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An inside look at web development for Australian SMEs

18 September - 6 min read

“When you look around retail stores and you see customers over the moon about the products you help craft every day, that’s a win for me.”

Since moving to Australia from Poland, our Web Developer, Domi, has solidified her skills into an engineering industry that is eighty-eight per-cent dominated by males and has been part of a team at the forefront of developing Spenda’s dynamic features.

In a complex industry, Domi leads by example when behind the computer and does a brilliant job of making our team look remarkably unfit during our weekly gym workouts! She provided her insight on where our software is headed along with her journey so far at Spenda.

What is your role and what does it entail?

“I’m a Web Developer at Spenda. Our Web Team has four people comprising of three other guys and myself. Paul Lopez manages our back-end, Jhoan “JB” Beron handles front-end, and Alex Htike is our talented junior. My day starts with a cup of coffee and morning stand-up meeting with all the developers and testers to identify obstacles or issues before they become too problematic and having follow-up discussions on how to overcome them if they arise.

I approach my daily tasks and solve problems in a more structured way and work closely with my team to deliver the best piece of functionality. Our methodology of working in Agile consists of smaller cycles or “sprints.” Each one is a miniature project and we try to find a goal we can meet as a team throughout each sprint, such as the backlog, implementation, testing, and deployment stages within the pre-defined scope of work.

A professional website requires passionate, curious, and hard-working developers. That’s why this role is crucial for the business as it ensures we deliver our customer’s top-notch functionality.  When an issue arises I start by breaking it down into pieces which are easier, more achievable and realistic rather than trying to solve the full problem all at once.”

You’re originally from Poland, when did you first travel to Australia and what made you want to stay?

“After graduating with a Master of Science in Electronics I could apply for a full time working visa for 18 months, so I bought a one-way ticket from Europe and I’ve been working at Spenda for the last four years. I started as a tester, but then I started writing automation scripts which I was using for regression testing to check whether the current functionality wasn’t broken. While the script was loading test scenarios, I was learning how to code like a pro.

I also spent quite a bit of time outside of working hours to prove that I can become a full-time developer. I put my time and effort into learning high-level programming languages and front end design. Success in that area doesn’t arrive quickly. It might be easy, but the reason why not everyone who attempts it succeeds is because it requires commitment and consistency. I’m proud to sit here as a self-taught web developer with three years of experience launching new features with a great team.”

Web Team members JB, Domi and Alex representing Spenda at the 2020 React Conference in Sydney.

What did you study before your current role and where?

“I was studying Electronics at Wrocław University of Science and Technology in Poland. During my studies, I was designing, implementing, testing and operating analogue, digital and mixed-signal electronic circuits with the use of microprocessors. Technical studies open the door to the scientific world but it is up to you whether you want to enter it or not.

Engineering provides a unique niche and skillset to build anything you want in your head. Then you find the tools to build it and the learning process begins. When the project you worked on starts gathering momentum, it is the most empowering experience. I also dived into lots of soldering, which I find very therapeutic!”

The Spenda crew is very close, what is it like working within the team and why do you think you guys gel so well?

“For me, as a foreigner, it’s especially important to have a great bond with my colleagues. I want to treat them as a stepfamily and I’ve developed a strong amount of respect and admiration for the people I work with. They’ve provided help and guidance during hard times and are just as passionate about tech as myself.

I love learning the trends that technology is taking, Spenda is at the forefront of groundbreaking software and it’s exciting to see the progress and success for my colleagues. When we discuss new features or pieces of work, the quality of the product we want to deliver is top-notch.

I also strongly encourage my colleagues to exercise together or have fun during weekends, such as having a camping getaway in Yallingup. I really want to make Spenda the best place to work, so I’m always willing to gather our team together. I’ve organised a Dev-Team catch up recently and even arranged a Dev-Week last year when we were still back in the office. On top of that, we have a lot of laughs together.”

A lot more men tend to be software testers and developers than women, what made you want to choose this career?

“Engineering or IT in Australia is a boy’s club. In Poland for instance, it’s more 50/50. But it depends on the faculty. My year in Electronics consisted of 700 students of which maybe 50 were girls, which was a big growth compared to the previous years. Most of my life I was studying and working in a male-dominated industry so I’ve become used to it. I never wanted to suppress my femininity just because I don’t blend in.

Usually, when I tell people I’m an engineer they laugh and say “No. But really, what you do?” The truth is I’m a female engineer in a minority. Less than 12% of engineers in Australia and less than 22% of engineers around the world are women. My personal goal is to stay an outspoken, nurturing and kind person who is also really sharp and driven, as well as changing the stereotypes of how a female engineer is perceived.

At Spenda I felt welcomed from the very beginning. The team helps me achieve my goals and I just feel like “one of the guys” even though I’m currently the only female developer!”

What are your career goals and what have been some of your biggest accomplishments with Spenda?

“My biggest success was launching SpendaCollect. I can’t wait to see our next ‘baby’ coming live to our customers which is Two-Step Authentication to protect business data and transactions even more. Security in software development is so important. Nearly every month we hear about breaches that leaked customer’s data to the worldwide web.

On a client front, my business success is being able to create exactly what’s in demand. Our Chief Product Officer, Dave Wood, CTO Olly Speed and Business Analysts Drew Mann and Tiffany Lindsay give us the specific criteria and green light to start development.

I had the opportunity to visit a few of our customers on a business trip to Sydney. When you look around retail stores and you see customers over the moon about the products you help craft every day, that’s a win for me. No matter how big or small the feature is, it’s such a pleasure to see them happy and improving their business efficiency with our team effort.”

What are your favourite hobbies/activities outside of Spenda?

“I love travelling. Before COVID-19, I spent my holidays doing volunteering programs in Cambodia and South Africa where I was teaching kids Computer Science. I was also teaching them English, which is funny as English is not my first language and I’m still learning it! But this doesn’t matter for third world countries, as long as you have something to offer you’re making a difference, and trust me, everyone has. Community service is an extremely rewarding experience and affirmation that giving back is a great thing to do.

At the end of the day, it’s about making the world a better place to live for all of us. The stereotype that links masculinity with engineering & tech has an impact on the other parts outside of my professional life too. From early childhood, I was very active.

I love to start the day with a high-intensity workout such as hitting up the gym or running 10-12 kilometres, which clears my mind or strengthens my mood. I try to fit in some sort of training 6-7 times a week when I’m not polishing websites with my Polish flair!” 

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