Imagine Working in Engineering at Helpshift

Cross-posted from my interview published on Helpshift's Medium blog

  • Name: Vedang Manerikar
  • Current Role: Principal Engineering Manager, Backend
  • How long you have been with Helpshift?: 7 years

What does your day-to-day at Helpshift look like?

My day-to-day is unblocking people and getting things done!

I review architecture, read code, enable customer service, help product guys understand the engineering pros and cons of their product decisions and prioritize work for maximum productivity. I work with an amazing team. They make all of this possible and achievable.

That means I also get to hang out with my best friends, catch up on their day-to-day, laugh at inside jokes that have been running for years and overall have a blast. Seven years at a place lets you build deep relationships and puts a smile on your face when you think about work!

What has been your favorite off-site team oriented event, and why?

When we were cash-strapped and raising funds, a team off-site was the running joke of the company. "After Series A!", we would raise our glasses and say. As time went on without funding in sight, every request turned into "After Series A!".

So when we did raise our first round, we treated ourselves to a long weekend at a spectacular villa in Goa. It was a heady celebration and the world was our oyster. It remains my favorite off-site because the funding felt like validation.

What role(s) did you start in at Helpshift and how have you graduated/migrated into different roles?

I came to Helpshift with a strong systems background: writing kernel modules and working on storage replication. I started writing Python at Helpshift and then graduated to Clojure (in 2011, when almost no one else was writing Clojure). I've since written and helped design large chunks of the Helpshift architecture, and have learnt interesting things about distributed systems through trial-by-fire. Today, I make an impact by making sure my team has clear, unambiguous goals and all the resources to achieve these goals.

Favourite thing about working for an SF tech startup:

I have a lot of "favorite things" about working at Helpshift (We keep our workplace fun!). A small example of this is that on any given day someone or the other will bring home-made snacks and goodies for the others to enjoy.

What advice would you have for prospective Helpshift candidates?

We're still a small enough company that everyone knows everyone else by name. If you're the kind of person who wants to get in on the ground floor and grow with a company, we're perfect for you. Come with a no-nonsense, no-bullshit attitude. Be a kind person.

What is your proudest moment at Helpshift?

My colleagues and I have taken this company from serving 0 requests per second to serving 50,000 requests per second. We're installed in over 2 Billion devices in the world. That means that there's a 50% chance that you (reader) have us installed in one of the apps on your phone. That sentence is a source of great pride for me.

How would you describe the company culture and what do you like most about it?

As a company, we've always looked for attitude over smarts. We want people who are good listeners and good communicators. We want people who are passionate and hold strong opinions. We want people who care about quality. This is the culture that we've always striven to maintain at Helpshift.

Superpower (real or fake): Obscure Emacs shortcuts.

Give a man Emacs and he'll get some programming done. Teach a man how to tweak it and play with it and he'll happily shave yaks for the rest of his life.

Slightly addicted to: Tea.

Walking out of the office to have road-side tea in the evening is an old Helpshift tradition. I'm always on the lookout for great Masala Chai, and if you come to my home I'll whip up a fantastic cup of tea for us to chat over!

Always on the search for the perfect: new book to read.

Reading is one of my favorite ways to unwind. I read anything that I can get my hands on: fantasies, travelogues, thrillers, pop psychology, autobiographies, technical books, comics, you name it!

If you could interview one person, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Isaac Newton or Albert Einstein or Alan Turing! (Sorry I cheated.) These were phenomenal people with world-changing ideas. How did they get them? How did they remain productive all their life? What did "work" mean for them? What was their work day like? What did they do to unwind? What did they do for leisure? Who did they look up to? I'd love to know these answers!

Published On: Thu, 07 Sept 2017.