The Commando

Tinus van den Heever talks about what it means to be ‘The Commando’ at Entelect.

One of the projects I am currently working on is a cool Fintech company. They were a start-up a couple of years ago, but they are innovating and trying to change the ways businesses interact with each other.

When we came on board they were a R10m turnover, but the system changed drastically. Then last year their turnover reached half a billion, and this year they expect to reach R1 billion.

The project has grown very quickly. We’re actually hoping to become international soon. It’s so satisfying that the work we do every day can result in business growth like this.

Equally, because it’s a Fintech business, our role is critical to the company’s success. If the system goes down the whole business stops. There are 120 people are directly dependent on the system being up and running.

"We’re lucky that we’ve built so much trust with our client, that we’re allowed to innovate. They trust us to make informed decisions on the business, so we’ve been able to do some cool migrations like, ways of hosting .NET applications to moving to Azure, and Azure app services.  This also resulted in us being one of the first teams at Entelect to actually do this, which is awesome."

In real terms this means that a great relationship with our client, can translate into cutting edge innovations and gave our team the opportunity to teach other teams how to work with App services in Azure.

So would you say that building trust and relationships goes way beyond the team?  

Yes, trust has to run right through to the client as well. And the trust is not just on a technical basis. That’s the beauty of it, the relationships we have with our clients run much deeper. To the point we’re asked about business decisions.

On a personal level, that’s very satisfying, because I don’t want a job that is scripted. We have the opportunity to influence change within the business. Which is very, very, satisfying.

My team has a sub-culture with a strong characteristic of growth and cohesion. Everyone is ‘all-in’ and is very passionate about what they do and they growth we achieve as a team and as individuals.

It’s also very satisfying to see some of the young grads grow. One guy who was a grad last year is already doing code reviews with the new grads that joined the team this year. So, growth is a big thing that drives our team. But it’s not just personal growth, it’s also seeing the client, the team, and the company grow as well. There is definitely a culture of how can I ‘give’ and how can that help me grow too?

We’re client focussed but we’re not limited to our client. We here to help the client and each other and the company too which is very cool.

What was your career path to here?  

I started working for a company as an electrical engineer and quickly realised it wasn’t for me. So I moved to Entelect to become a software engineer, which was tough because it meant going back to square one. But the growth I have experienced at Entelect is unparalleled, in comparison to my peers at other companies in the industry. In fact, I have five friends who are engineers who have applied to Entelect because they see how we grow and how we love what we do.

What I’ve noticed is how that relates to progression on that Komodo path (we think he means Commando, but we just smiled and nodded and went with it). From junior to intermediate, to senior, the mentality changes from ‘I need to learn as much tech as possible’, to ‘I need to teach as much tech as possible’.

In your opinion, what is one of the biggest misconceptions about the role?

I think most people think the Komodo (read: Commando) starts as a software engineer and spends 8 hours a day programming. Yes, there are those jobs out there. But at Entelect, engineers also have time in their day for team liaison and client liaison. The emphasis is to give as much exposure as possible to everyone, so you can grow faster as a team.

Describe a really good day at work?

A really good day at work is one where your client presents you with a problem and you immediately know what they need and find the problem almost instantaneously. In one instance, we deployed the fix within one hour which was awesome. But it’s a great example of how important a great client relationship is too. We know the business so well that helping them to solve problems on their system takes absolutely no time at all. On these days, when stuff just clicks, you realise the work you’ve been doing up to that point, all comes together, and you know that tonight, “I’m going to have a wonderful night’s sleep!”

Tell us about some of things that can only happen at Entelect?

That has to be the year-end function! That is something that only happens at Entelect.

It’s just one fun day with your colleagues. The first year I was here, the year-end was on the Vaal river with speed boats, booze cruises, craft brewers, and sports games. But what was great about the function was, at the same time, if you didn’t want to do any of that and you just wanted to sit under a tree and read a book, you could also do that. That’s why I love Entelect, everyone has the space to be themselves. Personally, I went on the booze cruise three times, and I had only been with the company for three months at that point (one booze cruise for each month?).

Another thing that is close to my heart about Entelect is that the whole management team are technically minded. They truly understand the struggles we go through, but they can hold us to account.

In another respect just before I walked in here, I had a few jokes with Shashi. And that’s something that is pretty unique to Entelect.

What is your proudest moment?  

On a personal level, the satisfaction of growing and knowing that the contribution you are making is real. It matters that you came to work.

Also, seeing colleagues grow. For instance, someone who was very shy presenting at a big conference like JSinSA is awesome.

What are you involved in at Entelect?

Personally, I present at the .NET forums, arrange social functions, and I’m currently busy with a leadership group at Entelect, alongside my day job, and a few side projects integrating things into existing systems and improved the development environment at Entelect. Which is just another example of how we are all stretched to grow beyond our boundaries every day.