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Meet Kornel Steyn, Zailab Solutions Architect

ZaiLab staff

In this edition of meet-the-team, we introduce you to the man who brings the adventure to Zailab’s adventures.

If we were the Avengers, Kornel would be Tony Stark – in other words, the super genius with all the cool tech who makes things happen. (Except, in our universe, Iron Man would be a lot more jolly and approachable and the whole Civil War with Captain America wouldn’t have gone down).

Kornel is our solutions architect, so it’s basically his job to ensure our solution achieves all the goals we set out for it, including the infrastructure it runs on, the various services that speak to each other, and how issues are resolved.

But Kornel’s influence goes so much further than our solution’s performance.

Back in 2014, when Zailab comprised a handful of people clustered in the corner while our spaceship offices were still being designed, Kornel helped create the vision of the company to come – the type of company he always wanted to work for, a company that could change people’s lives for the better.

One of the first steps towards this was his introduction of Agile thinking into the business, founded on the following principles:

  • Customer satisfaction over metrics and SLAs
  • Values and service over rules and procedures
  • Collaboration and openness over management and titles
  • Continual improvement over rigid process

‘Agile works well in the dev space because you’re able to adapt quickly to customers’ changing needs. Breaking down changes into smaller pieces also reduces the risk of things going wrong,’ says Kornel. ‘Another benefit to Agile is that it promotes autonomous teams with more responsibility, ultimately resulting in happier staff.’

It’s for this reason that Kornel is the go-to guy for onboarding new team members and introducing them to our unique Zailab Culture, a value system founded on approaching every problem with a beginner’s mind, collaboration, accountability, hard work and trust.

As a result, our crew share the responsibility for the work we do and are empowered to make decisions. It’s also the reason why we’re such a close family.

But Kornel plays yet another vital role at Zailab. His background in putting together adventure and team-building tours is part of the reason Zai Adventures exists. Here at Zailab, we work hard as a team and play hard too. The team enjoy countless hikes together around the beautiful Western Cape, but also more serious challenges, like Mount Kilimanjaro.

‘When you’re in situations outside your comfort zone, the facade slips away, revealing who you really are. People are able to connect on a real level on and build close relationships,’ he says.

This year Kornel is leading not one, but two team expeditions – in the Fish River Canyon and Mount Kilimanjaro.

‘People are capable of more than they think. These types of adventure really prove that anyone can achieve more than they ever thought possible.’

So, while on paper a solutions architect is responsible for the strategic direction of an organization’s technical roadmap, ours does so much more. Pretty much like how Dr McCoy spends as much time out on the field adventuring as he does in the USS Enterprise’s medical quarters.

Zailab wouldn’t be Zailab without him.

Have you been following our series about Zailab’s amazing staff? Meet our queens of tech here.