At Reward Gateway, our Engineering team are responsible for developing and shipping huge, feature-rich products and tools for our platform; scalable technical solutions enabling thousands of companies to engage over five million employees daily. In this series, we sit down with a few of our superstar Engineers - from RG Newbies to Developers who have been with us for over a decade - to find out what it's like to work at Reward Gateway, what inspires them as Engineers and what up-and-coming Engineers need to know to score a fantastic career and make their own world a better place to work.
In this blog, Robin tells us about how he joined Reward Gateway, how his team thrive and collaborate cross-borders, and how his role has evolved as the engineering industry changes.
Hi Robin. Can you tell us a bit about your role and what you do day-to-day?
Sure, traditionally our role is quality assurance, which is all about testing and writing automated tests. This ensures the work our developers do works as expected— ensuring product features go out correctly, behave correctly in production, avoid any bugs, that sort of thing.
However, our team is more focused on the software engineering side — so without getting too technical about it, we’ve quietly changed our focus to be more about quality engineering rather than quality assurance. Essentially, it means that we care more about the engineering practices we use, and ensuring that we have the tools in place to allow our developers to make better software, whilst also caring about things like security and performance testing.
And as RG gets bigger, we obviously have lots of new customers coming along and challenging our products. So a site that has a few hundred customers per minute now, will need to have the capacity to deal with tens of thousands of users in future.
I had no idea that was a singular role!
Absolutely, the QA role has really changed and evolved over the last couple of years. Our developers have been able to start writing more of their own tests, so that means my team’s focus has shifted to be more concerned with aspects like security and performance that we previously couldn’t spend as much time or focus on.
I know your team is an international one; you’re in London but you also work with teams in Bulgaria, Australia and the USA. How do you find that work style?
Good question. The underpinning thing for it, honestly, is that if you have people who really care about their job; who want to do well but are also ready to collaborate, get involved and grow their career. Those are the sort of people that you can rely on, regardless of where they are. And really, that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed at RG; we don’t have any issues collaborating remotely. That said, I am looking forward to finally meeting some more of these people in real life when we do a company trip to Bulgaria later this year.
How is it managing learning and growth within your team? I can imagine it can be challenging if you work cross-continent and across many products?
Absolutely, but on our upcoming team trip to Bulgaria, I’m really looking forward to working on some new ideas together and hopefully doing more of that learning and development together.
It’s so important that anyone in our team, regardless of their seniority or where they are, knows that they can speak up and that all ideas are welcome. We have a weekly meeting across teams to discuss that sort of thing, but we’re always enthusiastic to hear about new approaches or new ideas — and we can always do with more of it!
Speaking of your team, what’s coming up for yours in the next 12 months that you’re looking forward to?
As mentioned, we’re all about performance lately so we’re working on a couple of tools that I hope will help. One is called ‘Locust’, and it’s kind of self-explanatory — it just gets loads of fake users swarming our sites to see how well they cope. So we’re integrating that at the moment. And we’re also trialling something called Loadmill, which allows us to test a few other things under the hood. That and a few other security initiatives we’re pushing through, so it’s an exciting time.
The other side of it is mobile: we have two mobile apps at the moment and we’re really pushing to get them fully automated. It’s baby steps right now but when we get it fully working it’ll give us lots of good opportunities and flexibility in the future.
I’d not heard of those tools and platforms before! How did they come about? Do you all get the opportunity to just say “hey, I’ve heard of this thing/product/tool, can we try it?” — is there room for those sorts of conversations?
There is! And I say this all the time, but we’re always open to hearing about new approaches and tools. And often it’s actually the new starters who can bring us some of the most interesting or unexpected new ideas.
How’s the work/life balance? I know as someone who also works Very Online that it can often be tempting to overwork or, conversely, never be able to disconnect properly — how is that for you, managing a large international team?
You’d have thought that lockdown inherently would mean a better work/life balance because you’d never have to commute etc. And to an extent it did, but it was also hard, because you’d also end up unintentionally doing longer hours just because you’d just spend all day in front of a computer with nothing else to do, not chatting to other people etc.
But at RG it’s good and flexible — we do interesting work, and they’ve always trusted us to do a good job and manage our own lives on our terms. It’s true to say that people will do more if you give them that freedom; you never see it working well at those companies that force you to be in at a certain time etc.
Let’s wrap up, and forgive me for the classic interview question, but… if you were interviewing someone tomorrow or you wanted someone to join your team, what advice would you give them and what do you want to see in that interview?
What I look for is someone who’s motivated and inspired by technology; you need to be inspired and passionate about good engineering and good coding practices. That’s the idealistic thing, but fundamentally it’s just about being passionate; you should be a good team player, a good collaborator, and someone who’s excited about working with others and getting the best out of people across many teams.
As you get more senior people [onboard], you also want to see the characteristics of those people; for them to own their projects, be happy to take responsibility, and speak up when they need to. All of our values, basically!
Inspired? We're always looking to grow our Engineering teams to work with more great people like Robin to help us in our mission of making the world a better place to work. If you're ready for a new challenge in your engineering career, regardless of what stage you're at, we'd love to hear from you. Check out our open roles here. or, find more inspiration and follow what we're up to at rg.co/lifeatrg