2021 saw one of the craziest rushes for tech talent ever. Tech startups, flush with capital, went to a war of attrition with each other to attract quality talent. Like many other companies, our engineering function had to bear the repercussions as well.
By mid-2021, we saw almost 50% attrition in the engineering function. Fortunately, we quickly recovered from such an unenviable situation and tripled our team in the last 12 months. Needless to say, a good part of the past year for me consisted of hiring- talking to candidates, understanding their needs, aspirations and concerns.
This blog is intended to discuss some of the common themes that came up in many such interactions with candidates who interviewed at Elucidata and continue to do so. Hopefully, this might help you understand us a bit better as well as help evaluate potential employers.
Also, here is a shameless plug regarding our open positions.
So, what are some of the key aspects where we stand-out?
Human beings are social creatures, and the people and surroundings have a huge influence on our thoughts, decisions and actions. At Elucidata, we have been able to successfully set up a team with the right mix of young turks and experienced heads. We are passionate about what we build, and are constantly trying to improve - both ourselves and the software that we build.
This environment at Elucidata gives an engineer the opportunity to pick the brains of talented peers while solving challenging problems and arriving at design decisions. It also opens up the spectrum for new joinees- giving them more exposure and faster multilateral growth. In the words of our CEO and co-founder Abhishek Jha-
There prevails a sense of healthy competition while working towards a common goal. Good engineers like to innovate and to showcase their work. To an extent, this also fosters an environment which encourages one to excel at what they do and to be a better version of themselves.
At Elucidata, we care about skill and talent rather than experience. As humans, we learn most things by trying, failing, doing and improving. What good is any job if it doesn’t give you the opportunity to try?
One of the guiding principles that we follow here (and not just in El-Engineering) is to not evaluate people solely based on the number of years of experience - be it at the time of hiring, during appraisals or promotions. There is always a constant endeavor to identify leaders at all levels and see how best to fast-track their growth.
We believe in human potential! And one of the best ways to unlock it is to provide the opportunity, grant ownership, and responsibility for key areas.
Responsibility and ownership aren’t always only in areas of software development. It can be in-
This means we have exceptional freshers stepping-up to Senior Engineer positions in less than 6 months, Tech Leads with only 3 years of industry experience, and more such cases. Fortunately, I found myself to be a beneficiary of this approach.
When I say flat hierarchy, I DO NOT mean that all engineers report to the CTO. We are wiser than that! Teams have been designed in such a way that there are at-max 3 levels between an Engineer and one of the founders in the org chart. More importantly, founders/leaders are only ONE Slack message away! This gives an opportunity to bring forward suggestions and concerns to raise queries. We are a lean engineering team (fewer than 40 software engineers) and a young and dynamic startup. We also have a bi-weekly company wide meeting where different aspects like company OKRs, revenue goals etc. are discussed.
If you take a closer look at the technology landscape, a lot of smart tech talent goes into adding convenience to human life - e-commerce, digital payments, food delivery, ticket booking, cab aggregation etc., to name a few. There is always a lot of talent that works on digital transformation as well as working on products and platforms that serve human desires for entertainment and recreation. The tech ecosystem is vibrant and as engineers, we should be lucky to be part of this movement.
That said, one of the key differentiators at Elucidata is the direct and indirect contribution to scientific research and drug discovery. Our platform, products and services cater to the Life Sciences R&D sector and are used by researchers trying to find answers to complex problems about human health, diseases and potential cures. If you are curious and have a scientific bent of mind, there are very high chances that you will be able to understand, appreciate and find purpose in what you do at Elucidata.
Luckily for us, the timing couldn’t be better for working in such a field. The industry at large is seeing a lot of investment, innovation and traction. We are also riding the wave.
This is one of the most commonly asked questions by candidates during interviews and in many ways you might be wondering, is this so low on the list because we don’t value it ? Come on… We work with R&D teams. Many of our internal team members are researchers themselves. We always keep an eye out on the tech advancements & innovations, and always try our best to use them pragmatically. We are seldom married to technologies and we are not afraid about engineering and re-engineering where the pay-off is justified.
We have been cloud-native (Go AWS !!!) from Day 0, we use serverless tech as much as possible and many of the problems that we work on need us to custom build/design systems. We have been using modern frontend frameworks, doing code reviews, using CI-CD for deployment and maintaining Infra As Code very early into our journey.
We work with large volumes of semi-structured and unstructured data and solve multiple engineering challenges related to cleaning, structuring, storing, protecting, searching, accessing, sharing and visualizing data.
This is another key aspect that is on the mind of most smart engineers. Technology landscapes are constantly evolving. So, it’s important that we keep ourselves up to date or risk being dinosaurs in this field. We promote learning through different ways - structured learning through our up-skilling bonuses to be used against courses, books, conferences etc. Another way is through doing. Team members are given the opportunity to work on solving newer problems compared to what they have faced. Last but not least - knowledge sharing. A lot of times, we learn from the work of our peers. The weekly Engineering all-hands is an avenue for people for open ended discussions about the problems they have solved and also on other tech aspects in general.
As engineers, it is also common to focus only on tech-related up-skilling. But we believe that growth has many attributes and many times, this involves exposure to tech management (people & projects), mentoring, hiring & team building etc. Engineers who show a taste for such aspects are always given an opportunity to try their hands on such aspects as well.
I was re-reading what I wrote and wow.. El-Engineering does sound awesome! But I am sure it makes you wonder- ‘This sounds too good to be true. What’s the catch?’
So let me be honest! We are a venture-funded growth-stage startup. This means that the pressure to grow is huge. We are not an e-commerce platform trying to replicate another. We do not have a playbook we could copy from. Again, not implying that replicating success is easy, but being a pathfinder has its own challenges. Many times the end goals are not crystal clear and we often have to dig into our sense of belief and adapt to change. To say the least, it requires a lot of effort. Naturally, there are also times when we fail despite our best efforts and are left with no option but to pick ourselves up and go at it again. But the silver lining is-
All said and done, this process might be difficult but trust me, it is so much more satisfying and rewarding. Unlike M.S Dhoni hitting a six to win the match on the last ball, organizational goals are progressive. More often than not, things are seldom make or break. Most likely, you will know in advance when goals are about to be met (or unmet). No matter what the next outcome, setting the next goal is one thing that's important .
If you found us interesting, apply to us or spread the word. If you found this blog too long…Duh, we are engineers!-
tl;dr- we do well on these 7 sub-headings. It might be a cool team worth looking at.
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