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Engineering A Great Environment: An Interview

Our Software Engineers at Janio are the builders of systems and platforms that impact our merchants and ground operations across the region every day. Leading the team are a visionary duo who are not only passionate about taking our products to the next level, but also cultivating an environment that empowers our engineers to learn and grow exponentially. 

In the second part of our tech series, our CTO, Jagmal Singh, and Head of Engineering, Neeraj Paliwal share the unique growth opportunities that potential Software Engineers in Bengaluru can look forward to.

Here’s Part 1 of the series in case you missed it.

How would you describe your leadership style?

Jagmal: My leadership style is flexible and collaborative. It’s flexible in that it depends on the person and the problem we’re trying to solve. For example, in certain situations, judging by the issue at hand, the individual dealing with it, and time constraints, I might have to be more hands-on in order to get into the finer details of the situation. But in general, I prefer to be more hands-off and take on a more supportive role. I want to give my team the autonomy to complete their projects on their own, and assist them along the way – much like a cheerleader or a mentor.

Neeraj: I’m generally very hands-on with the technology aspect of projects, and would like to remain that way. Certain situations may not allow me to invest too much time doing the actual coding, but I’d definitely be more involved with it if time permits. Empathy also plays a huge role in building a successful product, so as a team, we always want to keep the needs of our end-users in mind, and to ensure that anything we’re creating will add value to their lives. Even better yet – our QA testers and UX designers should already find the process of building on our work much easier during our testing and development phases.

How will you be supporting our Software Engineers to perform at their best? 

Jagmal: We want to create an environment where there are open boundaries – where everyone can share their thoughts and knowledge freely, ask difficult questions, and collaborate with each other for input. If you’re a developer with an interest in other tech processes, like Cloud and DevOps as an example, there will always be processes that need to be improved. In a larger company, you may look at these processes and feel very frustrated about why some things aren’t moving. This is because most people have very clearly defined roles and boundaries, which includes what they should or should not do. This may not be great.

But, if we create more flexible and open boundaries, you can then ask why should you take one step instead of two. Therefore, being in an environment like this allows you to move horizontally, beyond your boundaries, and try out new things.

Neeraj: Similar to Jagmal, I’m always open to receiving suggestions from the team, and to have open, friendly debates where everyone is welcome to raise questions and ideas. Like other tech companies, we welcome new ideas and solutions that you might have built outside of working hours, even if it doesn’t fit the business need at that particular point in time. If it brings value to the company eventually, I’ll be happy to bring it up again.

What sort of professional growth can one expect when joining us?

Jagmal: As a young engineer, you can embark on different trajectories in your career growth. 

Firstly, you may want to dive deep into technical problems. As you may know, logistics is a domain of tough operations and algorithmic problems. At Janio, you’ll get to be a part of solving them. This could include optimisation of routes, drivers, responses, and cost to meet business targets.

Secondly, you might aspire to grow as a leader – building and growing teams. In a fast-growing company like ours, you may get the opportunity to do so, and to develop the necessary skill sets to lead a team.

Thirdly, you might be interested in learning about other aspects of the business or product, and perhaps grow to be more cross-functional. Our company values transparency and openness, so raise them up to different business units to gain a deeper understanding on what’s happening and why. You’ll be closer to the business problem, and can get a perspective of what each team is asking for.

Finally – and this is an area that is the closest to my heart – you might aspire to build a company of yours and create your own products. I will say that there’s no better place to kickstart your journey than at Janio. Building a company from the ground up isn’t following a straight line, and over here you’ll get to see both the fulfilling and challenging aspects of company-building.

So, we have opportunities for you in these four areas. I would give you all the autonomy you need to explore and learn more about yourself, but also help you, as mentioned previously, as a cheerleader or mentor.

Neeraj: Building on Jagmal’s point on mentorship – having a mentor is one of the most important aspects of navigating startup life, as well as the challenges that come with it. It’s important to have someone in the team you can look up to, learn from, and motivate you to explore new horizons. These are all really important in the initial stages of your career.

What’s the pace of a startup, and the advantages to that? 

Jagmal: In a large company, you typically can expect sufficient, or even more than enough, time to think about the problems at hand, and debate over decisions for weeks and months. At some point, it could become mundane and bureaucratic. 

In comparison, a startup environment is one where you have to make decisions quickly, and move on. You may also be challenged to speed up processes and provide solutions ahead of already flexible deadlines, while having a larger group of stakeholders waiting on your output. That’s something that people may find challenging, but it provides you with accelerated growth opportunities in a compressed time frame, and improves your ability to adapt and respond to changes.

That’s why, from a managerial perspective, it's important for me to be as open as possible, communicate and align expectations, empower you to achieve your objectives, and provide the support when you need it.

Can you describe the growth stage that Janio is in, and how that helps our Software Engineers grow in their skills and development? 

Jagmal: We’re currently moving towards a ‘hypergrowth’ phase here at Janio, where the next 6 to 18 months is going to be both challenging yet exciting. We’re working on many products and covering more ground with a lean team. So there’ll always be enough challenges to go around, and many opportunities to push yourself to solve these tough problems above your grade.

Let me put it this way. If we have a new problem to solve and I assign it to your teammate, you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out on that project, because you’ll definitely get your own puzzle to work on. Compare this to a bigger company, where there are a smaller number of opportunities – the scarcity of problems naturally makes people fight for them. We all can guess what happens in that scenario…

Neeraj: Of course, we’re also open to experimenting and tackling new problem statements. For example, route optimisation may not be on our horizon right now, but if you express interest in wanting to take on this challenge, like suggesting an optimal solution to the routing problem, then you’re free to spend time working on that beyond your scope of projects. So in that sense, you can always expect to learn and upscale your skills exponentially with us.

We honestly wouldn’t mind if a frontend engineer requested to be involved in developing a backend API.

Jagmal: Agreed. Let's just say you're doing well and you feel a little bored. We can give you more opportunities to solve new and more complicated problems. We may even create projects for you. There are so many interesting projects to offer our Software Engineers to experiment with, and to stretch their critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

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A short preview of the next part in this series:

“When you look at your career growth as a whole, you should approach it from the point of overall universal employability rather than just the title.”

Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn for more tech career tips when the next article drops!

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