In today’s day and age, we are all surrounded by software. Whether at home or in the office, it infiltrates our lives in immeasurable ways. As a business, software development has increased Financeit’s ability to distinguish itself from competitors, thus increasing our competitive advantage. Our Software Development team has improved users’ experience, brought more innovation to our product, and increased efficiencies to our operating environment.
At Financeit, the Engineering group, led by John Wood (Director of Software Development) & Kallin Nagelberg (Principal Developer), consists of Developers, Development Managers, and Product Support Managers. The software development team are the builders of our unique products. They make it all happen!
To gain more insight into our Software Development Team, we interviewed John Wood, Director of Software Development, and Chief Technology Officer, Lee Zwaigen.
John Wood, Director of Software Development
Can you share a little bit about what your job entails and what a typical day for you is like?
I essentially oversee the people side of software development. This includes being responsible for the management and growth of Software Developers, creating career development paths, administrating performance review cycles, and making sure that our development team is being managed to their fullest potential.
My day-to-day can vary, but I typically coordinate hiring efforts, from screening candidates to helping onboard new employees. I also meet regularly with my direct reports, including Development Managers and a few of our senior individual contributors.
What technology stacks are used at Financeit, and are there plans to innovate/update those stacks?
We use technology stacks, including Ember.js and Tailwind CSS, for front-end development (client-side). Back-end (server-side) technologies include Ruby on Rails, Elasticsearch, MySQL/RDBMS & Redis.
In terms of updating that technology stack, we are always interested in bringing in more innovative versions, but currently, we are happy with what we have.
What professional development opportunities will I have to learn and grow?
We have a relatively flat structure within software development, meaning anyone willing to try new things will get that opportunity. Whether in junior or senior positions, you can tackle any project you’d like, especially in terms of growing your skills. There is also access to learning tools, from group learning resources to training videos.
Career growth is something we pride ourselves on. Financeit has allowed employees to increase skill development through expensed professional development courses, workshops, and designations. Career development at Financeit is bolstered by enabling employees to gain new skills, keep current trends and progress in their careers without worrying about costs associated with success. What’s better than that?
How is the software department structured(i.e. pods)?
We sub-organize into Pods to help divide what we are trying to achieve as a business. Pods have a defined focus, which can change from time to time. However, we try to keep the pods together as a working group as much as possible.
Product Pods consist of:
- 1 Product Manager (usually shared between multiple pods)
- 1 Technical Product Owner
- 2-3 Developers
- 1 QA Analyst
- 1 Product/UX Designer (traditionally shared between multiple pods)
Tech Services Pods
- Front-End: Developers support the Financeit Technology team with front-end initiatives and expertise. They deliver core front-end technology improvements and improve the quality of user experience.
- Site Reliability Engineering: Developers enhance the Financeit Technology team’s system reliability and maintainability capabilities.
- Security Engineering: Developers support the Financeit Technology Team with developing and maintaining highly secure software.
- Data Engineering: The data team provides frameworks, tools, and services required to get the most out of the data Financeit collects. They organize and implement processes required to prevent data errors and misuse. Their priority is to make data easily accessible and easy to understand.
- DevOps: The DevOps team introduces processes, tools and methods throughout the software development cycle, from coding and deployment to maintenance and updates.
What do people love about working here?
Although this seems cliche, it really is the people. Time and time again, we hear the team talking about this as a second home where colleagues become like family. Collaboration is huge, and everyone truly has each other’s backs. Having teammates you respect can motivate you to perform to the best of your abilities.
We are also an open work culture, meaning everyone should feel comfortable sharing their opinions and new ideas freely. This is genuinely a bottom-up approach; our Chief Technology Officer, Lee Zwaigen, encourages knowledge sharing, which inadvertently leads to more creativity and value added to our Technology department.
Lastly, work-life balance is a crucial part of our culture. We respect people’s need to rest and recharge.
How does the company, and the technology team in general, keep up with employee engagement?
In Tech, specifically, we try our best to engage our team as much as possible. We know how meaningful engagement is for social connectivity, collaboration and productivity. In part of this, we host a yearly retreat for Tech employees. In the past, we’d go up to one of the team members’ cottages for the weekend, but in light of our new office opening, we opted to have an off-site at The Well. We participated in team-building exercises, working sessions and Tech updates from our leaders. We were also able to connect outside of working hours which was great.
Our Employee Engagement Committee (EEC) also helps us promote virtual and in-person employee engagement initiatives. Within the last year, our People Success team collaborated with EEC and set up several events to encourage employee engagement and team unity. Regularly scheduled events include Lunch and Learns, Product Demos and Monthly Town Hall meetings. Other fun engagement initiatives include:
- Weekly In-Person Team Lunches
- Quarterly Virtual Lunch Kitchen
- Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Watch & Discuss Panels
- Company Events, such as seasonal and holiday parties
- Smaller Monthly Engagement Initiatives, such as trivia & movie nights
- Corporate Social Responsibility partnerships with Shelter Movers and Habitat For Humanity.
- Virtual workout and meditation sessions.
- And so much more!
Lee Zwaigen, Chief Technology Officer
For how long have you been with Financeit?
I’ve been in the company for nearly nine years. I started when we were about 30 people or so. And now, we’re close to 10 times the size. So it’s been a journey.
As the CTO, what are your main responsibilities?
As a CTO, I’m responsible for all things technology at Financeit. That includes the Software Development Process, IT, Product and User Experience.
How have you grown as a professional since working at Financeit?
I’ve grown so much at Financeit over all these years. When we were a small startup, everybody had to wear different hats from the beginning. Everybody had to pitch in because we had no risk team or compliance team. I think that’s what still stands today as the company’s makeup; people take on roles bigger than their job description, which means everybody gets a good chance to grow in different ways.
In your opinion, what makes Financeit a great place to work?
So the cliche answer that everybody says when asked this question is it’s the people, the culture. And I can’t help but say the same thing because it’s the truth. If it weren’t for the people, I wouldn’t be here after all these years. It really is a great group. And we have fun and inspire each other to do great things here.
What are the developing and product teams working on currently?
There are so many different teams working on various streams of work. About half the team is working on something that customers will never see. For instance, there’s a team dedicated to security and safeguarding our data. Another group working on data ensures that our warehouses are enriched, so the business can make the right decisions at the right time. We have a platform team working on development experience, building tools, and ensuring the foundations are in place so that developers can create high-quality software as quickly as possible. And, of course, the product feature teams are building all the features that our customers ask for daily.
How do you see the company evolving in terms of technology in the next few years?
Well, automation is always a goal. We’re working on integrating all the latest and greatest data sources to help allow us to do what we do passively and as invisibly as possible so that our customers have the most painless experience working with us.
We’re also hitting somewhat of an inflection point regarding the technology stack. It’s been around for 10 or 11 years already, and for us to scale the business to where it needs to be, we need to really work on our foundations and ensure that our debt is managed and that we can be prepared to take the company to the next level.
Come see how we make our work fun and fulfilling. Visit and apply on our careers page here.