My journey from a Frontend Developer to Solutions Architect | Jannik Richter

From backend to frontend, to taking on the title of Solutions Architect, Jannik Richter’s ascent through the ranks has earned him a well-deserved place among’s leadership team. Get ready to be inspired as we dive into Jannik’s journey. It’s a testament to the power of passion, skill, a dash of rocket fuel, and the limitless growth opportunities at

How did you become a frontend developer?

I studied information technology at CPUT here in Cape Town and graduated in 2014. After graduating I started working at an agency doing full-stack development. The agency life with all the long hours wasn’t a great fit for me, and I started working in an insurance agency, doing backend development and dabbling a bit in mobile development.

During this time, I came across a site called Dribbble where people shared their amazing designs – and coming from an artistic family, I was immediately intrigued and got into 2D design and 3D modelling soon after. It seemed like a cool thing to specialise in seeing as these frontend frameworks were trendy at the time. So, I started searching for frontend development jobs to tap into my artistic side, upskill in that space, and hopefully post a few eye-catching designs on Dribbble in the process. I went for an interview at and immediately fell in love with the people and culture and ended up joining its frontend development team.

Did you miss backend development when you moved to the frontend?

Backend development is a completely different ballgame and during my time as a backend developer I was mostly stuck on database work, optimising SQL queries and not touching code at all. In contrast to frontend development, which seemed so exciting and fresh, backend development felt very static and repetitive.

When I first started my transition to frontend development, I dedicated myself 110%, threw myself into my work and just kept creating stuff after hours until I felt comfortable enough to go for the interview. My focus during my studies was more on JavaScript, so I had to brush up on my CSS quite a bit after I got the job. Even though I’m technically a full-stack developer, I wanted to dedicate myself fully to the frontend.

What makes this transition even more powerful is the holistic view I now have of the entire development spectrum and how the tech stack fits together. I would read through the code, understand how everything tied together and better understand how to approach the frontend. Normally, frontend developers don’t touch code, but as I was hearing dribs and drabs of what the backend developers were discussing, I started missing backend development a bit. However, I found a way to do both. There wasn’t a position at at that point that encompassed backend and frontend development.

How did you transition to the role of solutions architect?

I’ve been with for almost seven years, some of which I spent as a senior developer before transitioning to the role of solutions architect and joining the leadership team. It was a very testing journey to eventually become a solutions architect, but I just forced myself to go for every available opportunity and create opportunities where there weren't any.

Before I was a mid-level developer, a lot of meetings were taking place where key decisions were being made and I thought to myself: I want to be in those meetings, I want to have a better understanding of what people are talking about, and when the development scenarios reach my desk I want to know what I’m building as a whole and not just the section of the project I’m working on.

After expressing my desire to do more and know more to Pieter Gerber, Head of Core Platforms and Architecture at, he instantly invited me to these meetings. In the beginning, I was very reserved as the people in the room had way more experience than me, but once I started talking, everyone in the meeting paid attention and listened to what I had to say.

I wiggled my way into these meetings and slowly but surely started doing bigger projects and putting myself out there, volunteering for every new project and just pushing myself as far as I could. My ambition really fast-tracked my career, and being in the right rooms allowed me to absorb all the information I could from the seasoned developers at, allowing me to grow even faster.

I kept volunteering for new projects and then the time came where we basically had to rewrite News24 and all our other websites. So naturally, I volunteered along with another senior developer, Eduard de Klerk. Management agreed to let us work on the project and gave us a month to see what we could achieve. Pieter came up with an entirely new architecture of how these new sites would operate, tying it into bleeding-edge tech. His new architecture was accepted so our team of three started building

The team eventually grew as we laid the foundation of this project, but it was hard acclimating to the growing team. We put a lot of work and effort into the project, which naturally made us deeply attached and committed to its success. Eventually, I made peace with taking on a more governing role and making sure the work remained up to standard; under the guidance of Pieter, of course.

The project was a massive success and allowed us to roll out websites quickly. At the end of it, we realised that we had fulfilled the role of solutions architects rather than just the role of a senior developer. In collaboration with management, the boxes were ticked and we were promoted to solution architects.

What advice do you have for aspiring solutions architects?

My career journey was far from linear, but I’d advise aspiring solutions architects to follow the normal route by working their way up to senior developer and then showing consistent interest in becoming a solutions architect. To be a solutions architect you must also push your understanding of tech and the systems you work on so you're able to lead and mentor others. Staying ahead of the game and putting yourself in positions where you take responsibility for projects is also crucial. Go beyond your comfort zone and push yourself to step up and take risks.

You don’t have to be the best developer in the world to get the position you want, you just need to be hungry to learn new things, show up and push yourself. That’s the golden recipe for fast tracking any career.

What do you love about your job?

I’m in a fortunate position where I work with and learn from great people. We have some of the best developers in the country working at and some of them have become lifelong friends and mentors. The amount of respect we have for each other is incredible and being surrounded by like-minded individuals allows us to appreciate the ingenuity of each other's solutions. Being part of also opens a world of opportunities, and this year I’ve been able to tick off another goal on my list by mentoring interns. It’s amazing to have them challenge ideas and engage in knowledge-sharing sessions.