LibraryblogHubert Behaghel on the vital role of engineering at Veriff

Hubert Behaghel on the vital role of engineering at Veriff

If you imagine software engineers as a socially awkward bunch more comfortable with code than with conversation, 30 seconds talking to Hubert Behaghel will disabuse you of your preconceptions. With characteristic eloquence and enthusiasm, our Senior Vice President of Engineering explains the key role of engineering in creating Veriff’s customer-focused solutions.

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Chris Hooper
September 14, 2023
ID Verification
On this page
On creating a new product
On collaboration
On AI’s impact on engineering

To listen to the full conversation with Hubert and explore more Veriff Voices podcast episodes, click here.

Having worked at established names including Sky and Amazon, Hubert Behaghel came to Veriff to enjoy working in a more entrepreneurial, tech-focused environment. 

‘More traditional companies tend to create a balance between what customers want and what engineering can deliver,’ says Veriff’s SVP of Engineering. At Veriff, however, managing data is our bread and butter. ‘In that context I think it’s important to listen to the engineering voice.’

‘It's very techy what we do in this space,’ he comments. ‘Product people at Veriff have to understand what an API is, how you design it, how you manage your scalability, so in that regard the engineer is always the reference.’

‘You need to know what’s possible on a tech level, and you also need to know what’s possible on a customer experience or a scalability level,’ he explains. ‘So, you can’t even ideate without an engineer helping you navigate these realms of possibility.’

Essentially, at Veriff, engineering is at the heart of the operation: ‘I’m not in a place where Engineering is this team in a room at the end of the corridor and we don’t go there, there are no windows, and they speak a different language,’ comments Hubert.

On creating a new product

Before creating a new product, Hubert and his team start by calibrating the problem.

‘At Veriff the product approach is great because we do discovery, but it’s actually about practicing and trying – and sometimes failing,’ he smiles. The aim is to first understand what problem needs to be solved, and then find the best solution.

Hubert cites two key ingredients for this process. The first, perhaps surprisingly, is data, something Veriff has in abundance. The second is the ability to rapidly innovate. 

‘That’s why it’s so important to have the technical ecosystem we keep building that allows us to easily bring data into the scope,’ he explains. This allows Hubert and his team to quickly iterate and test new solutions, sometimes even by importing live cases.

‘For me it’s really important that the team has autonomy as well because there’s no point having this well-oiled machinery to iterate if there are organizational blockers,’ comments Hubert. ‘If you see that customers are expecting certain outcomes, it becomes very natural to structure the direction.’ Hubert sees this solution-focused approach as key to Veriff’s customer-centricity.

On collaboration

As Hubert points out, Engineering and Product work together so closely at Veriff that they don’t even consider themselves as separate teams. Meanwhile, the Data function is effectively embedded within Engineering, an arrangement that works well for both.

‘We don’t just need the Data team to give us data,’ Hubert explains. ‘The capabilities they need are really technical and much more than the usual API stacks you find elsewhere. So, it just makes sense.’

However, the team’s internal collaborators don’t end there. For example, Engineering partners almost daily with Revenue.

‘Because we’re so focused on the enterprise market, the way we approach these customers is by bringing engineering in really close,’ says Hubert. This happens right from the start of the product lifecycle, to make sure Veriff’s solution can be calibrated to a client’s specific needs.

‘We also need to be very responsive at this early stage to understand what makes them special in their relationship to identity and provide the adaptation to our product in a timely fashion,’ comments Hubert.

Because helping our customers ensure they are compliant is integral to Veriff’s offering, Hubert and his team also work closely with the Legal and Compliance team.

‘We actually have very frequent interaction to make sure we get recertified and the way we handle our data is always in line with expectations,’ he says.

Finally, regular contact with other teams including Customer Experience and Marketing help Hubert ensure Engineering’s activities are aligned with Veriff’s overall direction.

‘It’s less continuous but there are lots of opportunities to talk together,’ comments Hubert. ‘So, there are always initiatives going on across these functions.’

On AI’s impact on engineering

As well as overseeing the day-to-day running of the Engineering function, Hubert takes a keen interest in relevant innovations and developments. His current areas of interest include improving data architecture to process data securely in real time, as well as what the concept of operational excellence means when applied to a system like Veriff.

‘Right now, operational excellence means we’re up and running, but there’s still the next question of whether we’re delivering the level of accuracy, automation and low critical failure rate needed,’ comments Hubert. ‘They’re part of the quality of our product, but they’re not something we can be proactive about and respond to in real time as much as I’d like.’

Of course, as a software engineer, Hubert is keen to embrace the potential of AI.

‘We use assistive coding solutions to generate some of the code, or even ask the AI questions,’ says Hubert. He points out that AI has already read reams of technical documentation, so can help integrate with even the most arcane API. However, he sees AI as a tool for engineers, rather than as a replacement.

‘It’s shifting the work, but it hasn’t replaced the entire role,’ says Hubert. ‘I don’t envisage, at least for the next few years, that we’ll no longer need an iOS engineer, or a data scientist…’

One impact of AI Hubert does foresee, however, is the return of a more holistic role for software engineers.

‘When I was younger, we didn’t have front end and back end, we just did everything,’ he comments. However, as software stacks became more complicated, roles became specialized. More recently there has been a shift back towards a more holistic approach, with the concept of T-shaped engineers gaining popularity (individuals possessing both specialist skills and the ability to link into other disciplines).

‘I wonder if the level of complexity of the stack we have now will be something one person can handle again,’ comments Hubert, ‘because of the assistance we get from AI.’ 

Veriff Voices

Listen to the full conversation with Hubert and explore more Veriff Voices podcast episodes.

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