Q&A with Justin Soong, Delivery Lead
Can you please tell us a little bit about your experience and your specific role at Harmoney?
I started out in financial services at Hewlett-Packard, and continued at the NZX in Wellington, developing full stack applications that ran day-to-day operations. I’ve also spent time in healthcare technology, working on a massive US health care data project for Orion Health. At Harmoney I lead the core web team, I’ve been busy helping design and transition our systems, to empower us as a company to be more forward thinking, innovative, and reliable.
How has the infrastructure been setup to support such a fast growing technology platform?
To support growth and speed, we had to re-architect our web platform over the last year, taking a modular approach to our platform, moving away from a single monolithic application for our web experience.
In technology circles this is commonly achieved through building APIs (Application Programming Interface) or microservices. We have already moved to an API for investor experience, and are currently doing the same for our borrower experience. APIs allow us to build systems that are more flexible, that have a common language to speak to each other.
Our systems are built on aunderlying cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Salesforce. This means that we don’t need to own any clunky servers or hardware, and can scale out with a click of a few buttons, and most often automatically.
What are a few of the biggest challenges that the engineering team has overcome so far this year that you’re most proud of?
At the start of 2015 we brought our IT development and support in house, not far out from our infancy. Bringing together people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and ways of doing things all in one go, on top of transitioning from a predominantly outsourced model. The silver lining was that these mountains were made easier to climb, when the new team gave their passion and commitment, and rallied around our goals to disrupt the industry.
As for this year, launching our Australian operations would have been the biggest challenge. The proudest thing about launching is how the Harmoney team brought together the Fin and the Tech. Having these two elements of our FinTech business working harmoniously, to tackle a different jurisdiction with challenging practices and regulation, to deliver a working single platform was great to be part of. The notion of us Kiwi’s punching above our weight in Australia is always something to be upbeat about.
What features are in development right now that investors should be most excited about? Why?
Auto Invest. It will be a simple way to create rules, which match loans to lenders, as they hit the public marketplace automatically. More time for our lenders to do the things they love, and making their money work for them without breaking a sweat makes it an exciting new feature. The world is moving towards bots and algorithms doing the work for us, and I’m excited to see this paradigm being accessible to Harmoney lenders.
What are the top 3 lessons you’ve learned about working at one of the leading technology startups in New Zealand?
FinTech is exciting. The financial services industry is one of the last bastions of traditional institutional structures. We’ve reached a stage where we are asking questions on how we regulate, innovate, and develop new services that rely less on these institutions. It’s all about the people. Behind every technology or system is a bunch of dedicated people doing a lot of thinking, and putting a lot of effort. No people, no technology. Take time out, smell the roses every once in awhile.