knowis is a place for people who show initiative and work together to develop and implement creative solutions for any challenge. One of these people is software developer Saja Darwish, who joined the Designer & Hub team in mid-2019 and since then has been working on knowis’s software solutions tailored to the financial industry. In this interview, she talks about her way into the Regensburg IT community, explains why she appreciates the use of agile methods in her job and gives tips for potential applicants.
The developers at knowis build solution platforms for the banking sector. They create and implement software that is designed to meet the requirements and needs of users in financial institutions and banks. For some time now, knowis has been using not only proven agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban, but also an agile organizational structure known as the 'Spotify model'.
The classification of all members involved in the development process into squads, tribes and chapters makes it easier for the units to cooperate across all teams and act flexibly and autonomously. In the ongoing enhancement of the knowis banking platform, for example, this offers the advantage that the skills available in the company can be used in a targeted and demand-oriented manner and that a cross-team transfer of knowledge takes place. In this way, the requirements of the customers can be ideally transferred into software.
The engineering teams also use a modern and diverse tech stack, including container technologies such as Kubernetes and OpenShift. But also Linux, IBM BPM, Oracle, or MongoDB, and programming languages like TypeScript, Java, Node and Liberty are used at knowis.
Which of the programming languages is the 'best' one depends on the field of application, and it is certainly also a matter of faith to some extent. In any case, the techies at knowis cherish their not quite serious animosity regarding this topic, as software developer Saja Darwish reveals in the interview. She also describes how the Spotify method has proven itself in practice and what else the job of a software developer has in store.
"Working at knowis is always challenging and pushes you to give more, there is a place for everyone’s ideas and space for you to develop and grow technically as well."
Saja, how do you work as a team and what are your tasks?
At knowis we work agile. We have sprints every five days, which have to be planned and structured precisely so that all stories, epics and the technical features we're working on are clear. At the same time, we are flexible, both in terms of our working hours and new ideas for the platform, and we have very fast feedback loops. After planning, employees with different technological backgrounds work together on the discussed features and add them to the platform.
Although the first programmers were female, the IT sector has now developed into a rather male domain. What is it like to be a woman in the tech industry today?
I had never worked with other female developers before I joined knowis and I was really excited when I learned before my job interview at knowis that my team lead is a woman and that I also have another female team colleague. This was actually one of the main reasons why I finally chose knowis. I am used to being the only female software developer in the team and I have never felt uncomfortable with it or got strange reactions from people. Maybe this was still an issue for previous generations, but now it is totally accepted that women work in the IT industry.
Originally, you're from Jordan. Did you come to Regensburg for this job?
I've been in Regensburg for 2.5 years now, so I was here before my employment at knowis. When I lived in Jordan, I didn't know much about Germany or German cities – I only knew that Regensburg has a university and I had heard from friends that it is the city of developers. It sounds strange at first, but when you consider that a large part of the industry here consists of IT start-ups, there is some truth to it. Even when you meet new people here, a lot of them are working in the IT sector. So I decided to move to Regensburg and started to apply.
What qualifications should applicants bring to be successful in your field?
Besides your technological background and the programming languages you are proficient in, soft skills are not to be underestimated. Consistency is very important, because your code should be stable and the quality of your work should meet a certain standard. IT is an extremely fast business and there are updates almost every day – so you should definitely be curious and have the drive to get to the bottom of things, because you need regular education to keep track. You also need to be a team player who gives others the opportunity to present their ideas and is open-minded.
Do you have a programming project that you spend your spare time with or are you done with technology after work?
It depends on the season: When it gets cold outside, I like to find a project that I work on in order to learn new things – as I said before, I think it’s really important to keep studying. But in summer I like to travel, meet new people, or go hiking.
If you have a passion for technology and like to get to the bottom of things, software developer might be the perfect profession for you. Vocational training in this field or a degree in computer science are a good basis to start a career at knowis. However, we are also open for people who come from a different profession, as for software developers and in IT in general, it is practical experience that matters most.
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