With the support of Electrum’s senior team of payments software experts, 25-year old Mordi Serraf has been able to take on some of the company’s key projects. When he’s not listening to Fantan Mojah or fighting a Mixed Martial Arts bout, he’s one of Electrum’s technical leads.
Mordechai Serraf graduated from UCT with a Computer Science degree, with a co-major in Games Development. Although he had excellent grades, it was Mordi’s relationship skills and drive that signalled he’d be a good fit at Electrum.
“Our customers recognise his passion and commitment right away,” says Dave Glass, Electrum’s MD. “His communication skills and ability to develop relationships are extremely valuable to our organisation. The technical skills needed for the job are a given.”
Mordi initially joined Electrum as an intern in July 2014 and was put to work on the Mama Money client, who provides a money transfer service into Africa. Electrum initiated internal and external training, as well as mentoring from senior developers and architects. “You come out of university and you realise there is still lots to learn!” says Mordi. Key skills that Mordi had to pick up right away were writing great specification documents and software architecture. Electrum also insists on weekly coaching sessions with line managers for professional development.
One year later
After only a year of full time work at Electrum, Mordi was given responsibility on one of the company’s biggest clients, Pick n Pay. “I had to understand Electrum’s entire offering, not just the parts I was working on.”
Did he feel like he was being thrown in the deep end? “That’s what happens when you join a fast-paced company, right?” Electrum made sure he was never without support, with full access to the MD and the CTO.
“At Electrum, Technical Lead is more than just a technical position,” says Mordi. “You’re a developer, but you’re also customer-facing, engaging with clients, advising and problem-solving, which I really like.”
Electrum tries to cultivate a balance between technical proficiency and client-focused people skills. Mordi agrees with that approach. “I think part of being a good developer is being able to talk to people, understand what they need, and provide a solution.”
The right fit
It was important to Electrum that Mordi was a good fit in the organisation. “The quality of our work life is driven by our work relationships,” says Dave.
While a lot of companies will claim a friendly atmosphere, it’s much more than window dressing at Electrum. Besides the daily communal lunches that are provided at the office, people get together regularly outside of work hours. “We have a lot of dinners!” says Mordi.
Electrum gives its people all the support they need to optimise their work life, including a well-designed office space and the best possible equipment, such as MacBook Pros. There is also a generous office budget. “We call it the R10 000 Rule,” says Alex Gasson, who heads up Business Development. “Any Electrum employee can use the company credit card to spend up to R10 000 for anything they want for the office, no questions asked.”
While employees are encouraged to be autonomous, macro-level decision-making at Electrum is a truly collaborative process. All the employees contribute to strategy sessions and determine the direction the company should take. “We harvest the best ideas this way,” says Alex. “And it gives everyone a sense of purpose, whatever they happen to be working on.”
The kind of trust the organisation places in their staff extends to office hours, too. Staff can work from home, and there’s a great deal of flexibility. For instance, when Mordi’s preparing for an MMA fight, he can fit his work around his two training sessions, morning and late afternoon.
Why work at Electrum?
Developers at Electrum find the work stimulating because of the type of problem-solving involved. The Fintech sector, and Payments especially, involves a great deal of interconnectivity and the systems for financial transactions require maximum stability.
Mordi also enjoys the fact that he can walk into stores like Clicks or Pick n Pay and interact with a product he’s helped to create. But beyond that, he feels the impact of their work is particularly rewarding – after all, one out of every three South Africans interacts Electrum’s software. “You work on something and it affects millions of people in a positive way,” he says.