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24 November 2022

5 Questions for Stitch Head of Engineering Henk van Jaarsveld

by Lucille Wilcox, Content Marketing Manager

Describe your job to a 10-year-old.

At Stitch, we build technology that enables money to move from one person to another person or to a business. My job involves making sure every business has the tools they need to move that money and that we’re getting the job done properly. We have a really big team made up of lots of smaller teams which allows us to move quickly and change direction if needed. But it also means I need to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing and that we’re all working together effectively.

Why is infrastructure like Stitch so important? How do you envision the market when we’ve achieved our mission?

We’re basically stitching together a bunch of different financial systems, giving people access to markets they previously didn’t have access to. The infrastructure we’re building contributes to the evolution of the financial ecosystem in Africa and globally, enabling teams to do business together without the hurdles they currently face.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Stitch?

I have three: the people, the location and the vision.

I’m so inspired by the individuals I work with. I learn from my colleagues on a daily basis and have so much fun during the process.

Second, we’re building this for and in Africa. One day, I foresee my grandchildren living in Africa and I love knowing I’m working on systems with the potential to better the African economy in the long term.

Lastly, we’re connecting nodes that weren’t meant to be connected when they were first conceptualised. In doing so, we’re essentially designing and building a new financial network. This new network will enable any form of value to be exchanged, allowing two entities that previously wouldn’t have been able to do business together to interact with one another seamlessly. It’s really exciting to know I’m part of changing the game in terms of the way we view payments and simply how we pay.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever built?

I can think of a few. In a previous life, I built a first-person shooter game for Xbox 360.

Second, as part of my honours project at university, I built a visualiser for 3D artefacts in Africa. You could visualise and move the artefacts around using a Kinect. It made you feel like Iron Man swiping through and zooming in and out.

And at my previous company, WhereIsMyTransport, we drew up a London Underground-style map of all the taxi routes in Cape Town, and I built the technology behind it.

Why do you think Stitch is an exciting company for developers to work at?

It’s really exciting to see the products we’re building being used. We measure everything at Stitch, and the ability to witness our product growth in real-time is immensely exciting. Nothing inspires me more to build great tech than when I can see people using it and benefiting from it.

Also, we’re not fixated on roles, and we’re extremely transparent internally. If someone wants to work on something that will deliver value for our customers or clients – even if it’s not directly related to their job description – we can make that happen. We’re an agile team, and it’s part of my job to look at where our engineers want to be in five years and see how we can help them get there. People who feel heard and motivated in what they do are the people you want on your team.

 

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