Leading Engineering Teams in a Fast-Paced Startup

Leading Engineering Teams in a Fast-Paced Startup

The software engineers at Kippa are the geniuses behind how the app runs and works; essentially, they built programs that brought the idea of a product that enhances financial management for small businesses to life.

We had a long chat with the Engineering Manager of Kippa, Omar Aly, from Cairo, Egypt, about how the engineering team at Kippa operates and his role in managing a talented group of engineers remotely.

Who is Omar Aly?

I am a software engineer currently residing in Cairo, Egypt, and I have been there my whole life. I enjoy traveling as much as I can. It's a way for me to have fun.

How did you get into engineering?

I have always been a science nerd since way back in high school. Some of my favorite subjects were Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry. That combination pretty much threw me into the world of engineering at the end of the day.

Why Software engineering?

I studied different aspects of Engineering at the university level, but I mainly fell in love with algorithms and how to solve their problems; I tried other forms of engineering, but none of them stuck with me as software engineering did. That has been the foundation of my 8-year career as a computer engineer. I found my passion here.

What is your role at Kippa, and how has it been for you?

I am the Engineering Manager at Kippa. I enjoy every aspect of it, from taking care of my team to building up products for users. I am pretty much responsible for the whole team. It is not difficult per se, but as you know, managing people is one of the most challenging jobs in the world; you need to have a certain mindset to prevail.

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What does your day-to-day look like as the engineering manager?

About 20-30% of my day revolves around meetings with my team, ensuring they are doing okay if they need any support, maybe training and such. The other 20-25% goes into monitoring the terms of product management, making sure my team delivers on time, and fixing any challenges they might have encountered. Finally, the rest of my day is split between actual engineering work on the Kippa app - fixing bugs, testing features, and meeting with management.

How do you help your team function in times of burnout?

I generally always pay attention to my team. In the case of anyone suffering burnout, I typically rotate tasks among the group. It's a team of about 20 engineers, which is quite a lot to manage. But whenever I find out that a team member is experiencing burnout, I instruct them to take a break. This is because the human body needs breaks at intervals to function correctly, and I respect that because stress is inevitable.

What does the Kippa Engineering Team look like?

The Engineering team is split into front-end, backend, Quality Assurance, Data, and iOS teams. We have 9 backend engineers, 2 QA engineers, one Data engineer, 2 iOS engineers, and 3 front-end engineers.

Is this your first time managing a Nigerian Team?

No, it's not my first time. I have managed teams in Kenya, Europe, and Nigeria; I like working with Africans. They have this fantastic culture, and they are taking on the world with some of the best professional skills I have ever seen. So when Kennedy approached me with the opportunity to work at Kippa, a Nigerian Startup, I was so excited.

What are some of the pros and cons of managing a team at Kippa?

Everyone treats each other like one big family. I mean, people take care of each other. There have been times when other employees on the team faced some difficulties, and I saw others stepping up to help them.

But a con for me is navigating a good communication culture in an early stage start-up considering that we all work remotely. Fortunately, the company is very invested in this, making this task a lot easier.

I also sometimes miss actual engineering work with setting up a team like this, a lot of my time goes into people management and establishing structure. I currently don't code as much as I used to, and sometimes I miss that.

Since you have been working at Kippa, what has excited you the most so far?

I think getting to know people has been exciting for me, learning different cultures because the team is very diverse, and it's been easy to bond with the Kippa family as a whole.

Finally, What are some of the factors that influence your success and growth?

I abide by three pillars that I think every good engineering manager should follow. The first is to be socially intelligent and understand how to relate with people and approach them.

The next is to have a quick wit, know how to improvise, and make polished decisions.

The last pillar is learning to balance leading your engineering team to execute tasks readily.

Want to work together?

Kippa is the simplest accounting & Invoicing software for small Nigerian businesses. Over 280,000 small business owners currently use the bookkeeping software to manage their business transactions, create and send professional invoices and collect debts 3X faster. To do this, we need a team of thinkers; in return, we give them the resources to do their best. View our open jobs and help us make business easy.

Onyinyechi Nneji

Onyinyechi Nneji