Vidal: Hello, my name is Vidal Graupera and welcome to this interview on Managers Club. Today I have a special interview with my friend Akshaya, Director of Engineering at Bolt. Among other things, we are going to deep dive into context switching, task management and some of the special things he does to stand out in recruiting which you may find interesting if you don’t work at a big name company like Google or Facebook. So without further ado, here we go!
Vidal: Good afternoon. Akshaya welcome to Manager’s Club. Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me today.
AKSHAYA: Hey, Vidal! Thanks for inviting me to have this conversation with you. I’m looking forward to the rest of the call.
Vidal: Great. Maybe we just start out, you could share a little bit with people like where you’re currently at, maybe your current role, that you do.
AKSHAYA: Sure. I am the Director of Engineering at a company called Bolt. I’ve been at Bolt for about three years now. It’s a company that is focused around changing checkout for all of E-commerce. Checkout is what drives commerce and what we have noticed is, it’s a pretty fragmented technology with every business doing their own un-optimized way of doing checkout and our whole focus is on trying to bring more value to our merchants by building a hyper-optimized checkout and fraud management services.
What’s your background and how did you get into management?
Vidal: Could you share a little about your… how your background was before Bolt and how you got into management?
AKSHAYA: I started off my career back at a hardware silicon company called Marvell Technologies. I was building a lot of software there and I quickly realized that I was doing all the right things, but I wanted to do it at a software company. And so my next gig was at Twitter where I spent almost four years building their ad technologies as one of the earlier engineers there. I saw… I mean I did get an opportunity to manage early on, but I kind of opted out of it and wanted to learn a little more technically before I started managing. And so I was laser focused on trying to improve my technical skills. Four years later I wanted to do something really small, very very early stage startup and Bolt came on my radar.
AKSHAYA: It was a company of 4 to 5 engineers in all, so I just jumped with both feet in and as soon as the engineering team grew to about eight or nine people, I became the first manager and now I lead a team of about 30 to 35 engineers.
Vidal: Do you have any managers that report to you?
AKSHAYA: Yeah, sure. I mean it would be impractical if I had all 30 engineers report to me. I have about three to four managers who manage about six to eight people. I also manage a bunch of individual contributions directly. So in all, you know… we have our hands full as managers and leaders on the engineering side of Bolt. But in all we are making it work.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Vidal: All right. That’s a good segue into my next question. Could you describe what are some of the biggest challenges you face?