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Meet Our Cape Town Research & Development Team

June 22, 2022

KnowBe4’s research and development (R&D) team leads the way for innovating and introducing new products to our customers worldwide! In today’s blog, our Cape Town, South Africa R&D Knowsters share about their career journeys at KnowBe4. From the advice they would give a candidate to sharing how they stay up to date with the latest technology, let's learn more about our Cape Town R&D team!

Tell me about your career journey so far at KnowBe4. What do you do in your role as a software engineer?

Carel Headshot

I joined KnowBe4 in May of 2019 as part of the Learning Management System (LMS) team based in Cape Town. My job is to ensure that training material is correctly presented to the customer so they can engage with it and complete their training courses. There are many moving parts in my role. For example, my team ensures our systems can scale to serving millions of users worldwide, in over 34 supported languages, and that our content is appropriately protected from unauthorized access.
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

Crezell Headshot

I have been with KnowBe4 for nearly a year. My primary focus is on front-end technologies, which means I code the things users see and interact with. I help design, create, test, and upgrade existing features, fix bugs, and optimize our existing applications. I get to solve all sorts of unique problems every day while also focusing on the user experience.
-Crezell, Senior Software Engineer

Carl Headshot

I joined KnowBe4 in 2018 when we acquired Popcorn Training. Our initial project was to redesign and rebuild the end-user part of the training platform. After completing that, we started growing the South Africa engineering team and eventually split into three separate teams that all focus on different aspects of the training platform. I recruit great people and help them do their best work. While I don't write as much code, I still get to build things from time to time!
-Carl, Senior Director of Software Engineering

Johan Headshot

I was referred to KnowBe4 by a past colleague, and after doing some research, I knew I had found a place where I could learn and grow my skill set. In my current role, I am part of a team that focuses on building new features and improving KnowBe4's Learning Management System.
-Johan, Senior Staff Software Engineer

Martin Headshot

I am relatively new to KnowBe4, and I am enjoying my role as Senior Software Engineer on the Mobile Development Team. It has many different aspects to it, but my core responsibility is to write quality code for KnowBe4 applications. I am also involved in discussions around designing user interfaces and implementing an engaging user experience. I regularly interact with other teams to find the best solution for a problem. I am amazed at how much I have learned since I started!
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

 

How do you feel supported? What makes working at KnowBe4 unique?

Image from iOS (36) (1)

I work with a fantastic team and manager. The entire KnowBe4 R&D team is incredibly competent and well organized, so it is easy to progress when building new features and maintaining existing ones. KnowBe4 is well-structured with highly competent leadership that provides ample support and encouragement for all staff to be the best at their roles. What makes KnowBe4 unique is that our teams truly care at all levels of the organization, and of course, everyone values having fun!
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

KnowBe4’s onboarding process is world-class! My first week of training before joining my team was fantastic and helped get me up and running as quickly as possible. Once I started working in my actual role, I quickly realized that there is no such thing as a “stupid” question at KnowBe4. All my fellow developers are supportive and always willing to help.
-Johan, Senior Staff Software Engineer

KnowBe4 is one of the few places I have worked that goes the extra mile to make a company culture real, not just words on a document. We are all committed to what we do, and it’s an environment where we trust each other and communicate openly and honestly. The best part is everyone around you has a growth mindset; constantly learning and trying to improve themselves. Not everything is just about work; we are encouraged to rest, learn new things, maintain a healthy work-life integration, and have fun! At the end of the day, we are all better employees and humans because of it.
-Crezell, Senior Software Engineer

I can honestly say that KnowBe4 has the best culture of any company where I have worked. KnowBe4 actively fosters a happy work environment, and I felt at home from the first day I started in my position. My team members are very supportive and make themselves available to help when I encounter an issue. The people operations department also plays a prominent role at KnowBe4, and they have supported and helped me with any questions I have had. Everyone is so helpful and friendly, and this is a reflection of the "have fun while you do it" philosophy that is part of the foundation of the company.
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

 

How do you stay up to date with the latest technologies?

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I listen to various technology and programming podcasts, read articles, blogs, and books, and watch videos on technology training or developer conferences. KnowBe4 also has a 5-hour/week study time allowance and encourages employees to study further, making it very easy to stay up to date.
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

Thanks to KnowBe4, I have completed formal skill development programs, such as AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner and AWS Certified Solutions Architect Associate certifications. My team also shares new technology and spends a lot of time debating the pros and cons of new approaches. In my personal life, I spend a lot of time working on personal coding projects that help me stay up to date.
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

I surround myself with people much smarter than me and listen carefully to what they say. I also subscribe to many newsletters in the domains that interest me. I read non-fiction books because I believe that the “latest technologies” often matter less than long-lived principles.
-Carl, Senior Director of Software Engineering

Staying up to date in my field is part of my daily routine at KnowBe4. I spend some time every morning reading a blog or two, listening to podcasts, or doing a quick online course.
-Crezell, Senior Software Engineer

 

Who inspires you and why?

PHOTO-2021-11-12-19-37-46

Our CEO, Stu, is inspiring, and you can tell he has an incredible depth of experience and wisdom. I deeply respect him and the successful company he has built. One of my biggest heroes is Mark Shuttleworth, a South African tech entrepreneur who participated in a secret mission to the International Space Station in 2002. He is also the founder of the Ubuntu, an operating system widely used in our industry.
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

People who imagine a future they would like to see and then dedicate their lives to achieving that future inspire me! I am also inspired by people who are kinder and more generous than they need to be.
-Carl, Senior Director of Software Engineering

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have had several great mentors and managers throughout my career as a software developer. People who inspire me the most are the ones who have patience, humility, and a desire to lift others by sharing their knowledge and experience.
-Johan, Senior Staff Software Engineer

My family inspires me to be the best I can be; they support me when I need it, celebrate the good times with me, and make me proud of my achievements.
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

 

What do you like to do in your free time outside of work?

Carel Camping

In my spare time, I enjoy scouting for hidden areas and roads where few people travel. I have a 2004 TD5 Land Rover Defender that I take on adventures. I also have a BMW GS 800 adventure motorbike that is fun to take into the desert so I can camp under the stars. I also spend as much time as I can coding; I love making things!
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

Crezell With Legos

I love solving puzzles and enjoy building large jigsaw puzzles whenever I get the chance. I also love Legos!
-Crezell, Senior Software Engineer

Carl Mountain Biking

I have two kids, so free time is spent with them more times than not! I also enjoy mountain biking and surfing. 
-Carl, Senior Director of Software Engineering

Martin Cooking

I enjoy cooking, especially grilling over a fire outside (or "braaiing," as we call it in South Africa). I also enjoy exploring new things; traveling, food, and meeting new people. While I am not the most sporty person, I love being outside, riding my mountain bike, or hiking in nature.
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

Johan With His Family

I spend time with my kids and love exploring the many beautiful places around Cape Town. 
-Johan, Senior Staff Software Engineer

 

What advice would you give someone who is interested in applying for a software engineering role?

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Software engineering is all about practical experience. The more time you spend building things, the more knowledge you get, and the better you become. You can turbo-boost your development by joining teams with people that have more experience than you and by working on side-projects in your spare time. Formal courses are also great for expanding your general level of knowledge. If you are only just thinking about getting into software engineering, the most essential characteristic any programmer must have, in my opinion, is perseverance.
-Carel, Staff Software Engineer

Find a mentor who can help you figure out the most valuable things to learn. Also, read as much as you can. There is an incredible amount of knowledge, both online and in books. I encourage you to practice your craft by building things for yourself and contributing to open-source projects. Coding exercises like HackerRank or CodeWars are fun and an excellent way to polish your skills.
-Carl, Senior Director of Software Engineering

Always be willing to learn, never be afraid to ask questions, and don’t hesitate to speak up when you don't know or understand something!
-Johan, Senior Staff Software Engineer

Crezell

Just do it! Our teams have developers from all walks of life, each bringing their unique experiences to the table, making us such a great team.
-Crezell, Senior Software Engineer

Being a software engineer is very rewarding; I have a lot of job satisfaction, and I also like that you must continuously learn and stay up to date with evolving technology trends. Be prepared to venture outside of your comfort zone!
-Martin, Senior Software Engineer

Do you want to be KnowBe4’s next software engineer?

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