A day in the life of a Zego Engineer: Nicos Tombros
First, could you tell me a bit about yourself and your role here at Zego?
I’m currently a junior back-end software engineer, and I’ve been here for just over a month. Zego’s actually my first job out of university - before this, I studied systems engineering at Warwick. Additionally, I founded my own small tech start-up during my time at university which aimed to tackle issues with student accommodation. The parallels in disrupting the outdated markets of both real estate and insurance is why Zego appealed to me so much initially.
So what’s it been like for you as a new starter at Zego? How have you been supported?
It’s been really great, but also quite challenging. There’s a certain level of responsibility you’re given, since it’s such a fast-growing start-up. You definitely can’t expect to be hand-held, which works great for me because I love a challenge! There’s also a lot to learn on the business side of things, which means I’ve learned quite a lot about how insurance companies and start-ups work. I’d say it would appeal most to people who are looking to apply their technical skills alongside learning a huge amount about business operations.
Although this is a job with a lot of responsibility, there are also a lot of people willing to support you along the way. In particular, my mentor Luis has been really helpful in enabling me to pick up the codebase quickly, and has been very supportive with everything in general.
Tell me a bit about what a typical day looks like for you.
I usually get in slightly before 10am for my team standup. This is a 10 minute long huddle where we discuss what we did the day before, what we’re planning to do today, and anything that’s blocking the set of work in our pipeline.
After that, I’ll continue with anything I’d already planned to do for the day. If I’m unsure about what direction to move in, my mentor Luis has a series of tickets prepared that I’m best suited to tackle within the scope of the current project I’m on. I’d say my work is slightly different given that I’m a junior developer - you get given more tasks to complete, rather than just jumping into whatever needs fixing.
Usually I’ll interact with other business-oriented teams at some point during the day. The development team is very product-focused, which means my work involves plenty of liaison with pricing to get the exact figures and configurations needed to build the different products.
On Mondays and Fridays, we also have all-company meetings. I’ve found this really welcoming as a new starter, as it gives you a sense of a culture that wants everyone to do well and celebrate our achievements, as well as keep everyone focused on Zego’s mission.
What’s your favourite thing about your job?
I love the fact that it isn’t linear - the work is always varied but regardless, always focused on the underlying objective of helping the user complete their intended action. There are always lots of different things to learn and do day-to-day. Even if you have one relatively specific task to complete, it involves looking at lots of different bits of code and asking other teams what the purpose of this function was. You can learn plenty from a seemingly small piece of work.
I’m also a huge fan of the dogs in the Zego office - my particular favourite is Bia the beagle!
What has been the biggest challenge for you in your role so far? How have you solved it?
I’d say so far the biggest challenge has been getting to grips with the business context behind the role - how the product, policies and quotes all work together. I’ve found understanding the inner-workings of an insurance business quite difficult as a techie. However, Luis’s mentorship has been invaluable and other people in the business are always willing to give up a chunk of their time to help you understand something complicated.
What’s your favourite part of the day?
Finishing off the morning’s work at 1 o’clock and then heading straight out to the Old Street food markets. There’s loads of choice there and it’s always pretty good value for money!
What do you like to do in your free time?
Aside from going to the gym, I like to spend time working on my own website that I run - a review website for student housing. Like all of the engineers here I enjoy solving problems, and so this is something I’ve always been enthusiastic to carry into my free time. Zego actually supports my ambitions with pursuing this work outside of hours so it’s super cool to be in the position I am.
Finally, what’s your favourite thing about working here so far?
So far, it’s the fact that the people are really friendly and helpful - everyone has been so welcoming. It’s so nice to be in an environment where everyone is motivated to work hard and do well, yet at the same time gives you so much independence and autonomy to do things they way that works for you.