As part of our Tales in Tech series we’ve been catching up with members of our tech community over the last few weeks to share the journeys, lessons learnt and advice that has helped them through their careers to date.
This week we sat down with Anindita Sengupta over Zoom. Anindita joined world leading market intelligence agency Mintel as an Engineering Lead back at the start of April - right in the middle of the UK COVID-19 lockdown. Onboarded entirely remotely, we caught up to find out how her experience was joining the team from the virtual office and to hear about her experience working for both a start-up and a Fortune 500 organisation over the years.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Mintel?
I’m a Programmer by profession. I first started my journey back in India and have worked in Singapore and the US before I came to the UK after getting married. When I first came to the UK I was working as a freelance Developer for some time before moving on to work for an AI start-up. I was recently placed at Mintel by Burns Sheehan where I’ve joined the new Data Warehouse & Analytics Centre team as an Engineering Lead. It’s a really exciting team to join as Mintel has a world-class database and part of my role is to understand and analyse how all that data is transformed.
You joined during the UK lockdown and your onboarding process with Mintel was done remotely, how has that experience been for you?
It’s been really positive, the team made me feel included before I even joined the company. After my offer was made I was constantly in touch with a number of people from Mintel so I was able to feel the friendly atmosphere before even starting. Ahead of joining the team I had two catch ups with my lead manager and all of my equipment was delivered to me 3 days prior to my start-date with everything pre-set up.
My induction was done online and I’ve met people from the London and Chicago offices via video calls and even been introduced to some of the team based in Shanghai. I think I've met more people than I would have met if I had been onboarded physically.
Do you think that people have made the extra effort to make you feel welcome during this time as they’re aware it’s an unusual situation?
It could be but I think Mintel has a collaborative culture regardless. I’ve been in many meetings where people share the books they’re reading or the podcasts they’re listening to, so sharing information & collaborating is part of the culture here and it was natural on everyone's part to reach out. I think Mintel as an organisation has taken a really proactive approach, but the culture has really helped drive it. It’s great to know that I can reach out to different experts for help regardless of where they’re based.
You've worked for both a start-up and a Fortune 500 organisation, what have been some of the main differences you've found between the two?
In large organisations you often have bigger teams and everyone has only their job to focus on. You’re more able to completely focus on one aspect of your tech stack, for example your engineering or SQL skills.
In a start-up, one often has to be responsible for the complete lifecycle of the programme or the delivery, from the customer to the sale. Everyone takes on a lot of different responsibilities and you need to be ready to be flexible and move from one skill to another if needed. Everyone is often working together in the same office building, so you know how the sales team is working and what everyone is working on.
What would you say is the most interesting challenge that you’ve faced during your tech career?
It’s often a challenge managing a team and working on your individual tasks simultaneously. I’ve worked in teams that have been distributed across different locations, so it becomes more difficult to understand people's needs when you aren't all in the same location. However, it's something that we’re getting used to now due to COVID-19. Slowly this is going to become the ‘new normal’, I imagine there will be many more distributed workforces as standard going forward.
Do you attend any meetups or in more recent cases, virtual meetups? Are there any you’d recommend?
I’m part of an organisation called AI camp that was started over in the US. I’ve organised a few meetups with them and since the lockdown they’ve hosted many online webinars and technical workshops around machine learning which are definitely worth checking out.
It's very easy to access lots of free information with all the materials being shared online currently and webinars are great as you can access speakers from all around the world.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in their tech career?
One should always be open to learning new things. I've worked with people who worked in start-ups in the 1980s building huge projects with software systems that were very new at the time, who’ve also built brand new websites with completely new technology in recent years. They had to transition what they learnt back in the 80s and adapt their skills to the new technology available. That’s what I tell myself I must be ready for - to evolve with the times and be open to learning new skills.
A huge thank you to Anindita for sharing her journey into tech. Remote onboarding processes are likely to become the new norm over the coming months so it’s reassuring to hear how positive and welcoming the experience can be when the correct processes and touch points are put in place by employers.
If you’d like to re-start your hiring processes but are unsure of how to navigate your hiring roadmap during these times, watch our latest webinar here to hear from our panel, sharing their advice, initiatives and lessons learnt whilst onboarding new starters remotely.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.