Welcome to another insightful peek into the world of Dimagi’s brilliant minds! Today, we’re sitting down with Simon Kelly, our Senior Director of Server Engineering, to discuss his journey, role, and the ever-evolving landscape of Dimagi over the last decade.
Could you share a bit about your background and your path to Dimagi?
Absolutely! After graduating with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering from the University of Cape Town, I started my career in the world of social impact technology at Cell-Life, a small startup in Cape Town. Dimagi caught my eye during some collaborative projects while I was at Cell-Life. Unfortunately, Dimagi did not have a Cape Town office then, so after six years at Cell-Life, I moved to another company. Then fate intervened when a former co-worker set up Dimagi’s Cape Town office and invited me to join. And here I am!
Tell us about your current role. What does your day look like?
I am the Senior Director of Server Engineering, but I am knee-deep in just about all parts of our platform and products. Currently, I am heading up a team working on Open Chat Studio, which is Dimagi’s foray into the AI space. It’s a very small team, so I am doing everything again and loving it. However, I am still involved in the operations of CommCare and other services. From code reviews on CommCare to strategizing Open Chat Studio’s trajectory, my day is a diverse mix, and I love every bit of it.
What’s the most rewarding part of your role?
Software development’s charm lies in seeing things come to life. At Dimagi, the added perk is witnessing real-world impact. There are opportunities to see the product’s actual performance in the field if you choose. Plus, the joy of coding and crafting new products with an incredible team is very rewarding.
How has Dimagi supported your career growth?
Dimagi has allowed me to explore and expand my career. I have been fortunate to work with fantastic managers who have tuned into my aspirations, presenting opportunities to work on one of our largest projects in India, delving into DevOps, operations, scaling, spec writing, and now, spearheading Open Chat Studio. The growth opportunities have been immense and satisfying.
How have you seen Dimagi evolve and grow over the last ten years of your tenure at Dimagi?
Growth has been a constant for Dimagi. From a cozy 50-member team to nearly 250, we’ve adapted with a shift to divisional structures and refined processes. However, with growth comes challenges, which has meant being intentional about how we collaborate, especially on the tech team, which is now broken into micro-teams concentrating on their division’s priorities. COVID ushered in another twist with the expansion of our remote work policy, broadening our horizons and teams. It is nice not to be the only remote person on a call, but this also calls for more intentional collaboration. Dimagi has navigated these changes with purpose while trying to stay true to our mission.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in software engineering at Dimagi?
Strong technical skills are a given, but equally crucial are communication skills. The ability to collaborate and communicate in a global, distributed team is essential for success. Mistakes happen, but how you navigate and communicate through them matters just as much. This is true even during our rigorous interview process.
What makes you stay at Dimagi?
I’ve thought about this a lot. It’s the blend of enjoying what I do, continuous growth, an amazing team, and shared priorities. Getting feedback about the impact of the work we do from our amazing project delivery team is a big bonus. I also really appreciate that profit is not Dimagi’s only focus. Knowing that, from top to bottom, we care about our team and the impact we’re making creates an environment I’m proud to be part of.
What do you like to do in your free time?
That has changed over the years, too. Family takes center stage with my two kids, especially on weekends. I also take one day a week away from Dimagi and work on personal projects.
If you’re intrigued by Dimagi’s culture and want to join our dynamic team, explore opportunities on our Careers Page. Balancing work and personal pursuits – that’s the Dimagi way.