fast-paced environment, it really helps to know that the pressure isn’t solely on your shoulders. We’re a really tight-knit team, and there’s always somebody on hand to help you out if you need it.
What opportunities for learning and development do you have access to at Zego?
There are lots of opportunities to attend conferences and courses; recently, some of the team attended React Native EU in Poland, for example. Another aspect is the people: the fact that we have access to such great engineers and managers that we can learn from is really useful for career progression. Conversely, having the chance to mentor more junior engineers is a really interesting learning experience, so it’s good to have a mixture of both in my day-to-day.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I’m from New Zealand originally, so I like to explore the rest of Europe as much as I can. Recently, I spent a week in Corfu with friends riding scooters around the island and exploring beaches to find the best swimming spot. I’m also really interested in sustainable food production because of my background in farming, so I try to keep up as much as possible with what’s happening in the agri-tech world.
What is the social side of Zego like?
Being a start-up, Zego has a pretty vibrant social life. I’m part of the social committee, so I get the chance to organise activities in the office, like our upcoming Halloween party. We also have the legendary company offsites. Earlier this year, we took over Osea Island for two days, and we’ve got our Christmas party coming up in December too. We also run general societies throughout the year. I organise Friday morning squash club, and we have a number of other societies that meet regularly in the evenings.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing about working for Zego?
The overall mission of the company: to be able to modernise an antiquated industry with cool technology and open-source projects. It’s really interesting to push the boundaries of a sector that hasn’t always been thought of as cutting-edge, particularly in a company like Zego that has a proven value to add to the market. There are a few additional perks of the start-up lifestyle: an extremely fancy coffee machine, free Friday breakfasts and a well-stocked drinks fridge, to name a few!
It’s also great that we’re structured in a way that means we can connect closely with other teams within the business. It means that I get a lot of exposure to how other teams operate. The technical aspect of the business is always in-line with the rest of the company and not against it, as we’re all working together to build an amazing product.
Zego are always on the lookout for new tech talent. If you think you’d be a good fit for us, check out some of our vacancies at www.zego.com/careers.