Women in Tech – Chapter 1

I still remember the day when I first came to Zomato, it was for one of their Tech Recruitment Programmes, Trial Week. I hadn’t really heard much about Zomato before this and honestly wasn’t sure if this was the space I wanted to be in. Adding on to this, there was a perception of Zomato as an organisation that frequently resorted to the concept of ‘hire fast, fire fast’, which made me increasingly hesitant to add Zomato to my list of top companies.

You must be wondering why I then sent in my application in the first place. Well, the application for a week-long programme was to try and step out of my comfort zone. Before this, I was working in Chandigarh, which is my hometown, and had no plans of permanently shifting to another city. I was happy with my work, and always felt comfortable knowing that home was nearby. But a thought of trying something new had been lingering in my mind for long and what was better than to spend a week, having the choice to evaluate an organisation first hand? Zomato gave me a chance to live the life of a Zoman for a week and if everything went well, I could stay on. If this didn’t happen, I could take that experience back and carry on with what I was happy doing.

At the end of the week, I was successful and was offered a chance to become a full-time employee here. I definitely had mixed feelings about this at that point, as this wasn’t something I had planned or decided to take on. But I stuck on and today, I am glad I did. It’s been 4 years for me and my learnings from Zomato aren’t even close to fading out.

The first leg of my journey

During my initial days of working here, I had the opportunity of working with Gunjan Patidar, our CTO. I was working on small features and bug fixes for Web at that point, and even though these were not the most critical tasks he had at hand, he still made sure he took me over every little detail. I was amazed at the clarity he had on every aspect and the way he demonstrated the entire flow of our product. I still have that sheet of paper on which he illustrated an overview of one of the systems I was supposed to work on. Of course, he was an expert at what he does, but also embodied what Zomans truly stand for – he was down to earth, humble and approachable. It wasn’t like I had ever perceived a CTO to be like.

Few months down the line, I was moved into the Food Delivery team, where I was involved in integrating different merchants into our system. Even though I faced a great number of challenges here, but the learnings were even more in number and depth – integrating APIs in our current flow, planning step by step feature releases for each merchant, improving UX, decreasing error rates and increasing order volumes at the same time. This experience helped me gain a holistic understanding of one of the most critical business verticals for Zomato. In fact, these integrations helped in getting some of the biggest chains live on Zomato, which contribute largely to our daily order volumes today.

I then shifted into the consumer backend team, where most of my time was utilised by keeping a constant check on the response time of every crucial API and conducting regular optimisations. It was amazing to experience how a small change in the app or a slight improvement in API response time can increase your Order Through Rate. At Zomato, we believe in constant evolution and are defining tasks for optimisation at every stage of development. Every single individual is given the time and freedom to seek their own unique ways to contribute to our vision. At Zomato, we don’t believe in hiring merely to fill up numbers, we believe in hiring to bring in people that are open to learning novel techniques and keep the value of ownership at the highest pedestal.

It’s amazing to see how much people have moved around and the wide range of projects they’ve worked upon here – it gives you the chance to express your interest and shift projects as and when you feel you can contribute immensely to them, and if there’s a requirement within the team. Counterintuitively, the less I ask for, the more I receive at Zomato.

What’s in store for me in the coming years?

I am now contributing to making a shift from monolithic to service-oriented architecture, where we are breaking the current system into services, based on the specific functionalities. Additionally, we are rebuilding everything from scratch by supporting old features and making them easily extensible for new features. This shift is helping us reduce incremental feature development time and is even better in testing and scaling each component individually.

Over the last few years, I have not only learnt a great deal in relation to what I do but also around what I can do and achieve. We all have to push ourselves to realise what we’re capable of. Each day has been challenging – from designing, testing, shipping features and services, managing time for reviews, bug fixes and simultaneously writing code. I have worked on such different projects now, that I feel I have the ability to learn anything I wish to take up here.

Zomato, is like a second home to me now. There is different kind of energy and amiability, which motivates me to come here every day and contribute to the larger vision of ‘better food for more people’.