culture

Engineering culture @ Zeal

What we are building is a place where your time is respected, you don't deal with constantly shifting priorities, no one makes you build something just to throw it out, and your development experience is something we invest resources in.

Headshot of a man smiling

Pranab Krishnan

CTO and Co-Founder

Man typing near a computer in an office

August 16, 2022

Intro

At Zeal, we value open source and communication, but as a FinTech SaaS, we can't open source as much of our codebase as we'd like. In light of this, we are going to focus on creating an open-source culture in that we openly invite candidates to experience, and not just read, our practices.

What we are building is a place where your time is respected, you don't deal with constantly shifting priorities, no one makes you build something just to throw it out, and your development experience is something we invest resources in. As part of all of these things, we strive to lead not just through words, but also through actions. We truly believe a team is only as strong as its communication, and we work towards bettering ours every day.

Management and you

We firmly believe that a functional organization provides clear guidelines and boundaries; not just on what your job, task, ticket, or spike is, but in ownership of problems and solutions. We strive to create an environment where:

  • Mistakes and incidents are almost always seen as organizational failures
  • We don't blame individuals for systemic issues
  • We use simple day-based points for our tickets, not asking what a "5 feels like to you"
  • We provide clear, actionable steps to grow in your career along with the needed support
  • Mentorship is a first principle, not just a bullet point in your promotion packet

Outside of these key ideas we've got a decent amount of sanity around your time and your day as an engineer. Let's go over it below.

A typical day

A typical day for one of our developers looks like this:

9 - 11 AM: start work

11 AM: stand up

3 - 6 PM: finish work

I know it seems crazy that we don't have more meetings, but this is part of our strategy. We want to make sure we respect your deep work, and also that we create tickets that provide enough context, have all pre-requisites complete, and are ready to go. We feel that developers in a lot of meetings tend to indicate poor task breakdown and assignments.

Core hours

We understand that everyone has a different way of working, varying schedules, etc. We trust engineers with their own time management but, for us, it's important to set expectations around general availability and to that end we have core hours.

💡 During the core hours of 10 - 3 PM PST we expect a response within 30 mins.

Expectations around availability may differ depending on the role—please reach out to the Zeal team for more information :)

That being said, Zeal does have on-call rotations for incident response (once every 2 months). We have standard primary and secondary weekly on-call rotations in order to support our customers and product during times of incident. We ensure that all team members feel empowered to respond to a page when the time comes—this includes a period of shadowing, thought-out playbooks, and response expectations.

Work planning

We are on a two-week sprint cycle, we do grooming weekly, retros at the end of our sprints, and planned demos with our stakeholders on an as-needed basis. All of our engineering board tickets include time boxes, we tend to not put on a task like research vague thing without including a limit of one day or so. It's important to us that we're always working on a planned thing, and that we reflect on when we mess up our estimations.

Work from where?

We are a communication-centric culture. A communication-centric culture values:

  • Mentorship and camaraderie
  • Constant communication and confirmation (we ask you to repeat what was said back, we believe this is the best way to reduce mistakes!)
  • We set clear expectations of ourselves and others. This tends to lean towards an in-person culture for many of our engineers.
Based in SF?

Zeal takes a Hybrid approach to in-office work. We generally expect people with an in-person arrangement to come into our SF office 2-days a week along with others from their team. At the end of the day, we want people to do their best work, so as long as availability is communicated, we aren't too picky on always being in the office!

Based elsewhere?

Staff and Senior Engineers are mostly remote positions—we do ask that they come into the office quarterly to get face-time with the team and participate in in-person team events!

Our values

We believe that open communication, respect, autonomy, and follow-through build a winning culture. To create that culture we lead by example. we strive to:

  • Value empathy above being "right"
  • Value diversity of thought more than adherence to groupthink
  • Value quick chats and getting a meal together
  • Value 1-on-1's - we do these regularly and actually keep track of things you need!

Our goal is to create a place where we can earn your respect and build wonderful, meaningful products to enhance our customers' lives from that relationship!

Growing our engineers

We believe that promoting from within and not withholding promotions or pay for work done is vital to showing our employees the respect we wish to receive. To that end, we've created a nice series of levels, steps between those levels, and clear goals on how to get to where you want.

We firmly believe that a well-organized and defined org allows for a more true meritocracy to come into effect. As of right now, our levels are:

  • SWE 1
  • SWE 2
  • Senior
  • Staff
  • Principal

Internally, we have goals and desires for each one of these roles, and will help guide you on the path to your next position!

Conclusion

Overall we are trying to build a company and product that is user-centric and enables organizations to securely and easily pay their employees. As you know working is tough - but getting paid shouldn't be. As an engineer here at Zeal, you will get to solve real problems with huge business impact.

You will get to work with an empathetic and caring team that values both you as an individual and you as an engineer.

💻 Apply for an engineering role ➡️ Our Careers Page

📚 Read more about a day in the life of a Senior Engineer @ Zeal ➡️ A Day in the Life of Dom

If you are interested in joining the team please apply directly above or inquire about other opportunities with Grace at grace@zeal.com.

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