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Software Engineer - Product Engineering, EMEA

Ashby

Ashby

Software Engineering, Product
Belgium · Netherlands · Netherlands · Europe · Belgium · France · United Kingdom · Remote
Posted on Monday, April 18, 2022

Hi 👋🏾 I’m Abhik, Ashby's Co-Founder and VP of Engineering. Our engineering culture strives to recreate the environments where we did our best work as ICs – where we had the ownership and agency to impact our users with creative and innovative software.

I started my career building software for artists in the Visual Effects industry. It was a formative experience for me as a software engineer, not just because the work was fun but because success relied on my ability to be a product manager and designer. I talked to artists to understand their needs. I came up with ideas. I did industry research, designed interfaces, and prototyped ideas. I watched artists use what I built and decided what to tackle in the next iteration. No daily stand-ups, no t-shirt sizing, no planning meetings.

It was an exhilarating experience to have straight out of college. I studied computer science to solve problems using software in a way that wasn’t possible before – not be a JIRA jockey. My first job allowed me to do just that, and I felt creative and fulfilled.

When I moved to technology startups, I saw my role narrow (significantly as the company grew), and the enjoyment of building software went with it. It was disheartening because, in Visual Effects, I witnessed some of the most innovative ideas from experienced engineers who blended their technical skills with customer empathy and business context. Such ideas came from the engineers' in-depth knowledge of how software is built, allowing them to create new abstractions or implement technology in novel ways. It’s a level of creativity that is difficult for most product managers or designers to achieve.

I still saw these ideas in technology startups, but as the team grew, these ideas often came to fruition through force of will and the engineer’s ability to push back against the company’s culture (rather than any encouragement from it). Engineering became narrowed to implementation and delivery, partly due to the influence of other departments and partly due to the influx of "Agile" processes like sprint planning.

I don’t want that to happen at Ashby. We’re building an environment that is optimistic about what engineers can own and achieve. An environment that embraces the innovative engineers, and frankly, often stays out of their way. As a Product Engineer, you’ll take ownership over a large portion of one of our products and own projects end-to-end (wearing hats traditionally worn by product and design). You’ll research competitors, write product specs, make wireframes, and more. To ground it with examples, product engineers at Ashby have:

  • Designed and built automated candidate scheduling. This feature automates scheduling by calculating possible times from a pool of interviewers and other constraints, and then presenting these times to the candidate for selection via our responsive web app.

  • Built a generalized filter architecture that allows users to create complex filters for any record with a consistent UI and compile it to SQL in our backend. Many user-facing features use it.

  • Spec-ed, designed, and implemented a feature that allows users to complete signing offers entirely within Ashby. This project involved talking to customers to understand their requirements, deciding what technologies to use, building a prototype, and working with other team members to integrate the final implementation into additional features.

What We’re Building

Talent teams aspire to build a hiring process that identifies great candidates, moves them quickly through the interview process, and provides an excellent experience for the candidate. To accomplish this, recruiters perform thousands of daily tasks to coordinate and relay information between candidates, interviewers, and hiring managers. Teams struggle to keep up!

Scheduling a final round is an excellent example of our customers' challenges. A recruiter needs to collect availability from the candidate, identify potential interviewers, perform “Calendar Tetris” to find who is available to interview the candidate, schedule on the earliest date possible, and perform any last-minute adjustments as availability changes. They must perform this while considering the interview load on each individual and whether interviewers need to be trained and shadowing others. 🥵

Ashby provides talent teams with intelligent and powerful software that provides insights into where they’re failing and automates or simplifies many of the tasks they’re underwater with. We put a lot of effort into designing products that are approachable to beginners but mastered and extended by power users. In many ways, spreadsheets set the bar here (and are what we often replace!).

We have many customers, great revenue growth, years of runway, and amazing investors like YCombinator, Elad Gil, and Lachy Groom. I’ll share more once we meet.

Why You Should or Shouldn’t Apply

Software engineers come in many flavors, not all of which fit our model. Here are some things to help you decide if this fits you and what you’re looking for:

  • You’re not afraid to tackle any part of a technology stack. You do what’s necessary to successfully deliver a feature, whether writing frontend or choosing new infrastructure. We’ll provide a supportive environment to do it successfully (e.g., design system, SRE team).

  • You’ve tackled projects with a lot of product and technical ambiguity, and the intersection of the two is where you thrive. We’re not building a simple CRUD app, and much of the challenges we tackle require using your knowledge of our customers to build powerful abstractions and flexibility in the system to solve a class of problems.

  • You know how to strike the right balance between speed and quality. Ashby wasn’t built quickly, we took four years to launch publicly because convincing customers to switch required a high-quality product. However, time isn’t infinite, especially for a startup, so we still move with urgency – we’ve built the equivalent of 3+ VC-backed startups with a very small team.

  • You are ambitious and always looking to improve your skills. For most engineers, this role will give you more freedom and responsibilities than you’ve experienced in the past. To thrive (and level up), you’ll need to be open to feedback (and we give lots of it).

  • You’re an excellent collaborator and communicator. Ownership and freedom don’t mean you work in a vacuum. You’ll need to vet your decisions with the appropriate stakeholders, keep them up to date when necessary, and work with other engineers to get your projects across the finish line. Clear and concise communication helps a lot here!

  • You seek to create leverage in your work. The nature of software is that you can often automate or abstract what would be tedious, time-consuming work. Your impatience usually leads to new abstractions, tools to allow Support to debug before Engineering, new lint rules to prevent common bugs, etc.

Put another way, you shouldn’t apply if:

  • You need company-driven process and structure to get your projects across the finish line. Sprint planning and well-defined project management processes are things you need or look to others to lead. You’d rather focus on the technical details and challenges.

  • You only want to do exciting work. We’re building a team of kind, collaborative folks. Customer issues and investigations are distributed across the team, including our high-leveled ICs.

  • You can get lost in the details. Once you start implementation, it can be hard to take a step back and think about the project as a whole. You like everything to be planned upfront.

  • You haven’t led or taken ownership of projects before. You’re used to working with tech leads and taking on tasks distributed by them.

  • You want to mentor earlier career engineers. We rely on engineers owning their projects. Consequently, we need engineers with that experience, which requires the team to be reasonably tenured. More than 75% of the team would be considered Senior or above in the industry today, so mentorship opportunities are very limited.

  • A tech lead, staff, or principal engineer, to you, is someone who spends most of their time project managing or doing architecture reviews. Our most tenured engineers spend most of their time building, and we often trust them with our most challenging problems. While they lead product and technical areas and help other engineers plan their most challenging work, it’s not a requirement, nor do engineers need their sign-off.

Engineering Culture

Our engineering culture is motivated by Benji’s (my co-founder and CEO) and my belief that a small talented team, given the right environment, can build high-quality software fast (and work regular hours!).

Collaboration is Natural & Communication is Deliberate

Our engineering team (and the team at large) consists of lifelong learners who are humble and kind (meet them here!). These attributes create an environment where collaboration happens naturally (we filter for it in interviews). We combine this with research, prototyping, and written proposals to see around corners and get feedback from the team across time zones. Focus time is something that we hold sacred, and, with thoughtful and deliberate communication, engineers are in <2h meetings per week (I wrote about it here).

Increase Leverage, not Team Size

We built Ashby with the quality, breadth, and depth that many customers would expect from much larger teams over larger time scales. We’ve done this through investment in:

  • Great developer tooling. Our CI/CD takes ~10m, and we deploy at least 10x a day. Everyone on the team has contributed to developer experience 💪🏾

  • Building blocks to create powerful and customizable products fast. At the core of Ashby is a set of common components (analytics modeling and query language, policy engine, workflow engine, design system) which we are constantly improving. Each improvement to a common component cascades throughout our app (short video below).

Here’s an impromptu quote from Arjun in our company Slack of what it’s like to build a feature at Ashby:

And a demo of one of these building blocks:

Give Engineers Ownership & Agency

We, as engineers, find clever ways to solve problems, which amplifies when we deeply understand the problem. Benji and I did our best work as engineers when we had a deep understanding of the end-user and the business and ownership over the solution. Our engineering culture reflects this experience: engineers own projects end-to-end, from speaking with users to writing product specs to UX design. These are skills that we often don’t get to practice as engineers, and, at Ashby, we provide mentorship to grow them and help from the team where you want it.

Put Effort into Diversity

Diverse teams drive innovation and better outcomes. Having seen my mother and partner build their careers as minority women in non-diverse fields, I want to make sure Ashby creates opportunities for the next generation of engineers from underrepresented groups.

Today, 26% of engineers at Ashby are from underrepresented groups. It’s not great, and we are taking conscious steps to improve, like sourcing diverse candidates, providing generous paid family leave, no leetcode interviews, and more.

Interview Process

At Ashby, our team and interview process want to help you show your best self. We’ll dive into past projects and simulate working together via pair programming, writing tech specs collaboratively, and talking through decisions (no leetcode or whiteboard exercises). Our interview process is three rounds:

  1. 30-minute introduction call

  2. A technical screen (take home or 75-minute in-person)

  3. A virtual on-site of 4 hours and 15 minutes (can be split across two days)

Your hiring manager will be your main point of contact and prep you for interviews. You’ll meet 4 to 6 people in engineering (with 15 minutes in each interview to ask them questions). If we don’t give an offer, we’ll provide feedback!

Your First Two Months at Ashby

We want an exceptional onboarding experience for every new hire. At Ashby, your dev environment sets up with a single script, you push your first change on day one, and we spend the rest of the time building your confidence in our codebase and practices culminating in the delivery of a prominent, impactful feature. We’ll pair you with a peer who’ll guide you through your first tasks and be someone you rely on, from answering questions to pair programming.

Technology Stack

I’m sharing our tech stack with the caveat that we don’t require previous experience in it (but a love of typed languages is helpful 😀): TypeScript (frontend & backend), Node.js, React, Apollo GraphQL, Postgres, Redis.

Benefits

  • Competitive salary and equity.

  • 10-year exercise window for stock options. You shouldn’t feel pressure to purchase stock options if you leave Ashby —do it when you feel financially comfortable.

  • Unlimited PTO with four weeks recommended per year. Expect “Vacation?” in our one-on-one agenda until you start taking it 😅.

  • Twelve weeks of fully paid family leave in the US. We plan to expand this to employees in other countries as situations arise.

  • Generous equipment, software, and office furniture budget. Get what you need to be happy and productive!

  • $100/month education budget with more expensive items (like conferences) covered with manager approval.

  • If you’re in the US, top-notch health insurance for you and your dependents with all premiums covered by us.

Ashby’s success hinges on hiring great people and creating an environment where we can be happy, feel challenged, and do our best work. We’re being deliberate about building that environment from the ground up. I hope that excites you enough to apply.

Ashby provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, genetics, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. We are committed to a diverse and inclusive workforce and welcome people from all backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and abilities.