Explore the Life of a Software Engineer at Bondora: Meet Taavi Kala!

Today, we introduce you to Taavi Kala, our 39th Bondorian in the Spotlight.

Since joining Bondora in 2023 as a software engineer, he’s explored various new opportunities and broadened his coding horizons.

Read on to see what he enjoys about life at Bondora, what he does in his free time (hint: cute pet pics included), and what he finds most rewarding as a software engineer:

Taavi’s inspirational life motto: ‘Be kind, don’t hold a grudge, and do what you love. We’re all just trying to survive on this ball of rock flying through space.’
Taavi’s inspirational life motto: ‘Be kind, don’t hold a grudge, and do what you love. We’re all just trying to survive on this ball of rock flying through space.’

The Bondorian Spotlight #39 — Taavi Kala

👦Bondorian since March 2023

👨‍💻Role: Senior Software Engineer

⚙️Team: Product Engineering: Servicing

Taavi’s journey at Bondora:

I joined Bondora in March 2023 as a senior software engineer on the Spend team. Soon after, it was split into Originations and Servicing, and I joined the latter.

It’s been an exciting journey because I’ve never had a chance to work with C# or .NET professionally before. Coming from a large corporation of almost 1,000 employees to Bondora with just under 200, where most people know each other, was very welcoming.

Given the company’s fast-paced nature, I had to learn to swim from the get-go. But fortunately, everyone was super helpful during my onboarding. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work on various topics.

Taavi’s typical workday

☕ My typical workday always starts with coffee at 8 AM, followed by catching up on Slack and emails.

Then, there will be some coding until the daily standup at 10 AM and more coding until lunch at noon.

After that, yes, you guessed it, 🖥️ more coding until around 4 PM when I pack up.

I try to split my time between working from home and the office, 60-40, so I spend about 3 days in the office and 2 days at home.

Right now, I have a Lenovo Thinkpad P14s. But soon, we’ll move to Macbook Pros as the migration of our services from Windows to Kubernetes is almost done. In addition, I have two monitors, wireless headphones, and a keyboard and mouse. That’s the basic necessity of a developer for me.

Oh, and an adjustable height desk, which I use for sitting 90% of the time 🤫

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The most rewarding part of my job is working on some code for hours and finally getting it to work as intended 🙌

There’s no better feeling than ’ Whoa, nice, it actually works!’.

Then again, it’s sometimes followed by ’darn it, now something else is broken’ 😑 But fortunately, there’s always someone available to help if I’m stuck.

And what makes being a developer at Bondora awesome?

At Bondora, I get to work on topics I’ve never worked on before. I had little to no experience in either investing or consumer lending. Still, it’s fascinating to see how it works in the background and how large and complex the system is.

Also, developers are usually given free rein to solve the problems however they see fit, with only a handful of guiding rules to follow.

Best meme that sums up being a developer?

How did you find your way into the world of programming? What has the experience been like so far?

I wrote my first line of code at the beginning of my Bachelor’s degree at the University of Tartu in 2011.

Most of my classmates had already done coding at secondary school or as a hobby, but I had not. I went in completely oblivious. My curiosity about computers and technology in general inspired me to get a degree in Computer Science, but it turns out that software is more interesting than hardware.

‘I can’t start programming before I …’ 

…have a vision of what my code needs to do.

Earlier in my career, I used just to jump in and start coding immediately, which led to rewriting my code several times🙈

Nowadays, I first look at the big picture to understand the expected outcome and find the best way to achieve it.

What programming language is your favorite and why?

Throughout my career of 11+ years, I’ve worked with several programming languages, such as Ruby, Java/Kotlin, Javascript/Typescript, and C#.

While all of them are great and serve a purpose in their respective domain, I’d say the one I keep returning to for my projects or a quick script is Ruby 💖

What is your best investment advice?

I don’t do much investing but rather save up for rainy days ☔

But if I were to begin investing in earnest, I would start from the 3rd pension pillar (in Estonia), which seems like a low-risk and low-maintenance option.

Best cybersecurity/IT tip?

🛑 Don’t click on random links – even if it’s from a friend or otherwise seemingly trusted source. Always be in doubt!

And now, let’s get to know Taavi on a personal level!

What are some of your hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time?

My hobbies include hiking, photography/videography, and playing video games 🌳🎮

In my free time, I usually watch movies or TV shows with my wife, go on nature trips with our dog, and take a lot of pictures and videos with my phone and mirrorless Nikon camera 📸

Like Taavi, his dog, Bella, also loves exploring and broadening her horizons.
Like Taavi, his dog, Bella, also loves exploring and broadening her horizons.

What are your favorite games to play?

My current taste in video games is specific: competitive online multiplayer games with a ranking system.

I’ve always preferred first-person shooters, but I’ve also dabbled with massively online battle arenas.

🎮 When I was younger, I also played many single-player adventure games.

Which game have you clocked the most hours with on Steam?

My top 3 games on Steam by playtime are Apex Legends (660 hours on Steam + 500 hours on Origin), Dota 2 (776 hours), and Counter-Strike: Source (704 hours) 😮🤩

Bacon: yay or nay? 

🥓Definitely yay – the crispier, the better

What’s your favorite TV show/podcast?

📺 The Office

🎧 Distractible

What’s your favorite kind of music (to listen to while programming)?

I don’t listen to music during programming because I find it distracting rather than helpful.

When I was younger, I liked drum & bass, then mostly pop for a long time. But recently I got tired of regular radio music, so I started listening to hard rock and metal 🤘

You mentioned you have a dog… tell us more about your pets! 😍

I have a 9-year-old domesticated cat named Hellu and a 3-year-old English Springer Spaniel dog named Bella.

Hellu and Bella
Hellu and Bella

Hellu is a silly rascal and loves to mess with us all the time. In contrast, Bella is super sweet, smart, and the bestest girl. They have a love/hate relationship where Bella loves Hellu, but not so much the other way around.

One time, when Bella was still only a few months old, my wife went on a walk with her in the forest near our house. About 10 minutes later, I got a phone call from her that a bunch of cyclists had come out of nowhere, and Bella got scared, so she ran into the woods and didn’t return when called. I told her I’d be right there to help her look. I had just stepped outside the house to go to the forest too, and who do I see in front of the fence – Bella, of course.

It turns out she had already learned the route to our house from all the visits to the forest, so she ran back home. We were both relieved that everything went better than expected, and she got a lot of snacks for her smart choice 😀

Meet Taavi’s cute cat Hellu.
Meet Taavi’s cute cat Hellu.

What superpower would you like to have and why?

Teleportation, obviously, because free travel! 🗺️

What’s something that you want to do but scares you?

I’d love to go to Australia and New Zealand, but taking several flights for over 24 hours feels exhausting.

Also, we wouldn’t be able to take our dog with us, which would be a shame as she likes exploring just as much as we do.

Thank you for following Taavi on his Bondorian Spotlight journey!

Tune in again next month to read another episode of The Bondorian Spotlight and meet our 40th Bondorian!

P.S. If you want to become our next Bondorian, head to our Careers Page to check out our open positions.

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