Khun Staporn Kiewsuwansuk (Pao), Head of Engineering at Ascend, graduated from Kasetsart University The Department of Computer Science and is currently working at Ascend, starting as a Development Manager and gradually moving to the Head of Engineering. He is a representative from the technology team behind the success of TrueMoney Wallet in becoming the 10-million-user platform to share his experience and career journey from the past to present.
From Your 20-year experience, What is considered as the Biggest Lesson You’ve Learned?
When I was working for Thomson Reuters, which is a company that supports global financial institutions, which meant that the amount of data we had to deal with was undoubtedly overwhelming. We had to brace the network traffic in order to keep it running smoothly. As a result, I had the opportunity to experience in-depth work which made me realize that I am interested in large-scale backend work.
The second point was at Ascend. I also had the chance to work at a similar scale since it was during the expansion stage of TrueMoney Wallet where the number of users was increasing rapidly where I and my team worked really hard to maintain the flow. Fortunately, I got to use my past work experiences to withstand the huge data traffic and effectively avoided the negative impacts on the company.
Looking back to the first day I started working at Ascend, the current situation is definitely on its uptrend because today, the users in the system have grown more than 10 times, and new financial services such as loans, investments, international money transfers are being born on our platform. It can be considered as the most successful growth I’ve seen in the last 5 years I’ve been here.
What’s the difference between being a developer and team leader?
When I was a developer, my focus was deeply on understanding the concepts and details of technology in order to answer the needs of users as much as possible.
Even though we still need to understand what customers need to improve our systems, being a leader requires us to be visionary and to think from a wider perspective. As the head of the team, it’s important not only to understand customers’ needs but also to respond to other functions’ concerns as well. From understanding stakeholders and the business operations to the way regulations are to be executed as well as the continuous updates on new technology. I need to understand these principles at a wider level in order to be successful while leading.
When comparing a team of 20 with a team of 500 staff, what changed?
It’s easier getting to know everyone in a 10-to-20-people team but when your team keeps expanding it will definitely get harder. People will have different ideas and to be able to lead a 200-to-500-member team while aligning all of them on the same page is undoubtedly challenging.
“The most important thing is employee accountability. Let them see the big picture and make them understand their roles regarding their responsibilities and make them feel a sense of ownership. Once their goals are clear, they will do whatever it takes to achieve them”
What are the Challenges For Your Current Position?
I’ve got to admit that working at Ascend can be very challenging at times. I’ve been working here for 5 years and have seen so many changes where our products are now being directly used by over 10 million customers. As a result, it can be very challenging to manage all the data traffic on our platform.
Moreover, it is a very fast-moving and competitive market where trends and information can fluctuate all the time, even within the five years I’ve been here. Therefore, we will always have to keep updating and always be aware of the latest trends in relation to both the business and the technological aspects within this industry.
“Our main mission is to be able to make the accessibility to our service as wide as possible. This includes the users who might not find it easy to access financial services or people who might not own a bank statement, from not having a fixed salary, which might have led them to the difficulties of reaching for full financial services”
As a senior, what advice would you like to give to future generations?
I have noticed that in the early years of my career, we didn’t have so many technologies & tools compared to these days which made things easier and much faster than before. However, it is important to always understand the principles of the new innovations we are trying to use at a deep level, especially the technical aspects so that we can solve all the problems that might come with the new technology and to always learn from it to keep up with all the up-to-date innovations.
Last but not least, I would advise you to keep finding what you enjoy most. The moment you discover your heart, I bet you will be doing it with happiness and at your best capabilities. However, for anyone who has not found their passion yet, I hope you can keep exploring yourself and Never give up!