Generalist Software Engineer. Tech Lead. Cloud Advocate. Podcast Host. Thought Leader. Henry Suryawirawan, VP of Engineering at Indonesia’s largest and leading money movement platform (with more than 10 million users) Flip, goes on call with us to share his journey from startup to big tech and now scale up, his leadership approach as VP of Engineering at Flip, how his growth at Flip has impacted his own career and views, as well as his deep interest in Cloud and work as host of the Tech Lead Journal podcast.

S04 Call #22: Leading a World Class Scale Up Tech Team, the Discipline of Iteration, Servant Leadership, and Engineering Thought Leadership with Flip VP of Engineering Henry Suryawirawan

Generalist Software Engineer. Tech Lead. Cloud Advocate. Podcast Host. Thought Leader. Henry Suryawirawan, VP of Engineering at Indonesia’s largest and leading money movement platform (with more than 10 million users) Flip, goes on call with us to share his journey from startup to big tech and now scale up, his leadership approach as VP of Engineering at Flip, how his growth at Flip has impacted his own career and views, as well as his deep interest in Cloud and work as host of the Tech Lead Journal podcast.

Generalist Software Engineer. Tech Lead. Cloud Advocate. Podcast Host. Thought Leader. Henry Suryawirawan, VP of Engineering at Indonesia’s largest and leading money movement platform (with more than 10 million users) Flip, goes on call with us to share his journey from startup to big tech and now scale up, his leadership approach as VP of Engineering at Flip, how his growth at Flip has impacted his own career and views, as well as his deep interest in Cloud and work as host of the Tech Lead Journal podcast. Join Henry at Flip in shaping the Indonesian financial culture and building the fairest tech company in the world! See open roles across departments.

 

Highlights and Timestamps

(01:43) Paulo introduces Henry;

(02:47) Building up Flip’s World Class Scale Up Engineering Team; “…resolving reliability issues…helping to grow best practices within the engineering team… growing the team itself…almost like double the team size…bringing more best practices, based on my previous experiences…just bringing the team up to the level that we aspire to be, so a more world-class engineering team that can be recognized globally.”

(07:37) Bringing Flip’s Culture of Fairness through Servant Leadership; “So servant leadership where you are not there just to be the boss. So you are there also to serve with them and also solve problems together. And sometimes I think this is also the place where you recognize people’s character, build a personal relationship and also learn from them.”

(14:01) How Flip Fosters Engineering Careers and Impact; “So working at Flip, actually you have this opportunity to touch and create impact for millions of users, and this is tangible impact, which is money movement, so it’s very essential needs for many people…I myself, aspire to build a world-class engineering team, at least out of Indonesia. So we want to be a well known tech company…So we want to start being well known for our thought leadership…”

(20:21) A Cloud Advocate’s Perspective on the Impact of Cloud on Digitalization and Cybersecurity; “Cloud will be almost like a utility, like electricity or water, you can just tap whenever you need it. So let’s say I wanna build some kind of automation. You just go to a website and then you click few buttons and there you go, you have this automation in place…one thing really beautiful about cloud is that it actually accelerates rapid innovation simply because people now have access to this infrastructure. And not just infrastructure, they also have access to proprietary technology that previously only big companies have.”

(24:54) A Southeast Asia Dev Podcast Host’s Learnings; “The onus is actually on me to actually look for opportunities where I can apply these new learnings because there are so many ideas… And another good thing about this kind of conversation is that many times it uncovers some of my blind spots, simply because they have much more experience than me.”

About our guest

Henry Suryawirawan is a generalist software engineer, tech lead, cloud advocate, thought leader, and avid personal growth learner. He is the host of Tech Lead Journal, a podcast about technical leadership and excellence. He is also the creator of Apache Beam Katas, a learning platform for people to learn about Apache Beam. Henry’s career spans across multiple industries—insurance, banking, startup, consulting, government, cloud—which includes companies like Great Eastern, Barclays, JP Morgan, Einsights, ThoughtWorks, Singapore GovTech, Google Cloud, and currently Flip
Henry also has deep interests in cloud technology, software architecture, technical practices, building tech products, and forming high performing engineering teams. He is highly experienced in Agile, DevOps, and CI/CD. Henry has delivered talks on multiple occasions, ranging from Google Cloud Next, Google Cloud Summits, webinars, and community meetups. Henry holds a Master of IT in Business (Financial Services track) from Singapore Management University. He also holds 5 GCP certifications, plus the CKAD and CKA certifications.
During his spare time, Henry loves to read books, listening to podcasts, learning personal growth, running, and playing with his kids. Fun fact, Henry has finished Standard Chartered Singapore Marathon 7 times.

Transcript

Building up Flip’s World Class Scale Up Engineering Team

Paulo: So I want to kick things off by asking how you encountered Flip. Having been through a lot of these different companies and done a lot of work in various industries, why you decided to get into FinTech and into Flip in particular?

Henry: Looking back at my career journey, I’ve been fortunate to have experienced a lot of different industries, different types of companies from multinationals, big tech, consulting, government and all that. So I think I’ve always had this passion working in a product company and especially in a startup.

So I joined a startup, maybe 5, 6, or 7 years back. And I was kind of like very, very happy there, even though the startup didn’t end up successful, but at least I had a lot of fulfillment working there and creating something out of nothing. And I think that passion and that thrill stayed with me even though I’ve moved on and joined multiple companies.

And Flip, apparently, offered a similar opportunity, if not better because at this stage Flip can be considered as a scale up. So I think that’s why I decided to join Flip and take this opportunity to also go back to my passion.

“So I joined a startup, maybe 5, 6, or 7 years back…And I think that passion and that thrill stayed with me even though I’ve moved on and joined multiple companies…And Flip, apparently, offered a similar opportunity, if not better because at this stage Flip can be considered as a scale up.”

Paulo: It’s the scale-up maturity with a startup energy so to speak. So you weren’t VP of Engineering right away when you entered Flip and you sort of progressed in the company as well. So maybe you can share with us how was the experience growing even professionally within a company like a hyper-growth company like Flip and what has been your biggest impact so far in your time with the company?

Henry: At least from my point of view, for any startup that you join definitely there are many kind of problems that you can solve. So I think the key things here is, what can you solve within the first time you join? And what [has] the biggest impact out of those problems that you solve?

So I think the key thing for me is always trying to look for opportunities where I can bring my value, bring in impact, and also at the same time, grow the company together. So I think for the past one year, I think it’s been a very, long journey I feel and a lot of challenges [as well], but I’m happy to share some of the things that I’ve done with the team.

So for example resolving reliability issues, making Flip much more available to our customers, also helping to grow best practices within the engineering team, growing the team itself from I think around 50 when I joined, [and] now, it’s more than a hundred plus, so almost like double the team size, and just bringing more best practices, based on my previous experiences working at Google and working at ThoughtWorks — things like automation, CICD, observability and all that. And just bringing the team up to the level that we aspire to be, so a more world-class engineering team that can be recognized globally.

“…resolving reliability issues…helping to grow best practices within the engineering team… growing the team itself…almost like double the team size…bringing more best practices, based on my previous experiences…just bringing the team up to the level that we aspire to be, so a more world-class engineering team that can be recognized globally.” 

Paulo: keyword there is world. especially coming from a startup that has already, gotten a lot of traction. Now, the next stage is really how do you make it, really world-class. Right. And, and bringing it up to bar with many other tech companies around the world. and you’ve certainly been able to do that across different areas. I was also curious to know how’s your working relationship with, the CTO, look, man, 

Henry: Luqman is very supportive and very humble. So those are the few things that I really took admiration from him. So since day one, even before day minus one, when we met and we kind of like chatted about the opportunity, he was very supportive and very humble.

And I like the approach how he built the culture within the company as well. So I think all the founders Luqman, Ari, and Ginanjar, they pretty much stay within their roots. So even though the company has grown this big, I don’t think they ever feel like they are like a big shots now. So I think that’s something that I really admire from them.

“I think all the founders Luqman, Ari, and Ginanjar, they pretty much stay within their roots. So even though the company has grown this big, I don’t think they ever feel like they are like a big shots now.”

Paulo: They’re very humble founders for sure. and just very focused on, on what they wanna build. you mentioned earlier also that you brought a lot from your past experiences from Google ThoughtWorks and all these different companies into flip. I wanted to ask also, like, what have you had to leave behind from those experiences? What have you had to unlearn from your past experiences going into.

Henry: So of course I mean any workplace that you are at, they’re all different. So you can’t definitely reuse the same thing at work hundred percent, and there’ll be some things that you have to adjust and adapt accordingly. 

So I think, Flip, as a company, offers me also a very different opportunity, and like I mentioned in the beginning, so I’ve never worked in a scale-up company before. So actually Flip is probably my first scale up experience, and it also offers me a lot of challenges. 

As you know, typically at a scale up, they grow very rapidly, not just in terms of business opportunity, but also team size and number of people, culture, and also growing problems. Because there are so many things not well defined and you are there to help solve those, creating processes, standard operating procedures, creating culture, telling people best practices that they can adhere to.

So I think this kind of experience is definitely very unique for me. Also, if you have heard of this phrase before, “building the plane while flying it.” So this is actually very, very, true, working in a scale up. So this is literally what we are doing — building the plane as it is flying.

So sometimes some engines may not work properly, so we have to find a way to figure out how to fix it.

“As you know, typically at a scale up, they grow very rapidly, not just in terms of business opportunity, but also team size and number of people, culture, and also growing problems. Because there are so many things not well defined and you are there to help solve those…”

Bringing Flip’s Culture of Fairness through Servant Leadership

Paulo: You mentioned also it was your first time working fully remote as well, and that’s something I talked about with Ari several times — how are you able to really bring together a team even as you’re fully remote. And that leads me to my next question, which is about culture. So how would you describe Flip’s company culture from your own perspective? How does it reflect in the way that you lead the engineering?

Henry: One thing that stood out even before I joined Flip is their culture, which they mention as one word, which is “fair.” It’s just one word, very simple. And that struck me because I rarely see any company that just chooses one thing, and it means a lot because from their point of view, fairness is like the key, not just within the company culture, but actually also to our users.

So we want to bring financial fairness to all Indonesians, within their financial transactions, money movement, any kind of things like that to help them to actually save money and reduce costs. So one thing that strikes me, of course over the time we grow, I think fair is big for us, and when the company started, I think that’s how, they [had] the vision to bring financial fairness to users and also employees.

“I rarely see any company that just chooses one thing, and it means a lot because from their point of view, fairness is like the key, not just within the company culture, but actually also to our users.”

Paulo: So definitely fairness and it’s rooted in what the pain point that Flip has been trying to solve since way back in 2015, and so I was also curious to know how with regards to the remote work culture Flip was one of these first companies that at least I read about in the market that a hundred percent went fully remote amid 2020.

So from your perspective, like what are some of the best practices that you’ve adopted in terms of managing an engineering team that’s fully remote. I understand that for engineering folks, maybe it might be a little bit easier to switch or was it not? What is the case for you?

Henry: I mean, to be frank, this is also my first experience working fully remote, [like] most of the people are also during the pandemic. I would not probably say best practices, but things that I observed working for us, so I think work from anywhere or working from distributed offices, brings a lot of challenges in terms of communications and also relationships. 

I mean we all are human [beings], right? So we love that kind of personal relationship, having face to face meetings, discussions, and all that, [those] always help. I mean these days we have so many technologies, Zoom, Google Meet, whatever that is that you use.

I mean, they can probably facilitate these kind of information exchange, but still it’s not the same as the personal relationship touch. So I think for me, the way that I’d like to probably advise people is to still don’t forget about this personal touch.

Maybe you can still work, everything still can flow, the information, the exchanges and all that, but at the same time, we should not treat people just like any other webinar or people [who] are just [there] to do the work. So I think from time to time, we need to have this personal touch, maybe light discussion, and have a very casual communication. I think that is key. 

At the same time, I think work from anywhere brings this — how should I say this — notion of no time separation. Because previously you go to office, you have like a transition phase where in the morning, you get up, you travel from home to work and then you have some rituals probably make coffee or whatever that is. And then you start to work. But these days, at least for me, well, after I wake up, I just straight away go to my laptop and work. 

So I think this one is also a [gauntlet] for many people because the moment that you always follow this flow, there will be a lot of times that you cannot detach from work, and especially these days you use Slack or any kind of communication messaging tools, you’ll get instant response from people. 

So sometimes you have to be aware of how to also detach yourself not to always be in the working mode all the time. So I think those two things are to me very important, personal touch and also how to detach yourself so that you are not burned out or stressed all the time.

“…the way that I’d like to probably advise people is to still don’t forget about this personal touch…So sometimes you have to be aware of how to also detach yourself not to always be in the working mode all the time.”

Paulo: And we’ll talk a little bit more about the detachment methods that you adopted as well. But first I also wanted to get into the relationship aspect, the first part of your answer. And how does that reflect in your leadership approach and for example, managing people with different approaches to how they want to work and maybe resolving certain issues or making decisions that need to be resolved. 

Henry: So I would say that leadership, regardless whether you are working from anywhere or working from office stays largely the same. So I think the key thing first is you have to want to work with people. Because leadership management is about leading people. And I think the key thing for me is the servant leadership.

So you are there as a leader not to just meet the company’s goals or just do stuff, but you are there to actually serve the people working together with you. So I like the approach where I’m leading from the trenches, so it’s not necessarily always just giving high level direction, maybe writing documents that people read and letting them just do it. 

So that sometimes works, but I’m the one who also like to be there with them, resolving issues as they encounter it, or maybe just have this discussion about what’s the best way to approach it given a certain options of situations.

So that will be probably key for me. So servant leadership where you are not there just to be the boss. So you are there also to serve with them and also solve problems together. And sometimes I think this is also the place where you recognize people’s character, build personal relationship and also learn from them.

So leaders are not always the best person, the one with the most knowledge, but there are also new things that you can learn from people who are doing the work because they are closer to the actual problems rather than the leaders. So this is I think one thing that I would love to advise all the leaders out there.

And I think another important thing for me, as part of the leadership which I learned throughout my journey in Google is this concept called psychological safety. I think many people would have heard about this term, psychological safety, over and over again, but I think that is really, really crucial because the moment that, let’s say, for example, in your office, you can safely say, “Okay, I have psychological safety.”

That actually means people are not afraid to say what they want or exchange ideas or just raise any kind of concerns. And the leaders are also acceptable towards that. So when you have this kind of culture and when people can safely say, “Okay, I have psychological safety,” that actually means that you really have a great culture and you really have a good leader.

“So servant leadership where you are not there just to be the boss. So you are there also to serve with them and also solve problems together. And sometimes I think this is also the place where you recognize people’s character, build personal relationship and also learn from them.”

How Flip Fosters Engineering Careers and Impact

Paulo: Thanks for bringing that concept up. I mean, it is something we hear all the time. but it’s one of those easier said than done concepts. And I also love that you mentioned about being with them, and of course, I mean, as the team grows, as you mentioned like more than a hundred engineers, it’s hard to split your seven day week or even five day week across a hundred people, so I’m sure you have to be really selective and strategic with, with how you manage your time at well. 

I was also curious to know how your time in Flip has influenced the way you view engineering or building tech products as a profession?

Henry: The key for me is when you work in startups, you can’t take forever just to build something. So you always have to have these iterations, short feedback loops, build something, test it, see how the users like it, or maybe find it beneficial, then come back and rebuild or maybe change it a little bit.

So I think the key thing, even though it’s probably harder to do rather than saying it, but we always need to have this kind of discipline of always trying to find ways to build and iterate. People outside call it agile, or maybe call it short iterations or whatever that is.

But I think that is essential for any kind of startup. In fact, I think that can also be adopted in any technology company, because, as we can tell, the world is actually very, very large, full of complex problems. Nobody can actually crack the solution just by doing it once. So we always have to iterate and try to find the feedback loop the fastest as possible.

“…we always need to have this kind of discipline of always trying to find ways to build and iterate. People outside call it agile, or maybe call it short iterations or whatever that is. But I think that is essential for any kind of startups. In fact, I think that can also be adopted in any technology company…”

Paulo: You have a lot of engineers who are working with you and maybe most of them are also junior developers and things like that. And they also have their own career aspirations, and like yourself want to grow within the companies that they work at. So what advice do you have for those developers and engineers who just started out their career and looking to take on leadership roles down the line?

Henry: So I’ve mentioned a couple of things just now in the previous questions. So you have to be comfortable working with people. So leadership doesn’t mean that you’re just there just to set direction and goals, but you have to be comfortable really working with people. 

And in leadership positions as well you have to deal with ambiguity especially in startups. So there’s no well defined process. There’s no well defined problem sometimes. So you really need to be able to work with ambiguity and navigate through that. So sometimes that also means exercising your innovation and creativity, and also just experimenting. So I think that is really key. 

Servant leadership, again, I would just emphasize one more time. So your job as a leader is to serve your people, and also create psychological safety as much as you. 

Bias for action and execution, I think this is also very important. In fact, it’s not just applicable for startups. Any kind of big companies also, want their people to have this bias for action and execution. We all know that everyone has good idea, great ideas, but not many can actually execute them really well and make it happen. So don’t be the person who just creates ideas, but makes those ideas happen. 

And lastly, I would just say leadership is not necessarily a role. It doesn’t mean that you have to go through five or 10 years of your career experience, then you become a leader. It’s basically an activity that anyone could take. 

Paulo: Something you can exercise already, even in whatever role that you have. 

Henry: That’s correct. You’ll never be ready to become a leader, even though you have 20 years of experience. There will be times when you feel, “Oh, this is out of my depth.” But don’t be afraid, exercise your leadership and ownership mentality in any opportunity that you can find. So I’m sure by following these tips probably you’ll grow much faster compared to the others.

“So you have to be comfortable working with people…you have to deal with ambiguity especially in startups…servant leadership…Bias for action and execution… leadership is not necessarily a role…exercise your leadership and ownership mentality in any opportunity that you can find.”

Paulo: One thing I also wanted to ask is that, for a lot of engineering teams, they have a certain distance from the end user at times, especially when the organization matures and you have customer functions or you have sales and marketing and whatnot, that bridge the distance or spread the distance between the engineers and the end users.

What are the instances or what are the cases where, in your own experience, having worked at Flip that you’re able to really see the impact of your work and say that, I was part of the team that did that, or my team and I were just discussing or debating about that a few months ago or something like that?

Henry: So what I really love working at a startup are these kind of stories. Because in the typical big corporates, sometimes you cannot really translate your effort into something that is tangible for your users or the business. So one thing I really love in the startup is you have this connection.

Sometimes you will see either on social media, people say, “Oh, thank you Flip because of you then I could do whatever — it could be saving money or sending money easily to other people. and there are so, so many such stories I see internally, even on social media campaigns, the fact that we also have this campaign of paying for someone’s wedding or maybe lately, the campaign of “How much that you have saved by Flip.” 

And also even the founders’ story themselves in the beginning I saw before I joined — even their story where they saved 6,500 IDR, which is the fee of intra bank transfer. Once you do it, maybe 10 times, you could actually buy a lunch or meal. If you do it even more often, imagine how much savings that you can have for Indonesians, because I think that amount is really worth a lot for many Indonesians.

Paulo: In the first podcast we had with Ari, we were saying that, it was equivalent to like a bowl of noodles or something like that. So I imagine the impact has been really clear and especially for a consumer fintech like Flip, it’s really easy see how that reflects in Indonesian society. And you guys at Flip are essentially shaping people’s behavior over time.

Henry: Well, I dunno whether how, mature the verb is, but at least internally we like to call it, just sending money, like flipping your hand. So it’s as easy as flipping your hand. Maybe one day it could be just “Flip” the money to me. So hopefully that will happen soon.

“There are so, so many such stories I see internally, even on social media campaigns, the fact that we also have this campaign of paying for someone’s wedding or maybe lately, the campaign of “How much that you have saved by Flip.” And also even the founders’ story themselves in the beginning I saw before I joined — even their story where they saved 6,500 IDR, which is the fee of interbank transfers…”

Paulo: Something to look forward to, and speaking of things to look forward to, you’ve been with Flip for around about three years, what are you most excited about towards the end of 2022 going into 2023 about flip and specifically when it comes to your work in engineering?

Henry: I think Flip is really growing rapidly. So as you mentioned in the beginning, we have served or touch around 10 plus millions users in Indonesia, and this keeps growing year over year. I see still a lot of more opportunities to help more millions of Indonesians. So I think this kind of scale and opportunity is pretty rare.

I would say that sometimes I feel really humbled by this opportunity because where else can you really find a problem that you can serve millions of people. Sometimes even like for us creating podcasts, I don’t think it’s easily touching millions of people.

So working at Flip, actually you have this opportunity to touch and create impact for millions of users, and this is tangible impact, which is money movement, so it’s very essential needs for many people. For engineers ourselves, along with this business opportunity, company growth, there will be a lot of unique opportunity definitely. 

I mentioned I myself, aspire to build a world-class engineering team, at least out of Indonesia. So we want to be a well known tech company, and not just building for the sake of building. So we want to start being well known for our thought leadership, our kind of open source or any kind of things that we can share with people.

So I think this kind of challenge will definitely suit a lot of engineers because engineers love to build complex things. and also come up with a clever solution to a problem. 

“So working at Flip, actually you have this opportunity to touch and create impact for millions of users, and this is tangible impact, which is money movement, so it’s very essential needs for many people…I myself, aspire to build a world class engineering team, at least out of Indonesia. So we want to be a well known tech company…So we want to start being well known for our thought leadership…”

A Cloud Advocate’s Perspective on the Impact of Cloud on Digitalization and Cybersecurity 

Paulo: So I’d like to depart a little bit from Flip and move on to the other things that you are interested in or have been working on. One thing is that you’re a cloud advocate. And so I wanted to use this opportunity to get your perspective on how cloud has been developing. Certainly today, more than ever before, especially with a lot more like SaaS companies and things like that, a lot more people and businesses are dependent on the cloud, how do you see the sustainability of this moving forward? 

Henry: So to me having been in a cloud provider company, I would say that the opportunity is tremendous and very immense. And even, I think if we see Gartner, with the market size of cloud, we are still not even reaching like 50%, so it’s still largely untapped. 

I would say that in the next few years, cloud is really inevitable, as more and more people leverage on cloud or moving their application systems into the cloud. Cloud will be almost like a utility, like electricity or water, you can just tap whenever you need it. So let’s say I wanna build some kind of automation. You just go to a website and then you click few buttons and there you go, you have this automation in place.

So I believe that kind of future will definitely happen. I just don’t know when, because the pace of innovation is really rapid. Almost every few weeks or months, you will see many new solutions, in many parts of the world, and especially Southeast Asia also is a place where these kind of innovations can happen.

And one thing really beautiful about cloud is that it actually accelerates rapid innovation simply because people now have access to this infrastructure. And not just infrastructure, they also have access to proprietary technology that previously only big companies have. 

No matter if you use AWS or GCP or Azure, previously there are technologies that only these big boys have. And now they opening up to many people, things like AI, ML, data analytics, and all that. So you really have this opportunity to also innovate like them. And that also levels up the playing field for many, many people. So you really have a chance now to build a new startups, a new business or new innovations that can actually help a lot of people.

So I think that is really, really important, which I think could really happen very, very fast in the next few years. 

“Cloud will be almost like a utility, like electricity or water, you can just tap whenever you need it. So let’s say I wanna build some kind of automation. You just go to a website and then you click few buttons and there you go, you have this automation in place…one thing really beautiful about cloud is that it actually accelerates rapid innovation simply because people now have access to this infrastructure. And not just infrastructure, they also have access to proprietary technology that previously only big companies have.”

Paulo: I really love the comparison with electricity. And how that eventually democratizes the way that people are able to make applications the same way that electricity allows people to plug in their appliances wherever. In the same way, the cloud allows builders to actually build their apps on their own without that much dependency on certain infrastructure.

A quick follow up and tie in back to what you’re doing at Flip, and especially, with the emergence of things like open banking and the importance of data and security and all these things. How do you see your role in Flip with regards to ensuring the way that you use cloud is secure and sustainable, while still being efficient, right?

Henry: Definitely security and data privacy is on top of mind of everyone, especially these days, people are more aware about it, more educated about their data being used, either for advertisements, marketing and all that. 

I think for security, maybe once in a while you will see some kind of breaches happening and people aware of the kind of risk and impact that it will have by having bad security practices. So I think for us at Flip, as a FinTech company, as well as a company that serves financial related [products] to our users, we also have our responsibility to actually take care of security and data privacy really, really close to our heart. 

Security, I think, [goes] from data, the usage of your data, from the traffic itself, right from your mobile app to our backend APIs — I think those kind of things, we have several measures to protect those data and traffic. And also at the same time also for hackers to intrude our infrastructure, we do have a policy managers as well sometimes to also take care of this kind brute force attack, or maybe random attacks from people. 

Of course, security is always evolving no matter how much you invest time or effort in it, there will always be new vulnerabilities because it keeps changing. Imagine you always keep building your applications, you use different kind of open source, to different kind of technologies. Of course, as and when you change, there will be new security vulnerabilities found.

I think the key here is to be able to respond rapidly to any kind of vulnerabilities and we are also investing our effort to do that. So building our team to react faster to any kind of findings out there.

“Security is always evolving no matter how much you invest time or effort in it, there will always be new vulnerabilities because it keeps changing. Imagine you always keep building your applications, you use different kind of open source, to different kind of technologies. Of course, as and when you change, there will be new security vulnerabilities found… the key here is to be able to respond rapidly to any kind of vulnerabilities…”

A Southeast Asia Dev Podcast Host’s Learnings 

Paulo: So definitely having things like cybersecurity policy, making sure KYC, compliance and things like that are in place even for the users, so they’re also helping themselves secure their own data and their own usage of apps. Another topic that I wanted to talk about apart from Flip, apart from the cloud, is also your podcast Tech Lead Journal.

So maybe, you can share with us why you decided to start a podcast, and what are the three biggest learnings that you’ve had after talking to so many tech leaders from around the world. 

Henry: I mean, isn’t it that everyone is studying a podcast these days? 

Joking aside, I think still the podcast has room to grow, but I think my personal story is pretty unique in a sense that initially actually maybe few years back, I didn’t really enjoy podcasts. And I find it strange that people actually enjoy it. 

Because every time I listen to podcast, almost guaranteed I will fall asleep. I’ll just turn it off and do something else. But that one day changed, or when I try to listen to podcasts while doing exercises — I like to have a walk or jog. 

And one day I gave it a try, just listening to a podcast while I did my exercise and by doing that actually I could really listen one full episode and from there actually, I realized that there are so many free contents available out there, created by so many  brilliant thought leaders, guest authors, whoever that is. And it’s just a matter of choosing the right one. It’s like Netflix, but free. You can just search whatever topics you want and you can just listen and learn while you do some kind of activities.

So I think that’s when I started to have my hobby [listening to] podcasts and because I’m in tech, I also search for a tech kind of podcast. So many contents created are from the Western world, either the US or maybe some parts of Europe, but I could not find any significant one from Southeast Asia.

That’s why I thought, maybe this room for me to give it a try. So I just try to build a tech focused podcast coming from a Southeast Asian host. So it basically started as an experiment. I set a goal. I want to do a hundred episodes. So it was quite crazy that time, because if you do it weekly, that means it’s about two and a half years to reach that stage. But here I am almost reaching a hundred episodes now.

“So many contents created are from the Western world, either the US or maybe some parts of Europe, but I could not find any significant one from Southeast Asia. That’s why I thought, maybe this room for me to give it a try. So I just try to build a tech-focused podcast coming from a Southeast Asian host. So it basically started as an experiment.”

Paulo: On Call with Insignia as well is about to reach a hundred episodes soon. What have you learned so far from the guests that you’ve had on the podcast?

Henry: I mean, for the guests themselves, they are thought leaders in their own selves. There are so many learnings and I invite people who are specialized in some different areas, Ss they are all great. If you’re interested in some of the learnings from the guests, you can also hear it from the episodes. But I think I would share maybe my three biggest learnings because that will be probably something that I rarely share with many people. 

The Three Cs

The first thing that I wanna share is this thing called three CS, which I learned in one of the podcasts so three CS actually stands for Consume, Create, and actually, Connect. So I’ve been the person who is a very good consumer…so I like reading, I like listening to podcasts. I like doing research and all that. So that is actually consuming and that is fine. 

Many people think by reading more or consuming more, you get more knowledge, but I would like to maybe give a different perspective is that yes, you gain knowledge, but that knowledge is actually just potential power. If you don’t actually exercise it, then that means nothing. 

And that’s why [you have] the second angle, which is to actually, create. You can consume as much as you want, but if you don’t actually do something about it, and then it means nothing. I think there are also this phrase where, if you teach something to other people, you actually learn it twice.

And that’s where also this angle “Create” comes in. So you learn something, you try to teach it with others, you create something and then you let other people also benefit. And then when you share it to more people, this is the way the third angle “Connect” [comes in], where you can probably create communities or you meet people that you probably didn’t know before, and that will actually open up new doors for you. 

So I think I use these three Cs as a foundation for my podcast journey so far. So I do all three at the same time. Every episode that I release, I have some aspect of Consume. I have some aspects of Create and I have some aspects of Connect as well.

Bias for Frequent Delivery

So that’s actually the first biggest learning. The second learning that I have is that because my podcast is a weekly podcast. That means every week I have a deadline so my learning from there is that you need to have this bias for frequent delivery and consistently. 

That’s another important thing, so when you have a weekly deadline, you don’t have many rooms to delay, but consistency is also another thing. Many people want to do something. They do it for a while, but then they stop. I mean, the joke is that every year at the start we want to go to the gym, exercise, and eat healthily. It happens maybe, for the first few weeks or months, but then we fall through into our previous habit. 

So one learning that I have related to this is that I found this quote. I think it’s attributed to different people, maybe some people attribute it to Bill Gates…most people actually overestimate what they can achieve in a year.

So we think that we can achieve something in a very short while, but actually they underestimate what they can achieve in maybe five years, 10 years. If you do it consistently and repeatedly, that’s where the compounding effect actually happens. 

So I think bias for frequent delivery consistently is I think one key learning as well that I would like to share. 

Perfect is the enemy of good

The third is when I started, I didn’t know anything about podcasts. I’m not into music. I’m not into audio. I didn’t have a good mic and all that. But that actually should not stop you from doing something. So perfect is the enemy of good. Some of you might have heard about this.

If you always aim for perfection, that means you will never release it, because there’s never a state of perfection that you will reach. So I think the key is to iterate, shorten on your feedback loop, give it a try, experiment, hear why people like it, and just improve from there. And when you have a weekly release cycle, you will really, really have a lot of iterations there.

“Consume, Create, and actually, Connect…bias for frequent delivery consistently…If you always aim for perfection, that means you will never release it, because there’s never a state of perfection that you will reach.”

Paulo: That’s true. Whether it’s Flip, or doing a podcast, there’s iteration involved and as you said, perfect is the enemy of good. And I wanted to ask as well, how this particular part of your life doing a podcast has impacted the way that you approach your work at Flip as well? has there been any influence or…?

Henry: It’s been immense because, all the guests that I have had so far…I’ve been fortunate, really to have all these guests willing to share in my podcast. They have been sharing a lot of great things. So they are well-known authors. They are well-known thought leaders in their fields. 

It’s like every week, every interview that I have is an opportunity for me to learn something new firsthand from these great people. And it’s about tech definitely. And since I’m working in tech, there are so many opportunities where I can really find places where to implement what they’re advocating, what they’re sharing, maybe from their past experience. 

The onus is actually on me to actually look for opportunities where I can apply these new learnings because there are so many ideas. There are so many new things. So it’s a matter of selecting what problems and applying which best practices.

So I never run out of opportunities working in a startup, especially in a scale up. And another good thing about this kind of conversation is that many times it uncovers some of my blind spots, simply because they have much more experience than me. I’m still in my mid-career.

So there are still many unknowns unknowns that I am learning myself as well. Figuring out the blind spots is also one thing that is really, really insightful for me.

“The onus is actually on me to actually look for opportunities where I can apply these new learnings because there are so many ideas… And another good thing about this kind of conversation is that many times it uncovers some of my blind spots, simply because they have much more experience than me.”

Paulo: I think it’s great. It’s almost like you’re taking a course that’s helping you with your work. You know how some people send employees to do some training courses or whatnot. You’re also doing that, but you actually enjoy what you’re doing. You actually enjoy the course, because it’s something that you want to do. Speaking of the podcast, we’ll definitely leave the link for you guys to check that out. 

And finally, to wrap up our call, one thing that we always ask our guests is what do you do to de-stress or take care of your mental health or do self-care?

Henry: I would like to say creating podcast episodes, that’s like one way to de-stress. I mean, joking aside, my key message here is for people to find other avenues to channel their focus or consciousness. 

For me, it’s creating podcasts. Sometimes it’s like a way to really fully detach from work, because when you work on something with focus, you tend not to get distracted with your other problems or things at work. Find other avenues to channel your focus not just doing it ad hoc, but try to have it at a more consistent schedule, and the best is not to postpone it.

By having these kind of regular transitions, from work and to your hobby or your passion and things like that, hopefully it also naturally helps you to detach. Apart from creating podcasts, I love to have a walk, or jog, or [go to the] sauna while listening to podcasts, and I love playing football once a week, at least with my football friends.

“Find other avenues to channel your focus not just doing it ad hoc, but try to have it at a more consistent schedule, and best is not to postpone it.”

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