People say that the best strategy for achieving a dream is staying on the right path to that dream. But what happens when you do just that, get to the dream and realise it wasn’t what you thought it’d be?
In this episode of #BackToTheDream, Tobi walks the perfect path to a Big Tech dream, and after a year working at Microsoft, he realises he doesn’t really want to be there. Where does he go next? Well, you guessed right. Back to Moniepoint.
Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it certainly won’t kill you and me. Let’s have a chat with Tobi and get into his headspace.
Hey Tobi. How are you doing today?
I’m fine. Putting in the work as usual and making sure my engineers give their best.
Alright. Talking about putting in the work. What do you do, and how long have you been doing this?
I’m an Enterprise Architect. Think of an architect but for a digital structure. I listen to what the product team wants, take that dream, and create a structure for my software engineers to build with. The goal every time is to ensure the results from my engineers are functionally accurate and scale properly. I’ve been an Enterprise architect for about a year now, and that’s when I rejoined Moniepoint.
That’s interesting. You had been here before, then you left and returned. Let’s start from the beginning. How did you get into Moniepoint?
I knew a couple of people who joined Moniepoint, and we used to keep in touch. Sometime in 2019, I did a personal review of my career growth and I wasn’t satisfied. I had risen to a senior software engineer role at the company I was and was meant to be leading a team, but it didn’t make much difference. We weren't creating code. I spent more time doing pre-sales and trying to convince customers to give us gigs. I mean, I was a software engineer, but there was nothing to engineer, and I just knew that it was time to leave.
Around that time, I got wind of an opening in Moniepoint (then TeamApt), and I decided to dig a bit. I called someone I knew on the engineering team to give me a bit of context. After the call, I knew what I had to do. Moniepoint was a relatively small company at the time, with engineers who were ‘engineering’. I could picture myself learning from other engineers and growing. Simply put, I knew what I wanted - to work on actual products and grow them to scale, and I knew I could find it in Moniepoint. So, I applied for the Software Engineering role and joined in 2020.
A go-getter, I see. So, did we meet your expectations? And why did you leave?
It’s great that those questions came together because the reason I left, is directly tied to why I came back. I joined the team as a software engineer and worked with the cards team. I handled transaction processing - things around debiting cards, checking balances, creating cards, etc. It was thrilling. I’d say everything happened fast, even if I was here for about two years before leaving. I moved from a place where I wasn’t doing anything to a place where I was doing more than everything I wanted to do, if you get me. Moniepoint was so fast-paced that sometimes I couldn’t keep track of my growth or progress. I just found myself moving from one task to another and it was exciting. It felt great.
But after a while, I think about two years, I started feeling like I needed to slow it down a bit. I could see my growth not just in terms of my technical skills, but also in terms of the other core values I had built. I took some time to do a personal review and realised I had built for myself in two years, what would usually take 5 to build, and I was impressed. Beyond being impressed, I wanted more. I wanted to work for one of the big tech companies - the FAAMNNG. Honestly, I didn’t think there were many tech companies that deserved the level of capacity I had built. It had to be a big tech. I wanted to build for the world. I started applying to Amazon, Microsoft, all of them. Interestingly, I got an offer from both companies and went with the latter.
What was it like in your new dream company?
It was good, and to an extent, I enjoyed working there. But after a while, I just knew I wanted more. Even though the growth opportunities existed, they weren’t as easy to come by. It took a lot of intentionality to explore things that were outside of your primary role. So what you realise is that you have more access to resources that could help you grow but because of the way work was, you’d only grow in exactly what you came to do.
Let me give a clear example: you’re learning the alphabet, and you’d get all the resources you need for that. But then, you would never get the need to learn numbers as there’d never be an opportunity to apply a knowledge of numbers, because it simply isn’t your work. However, I was building for the world and that in itself gave me joy.
What was it like building for the world?
In itself, it is a good feeling. You see the number of daily users and subscribers and are over the moon. We’re doing this? The feeling is actually good but it didn’t always feel so close to home. I knew I was doing great work, and I enjoyed it, but the fulfilment wasn't the same as when I worked at Moniepoint.
At the time I was leaving Moniepoint, we had started working on launching cards for a wider population than just staff. And even when it was just the staff that used the card, it felt great seeing a colleague use what you work on and receiving direct feedback, so close to home. There, I could see the number of subscribers and be so thrilled, but I always felt distant.
For example, I don’t think my grandma had any or many reasons to do a PowerPoint presentation for example. But every day on Workplace (our intranet), you could see someone talking about how Moniepoint has made transactions more seamless for their parents, partners., neighbours, etc. And, of course, I have my personal experiences, too.
Why did you return?
I missed many things - the drive, the autonomy, the culture and the people.
As I stayed longer at my ‘dream company’ (Big Tech), I realised that maybe the dream I wanted wasn’t the dream I needed. I enjoyed working there, but I wanted more. It felt a bit early in my career to be that relaxed. I started nursing the idea to leave and around that time, Felix reached out to me. I hope I didn’t give him a hard time, but from the first call, I knew I was coming back. Here I am today.
What’s it been like since you returned?
Balanced is the perfect word. I returned to a team with more engineers, including some of the people I worked with before. The team still had some of the best engineers I had worked with; we had grown more and delegated more, but the place for active work was still alive.
As I mentioned earlier, I returned as an Enterprise Architect. We were now a business bank working hard to launch our personal banking product, and I joined the cards team again. The excitement that was happening when I joined back gave me no minute to miss where I had just left.
Now, we’ve launched personal banking, and as the number of users keeps increasing, our card requests go higher. When I see feedback that someone got their card in less than 48 hours, they were able to activate it, and they’ve been having seamless transactions, I feel great. I look back, and I’m pretty glad I took that call from Felix. But the work I do is not the only thing I'm proud of. I've seen growth in the structure and culture. I mean, I was here when we were way smaller and gave less attention to some things. To see a quarterly performance review structure that’s functional is impressive.
What would you say to someone looking to join or rejoin Moniepoint?
The culture is excellent, and I have enjoyed working with my teammates. Even if the team has grown and it’s not the same people, one thing is constant: the engineers are great (sorry to other departments, lol). The company is also fast-paced, so be ready to roll your sleeves and do the job.
If you’re rejoining, I can tell you that we’ve grown, and the structure keeps improving. I think there are some advantages to returning. You already have an idea of the work process and culture; your worth is not up for debate. If it’s your first time, you’re welcome. The one thing I can assure you of is a growth in the scale of our impact. The difference between my first time here and now is glaring regarding how well people know and see us, so you’re welcome to grow with us.
At Moniepoint, we believe employees should have opportunities to grow, find meaning in what they do, and make decisions they’d never have to regret. There’s always a space for you, whether it’s your first or second time joining us. We can’t wait to hear about your journey and welcome you back when you’re ready. Visit www.moniepoint.com/careers to pick your spot.