What’s your name and what’s your job title?
My name is Alexander Broadbent and I’m a Principal Engineer here at SAPI.
Where in the world do you work?
I’m based in Hertfordshire, UK and I work on a hybrid basis. That means I have the flexibility to work remotely from home while also occasionally coming into the London office to collaborate with my colleagues.
How long have you worked at SAPI?
I have worked at SAPI for 10 months.
What is a typical day for you in your role? Can you walk us through your daily routine?
We follow the agile methodologies for working, which means the morning begins with a stand-up for us all to align on our progress from the previous day and what we’ll be working on today. Any issues that we have are discussed to ensure we help each other unblock the work.
From stand-up, I’ll have a plan of what I’ll be working on. This can be feature work or fixing bugs. A typical day often involves interacting with Michal, our CTO and external partners to ensure I keep to our business and tech requirements as I work through completing my tickets.
Depending on what day of the week it is, I may have a regular meeting after lunch, such as planning, retrospective or 121s.
Throughout the day l will refer back to our ticket management system, Linear.
How do you collaborate with other teams or departments within SAPI?
As a principal engineer, I orchestrate all relevant stakeholders to a piece of work to conclude accurate technical requirements. I collaborate with other teams via Slack project channels and Notion to record any documentation. This is a brilliant way to keep track of accountability and my decision-making process.
As a fast-paced startup, it is the responsibility of every engineer here to work collaboratively with the founders, partners, sales and product team directly.
What are some challenges you face in your role, and how do you overcome them?
Working at a startup means things move fast and requirements are continually changing. It’s a challenge I enjoy most about working here as it keeps me on my toes and encourages me to continually expand my skill set and thinking capability.
A challenge I have faced is prioritising what’s more important to focus on. Something quite common at growing startups where there is lots to work on with limited resources. As a team, we tackle this challenge by taking planning sessions seriously where we decide estimated times on tickets and deciding priorities based on business requirements and company KPIs.
What do you do outside of work to recharge or decompress?
To help me relax, I enjoy playing the piano and driving. Having driven all over England, Wales and Scotland, I am currently working my way through road trips around the world. In between planning road trips, I enjoy working on personal projects to keep on top of my technical skills. If I’m at my desk over the weekend, you’ll find me working on something new or writing a blog post for Medium to help others working in tech.
What are some most memorable experiences you’ve had while working at SAPI?
Having joined as one of the first employees here, it has been an honour to have played a role in our first partner receiving their SAPI sandbox. It’s extremely memorable to see all of our hard work paying off with our very first partner and seeing the theory become a reality.
What makes SAPI a great place to work?
SAPI is the first place I have worked where I am able to work from anywhere in the world. I am proud to work here where we are remote-first. The trust and responsibility you are given here make every employee feel like a key player in the business vision.
Not only is it an extremely open and trusting environment to work from anywhere in the world, but we also have a generous maternity and paternity package, which really shows the level of care and trust that SAPI has for its employees, especially those who are becoming parents for the first time.
In what ways have you experienced personal and professional growth since joining SAPI?
As our tech team has grown, so too has my skill set. Being an early employee has meant I have taken on many responsibilities, which has helped with my professional growth. From setting up the foundations for processes, RFCs and documentation to engineer onboarding and security.
I have also found myself really enjoying the exposure to external partners and experiencing first-hand their thinking behind their business requirements when working with us and why.
What makes SAPI different from anywhere else you’ve worked?
Here at SAPI, we get on with what matters. Being a workplace full of trust and transparency on where we are great and where we need to improve, there is no requirement to go into the office for the sake of it. This enables us to work when we feel most productive to get the work complete and from where we feel most comfortable. Whether that is from our home office (which everyone has set up comfortably during covid) or from abroad while exploring a completely new country. What makes SAPI different is that we are encouraged to ask questions, challenge things and focus on deliverables and not “face time”.
I love working with people from all over the world and hearing their stories. It naturally makes SAPI an inclusive place of work and a welcoming environment for new employees from different walks of life.
What do you look forward to most in SAPI’s future?
I am looking forward to working closely with new partners. Meeting new partners and understanding their needs always excites me as I learn more about the industry and ever-changing needs based on where the economy is going.
I’m also looking forward to being a part of a continually changing work dynamic. For example, we recently hired a Head of Product, which I’m very excited for as it means another whole area of the business has expanded to help refine the best outcomes for our partners as quickly as possible.
What skills are important to have for your role?
Working in a startup environment can be a very challenging place, and being able to adapt to changing or unclear requirements is a must. From my experience, I think having an aptitude for knowing where to draw the line on how much time to invest in something is key. We know that everything we build is just to get up and running quickly and that not every line of code has to be scrutinised and tested thoroughly in order to progress.
Especially for a principal role, you have to be able to justify why you want to take a certain approach and be prepared to discuss it in a wide forum with all stakeholders; then take the best solution out of that conversation and quickly convert it into code.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in pursuing a career in your field?
There is no easy path to becoming an engineer, besides practice and finding a mentor you find inspiring. I have found my career to reflect me better ever since I began opening up to taking advice more seriously and learning from more experienced engineers across different industries.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
For me personally, I enjoy solving problems successfully with limited information at the time. There is something about seeing your code successfully merged and contributing towards a bigger deliverable with the little information you had at the time.
What advice would you give a colleague who has just joined your team?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge what has been done before you joined. There are a lot of discussions and context that lead to the code being the way it is and the more experience and diversity that we have in the team will lead to better tech at SAPI will be.
What is something about your job or role that people may not know or understand?
I don’t spend every second of the day coding. Some days it’s more discussions and debates on how, why or what to build.
How do you manage your time and prioritise tasks?
I manage my day in my personal diary and keep notes from every meeting I have. This allows me to easily reflect back when juggling multiple tasks at once. Keeping effective notes has helped me manage my time better as I can easily refresh my thoughts on a topic when jumping tasks.
I prioritise with the help of the team by running through my thought processes in stand-ups and planning. This ensures I’m always on track to deliver what’s most important first.