Position Spotlight - Director of Engineering, Marketplace.
We spoke with Director of Engineering Simon Shepard and he told us all about working life on GetYourGuide's Engineering team, upcoming plans and exciting progress!
Can you give us a brief summary of what your job entails?
My job is to help enable the engineering teams who work directly on the desktop and mobile website getyourguide.com. To ensure they have the people, skills, technology and understanding that they need to succeed, to be the glue that helps keeps the different teams all on the same agreed bearing, to celebrate our wins and help learn from our failures and to champion our core values of clarity, commitment, learning, passion and positivity.
Also bringing in doughnuts for retrospectives is a pretty important task I'm responsible for.
Why did you choose to work with GetYourGuide?
Firstly, I'm a big fan of the mission - "turning trips into amazing experiences". For most people their annual summer holiday is the highlight of the year, the only time they get to really focus on being present and enjoying time with family and friends. Helping people get the most out of that time, to provide amazing experiences that they will never forget, seems like a pretty worthwhile thing to do.
The second thing was definitely the company culture. The chance to work with great people focused on customer obsession and data driven decision making was exactly what I was looking for in a company. Smart people, getting things done was something I wanted to be a part of.
What makes GetYourGuide as a workplace stand out from a technical or engineering point of view?
The data driven engineering culture is the best I've ever seen (and I've seen a few). A lot of companies talk about how they are data driven, but very few actually are. Being data driven requires everyone at the company, from the top to the bottom, to leave their egos at the door and face the reality of the numbers. Making everything you do an experiment, really amplifies the speed at which you learn. You have to break everything down into the smallest possible step to validate your hypothesis as soon as possible and so you get validation very quickly whether you going in the right direction. It's also not just limited to the consumer - product, technical, design, management, skills, hiring, we measure it all, even this interview I'm doing right now is part of some metrics somewhere that we monitor.
Why is GetYourGuide a tech company to watch out for?
GetYourGuide embodies the idea that "Everything that can be digital, will be". We are taking tangible problems that people have in the real world and building cutting edge technologies to solve them. We have millions of users and are actively working on scaling up platforms and technologies, solving some really hard problems in really innovative ways.
Also everything in the hype cycle right now is super relevant to us and something we are either actively using or ramping up on: machine learning & AI, voice interfaces, iot, augmented reality, even self driving cars are on our radar in terms of airport transfer tickets!
If you like innovating to solve tough challenges and seeing your work in the hands of millions of real users, then you will like working at GetYourGuide.
You have recently joined GetYourGuide. What is the most relevant or important thing you have experienced so far?
GetYourGuide is a very very dynamic company. If things aren't performing they are iterated on at lightening speed. It is constantly evolving and learning how to improve and get better. The company now is unrecognizable from what it was two years ago and I suspect what it will look like in two years time. What's important is that the culture and the people have strong relationships in and out of work with each other. This is the cement that keeps everything together while everything else is growing so fast.
What does an average day in your role look like?
In my role, everyday is pretty unique. I usually split my time between the marketplace teams, so I try to be part of one of the delivery teams everyday. This involves fairly standard stuff, attending a stand-up, retrospectives, sprint plannings, and I try to pair with a team member for a few hours at least once a day. Other things often crop up, lots of interviews, co-ordination meetings etc.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Focus. We are in a place where there's so much opportunity and so many challenges to solve and they're really all up for grabs. Figuring out each day what is going to make the biggest impact is the toughest choice. Some days you can end up doing something that you thought was trivial but ends up delivering massive measurable value, then other days you can work your ass off to get something done and the impact is relatively low.
Keeping focus, making sure we're going step by step, and not creating too much wip (work in progress) is a daily practice for me.
What advice would you have for someone who wants to work as part of your team?
Apply! Seriously, just apply. Don't waste time worrying about getting a perfect CV or portfolio, perfect is the enemy of good. I'm more interested to see people who have followed their hearts, who have experimented in unique areas and learned. Who have walked their own paths and aren't afraid to go against the crowd.
Huge thanks again to Simon for speaking to us, giving great advice and providing such a detailed account into his dynamic role.
If you are interested in joining Simon and the engineering team, you can find all vacancies here.