ShopBack Behind-the-Screen: Meet Alan & Gerald, our Software Engineers
What are your day-to-day responsibilities as software engineers?
Alan: We handle one to three major projects every quarter; that easily takes up close to 60% of our day. The remaining 40% is typically spent resolving production issues and working on technical projects.
Gerald: Our daily responsibilities vary according to the phase of development cycle that we’re at. Each cycle can be loosely categorised into three phases:
- Setup and project forecast
During Phase 1, you’ll probably catch us in meetings after meetings. Yes, contrary to popular belief – engineers are not mystical creatures who hide behind their screens and work in solitude; that only happens in Phase 2 – execution. As we move on to Phase 3, we’ll do the clean-up and prepare for the next project. Lots of communication is required!
What’s your biggest challenge?
Alan: Time management. It’s hard to find a balance between improving product features and making technical improvements. We always do our best to deliver product features on time so that we can have extra time on hand to improve our skills as engineers.
Gerald: Projects tend to be very fluid across multiple countries, platforms and teams, resulting in the need to tackle issues as they arise. That’s the essence of startup life, right?
Of course, things are not always ‘last minute’. We do get a sense of what’s coming up next even though we only truly discuss and agree on the scope during Phase 1.
Another challenge is juggling quantity and quality of projects. Having a large number of features is great, but quality is important too. Killer team execution is the key to getting quality products delivered to our customers.
How has startup life been for you so far?
Alan: Well, I came from Alibaba where work processes are very standardised. Everyone in each department knows exactly what to do and what to deliver. It’s super structured.
Here at ShopBack, work processes are very dynamic. We design and tailor processes that make sense for different functions. I enjoy that autonomy.
Gerald: Building on Alan’s point, I always think that an individual is like a cog in a complex machine at the bigger companies. You move a part of the machine but you don’t experience the results directly. It’s completely different when you work at smaller start-ups.
For example, when we push out a new version of code, we experience its immediate effect in the form of an uplift in the number of users. You get to sit through the end-to-end process and see the direct impact of your work.
Not going to lie about this – the high level of transparency can be a little overwhelming at times! However, it’s only through keeping things real that you get to speed up your learning exponentially.
Can co-workers be friends? Any struggles with the overlapping identities?
Alan: When we express our opinions, we make it clear that it’s just work. Nothing personal. Being objective helps us find the best way forward to resolving work issues.
Gerald: We spend so many hours at ShopBack that life will be difficult if you can’t be friends with your co-workers. Keeping things real and putting everything on the table for open discussions help in getting our projects out of the door.
Taking a break at the TAF club (left) and Annual Off-site (right)
Curious about the projects undertaken by our engineers? Learn more about us today at careers.shopback.com