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Meet Ameer Adams

Testing the limits, exploring the possibilities, creating a new reality for online payments. Who do these words fit? A mad scientist? No, these are actually three attributes of the exceptional engineering team at Peach Payments responsible for helping us revolutionise payments in Africa.

Meet Ameer Adams our Hybrid Data Engineer & Engineering Manager


How did you get started in tech?
Funny story. I always had quite a deep involvement in technology, from working at internet cafes when I was younger, to tinkering and building PCs and just being really fascinated by internet culture and how the internet progressed. I took programming as an extra subject in high school when given the opportunity. In university, I actually did 2 years of a finance degree but didn’t enjoy the field. I really enjoyed statistics and economics, though, and majored in them. I loved so much about the field, but the Analytics stream didn't exist at UCT at the time, so I supplemented my studies with programming and psychology courses to do more of what I liked while compensating for the lack of computational focus.That prepared me well for a more data-driven and analytical role.I figured out pretty quickly that data underpins everything in both economics and statistics, and that wrangling data was about 90% of solving the analytics problem. I was fortunate to know early on that I wanted to be a data engineer. Unfortunately, the title didn’t exist at the time, but the cloud providers were starting to gain traction in South Africa, and I knew it was headed in that direction. It took a bit of time to get my first job as an integration engineer, which was the term at the time, and I have been enjoying the evolution in this space ever since.

What do you love most about your role?
What I love about Data Engineering is the same thing that I find challenging. It is a multidisciplinary umbrella, combining aspects of Infrastructure Engineering and DevOps, Database Practices, Back-End Development, Tooling and Business Intelligence and Analysis. I enjoy the fact that the work and problems solved are varied, interesting, and unique to each specific use-case and set of requirements. It requires depth and breadth of knowledge, and in that sense, it’s a very mentally stimulating space to be in. I also love the fact that a contextual understanding of the data is always required to develop sensible solutions, so you really feel connected to the core of the business. There’s no better feeling than delivering a stack, app, or automation that results in huge efficiency gains or provides observations and insights about the company that would have otherwise been unattainable

What advice would you give others who are starting out in your field?
My advice would be to fall in love with the process; there will be ups and downs, the field seems daunting and is moving at a break-neck speed sometimes, but don’t let fear of failure discourage you from trying. If you fall in love with the process of learning, continuous improvement, and make it a discipline in itself, you will succeed. Like any specialist knowledge, the first years of learning about the data landscape and the tools and techniques available can be very challenging, but the reward cumulatively pays off later on. Be curious. Pay attention and learn about the challenges and areas proximally close to your own. Don’t be afraid to learn things you don’t quite understand yet and to ask lots of questions. Don’t feel bad about not knowing everything because there is so much to learn. Software engineering is not unlike an artisanal craft: you can spend time as an apprentice, but you must apply what you learn or else you’ll forget it. A mentor-apprentice like relationship with someone equally passionate will bode well. No matter what background you come from, if you continuously put effort in, you will understand more, and you’ll have more value to add

What skills have helped you succeed at Peach Payments?
Curiosity is a big one, and I think that being self-motivated and intrinsically passionate about the work I do is another. There is always so much to learn, and so much knowledge to share and apply to our work daily that these two factors play a big role in the engineering sphere. As for the managerial space, constantly wanting to improve processes, and make our environment more engineer-friendly motivates me to take on and contribute to larger initiatives. I think that in a remote organization being able to read the room and communicate well with others is also exceptionally important.

What excites you most about working in the payments space?
I think that the payments space has a big role to play in financial inclusion, so it’s a great place to devote my skillset for something that is a net benefit to society. Of course, being an African company, we have to cater to the needs specific to our continent. That means a huge variety of existing payment methods and markets, as well as bringing more modern payment methods to African markets. That, I believe is what keeps things interesting -  there is always varied and interesting work to do off the evolution in this space.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower and superhero name be?
Symbolically, I like what the Phoenix represents, both in mythology and the X-Men. I like the idea of being able to spontaneously combust, burning yourself in your own flame (passions, pursuits, ideals), and being able to reinvent yourself if need be and rise anew from the ashes. I can see parallels in my own life and that imagery has stuck with me. But if we’re talking purely from the comic book world, I’d love to combine Jean Grey’s powers, Gambit’s personality and flair, Cyclops’ drive and sense of justice and Wolverine’s heart. As for a name, X-Man seems a little boring, I’d rather be called Y-Man, because I tend to question the status quo.

What new skill (technical / non-technical) are you hoping to learn next? 
The great thing about Peach Payments is that there are no boundaries to your learning. I learn quite a bit on the job, as requirements come in for novel solutions. Lately, I have been enjoying delving more into the infrastructure, tooling and automation layers of data engineering as opposed to the databases / application / business logic layers. There’s a plethora of technologies which come with the territory and in order to implement any one of them well requires deep understanding. I would probably like to complete two technical certifications in the coming year and balance that with being as helpful as I can be in the management space, empowering my team.

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