We lost count of how many roles Sudipta’s had during her time at Groupon, but it’s quite a few. She gives us the rundown on what her Engineering journey has looked like since joining Groupon as a recent college grad.
Tell us about your job! What do you do exactly? What do you love about it?
I am a Software Engineer and I work on the backend team to provide incentives for our end users. The best part of my job is that any new initiative around granting discounts is directly reflected in conversions. Better promotions mean happier customers, which results in a larger purchase, eventually resulting in higher company profits. So there is always a sense of satisfaction to be able to contribute directly towards my company goals.
I love the fact that we own the service from Bangalore and are responsible for everything associated with it. There is not only high visibility but also recognition for all our efforts. Other than office work, I love the fact that we also work on a lot of fun activities such as festivals, birthday cake cuttings, company-wide outings, and intra-company sports competition, personal development courses, and volunteering opportunities.
What was your first role here? How did you get to where you are now?
I was recruited during my final year of post-graduation and was hired for the Goods team. We worked on a logistics service, built on Python-based Django framework and used Postgres backend. It was responsible for vendor payments, once the product was actually shipped to the end user. After 11 months, I was a part of the Goods sub-teams written in Ruby and Angular JS resp., using MySQL backend. While one of the services was responsible for storing and validating vendor contact details along with deal information, the other service provided a platform for the vendors to put their deal information on the portal which would allow the Groupon buyers and vendors to eventually sign the contract.
Eight months later, I started working on a few platform services around APAC initiatives. The following year, I worked with the Global Marketing team for about three months. I then headed towards a new venture, this time on the front-end technology with Conversions Engineering, whose services were built in NodeJs, using Mustache for HTML templates, and beautified with CSS. I was primarily involved with enabling users to log in and sign up when either on Groupon or when integrated via social communities such as Facebook and Google.
After being part of this i-tier framework-based front-end project for around 10 months, in January 2017, I moved back to platform services and became a member of the Push Engineering Team. In the past almost five years, I have seen a standardisation from raising pull requests over emails, logging tickets in Pivotal tracker, maintaining a code repository on Github, filing tickets in Jira, using test rails for QA steps, and introducing a review process for new services.
What’s unique about Groupon’s Engineering culture?
There are various forums that practice technical discussions, workshops, and hands-on sessions. Engineers working on different teams reach out to each other when they’re stuck on any design problem. As my manager said once, individual contributors here get the opportunity to work in every role. Like in the temporary absence of a Product team, Engineers can become a Product Manager and work closely with the business team in getting the right expectations.
Engineers here strive to keep the coding standards high and follow best practises framed in various guidelines. We have strict review processes for new services, which require a document explaining the challenges the service will solve; the logical and physical design; upstream and downstream dependencies; availability constraints (Tiers); what data flows in and out of the service; and the deployment process.
Every quarter, there are processes carried out to ensure every microservice is confined to its expected SLA and is stress tested to assure it’s capable of serving 2-3x more traffic during holidays. We also have global hackathons arranged each year. There is a creative energy all over, where colleagues come up with many impressive ideas, and some even implement them within the designated time span. While all these might look like very usual stories, I would like to share one unique experience from such events. It was the year 2015, where the winning project contestants from Chennai actually got the opportunity to present their team idea in Seattle in front of the CEO. It was a highly motivating experience!
What’s your favorite view from the office?
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on?
So, a few years back, when I was still deciding if I should accept the challenge of working in front-end technology after having worked only in the back-end, my director explained to me that it is always good to take one step further towards being a full-stack developer. Today, when I look back, I realise it was definitely good advice and it makes me feel happy to have accepted the challenge! 🙂
What’s been surprising about working here?
Groupon expands via acquisition of companies, which in turn brings new tech stacks. While there are companies that force their acquired companies to rebuild after an acquisition closes, Groupon does not. What it leaves behind is a challenge to build an ecosystem around these services so that they operate smoothly with each other. Groupon’s North American platform was originally a single, monolithic Ruby-on-Rails application, known as the Primary Web App or PWA. The other platform i.e Berlin/CityDeal is a collection of Java applications that mainly use Spring. These platforms are evolving towards a consistent, global platform termed ‘One Platform’. The global platform is a service-oriented architecture (SOA). The effort of bringing all these services based out of different technologies onto a single platform has been enormous.
What’s your favorite Groupon memory?
One of my favourite memories with Groupon dates back to March of 2013. At that time, I was studying in Pune and hadn’t started working here yet. Groupon had organised a get together for fresh hires in the city of Nawabs, Hyderabad. I still remember how the conference room was filled with curious minds who were preparing to get started on their career journeys and how eager the senior directors and HR were to welcome their young employees aboard. Not only did Groupon fly us down and back and provided a comfortable stay, but the entire event gave us the feeling about how much this organisation cares about its employees!
Tabs of spaces?
Vim or emacs?
Vim, simply for the ease it provides to carry out basic required operations.
What’s your favorite programming language?
Java and Python.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I love spending time with family and friends. When I’m not at home, you will find me checking out new food joints. When I’m at home you may find me singing, dancing or hopping around, and interacting with my Java finches. I just love talking to them! By now, I have gathered a few words to which they even respond. 😉
I get deep satisfaction if I am able to extend my support to anyone in distress. I like watching late-night movies on weekends and feel extremely proud when I still hit the gym on time the next morning. I love dogs of all species, but stray dogs amaze me the most. I can spend hours adoring them.
What do your parents think you do?
Well, my Mom was convinced that we provide the best deals ever – not for the love of anything but onions! So onion prices in India once jumped about 90 percent last year to $0.86 a kilogram up from about $0.46 a kilogram. Groupon India had launched an “onion deal” in September that became so popular that it actually crashed the site! Nearly 3000kgs of onions were sold in 44 minutes, 30 minutes of which the site was down due to the highest traffic ever!