LibraryblogMeet Hubert Behaghel, Veriff’s new Vice President of Engineering

Meet Hubert Behaghel, Veriff’s new Vice President of Engineering

We are thrilled to announce Hubert Behaghel as Veriff’s new Vice President of Engineering. Hubert will spearhead the company’s engineering strategy to elevate its competitive expertise through industrialization and scalability, and will also streamline the engineering team’s efforts.

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Carl-Ruuben Soolep
Global Communications Lead
March 20, 2023
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About Hubert Behaghel
Previous experience
Personal passion projects

Welcome to the team, Hubert! Can you tell us a little bit about how you learned about Veriff and what drew you to the company?

When I was first contacted about potentially working at Veriff, I was immediately intrigued. First, I liked how technical the product was, and that it was AI-driven. I was also drawn to  Veriff’s mission of bringing transparency and re-establishing trust online. As a father, I am on the frontline of the dangers of our digital lives. But unfortunately, having a technical background can only help me so much when it comes to protecting my children online. Due to the nature of the problem, we also need companies like Veriff to help with that. Last but not least, I loved the team, and the opportunity to learn something new while also contributing my own experience with my role. That’s very important to me.

Can you share a little about your background and previous experience? 

Soon after completing my masters degree in the French “Grandes Écoles,” I relocated to Lausanne, Switzerland to work in the private banking industry. There,  I was tasked with leading the migration of several millions lines of Cobol, a computer programming language used in commerce, to Java/Web at Crédit Agricole (Suisse). Later, I moved to the UK to work for Amazon,  where I ran the systems that manage the catalog across all retail marketplaces. After that, I worked as the first Principal Engineer at Sky. 

Until my time at Sky, I had swung back and forth between hands-on roles and engineering management positions. But at Sky, I made the final switch to the leadership track, and led  the team that would introduce machine learning into the heart of the Sky experience, and build a transformative real-time data platform. Looking ahead, these capabilities  would be used to launch Peacock for NBCU, after the Comcast acquisition. It actually just finished its roll-out in Europe under the brand Sky Showtime, and launched in Spain this past month! 

After leading large  teams for a decade in the UK (Sky, then Marks and Spencer), I made a career move in 2021 to work with smaller, more entrepreneurial teams, leading me to the role of  VP of Engineering at Typeform. And now here I am!

How did you end up in the engineering field? Has it always been something you have been passionate about?

I often feel like I was born to be an engineer, as there have been some funny coincidences. My middle name is Joseph-Marie which happens to be the first name of Monsieur Jacquard, the first programmer ever (he created programming with looms). When I was ten, I got to know my great-grandfather through the notes he left in a BASIC programming textbook. I had just inherited it from him along with an Amstrad CPC464 computer. At age twelve, I convinced my parents we should buy a modem and “get on the internet.” My children struggle to believe it didn't exist when I was little. I think being alive when the internet had no shape and was this wild new frontier is an important moment in history. Then, at fourteen years old, I was compiling my GNU/Linux kernel at each release. The Free Software movement will always be close to my heart. 

My first colleagues in a consultancy in Paris instilled in me the spirit of SmallTalk and the Xerox Park in the 60s. When the programming language Scala was born, I was at the right place at the right time (Lausanne, EPFL in early 2000s). Also, my neighborhood in London was the one where Alan Turing, the father of computing, was born.

In my adult life, my contributions to the engineering field don’t amount to much, but over time I have been a privileged witness and have had the opportunity to play a small role in this great history that brings computing and software to mankind. I can’t wait to see what my experience at Veriff will bring!

"The identity crisis online has reached a breaking point. That's where Veriff comes in. I have been convinced since early on that I would be able to learn from Veriff’s team while also bringing my own expertise. It’s important to me as I want to help the Veriff Engineering community find its voice, both internally and externally."

Hubert Behaghel, Vice President of Engineering

You have worked at some of the most well-known companies in technology today like Amazon, Typeform, and others. What are some of the most valuable takeaways from working at those companies?

Let me share one takeaway from each.  Amazon taught me how to achieve  operational excellence. In fact, I learned the hard way:  I accidentally took down for 28 minutes while on a probation period. 

At Sky, I learned about the importance of marketing in engineering and of a product approach, even “deep in the stack.” 

At Marks and Spencer, I learned about the deep nature of an engineering team, and how it’s actually a community. In fact, it’s an extension of a global community that together builds an ecosystem of a new order. 

My time at Typeform allowed me to learn more about the concept of growth. I learned that growth in this era doesn’t come from revenue, and even less from headcount. It comes from data and something I call industrialization. I believe industrialization is the only desirable type of engineering innovation, and revolves around an evolutionary mechanism that has not yet been harnessed properly. It places the human being at the center of  a never ending enablement feedback loop, and makes some problems disappear for good while letting others, of a higher kind, emerge. Like Alan Kay likes to say, “the computer revolution hasn’t happened yet.” But that’s where I am going.

What are some of your priorities and goals for Veriff’s engineering division?

I’m excited to bring my thoughts and experience around velocity, autonomy, and an industrialisation strategy to enable more self-service and scalability capabilities to the Veriff product. I want to help foster an engineering community that can make its own tech decisions and cultivate its competitive expertise. I also want to help fine-tune our engineering “marketing,” with the goal of establishing a Veriff Engineering community that finds even more of its voice, both internally and externally.

"As the global need for identity verification increases day by day, Hubert’s proven skill set with scaling engineering capabilities will be invaluable to Veriff’s continued growth. We’re very excited to welcome him aboard, and to witness his impact on product delivery.”

Janer Gorohhov, Chief Product Officer

Aside from your work here at Veriff, what are some of your other commitments and passion-projects you are currently working on? 

With my beloved wife, we are raising our six children across three cultures: French, British and Spanish.

What are your hobbies outside of work? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am a keen cyclist! I used to do long rides, such as London to Paris. I am trying to get back into it. Otherwise, I enjoy making friends and spending time with them.

Rapid fire questions:

What is a myth about engineers or the engineering field you would like to debunk?

Many don’t realize it, including engineers or Big Tech, but the biggest difference between this job and any other is the relationship to time. A program I write for Veriff will run thousands of times, even per minute and often for years. Software engineers operate in a different dimension. By default it’s the derivative and the dimension of speed. But when done well, it does it in the dimension of the derivative of the derivative - the one of acceleration! For example, take sending mail before the internet. With emails we saw something like an acceleration of one if not two orders of magnitude. But do you spend less time with your mail today than you did before? This concept is called the Jevons Paradox, and gets me really excited.

A must-read book?

I’ll pick something unexpected and different: The Little Schemer by Daniel P. Friedman and Matthias Felleisen. 

Best piece of advice you have received to date?

Work with the grain.