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Meet Erik Kuziel, Developer Manager at Certua

Jessie Wang

1. Please tell us a bit about yourself, your background, what you do at Certua and outside of Certua.

Hi, I'm Erik and I'm a development manager and scrum master for the IQ Platform at Certua. I have been working in IT across various positions from analytics to development management since 1998. I have been involved in many projects and have worked with various technologies and solutions. I enjoy working with new technologies and development principles which include improving working frameworks. I consider myself an agile enthusiast.

I am an avid sci-fi and rock music fan.


2. What is your main focus as a scrum master in the company?

My main focus as a scrum master is to improve the development processes and implement agile framework in the company.

I like agile approaches in software development. We can split the pressure for of delivering a big solution into small parts that are each more visible. Especially when you are working for an innovative company like Certua, you can go to market much faster with smaller parts. Improvements are made in small increments and it is about the cadence of deployments when you will delivery the whole part. Future improvements are also continuously managed as small deliverables. Especially when you are doing something innovative, this approach is really important. I note that to delivery faster means that you need to eliminate all manual steps which are part of delivery processes. So by spending more time on preparation Unit Tests, Integration tests and CI/CD scripts at the initial phase, it will save your time markedly later (especially when you need to delivery fixes under time pressure).

We transformed our waterfall development processes into project layered scrum 10 years ago, which was hardest part, but now everybody in company is thinking in scrum language, and the whole company from developers to programme management are tracking projects with sprints. When we are talking about new features, we are talking about it in terms of sprint and scrum cycles and the whole company is on board and aware of the timeline. There are definitely still points to improve. But that is a really good experience for everybody, to improve development processes to scrum and be agile. I need to say that there quest for change was fully accepted from development team and also from management because we saw more benefits to coordinate our daily work in a controlled fashion. The development team has gotten really big support from the management to do that change which has been a key factor to succeeding.

Also it is important to say that we have already executed more than 170 sprints in the company. I have a vision how we can go far beyond like implementation Lean for Enterprises (e.g. SAFe framework).


3. What is something Certua use technology wise that is ground-breaking?

From the technology point of view, Certua as a company is dealing with many different kinds. We are using lot technologies, lot applications and cloud-based technologies. Our solutions reflect the flexibility of needs and we always choose right the technology and correct architecture to reflect different needs, following design principles. Our services are built as services deployed on Cloud. And we are using lot existing cloud managed services (as much as we can). This is an approach we will continue to take in the future. We started with AWS Cloud services 10 years ago and since then Cloud Services have been improving every year. I find that amazing.  

We are following the basic cloud-based design/architectural principles for our solutions, which in my opinion are: Reliability, Security, Operational Excellence, Performance Efficiency, Sustainability and Cost Effectiveness. Every point can include lot recommendations on how your services should work on Cloud and each point can have lot nuances. But the bottom line is that you have to follow cloud-based development principles when your services are delivered on cloud. An example is application logging, which means you have logs accessible directly on the box where application is living, but in cloud-based solution you can redirect all these logs into Cloud Watch and prepare metrics for checking overall state application and have accessible logs from web access console. It takes minimal effort and cost to set it up, but the additional value from operational perspective is huge.

Historically we had solutions published into AWS EC2instances, but the boxes have been built manually. We have since then gotten rid of that approach. We now have a solution which works fully as containerized services (all our IQ platform services are containerised and uses AWS Cloud Formation. This application is fully stateless, and you can build a new application instance with the environment from scratch at any time within minutes.

Deployments are done on one click by DevOPS or CI/CD. Because of this we are saving a lot time which we can spend on solving more serious problems.


 4. What are the two main solutions that Certua have on the tech side?

I'm working mainly on IQ Platform, which is platform built on top of open-source technologies.

We have two main streams of development:

- Machine Learning: we started to work on the ML side 7years ago when the ML and AI trend was just starting. I'm really proud that I could work with open-minded data scientists at Certua. It is really important to have the right people on right positions especially when you are building something innovative. We first built a mock-up application which then evolved into a proper solution.

- Open Banking solutions - Certua is FCA regulated entity which means we can build fully regulated products and services on top of Open Banking, to which we add additional ML values. Currently we are supporting 50 UK banks including some of the major banks. It is really important that we are connecting other services built in the company to  our Open Banking solution and we are ahead in the trend of #embeddedfinance.


5. What excites you the most about Certua?

What excites me the most about working at Certua is working with open-minded, understanding and accepting people as well as working with top-notch technologies to find innovative fintech solutions.


6. What do you view as the main challenge in your role?

To constantly evolve. I'm passionate for new technologies and we are trying to stay ahead of the trends. Also we are improving skills in technologies which we are using in the company as a part of our solutions. It is really important to distribute the relevant technological knowledge to the broader team and keep everyone informed about new solutions and updates.


7. Please describe Certua in 3 words.











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