From Gaming to Fintech: How Aspire’s Senior UI Developer is Taking User Experience to the Next Level

3 mins read

User experience (UX) and interface (UI) design is an essential part of what makes Aspire uniquely easy, fast and transparent.

It informs the user and guides them from the start to the end of their journey, whether they’re making an FX transfer or forwarding invoices via email. To help make this navigation as intuitive as possible is helmed by Aspire’s Senior Frontend Engineer, Sandeep.

When it comes to interface development, his philosophy stems from always putting the end user first. His north star? To make each and every transaction as effortless and flawless as possible.

With seven years of experience under his belt, Sandeep has led UI/UX projects in a variety of industries from gaming to fintech. While being well-versed in JavaScript and CSS is an integral part of being an engineer, he believes that tech skills is only one part of the equation. As a fully remote employee, building an open team culture where everyone is kept in sync is just as important.

In this interview, we caught up with Sandeep to find out the moment he knew coding was his passion, why being a remote frontend engineer enables him to explore South India’s most scenic locations and what he’s excited to accomplish here at Aspire.

Can you briefly share your background prior to joining Aspire?

Before joining Aspire, I had the chance to work with multiple startups across fintech, media as well as the gaming industry. From my experience, I’ve realised that every industry has their own way of doing things. In the media industry, we try to make videos as engaging as possible. For example, when we record a video and we discuss certain topics during a lengthy one-hour video, we simplify it by using UI for the different topics. By clicking on each topic, it will take the end user to the specific part of the video which simplifies the experience.

From my experience, I’ve learned that it’s not about the tech or how the interface looks but how we solve the customer’s problem一how I approach it is by working closely with designers while taking the feedback from users and apply that to how we can ultimately improve their experience. In the same way, I’ve applied this approach to gaming and fintech. Another thing in common is that we emphasise on improving the UX such that the user is able to explore all the features intuitively without help.


What does it mean to be a Senior Frontend Engineer at a fintech?

In fintechs, it is not just about the tech aspect but it’s also about the combination of finance and tech. A fintech frontend engineer should not be just about tech but how we solve problems and engage people.

I’ve worked in the fintech industry for a couple of years where we tried to explore new things everyday and challenge engineers to figure out how to use technology in our industry to improve the user experience as well as solve customer problems. It was challenging at that point in time as I was working with a lean team. Initially when we started, the response time was within an hour. We improved it by automating the process as everything used to be done manually.

Again, what I took away from this was that tech takes a backseat. You need to learn how to speak to stakeholders and customers to hear their feedback and find out what needs to be improved.


How did you find out about Aspire? What made you decide to join the team?

I first heard about Aspire when I received an email from the People team. Initially, it felt like any other organization but after going through all the amazing details about the company, I got more excited. I had a previous experience with fintech and seizing this opportunity to continue in the industry made me excited about the role.

After going through the interview rounds, I managed to have a talk with Aspire’s CTO and co-founder Gio and I was inspired by what the team is aiming to accomplish. I was the first person they hired who is based in India but having that talk with Gio reassured me that I was still very much a part of the team despite working remotely.  


Tell us about the products you’ve built at Aspire. What does it take to build an Aspire product from start to finish?

As part of the tech team, my work is not simply about how the UI looks but how people are able to do the transactions and how flawless it is. As a team, we work on improving the user experience every single day. Our primary goal is to ensure that the end user should not find it difficult to navigate Aspire, it should be simple and transparent.

For example, when an end user is initiating an FX transfer, they should be able to know the FX fee and what the process will be一enabling to entire transaction to be upfront.


In your years as a Senior Frontend Engineer, what are the most important skills to succeed in your role?

In my 7 years of experience, what I learnt is that it is not just about learning code or UI engineering tech skills but it’s also about strengthening communication. Especially when you’re leading a team, your soft skills matter a lot.

#1 Communication. Tech skills can be learned but you should make it easy for teammates to understand and speak to you. It will encourage your team to start contributing and share their ideas.

#2 HTML/CSS/JavaScript. As an engineer, you must have this fundamental skill set in your backpocket. Let’s say if you’re looking at a website, everything can be developed with just these three things.  

#3 Vue.js. At Aspire, this is hugely important as we mostly use this for all our front end technologies.Think of it as a framework on top of JavaScript一it enables you to build UI on the web at 2x speed.


On a scale of 1 to 5, how difficult has it been for you to work remotely?

I would scale it as 1 or 1.5 as it has been a relatively smooth experience.

Admittedly, it was a little tricky at the beginning as my onboarding experience was entirely remote. At this point, however, the productivity is quite high. You can save time without commuting and when you speak to your teammates everyday to remain in sync, it really does not matter whether you’re working in an office or at home.


What is your advice to others who are looking to start a remote job at a fast-paced fintech?

For newcomers to be confident enough to join a remote job, ensure that the organisation is transparent with you about their product, mission, stage of growth and long-term goals. Initially, I was quite sceptical before joining Aspire. But after speaking with our CTO Gio and the People team, I felt passionate to be a part of the team and help build the leading all-in-one business finance operating system.

That is why communication is key here when we’re working remotely. Everyone should communicate as clearly as possible in terms of their queries or issues faced. They should be able to ping anyone and get clarification quickly to avoid any hiccups down the road.


What is the ultimate vision/roadmap you are building towards here at Aspire?

Being a part of the tech team at Aspire, I try to improve the user experience as much as possible. When I was working in fintech and gaming, our reference point was Google due to their high UI/UX standards as I believe that we should constantly elevate our UI/UX standards to remain the frontrunners in our industry.

In the future, I am excited to support Aspire as we expand to more countries across Southeast Asia. This would allow us to widen our customer base and improve the total transaction value day by day.


What do you do during your free time?

I love travelling. Whenever I get free time, I jump on my bike to explore beautiful places in South India such as Kerala. As it’s a remote job, it has given me the flexibility to travel around and work from anywhere.


What about coding excites you?

I remember it was when I was initially exploring Flipkart. Growing up in a very small town, it was normal to commute to the big city to get certain products but tech changed that forever. Within a few clicks, you can get the things delivered to your doorstep. It got me curious to know how these tech platforms work, how it’s built and how companies make a profit from it. I started exploring from there.


If you could wake up tomorrow with any superpower, which would it be?

I would want to have the power of teleportation so I wouldn’t need to ride all the way from here to somewhere that’s a few thousand kilometers away. With a snap, I can teleport myself there, explore the place and come back. And if I could teleport anywhere in the world right now, it would be Singapore.

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