Welcome to the second in our series of Tales in Tech blogs, celebrating and showcasing key players in London's tech community.

A trusted partner of ours, we’re proud to be working with Gousto as they continue to scale their tech teams in this exceedingly busy time, having seen a huge surge in consumer demand in response to COVID-19.

We caught up with Software Engineering Manager, Andrea Marchello about his step up from Engineer to Manager, his experience of scaling tech teams and to hear how Gousto are keeping their hiring and onboarding plans on track during the Government lockdown. Read on below...

Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Gousto.

I joined Gousto 1½ years ago and I’m a Software Engineering Manager. I used to be a Software Engineer myself and have worked across different industries from banking, retail, travel and telco, in Italy, France and now the UK. 

At Gousto we work in the tribe structure and I’m responsible for one of our tribes. Tribes are formed by multiple squads and are each responsible for a domain. My tribe is responsible for the supply chain - we build software to power our supply chain and to make sure that we can fulfil all our orders.

Gousto is a really exciting business to be working for, especially in these times. The recipes that we ship to our customers are created in our inhouse kitchen where our Recipe Developers are continuously experimenting and creating new dishes. 

I’ve heard that you all get first dibs of any recipes being made downstairs in the Gousto kitchen...

Yes! We also get the opportunity to test the recipes before they go out to customers. We bring the ingredients home, try the recipe ourselves and provide feedback, so we’re all able to contribute to the process.

What’s your favourite part of a typical workday?

A typical workday for me is very different from a typical workday for an Engineer. I'm responsible for people management, our delivery process, our platform and the engineering vision and strategy. But the thing I enjoy the most is the people management part. I really enjoy the 1-1s that I have almost every day with my team. They’re a very powerful tool and enable me to influence people’s thoughts and career progress.

In the time you’ve been at Gousto, what have been some of your greatest achievements?

When I joined 1½ years ago I only had a small team, there were a couple of Engineers and a couple of Consultants. Today I have a huge tribe of 3 squads and 15+ people reporting to me. 

As the company and each team has scaled, we’ve become completely cross functional and the whole company is now structured around the tribe model. In our tribe we have people from operations as we work on the supply chain. Whereas the tribe that is focused on growth are working with people from marketing and customer care and the tribe focused on menu work with our food team.

So I’m very proud to have been able to shape the vision and the different squads within our supply chain tribe. Establishing a really clear direction, not just from a technical perspective but from a business perspective.

How have you found your team have adjusted to working remotely? Have you got any tips on how you've kept up productivity whilst you’re all working remote?

Like you mentioned, it's all about adjusting. We really value face-to face interaction and collaboration at Gousto, so it has been difficult. However, we've managed to replace everything we were doing at the office with remote meetings or remote collaboration sessions. One of the things I was worried about was how are we going to hire people? We were expecting the lockdown, so we started thinking ahead and came up with the right tooling for our interview process. Our pairing session can now be done online and we’re using a tool for our whiteboard exercise to run the session smoothly which has been working really well and we’ve received good feedback from candidates.

How have you found onboarding of the new starters?

Our People Team came up with new remote onboarding processes in collaboration with our IT team, as we need to ship any equipment to the new joiners. We’ve worked a lot on our onboarding process over the last 2 years and have really improved it. It's all about adapting what we would usually do face-to-face and replicating everything so it can be done remote, making sure we don't miss out any steps. When new joiners are in the office it's easy to pair, to speak to people and feel part of everything, so now we need to make the extra effort to ensure new joiners are involved from the beginning as much as possible.

What would you say has been the most interesting challenge you've faced in your tech career?

If I think about myself as a Software Engineer there were always a lot of complex problems to solve, but I think the most interesting challenge has been when I moved from a Software Engineer to Software Engineering Manager. That was crazy as it happened overnight. I didn't know until I walked into the office and was told that in a week's time, I was going to become an Engineering Manager as someone was leaving! I had zero experience, so I had to learn on the job and I was immediately leading on a very difficult project. It was stressful as I had to figure things out by myself, but it was a huge learning opportunity. 

Do you attend any meetups, are they any you would recommend?

I attend a lot of meetups, I often attend ones around leadership, architecture and agile & lean which I'm quite passionate about. Now that we're remote I’ve attended a couple of webinars from a few companies that were already working remote, as they know what to do better than anyone else right now! I've also spoken previously at agile leadership meetups and about my move from Engineer to Engineering Manager. At Gousto we’re quite active in the meetup community. We organise around one a month in our office and go out and speak at other meetups as well.

What advice would you give to a Junior Software Engineer looking to make the step up into a Managerial role one day?

When you start your career as a Junior Engineer you sometimes get stuck in the really technical side of it - building code, writing code and building software almost for the sake of it, just to be perfect. What's really important is to engage with the product side of things, with the outcomes. Try to understand as early as possible in your career why you’re building what you’re building and what metrics you should care about and measure. Start to write software for your customer rather than for your self-gratification. 

A huge thank you to Andrea for taking the time out to share his thoughts and insight on this very topical subject. Gousto continues to lead by example and show that COVID-19 needn’t put a hold on your hiring plans with various technical tools available to assist with remote interviewing and onboarding.

If you’re currently hiring and need any help, advice or support on your hiring needs, we're here to help. Get in touch at hello@burnssheehan.co.uk

If you’ve had an interesting pathway into tech or are working on an exciting project you’d like to share, please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you and share your story with our tech community.