QA Engineer

August, 2017

Cognician is looking for a Quality Assurance focused engineer in Cape Town, South Africa starting immediately.

About us

Our founding belief is that people are capable of great things when their behaviour is driven by powerful ideas. We enable clients and partners to deliver meaningful conversations that inspire learners to adopt powerful ideas that enhance their performance. The result is life-changing conversations and life-changing learning.

Cognician is a mature product start-up in the corporate learning space. Feb 2017 marks the beginning of our 7th year, and April 2017 our 5th year with the Clojure stack.

Our team is composed of a variety of purpose-driven, friendly, smart, skilled, and over-all “good-weird” people, all focused on solving the big problems of digital coaching in the workplace, each according to our own particular skills and strengths. We know that we’ve got a lot of work to do here. We’re eager to do it, and enjoy working together as we do.

You can get to know a little about each of us at our team page.

Although we have an office in Cape Town, we’re organised as remote-first and asynchronous, as that’s how we started! Our entire organisation is in the cloud.

You can learn quite a bit about our tech stack and culture in a fairly short space of time on episode 27 and episode 48 of the ZADevChat podcast, where our CTO, Robert Stuttaford, appeared as a guest.

About you

  • Proactive. You understand the value of getting in front of potential problems, and work to do so.
  • Organised. You care how your work is done just as much as what work you’re doing.
  • Meticulous: The work you produce is fit-to-purpose, consistent, and complete.
  • Responsible: You own the problem, not just the solution.
  • Empathy: You know that this is all about people, first.
  • An over-communicator. You understand that effective work is about shared understanding, and you strive to achieve that.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • You prefer a ‘learning mindset’, but you can clearly motivate and defend your ‘fixed mindsets’.
  • Kaizen.
  • Calm and focused under pressure.
  • Optimise for your intrinsic motivators — masteryautonomy, and purpose.
  • You understand and value the difference between a goal and a strategy.
  • Natural teacher and coach.
  • More of a ‘mender’ than a ‘maker’ — see these presentation slides about Old Code, New Tricks.
  • Conscious of the passage of time, and what that means for a company and a team 🙂

QA focus

  • You understand the difference between testing to see if something works, and testing to see if something is broken. You prefer to do the latter.
  • To make the previous point crystal clear: we want you to break things.
  • Be willing to stand up and say “This Isn’t Ready”. We have a culture of first fixing things if they are known to be broken — or, at least, managing around them if that can’t be done on a suitable time-scale. But even so, we need someone who will champion The Customer when things get busy.

Dev focus

  • You know or want to learn Clojure and/or Datomic — and apply that learning from day one.
  • You’re happy to leave the front-end to other people, and focus on the backend. Yay — no Javascript!
  • You understand how distributed systems are put together, and just how hard that is to do well.
  • You understand that all decisions are about making tradeoffs — storage vs compute, simplicity vs flexibility, rapidly (perhaps with some technical debt) vs slowly (perhaps with none), and so on.
  • That “mender” thing again — some of our code is 4 years old, and still delivering value! Vintage (‘legacy’ is soenterprisey) code is a way of life here.

Things you’ll do

  • Help us to build just enough automation around our existing testing practices.
  • Work with other developers to build new and better QA-focused tooling, suited to our context and constraints.
  • Work with other developers to build automated test suites, that focus on the whole-system integration side (rather than the unit-testing side — but we’ll do some of that, too), again suited to our context and constraints.
  • Work with other developers to create reproducible test plans at feature-planning time.
  • As you learn Clojure and Datomic, you’ll review code. Lots of it 🙂
  • Guide the team on staying accountable to a documented quality standard that we’ll discuss and decide on as a team.
  • Formalise and manage the issue reporting and resolution process.
  • Assist with overall release planning and management (to ensure that QA doesn’t draw the ‘short straw’ when time starts to run out).


Although we do have remote engineers, this is a position at our office in Cape Town, South Africa, as we want you in the mix with us at least part of every week — to soak in our culture, and to coach other tech folks on your discipline and practice, so that we can properly own this important responsibility together.

Given what we understand about Cognician’s future, we believe that a physical presence for this role is vital to building long-term strength in our team, our product, and our company.


If all of that appeals to you, you can reach Robert Stuttaford (Cognician’s CTO), via:

We are happy to answer any initial questions you may have on any of these channels, but if you’d like to apply, we’d love for you to share a written motivation and your work history, via email before we engage in any sort of discussion.

If, for whatever reason, you decided to pass on this, it’s possible that you know someone who may be interested. Please share this post with them 🙂