What it’s like being a software engineer at one of Europe's fastest-growing insurtechs
In a nutshell
As we continue to scale up, life at Qover looks quite different today than it did when we were a start-up.
We spoke to backend software engineer Hamza Mounir – who joined as Qover’s 16th employee in 2017 – about his daily routine as a developer, what’s changed, what hasn’t and how things can only get better from here.
Walk us through a typical day.
Like most people, I start my day with coffee and something sweet. Then I start checking my email, Slack and calendar.
We have our daily standup with the whole team at 10 a.m. where we explain what we’re working on and what roadblocks we’ve encountered. I’m currently creating a new internal service called Parrot – our own version of Phrase – so that we don’t have to rely on outside platforms.
In the afternoon I like to see who I can help. Sometimes you need to test a case or deploy a new feature – there’s lots to do!
Can you explain what you do in your role?
As a software engineer, I mostly handle the backend of our insurance SaaS platform. At Qover, we build all of our insurance products as microservices. So I create the environment that enables us to sell insurance contracts to our customers, as well the processes that support that – such as handling claims and sending emails.
In technical terms, I help develop the API that enables our insurance products, and work on things like documentation, testing and fixing bugs.
What types of programs and tools do you use?
At Qover, we build a fully cloud-native microservices platform that runs on Kubernetes. We automate everything, from the infrastructure to our daily deployments to production. To enable all of that, we use Typescript as our coding language, which I open with VS Code.
We also use Jira to keep track of our daily tasks. But Slack is the most useful tool, since I can quickly message people on my team whenever I need something.
You used to be a full-stack developer and now you work on the backend. How did that transition come about? What do you like about working on the backend?
Technology advances at an extremely fast pace, so it’s really difficult to say that you can do everything.
You can do both [frontend and backend], but over time I started focusing more on the backend because it’s the heart of what we do – no offence to the front-end devs, *laughs* they do great work – but since Qover works with an API-first methodology, we have more features to implement on the backend.
You also understand the business better because you have to implement all the rules, which can be fairly complex.
What’s been your favourite project so far?
Here at Qover, we’re free to work on whatever interests us. The project I really liked was actually something we started on the side, known as ‘the jingle’.
Whenever we sold a contract, a song would play in the office – at first it was a Rihanna song and then we put a different song for each of our insurance products. For our tenant insurance, we played ‘The Roof is on Fire,’ so we had fun with it.
The goal was that one day we would sell so many contracts that it would be too noisy and we would have to turn it off – which we did.
(Editor’s note: Qover’s current theme song is ‘Lose Yourself’ by Eminem.)
Tell us about your team at Qover. What's the organisation and communication like?
Now that we’re scaling up, we recently reorganised into three separate dev teams.
Since we work in an Agile way, smaller teams means it’s easier to focus on more specific tasks, and it helps you bond with people. Each group has a team leader and on top of that we have a CTO that helps manage and divide the work.
As the team grows, we’ve also hired developers that are fully remote. Has that changed the dynamic at all?
Honestly I don’t think it’s changed the dynamic that much, especially with different teams. If they’re in the same time zone then there’s no issue at all, since most of us work from home anyway.
And with our morning standup, we see each other everyday. It’s working well – everyone knows what to do and if they have an issue, they can easily get in touch with someone without needing to be in the office.
If you could tell someone to join the dev team in a few words, what would you tell them?
The team is wonderful – it’s really crazy the amount of talent we have. But we really need more people! Even with recent newcomers, there are still so many challenges.
We also have awesome team building off-sites abroad, and who doesn’t want that?
How would you describe Qover's culture?
The most beautiful thing about Qover is its culture. I’ll try to explain it in a few words because there’s a lot I could say, but basically it’s about smiling, sharing and being good at what you do.
It’s hard to describe, but there are more than 100 employees now and every single person has talent. For me, that’s part of the culture: if someone asks me to do something that’s outside of my job description, I’ll do it.
Even though it’s my first job, I’ve heard from so many people that they’ve never seen anything like it. Qover has definitely set the bar high.
You've been at Qover for nearly five years – almost since it started – and you were the 16th employee. How has Qover changed?
Funny enough, when Qover first offered me an internship, I said no and went to a bigger company. When I finished school, they asked me again and I joined.
When Quentin and Jean-Charles first explained their vision of Qover to me, I knew how smart they were and believed in what they were doing. It’s crazy because that was five years ago and it’s all happening now.
We had 15 people back then and now we have almost 10 times that. We have plenty of products to sell, tons of big-name partners – it can only get better from here.