Meet Yusiry Davids, Tech Lead at BVNK
Location: Cape Town. Joined BVNK: January 2022.
Tell us about your role.
We have five engineering ‘squads’ at BVNK, each supporting separate parts of our business. I lead the one for trade and treasury. (The other four are core banking, payments, onboarding and merchant experience.) Half of my job is to make sure that our products work; the other half is building what we need for the future. So I work closely with our product manager and developers on the roadmap. We work out what our services and experiences will need to look like in the coming quarter, and then reverse engineer those visions into the practical steps we need to take to get there. Ultimately we’re trying to answer three questions: What’s desirable? What’s possible? What’s acceptable?
Talk us through a typical day.
We start each day with a stand-up meeting. The aim of both is to ensure that technology, product and development are completely in-sync, and to flag any issues. The rest of my day is really defined by where we are with a product build. Early in a project I’ll be interrogating and fleshing out the product brief, and making a start on tasks to kickstart things; if it’s closer to launch then I’ll be doing a lot of testing. Between that, I’m coding and debugging. I also have to be ready to jump across to other squads if they need assistance to get a feature shipped or if there's an issue with the code in their domain.
What’s the culture like at BVNK?
It’s fun and supportive. It’s a genuine meritocracy. We believe that anyone is capable of having the best idea, regardless of their experience or seniority, so we make sure all opinions get heard. So from day one you feel very supported to contribute. This is super important in technology because the products we build benefit from having lots of different perspectives. Working in any business after a while you can start to suffer from groupthink and bias. New colleagues bring new viewpoints. That’s something we must protect as we grow rapidly, and avoid becoming a place where decisions and instructions are delivered from the top down.
Tell us about your career before BVNK.
I joke that my career began as a kid, because I’ve always had a natural aptitude for technology so I always knew I would go into the IT field. I became a software engineer straight out of university, so not a lot has changed in the last five years. But it’s such a broad profession that I’m always finding new things to do, be it day-to-day maintenance, data integration, product implementation, or application development. I’ve mainly worked with startups, which I enjoy because you get to see more of the business and have more influence. Also, because you’re building solutions from scratch, you can be a lot more creative with a blank canvas.
What made you move here?
Initially I was placed with BVNK by an outsourcing agency. I was only meant to stay for a few months, but I loved it from the start and angled to be taken on full-time. As I said, I prefer working in startups. But I was really attracted to the people here. Everyone was really passionate, but in a way that felt bigger than their job or even the company. I got this real sense that everyone believes that crypto can make payments much more efficient and more accessible, and that’s ultimately the mission we are all on. Because I joined during lockdown, I didn’t get to be in-person with colleagues for six months. When I did, it was for a company wide event…and wow did I feel that passion amplified!
What’s been the best lesson from your career?
Ask questions. No matter how stupid they may sound in your head. The alternative is not knowing something when you really should, which will end up putting you in a far more embarrassing position later.
What’s exciting you professionally right now?
Web3. It must be like how people felt at the emergence of the internet, except few could predict back then how that would turn out! We’re so early into Web3, nobody really knows where it’s going to go. But when you look at banking and payments, it feels like this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a massive dent in some of the world’s big problems, such as financial inclusivity, ownership rights and transparency. Then you think about some of the day-to-day banking and payment applications it can have—fixing all those really annoying things we have just come to accept like slow payments, high fees and general inconvenience—and you can’t help but feel this is a turning point in history.
And what has you concerned?
With any new technology, there’s always a danger of it falling into the wrong hands and not being applied for the greater good. By its very nature, web3 is democratic and equitable, so it’s more protected from that viewpoint. But something we all need to be aware of and be ready to defend.
Any advice for someone just starting out in your field?
Be persistent. A career in technology starts with a very steep learning curve. (To be honest, that learning curve never seems to flatten!) But keep plugging away. Keep learning and studying, even when it’s not for any specific qualification. One day, everything will click. And when that happens, the best profession in the world opens up to you.
What about life outside of work?
I’m a big gamer. Fortnite and Overwatch 2 take up most of my free time these days. I’m not sure where I’m going to squeeze in time for the new God Of War when it comes out!.