Equal Experts was founded by Thomas de Cad’oro Granier in 2007 after he became disenchanted with the way traditional software development companies were being run. Loaded invoices, clients billed for senior consultants who were actually juniors, and hierarchies that made decision making and agility an impossibility had all taken their toll. Thomas was determined to build something different.
Take a giant leap forward, and in 2023 the world looks quite different. Equal Experts is now a formidable force in its own right with multiple Business Units in the UK, India, Australia, Europe, US and South Africa, all of whom build quality software for great clients, in an environment which is tech-forward and software-developer friendly. Equal Experts has defined its unique hierarchy as well, working with a flat structure where staff are empowered to make a difference. This experimental and adaptive approach to decision making improves outcomes for the business and its customers.
South Africa has proven time and again that entrepreneurial spirit and focus on quality are a combination that has produced a development community with a diverse range of skills and knowledge. Equal Experts South Africa focuses on leveraging both of those things to work with international clients. The result is that SA talent is exposed to larger scale software problems, international teams and world-class engineering practices. It also means that by working with the best talent, Equal Experts South Africa is able to support learnerships and organisations such as Girl Code, to support the next generation of Software Engineers. With a current workforce of around eighty people, it’s certainly a model that seems to be working.
But we have to ask why such a model is working. Has Equal Experts truly become the company that Thomas was so eager to build, or has it reverted to type? To answer this, we spent time with several people who work within Equal Experts South Africa, as well as the larger group.
For starters, the structure of the organisation is fairly flat. Equal Experts only hires consultants who have deep experience across multiple tech stacks and verticals, and who in turn bring with them a certain maturity and knowledge in their respective fields (hence the ‘Experts’ part of the name). Whether it’s Software Engineering, Quality Assurance or Data Science, those who have the knowledge and enthusiasm for their craft can find a place in the Equal Experts network, with everyone accorded the same respect and responsibility (hence the ‘Equal’ part of the name).
Equal Experts’ network is a unique part of their business that offers a variety of engagement models for their consultants. Hiring both full-time employees and self-employed contractors (or ‘Associates’ as they are called at Equal Experts) provides their customers with a broad spectrum of skills across multiple projects. This in turn also allows for the cross-skilling and development of individuals. What was also apparent during interviews with Equal Experts South Africa is that people who embrace the values of the organisation (autonomy, remote-first working, responsibility) tend to stay as part of the larger network. They may transition to full-time employees or move into independent contracting as their lifestyles change, and segue back into full time employment again.
Thomas’ vision of the type of projects people would engage in has also been realised to a large extent. Projects with an international workforce, exciting technology – always attractive for expert developers – and test-driven development have kept individuals engaged, challenged and fulfilled. The company understands the value of individuals and promotes psychological safety, recognition of staff through an attractive profit share and a planned employee buy-out in 2025.
Equal Experts is continuously evolving, but there are core aspects of the culture that have remained since 2007 and have permeated their global offices. The environment that has been created is exactly the one Thomas set out to create and there can be no doubt that for those who work at Equal Experts it’s the company they love.