WWCode Career Nav #23: Emerging Careers: Data Platform Engineering
Karina Pangaro, Senior Engineering Manager with Eventbrite, joins Women Who Code in an interview, “Emerging Careers: Data Platform Engineering.” She discusses Eventbrite, a data platform, how this platform handles data, and how they analyze user interactions and make decisions based on that.
Can you tell us about Eventbrite?
How do you analyze the data and the user interactions? What kind of decisions are you able to make based on that?
When we launch a new feature, it's important to have the data there. The first thing that we do is to try to detect with the product managers, managers, and also the engineering team. We have a data partner. Everything has one. We have a research partner. The data team shares with us the usage of a feature. Our goal is to understand where our users are struggling. Sometimes it's because the feature is not super user-friendly. We do some experiments. These experiments are something that we will do in a few weeks. After 30 days, we meet with the data partner, the team, and the program, manager to make a decision. Sometimes there are no changes. In good scenarios, you will probably decide to iterate and improve that feature.
How do you see the collaboration of all this data and analysis, experiments you're talking about happening across geographies in multiple time zones?
When I started at the company, it was very different. We had two engineering teams. It was pretty easy to coordinate. People in San Francisco were adding code, and people in Argentina were adding code. We started having issues when we expanded when we opened this new office in Spain. We have three different time zones. A test that has been broken in San Francisco was affecting the releases in Spain. At that point, we realized that we needed to start breaking the monolith. We implemented different tools to increase async communication.
How has your career journey been at Eventbrite?
When I joined Eventbrite in Argentina, there were no female engineers. At that time, in my interview, I was thinking, what are these people's issues? Why don't they have female engineers? Our CEO, Julia Hartz, is a woman. From day one, I've seen a lot of initiatives on diversity and inclusion. One of the first things we did was to start inviting other women into leadership, creating this leadership first, and taking the time to hire. I found that everybody has opportunities. We don't care if you are a woman or a man with this particular religion if you like to eat only vegetables or meat, but we try to respect everybody. I think that's the most important part. At different locations, we have different committees. For example, in Spain, we have a WISE group. This is women in software engineering. We meet each other every month and coordinate different sessions. If you don't have the support of your leaders, it's very hard to change. In Hyderabad, we aim to have 50% and 50% of diversity and inclusion.
What value do you see in breaking Eventbrite's huge monolithic application platform into microservices? Can you share your views on that?
One of the good things about having microservices is the ownership that the team feels. We can do the release when we create a new feature and have our service. If you put this in a monolith, you can't do that. It's important in terms of ownership and delivering value to the customers and users more frequently, and also about scaling. When you have companies with a big amount of traffic, it's very hard to scale a monolith because you can't do it as you can with microservices. It's also important to remember that it's not cheap. You must invest money, time, and training because the team has to handle everything independently. What we have at Eventbrite is that, as a culture, we are changing the mindset of the people. We have to have a DevOps mindset in our engineers.
How do you go and create and practice an agile mindset in product development?
We used to have a scrum master role. We don't have that anymore. These days, it's the same team who is autonomous in some way, and they decide. We follow some guidelines. We have stand-up meetings. We have retrospectives, planning, and refinement sessions. In terms of agile, we have the technical program managers we are coaching. We are coaching the teams and trying to see the different dynamics we can implement.
If you had two or three points of advice to make based on your own journey, what would they be?
The first thing that came to my mind was to have a mentor. Have someone who inspires you and can ask all the things you want. The second part is being open to feedback. I think feedback is important to improve and not repeat the same mistakes. Sometimes it's to see another point of view. Sometimes when you are starting as a software engineer or in data, you have someone doing code review and adding ideas for improvement. The last point is to find what motivates you and your passion.