What’s it like to be an engineer at Starling? header image

At Starling, technology is at the core of everything we do - it’s how we support our customers. Here, we find out more about what it’s like to be an engineer at Starling from two of our employees - one new recruit, one long-time team member. 

Lorena Tacal

Lorena, 34, joined Starling in 2019 through our apprenticeship programme. The scheme involved coding lessons, coaching and practical experience. “When I got it, I felt like I’d won the lottery,” she says.

She had a similar feeling when she was offered a full-time position in January 2020, eight months after starting at Starling as an apprentice engineer. “You can’t get better feedback than that.”

Lorena Tacal, Starling software engineer
Lorena Tacal, Starling software engineer

Lorena started teaching herself to code three years ago, while on maternity leave. She grew up in Romania, where she and her husband set up and ran a gym. When they moved to London in 2016, her qualifications in Sports Science weren’t recognised. Her response? Training as a fitness instructor and working her way up from receptionist to personal trainer and later fitness manager for a London gym.

Eager for a new challenge, she turned her attention to technology, having developed several small apps in her spare time. “I wanted to embrace tech as a career and be a part of creating the future” she says. “Every day you learn something new, and that means you never stop growing.”

Since joining Starling, she’s worked on improving the customer experience of depositing cheques through the app and also the chargeback process journey. Chargebacks act as a fallback when a customer has done all they can to resolve a refund issue with a merchant.

Lorena loves how much time her work can save customers and colleagues. “When I built an automated calculation for cheques, a colleague said to me: ‘Do you know what you’ve done? You’ve saved me two minutes per customer.’” If you add up the number of cheques and customers, those two minutes can turn into hours and days saved.

She also loves being part of Team Starling because of the way we work. “We deploy code every day. And our work reaches human beings,” she says. “Your ideas are valued and people trust you to bring those ideas to life.”

Nelson Djalo

Nelson, 31, is a footballer turned software engineer. In 2009, he moved from Lisbon to London to study and secured a role in technology after graduating. When he came across Starling in 2017, he already had several years of experience and was eager for something new. “Starling stood out as the company I wanted to work for. I was inspired by what Anne Boden as CEO had built. And I liked the brand,” he says.

“In the first week that I joined, I made a change that went live into production. I’d never experienced that before. In other places, it would take months to get one simple feature live to customers.” When Starling launched in app stores in 2017, Nelson was two weeks into his new role. “Anne did a count down and when she got to zero, someone pressed a button and voilà, we were live.”

Nelson Djalo, Starling software engineer
Nelson Djalo, Starling software engineer

Since then, he has worked on all sorts of elements of the app and bank. “You have complete ownership of what you build. You’re involved in the discussion and design, then you implement, test and support and deploy. There’s a whole list as an engineer that you have to look at - you’re trusted to look at the full puzzle.”

He also appreciates the lack of hierarchy within the Starling engineering team. “We are all engineers,” he says. “We’re all solving real world problems that will improve society or the way we live life. The scope is so huge and you’re always learning.”

Nelson is dedicated to helping others learn and get into the technology industry. He spends evenings and weekends running Amigocode, through which he organises and offers training and advice. There are 15,000 people in his community and more than 150,000 YouTube subscribers.

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