South African Jacques du Preez is both a backend and software developer at Flow, and his "superpower" is that he can program in Clojure. Jacques is very athletic but never watches sports on TV, only spends money on things he really needs, and is obsessed with investing.
Smooth and stable
"When I joined Flow, I started as a backend developer, but the team has changed a bit so I'm now mainly working as a software developer. Since, besides Danny, I'm the only one who can work with Clojure, that's kind of my 'superpower' at Flow. What I like most about my job is making processes run more smoothly. An example: if we want to transfer money from one account to another with Flow, there are a lot of steps involved. First Flow sends a request to the bank of one account, then the bank checks whether there is enough money in the account. There are several possible answers to that, such as "enough money," "not enough money," or "error”; something is wrong with the banking system. Flow must recognize all these possibilities, and link actions to them, such as transferring money to another account. I am now working on a system in which all these steps and actions are recorded, making the processes more stable."
"It's kind of funny how I got my job at Flow. I'm in a Slack group for developers who can work in the Clojure programming language. That group has a channel called 'remote jobs,' and one day I went to check it out. Then I saw that Danny, one of the founders of Flow, had put a job posting there. The idea behind Flow immediately appealed to me, because I'm trying to manage my money as well as I can myself."
"I live in Cape Town, in South Africa. You have a lot of mountains and beautiful vineyards here, which lend themselves well to a hike or ride a mountain bike. I also like running. The funny thing is that I play a lot of sports, but never watch sports on TV. Rugby is the biggest sport here, and a lot of people follow that, but I don't like it. I prefer to be active myself."
"My first language is Afrikaans, which is very similar to Dutch. Dutch and Afrikaans culture are also similar: people are outspoken and direct. I have worked with Ukrainians before, and they are much more reserved, and very serious in their work. Not that the Dutch are not serious, but they combine business with fun, and I like that combination. Because I speak Afrikaans, I can understand most things when someone speaks Dutch. And that's pretty handy when you work at an Amsterdam-based company like Flow."
"Even before corona broke out I worked a lot remotely. When I just started at Flow, it would have been more convenient for getting to know the work and the people to be physically in the office. And yes, occasionally I do miss the personal contact. Still, for me, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. My wife is stuck in traffic at least twice every week, and thankfully I'm not affected by that. And when our garage roof leaked recently, it was very easy to make an appointment with a mechanic; I'm home all week anyway. I also have a much healthier lunch when I work from home. Then I make a salad instead of buying a sandwich. That's even cheaper, too."
"It's too bad I can't use Flow, because I need a Dutch bank account for that. That's really impossible to arrange from South Africa: they ask for your tax number in the Netherlands and you have to be able to show how much you earn annually. Here it's much easier: all you need is an ID and proof of an address. Fortunately, I don't need Flow that much; I'm pretty smart with my money. There are a few rules in my head that I don't deviate from. For example, I never eat out more than twice a week, and I never buy anything I don't use. If I want to buy something new, I must first be able to prove to myself that I actually need it. For example, when I started surfing: I first bought a cheap surfboard, to see if I really liked it. Only when I was sure I would surf more often did I spend money on better surf gear."
"You could say I have an obsession with investing. I really like the hunting and researching part of it. It makes me feel like a detective; not one who catches criminals, but who is looking for a unicorn in the stock market. To do that as well as I can, I do very boring things, like reading financial statements. Based on those, economic news and financial forecasts, I try to pick the best stocks to beat the market. And yes, that is difficult: you can't always beat the market. That's why I invest in index trackers. And I always stick to my strategy. If your investments lose value, don't change your plan straight away. If I buy a stock, I keep it for at least five years. Investing is really a long-term thing."