Keeper Culture: Spotlight on Kristijan Kralj

Kristijan Kralj is one of Keeper’s critical team members. Kristijan is an award-winning coder with a soft spot for C#. He is also proficient in multiple programming languages. At Keeper he is a valuable mentor and teacher across the broader organisation, not just with the software team that he leads from Keeper’s delivery centre in Varaždin. Keeper opted to locate in Varaždin for a number of reasons, not least of which was access to excellent talent from the nearby universities. Varaždin is a stunning medieval city situated on the Drava river in Northern Croatia. The town is famous for its baroque and rococo architecture, festivals, culture and art, and it’s about 50 miles from Zagreb, the bustling capital of Croatia. 

You’re one of the longest running members of the Keeper Solutions team. Can you tell us a bit about your Keeper journey so far?

Sure! It all started when the previous Head of Operations, Davorin, contacted me six years ago and promised me new challenges. That I will be working on the heavy things.

He wasn’t joking…

For the first few days, Davorin and I were carrying heavy desks from the ground floor to the third floor. We were setting up the first Keeper’s office in Croatia. But the view from the top floor was pretty great. 

What projects are you currently working on?

I’m currently working as a tech lead for the AccountsIQ project. AccountsIQ is an innovative FinTech firm that simplifies the capture, processing and reporting of accounting transactions. They have a special focus on solving problems for high growth and multi-entity businesses. The core of their value is about process and reporting automation. They are growing every year. For the team I lead to be as useful as possible it’s important to keep up with the latest technology trends, which is great since there are many opportunities to learn new things.

What part of your work do you enjoy the most?

When I’m working on code, I enjoy simplifying the code. If I’m working on something that is already complicated, I enjoy making the code a lot more simple. Sometimes this means removing redundant code. Sometimes this means dividing the given problem into smaller problems. Sometimes this means rewriting the code from scratch. It really depends on the situation and the desired effect. I also enjoy designing the overall software architecture. It’s a good opportunity for me to see how different parts of the system work together, and how they will work together in the future.

In your downtime  you share your thoughts with other C# Developers.

What parts of this domain have been focusing your attention recently? Are there particular areas that you think companies should focus on more?

As someone with many years of experience, I felt like it was my responsibility to share the things I’ve learned over the years. And the blog seemed like a convenient way to do that. The parts I’ve been focusing on in the past year are software testing and design. It seems like many companies often try to push the code out too fast and neglect the quality. This is fine when the company is just starting out. You need to be on the market as soon as possible to get feedback about your ideas. But once the software is established and has market share, it pays to invest in automated testing and improve the overall software quality.

You’ve spent a lot of time working within the FinTech industry, what trends are you seeing in 2021?

The FinTech industry is booming. Businesses are constantly looking for opportunities to be more innovative and to provide their customers with the best possible service. I believe that the industry will shift to use more automation to avoid repetitive manual work. Automation is key in keeping up with the increased changes in the market. It can be difficult to keep up with all of the changes, but if you automate some parts of your business processes, you will win in the long term.

The other key part is the ability to integrate between different applications. This will mean that it will be possible to connect different applications into a single workflow to operate at a much faster rate. The other trends are shifting business to the cloud and the use of mobile applications. So you don’t have to be at your desk computer to do the job.

What excites you most about the FinTech space?

It will be interesting to see if things such as AI and blockchain can play an important role in the FinTech space. (Editor’s note: To celebrate 10 years in business, Keeper Solutions commissioned an NFT which was minted on a carbon-neutral blockchain. The piece incorporates elements of classical music, illustration and video and features Fastnet Lighthouse, the inspiration behind Keeper’s brand!)

What advice would you give to someone thinking of a career as a developer?

One piece of advice I would give is that, as a developer, you need to be prepared to always learn new things. This is because new technologies and tools are always being introduced to the programming community, and with a change in tools, there is the potential for a change in a developer’s practice. As the industry changes, this means that the developer’s skillset should change as well. But being a developer can be very rewarding. As a developer, you have an increased level of control over your career. But the most important thing is that you can deliver results. Be prepared to encounter new and different challenges in the future. It takes a certain kind of person who has a strong drive and passion for software development.

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