People and Culture

New cultures, countries and industries: Kevin’s software journey

If you’ve ever wondered what life’s like as an engineer in Zühlke’s Hong Kong office, Kevin Lo is the perfect person to ask.

5 minutes to read
With insights from...

  • Learn how Kevin’s broad range of experiences added to his overall growth journey

  • Find out why working in new markets helped him hone his skill set

  • What would he tell aspiring developers looking to make their own move in the Zühlke team?

But even he didn’t expect the broad range of experiences a career here has brought him.

Four and a half years have passed since he joined the company as an Advanced Software Engineer. “They’ve flown by,” he says. “But more importantly, I’ve done things I never expected I’d get to do here.”

So how did his journey start?

“I got a job in web and android development after college. It didn’t take long to work out how much I loved working on apps. One day, a role with Zühlke popped up that offered exactly that.”

Kevin points out that variety has defined his role so far.

“I’ve been exposed to so many different projects and domain knowledge. From banking clients to governmental projects and others, each opened the door to new tech stacks. It’s a cliche but no two days are the same.”

Reaching expert level

Zühlke’s Asia market includes a healthy portfolio of industries. As an Expert Software Engineer, he has a major input on everything that makes them tick: from crucial code writing to installation and product testing.

But despite natural analytical ability, he praises Zühlke for accelerating his career development.

“I knew it had an excellent reputation, but the company took me by surprise with how clear the growth path is here. When I joined, my focus was on getting the basics of software delivery right. I couldn’t work fully independently because I lacked some of the bigger picture that comes with experience.

“However, I was immediately paired with more experienced partners to speed up knowledge sharing. That constantly exposed me to how others work, with a continuous focus on technical proficiency.

“I was encouraged to set up goals for skills I wanted to enhance, and assigned a mentor who reviewed those goals every three months. This really sped up my progress to Expert Software Engineer.”

Multicultural collaboration

Perhaps the most welcome surprise for Kevin has been working with (and learning from) different cultures. This has included the chance to travel abroad.

“Zühlke is great in that it’s a multinational company. I’m regularly given the opportunity to work remotely with colleagues from other offices, including in Europe. I never thought I’d get to do that, and it gives me a window into new styles of working.

“In some instances, the customers I’m working with prefer in-person collaboration. So I’ve had the chance to fly to Singapore, amongst other places, in order to better understand their requirements. That’s been a real eye opener and helped me hone my skills even further.”

Fresh insight from new markets

Working within the Asia market has been a case of “right time, right place” for Kevin. The reason? Zühlke Asia is quickly expanding its customer portfolio to include healthcare players.

As new projects have come his way, he’s had to adapt in new and unexpected ways.

“When you compare development projects in healthcare versus finance, the technology is often similar. But other things need way more attention! To pick a recent example, one project leaned heavily on industry-specific terms that only the healthcare experts themselves understood.

“That might sound like a minor deal. But, actually, being familiar with the terminology was crucial to writing accurate code. So in that instance, my team and I had to work directly with the client in Singapore. Gathering requirements from what was a completely new industry has added new insight to our approach.”

Working in new markets and industries has brought Kevin success, but challenges too. His team face different demands each day, and the pressure’s on to go above and beyond in spite of often tricky requirements.

“Working with a range of tech and software approaches is a challenge I enjoy,” he says. “A recent customer took a waterfall approach, which slowed things down and blocked our DevOps team from working as effectively as possible.

“But even if we can’t ask them to change how they operate, I’ve found a show-don’t-tell style can be just as impactful. In addition to that, we’re all admirers of the term ‘technical debt.’ That means we don’t have to get everything perfect the first time, but rather, prioritizing rapid delivery and then refactoring later.”

Following the “Boy Scout Rule”

Zühlke has a proud history of going above and beyond with delivery excellence. That principle continues with Kevin’s team. He puts his team’s success down to one, simple habit.

“When we’re looking into a customer’s software, I adopt the ‘Boy Scout’ rule. In other words, you need to leave it better than you found it!

“That means not just delivering the requirements of the project, but aiming to sneak improvements into their system where possible.”

‘Don’t just think like an IT person’

When asked about his career at Zühlke so far, Kevin feels like his personal growth trajectory has scaled quickly.

“I never thought the things I’d get to experience — and the skills learned as a result — would accumulate so quickly,” he says. “One of the main reasons I’ve been happy to stay is that I see working here as an investment for my own future.”

What would he tell aspiring developers looking to make their own move in the Zühlke team?

“You need to be confident, certainly, but also humble. I stress the second bit because most of us work in teams, and the more you’re open to other’s perspectives, the better the general results. As a third attribute, I’d emphasize a desire for excellence: and specifically how you make that happen. If you’re a developer, that often means stepping outside the box.”

“Don’t limit yourself to thinking like an IT person. Instead, approaching the challenge in a commercial way can often help you to assess the bigger picture!”