InsideArachnys – Q&A with Charles Talibard, Senior Software Engineer
Welcome to InsideArachnys, a series of interviews where we speak to the people behind the Arachnys platform. This month, we caught up with Charles Talibard, one of our Senior Software Engineers in London, and also one of our newest company employees.
Hi Charles, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I have been programming computers since childhood, ever since my father bought a BBC Master 128. I started with BBC BASIC, but quickly taught myself ARM Assembler, and C before I went to university to study Computer Science.
Outside of work I created a Domino-based puzzle game for iPhone and iPad called Dominate. I also enjoy photography, cooking, and choral singing.
You’ve spent most of your career so far working for major financial brands including a 15 year spell at Citi and over 4 years at Deutsche Bank. What made you want to move over to a tech startup?
After so many years at Citi, I was fortunate to land a great job at Deutsche. Compared to my role at Citi, it was almost like working for a startup, albeit one embedded within a giant company. I lead a small team that built a great product from scratch. We used modern technologies like React, and integrated proper user experience designers into an agile software development team. When it was time to move on from Deutsche I wanted to head even more in that direction, but more importantly I wanted to work somewhere smaller where I could make a real difference.
What are you working on right now and what languages/technology are involved?
Right now I am working to bring critical new features to the Arachnys platform, more specifically the part that deals with KYC/onboarding. Whilst we work on delivering great new features for our users, we are also looking to transform the way that we build user interfaces. We are making it easy for ideas to be quickly prototyped, standardising on a simple easy-to-use set of UI components, and working with our designer to create the generation Arachnys design system.
What advice would you give to software engineers who want to become more senior in their careers?
I think working for big banks for so long lead me to the false belief that career progression as a software engineer necessarily meant spending less and less time doing any actual engineering, and increasingly spending more time filling in spreadsheets and sitting in meetings. For some people that is fine, but for me it wasn’t.
There can be a lot of pleasure gained from enabling others in your team to create something great, rather than coding all the time. There are many options for a software engineer to grow, and whilst some will involve spending less time actually coding, just make sure you understand where you want to go, and there will be opportunities available to you, even after 20 years.
We know there is still some reluctance for some banks to use cloud-based technology. But what would you say to someone who has these concerns?
During my time at Deutsche Bank, the shift towards cloud-based technology was marked. Deutsche underwent a massive transformation from running all its own data centres with single-purpose physical servers allocated to individual applications to adopting both private and public cloud infrastructure. The impact on developer productivity and the performance of our applications was huge. Teams could deploy code that automatically scaled on demand, to cheaper and faster hardware, in shorter timescales. It was a game-changer.
What are your opinions on using RPA versus APIs in software to help solve challenges in compliance for financial services?
A good, well maintained API is unbeatable. It represents a contract between provider and consumer, with the API providers essentially promising to maintain access to data in a way that won’t change (at least not without good notice). If only we could rely on everyone with important data to make it available via a well designed and properly maintained API. For all the cases where this is not the case, we have to also be good at RPA.
And finally, who do you look to for inspiration? Can you recommend any great books/people to follow/TEDtalks/podcasts?
If I could recommend just one thing it would be this TED talk: Roman Mars: Why City Flags May Be the Worst Designed Thing You’ve Never Noticed. It’s a ‘live episode’ of one of my favourite podcasts 99% Invisible.
But my current favourite podcast is Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, which looks back and reinterprets things from the past: an event, a person, an idea. Something that has been overlooked or misunderstood.