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Meet Joe, Front-End Developer at Penfold

Annabel Fay
Friday 28th February, 2020

The second in our ‘meet the team’ series, today we meet Joe, developer extraordinaire. Joe’s job is a front-end developer: he links together the world of design and technology, packaging up the utility of the back end in an inviting way for users to interact with. Essentially, making the World’s Coolest Pension company* as user-friendly as possible!

*As voted for by our CEO.

Hi, Joe! Welcome to my makeshift office.

It’s nice. Not at all intimidating to be summoned here to talk about yourself. 

How long have you been at Penfold?

I was the fourth employee at Penfold- although Cesar, our Head of Design, will claim he was. I started as a freelancer, and despite vowing I’d never take a ‘normal’ job again, I got hooked by the energy, and here I am. 

We have a lot of freelancers using the Penfold pension- were you a freelancer developer?

Yep. I actually studied Architectural Engineering, and after graduating I got an amazing job designing stages for bands in Yorkshire. I’m a musician, so it was pretty close to my dream job, getting to be creative and structured at the same time. 

Eventually, I wanted to move to London and have a change of environment so I joined a digital agency and learned coding on the job. When that agency was sold I went freelance.

I loved the way I was able to ‘hack’ the work system while still providing for my family and fitting in my music. I’m a typical creative brain- I come alive at night, and once I’ve got a problem I stay up trying to fix it and tinkering with it until I’ve solved it. 

I got involved with Penfold early on, and we built it in a really beautiful and elegant way, that I’m proud I get to still work on every day.

Do you still do your music?

Definitely! I have a 3-year-old, so it’s a juggling act, but I work on various musical projects, and sometimes I take time out from pension coding to record an album. I’ve even run off stage, called one of the team, and run back on again! 

Penfold isn’t what I expected- I expected a traditional Silicon Valley startup where I’d have no life- but it’s very human and flexible, very understanding and supportive. It’s very rare in all the jobs I’ve had. 

Did you ever have a pension when you were a freelancer?

It honestly took me 3 years to twig that I wasn’t saving anything for retirement. My family and I emigrated to the UK from South Africa when I was 15, so I’ve grown up around really hard workers, but it wasn’t until I went for some financial advice in my late twenties that somebody broke it down for me and said ‘what are you doing, do you want to be working in your 70s’. 

I do, but only on my own fun projects and my music! I opened a pension the same day. 

What’s a typical day like for you?

One of the great things about working here is that no two days are the same. We have coffee, and then a development standup at 9.30am, where Chris tells us what’s on the roadmap and any new feedback from customers. We work on a sprint-by-sprint basis improving the product. 

I also get to work with someone who built an app for Tinie Tempah!

What?! We’ll come to that….What excites you about Penfold?

The combination of the infectious dream behind the product and the incredible personalities of the founders.

These guys are rockstars, I can’t put it any other way. I remember seeing that Tinie Tempah app that Adam built when I was just a junior developer and I saw it go viral.  I was starstruck in a really nerdy way meeting the team. 

When I was offered this job I was so ready to turn it down, but they have an infectious vibe that you just want to be around. I kept looking at the team and thinking ‘I have to do this’. Then I just had to convince my wonderful wife! She knew how much I loved the freelance lifestyle, and wasn’t sure I’d feel fulfilled, but it’s a perfect fit. 

Finally, What’s your favourite food?

Burgers. I dream about burgers. I highly recommend the Ari Gold from Patty & Bun.

Thanks, Joe! Great to chat and thanks for the burger recommendation!

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