Bangalore-based Senior Engineering Manager, Divya Rai, shares why the complex problems faced by our tech team make Uber a great place to build your technical skills and grow your career as an Engineer.
Tell us about your experience since joining Uber.
“Typically Engineers are told what to do and what to build so when I joined Uber the culture of empowering Engineers really surprised me. It was a welcome change to see ideas and innovations spawning from Engineers at all levels being given equal voice and consideration. One of these ideas that comes to mind was about how we can use advertising effectively on our platform. This ended up going ahead as a full feature and is an integral part of the app experience today in many countries around the world. This is just one among many ideas that I have witnessed come to life in my time at Uber so far. Now I am in a leadership role, but I would have loved working for Uber back in my IC days.”
What do you enjoy about your work?
“I love solving problems and at Uber scale, there are new challenges every day. Where I work, in the space of service observability and reliability, this is further magnified by a complex network of services. Recently my team was working on a persistence layer to provide service-level insight on health metrics. The scale we were solving for was 1.5 million logs/sec to be processed in real time. It took multiple iterations to find the right balance of detail, continuously optimizing to store only critical data.
These types of challenges push our teams to think outside the box and come up with state of the art solutions. There is an immense sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes with this. But more than that, what I love is the continuous cycle of iteration, failure and recovery that we work through until we reach the most simple solution possible for these complex problems.”
What’s been one of your most rewarding experiences working at Uber?
“I joined in 2020 when we were setting up new teams for our Developer Platform in India. I was working alongside the leadership team to define the charter while I was helping the newly hired Engineers understand the roadmap ahead. One of our very first goals was to improve the reliability and resiliency of our critical developer tools. I am proud of the team that worked on this herculean task with me and in 6 months we were at a place where we could confidently start planning on a clear vision and roadmap.”
Tell us about the flexibility of working that you have experienced at Uber?
“Uber has a hybrid work setup globally, with Tuesdays and Thursdays as anchor days in the office. For me, this approach provides the right balance of opportunities to collaborate along with the flexibility to have focus time for work as well as family time. My team and I use anchor days for high collaboration work and spend the rest of the week focusing on execution and delivery. On top of this, we can work from anywhere for up to 4 weeks a year. I have used this many times, traveling to the beaches of Goa and Pondicherry and scenic towns in the Himalayas to have a change of scenery without needing to take time off.”
What Uber value resonates the most with you?
“I believe in all the Uber values but the one that resonates the most is Go get it. This is a personal value I have held since my student years. At Uber, I have always encouraged discussing problems with a focus on finding the solution and not just pivoting on the problem. My team and I now look at challenges as questions to be answered by solutions and this helps us be truly agile and move faster.”
Why should you join Uber to build your technical career?
“At Uber, we work at the intersection of the digital and physical worlds. The complexity of this amplifies with the scale at which we work and the pace at which we move. This means that our technologies are pushed to the limit and then we get to go back to the drawing board and rethink our solution. One such example that comes to mind is when we had a sudden surge in the traffic of data and the system was not scaling as expected. We knew we had to have rate limiting but no ordinary rate limiting would do. The team built a dynamic rate limiter but not just for the team but for all of Uber to use. This has helped us mitigate many outages with minimal impact.
The opportunity to contribute to the open source community is another reason to join Uber. A lot of our Engineers are open source committers and have built solutions like Jaeger, the distributed tracing tool, and made an impact all over the world. Working on complex challenges with global impact means you are constantly learning and continuously upskilling yourself. This is the kind of work that really helps build your technical career.”
Any advice for someone looking to join Uber?
“Having a sense of ownership in everything we do is critical, which means we are all part of a team but still play an important role as an individual. On top of this, creating efficiency is at the core of how we operate. So having a strong engineering mindset to always question the status quo and not just build new things but improve the existing is an important quality for anyone seeking a career at Uber.”
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