by Brian Nordli
February 27, 2019

Not all credit histories are created equal.

That’s the case for a large part of the world’s population who can’t get access to a loan from a traditional credit provider — like a bank — creating a world in which the hardest working people don’t always get access to the credit they need. Enova, however, believes it has a solution. The fintech company draws on the power of machine learning and data to offer products that expand access to credit for consumers and small businesses.

Behind Enova’s technology is an engineering team equipped with the learning resources to grow with the latest technologies and the freedom to innovate. We spoke with three engineers to learn about the technology they’re building and how they’ve built their careers with Enova.

 

Enova Office
Photography By Allison Williams
Enova game room
Photography By Allison Williams
Enova logo
Photography By Allison Williams

 

FOUNDED: 2003

EMPLOYEES: 1,560 (1,343 local)

WHAT THEY DO: Enova is an online lender that uses machine learning and data to help people who don’t have access to traditional bank loans receive credit.   

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

NEW HORIZONS: Enova rewards eligible long-term team members with a four-week sabbatical when they’ve been working at the company for four years.

EDUCATION INVESTMENT: Tech team members receive a subscription to Safari Books Online, a stipend to attend conferences, tools to start a team-led interest group, and leadership training for up-and-coming managers.

 

Dan at work

Dan Kirsche Portrait

 

Dan Kirsche, Head of Software Engineering

Dan oversees the software engineering team, and this year helped the technology team develop tech-wide goals tackling four areas of focus: people, platform stability, speed to market and security.   

UNCORKED SUCCESS: In a previous life and fresh out of college, Dan launched one of the largest e-commerce wine retailers — despite admittedly not knowing that much about wine.  

 

What about your job excites you the most when you come to work every day?

I’m a blend of entrepreneur and engineer; I look at everything from the lens of how to make it better, and then I build it. I’ve made it my goal to empower others to do the same. The most exciting space and opportunity for providing customer value is in fintech. Enova is able to leverage its analytics-driven decision capabilities and technology platform to offer credit to people across the world.

There is so much disruption going on in this industry — from mobile applications to blockchain to the digitization of currency and predictive analytics — and Enova strives to be at the forefront of that change. I'm excited to help continue and grow our innovation as we scale, and we have a pipeline of new products that I'm excited about. In particular, we're taking our internal tools for analytics and decision management and commercializing it as a new product called Enova Decisions.  

 

There is so much disruption going on in this industry — from mobile applications to blockchain to the digitization of currency and predictive analytics — and Enova strives to be at the forefront of that change.

 

How are you helping your team to advance in their careers?

I believe strongly in internal mobility, both vertically and horizontally. We have an internal learning team that ensures our teams are continuing to learn and grow in their careers. We offer everyone in tech a subscription to Safari Books Online, we have a budget for employees to attend conferences, and we have employee-led interest leagues. We also embrace decentralized decision-making and empower our teams with the autonomy to design, build and manage the systems needed for their teams to be successful.

 

What’s the biggest challenge you’re currently asking your team to tackle?

As we leverage machine learning to make better decisions, we need frictionless access to our data in its entirety to analyze and train new models. We’re rethinking how we manage our vast data from over 5 million customers and billions of dollars in business. We need to be able to do aggregations and transformations across billions of rows. We also require access to data in near-real time. I have challenged the team to build out our data architecture to suit these needs.

We’ve built small, cross-functional agile teams and a robust continuous integration pipeline that enables us to deliver new features quickly. I’ve challenged teams to rethink how we test for continuous deployments so that every merge-to-master triggers a deploy. This forces us to push testing to the left and employ modern test practices, such as contract testing.

 

Lahari at work

Lahari Portrait

 

Lahari Manam, Technology Manager

Lahari joined Enova eight years ago as a test engineer and built her career from the learning resources and tools Enova provides. She now manages a full stack engineering team, mentoring them in their own growth as they build products for Enova's U.K. business.

BEYOND WORK: When Lahari isn’t broadening her horizons on a trip, she’s expanding her creativity with a paintbrush in hand.  

 

What has inspired you to grow your career with Enova?

I’ve had the opportunity to work on something exciting every year. Enova has also provided plenty of resources that have helped me learn and grow. Team members are encouraged to attend conferences, and we have a learning initiative that gives us the tools we need to learn more about our technical interests. Thanks to initiatives like those, I’ve been able to grow from test engineer to manager of one of the largest engineering teams at Enova.  

 

What steps did you take to advance in your career?

Enova has helped pave the way for those opportunities. Entry-level and new hires spend their initial weeks learning our technology stack and getting familiar with our coding standards before they join a team. Senior engineers and budding leaders have boot camps and training on how to transform into effective leaders. Technology exchange and fellowship are two programs that give people uninterrupted time to learn and explore. And there is always the constant feedback all through the year to help everyone improve and be more effective.

 

Thanks to initiatives like those, I’ve been able to grow from test engineer to manager of one of the largest engineering teams at Enova.

 

How is your team solving issues in your industry?

Our mission is to help hardworking people get access to fast, trustworthy credit. Last year, we launched a new version of one of our products in the U.K. to provide more credit options. As part of the solution, we modernized our decisions platform paving the way for faster incremental changes in the near future. We are able to help more people now, and we can also learn and make changes much faster with our technology.

 

Michelle at work

Michelle Portrait

 

Michelle Mei Ling Waldorf, Senior Software Engineer

Michelle is a full stack developer at Enova. She’s responsible for reviewing the features the product team requests and then building them. She works in Enova’s two principal application languages: Ruby on Rails and Go.

WORLDLY TRAVELS: After four years at Enova, Michelle is using her company-provided four-week sabbatical to get out of her comfort zone. She plans to hop around the Southern Hemisphere, stopping in Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and Madagascar.

 

How have you grown in your career at Enova?

I focused on learning Ruby on Rails and Go and how our services fit together to deliver a good experience for the customer. One of our values is “customer first,” and the collaborations across teams focused on delivering the best customer experience helped me. Some of my favorite projects involved improving user interfaces and creating better tools for customers.

I also love being involved in the Chicago tech community, especially being a part of ChiWiTCon, which is coming up in September. A small team of Enova women started the conference a few years ago, and it has taken off in Chicago. I’ve met a supportive network of women through ChiWiTCon, and they’re always willing to teach and help other women in tech.

 

I’ve learned to recognize when the framework is used properly and continue to learn more every day. That is exciting because I have the opportunity to challenge myself, get help from my colleagues and grow.

 

What opportunities are there to work with other teams to solve a challenge?

In 2017, we worked on a project to improve the customer payments process. We collaborated with our customer support representatives, product managers, software developers, and strategy and operations team members across the company to find the best solution.

The customer support representatives helped us understand what was best for the customers. All teams and stakeholders met before implementing the project and ensured we were on the same page. We met our deadlines, lowered call volume and provided a great customer experience.

 

What project excites you the most?

This year, one of my goals is to take my coding to the next level so that nothing surprises me. I’ve been watching videos on Rails 5 and Go through Enova’s learning initiative. I’ve also tapped my colleagues to review my code, and they’ve provided feedback on how to make an average pattern a superb pattern. I’ve learned to recognize when the framework is used properly and continue to learn more every day. That is exciting because I have the opportunity to challenge myself, get help from my colleagues and grow.

 

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