Carousell and Glints’ tech teams
Last week was quite an educational one. You’d know if you were hanging out with us at Block 71 for our lunch and networking event, How Carousell and Glints Scaled Their Tech Team Around the World! We invited guest speakers Victor Neo (Carousell’s Head of Engineering) and Seah Ying Cong (Glints’ Chief Technical Officer) to share their thoughts and insights on scaling remote tech teams and the rigours involved.
And the response for that event was so overwhelming that we had to close it off due to over-subscription. How wild is that?
If you happened to miss it, not to worry. Here’s a quick but thorough recap of what went down at the event and what was discussed. Plus, you get to download Carousell and Glints’ slides at the end of this article.
On the rapidly scaling train with Carousell and Glints
Victor kicked us off by presenting the crowd with a set of questions. Everyone should ask themselves these questions before deciding whether to pour time and effort into scaling. Some of these questions include:
- Do you need to build a big team?
- Can your interview process support the scale you’re hiring for?
- Can you do fixed-cost forecasting for people you intend to hire?
He then dove into his biggest teaching points, including the need for founders and team leaders to “hire everyone yourself.” It’s the most tiring endeavour for anyone to take on. But there is a real need to assess people in person to determine if they fit your culture and team.
Victor also shared other strategies for entrepreneurs and company founders who wanted to build new business centres outside of Singapore. For example, BOT, which stands for Build, Operate, and Transfer.
Carousell’s serious business approach to hiring and interviewing
Scaling the interview process for Victor and his team can be “extremely tedious or extremely fast”. Carousell’s process begins with recruiters before progressing towards technical screenings and on-site interviews.
That’s it? Well, not really – there’s more. Every potential hire is required to meet with Carousell’s co-founders, according to Victor. The point is to get to know the candidate better and assess better how they could fit into Carousell. This session might last up to an hour, because at the end of the day it’s a serious investment.
Victor’s best advice is to optimise the interview process – or what he calls the funnel. It’s time you’ll never get back, from hopping on calls with recruiters to actually getting to know your potential hires. Carousell’s candidate process takes about 6-8 hours at a time! Track your process and finetune it along the way.
Besides that, Victor shared his thoughts on what scaling really meant to him. He also talked about the principles that guide him to this day as he grows his team. Then, Victor touched on how to collaborate remotely and effectively with your global employees, like how Carousell invests in Google Hangouts to accommodate their remote meetings.
He left us with very good questions to chew on throughout the presentation. You can access these thought-provoking points as well in Carousell’s slide deck from last Thursday!
Glints’ principled approach to scaling engineering teams
After Victor’s presentation, Ying Cong took the stage to deep dive into the What, Why, and How of scaling engineering team. It’s something he says is different from scaling your company in general.
He kicked things off by describing the wrong way to scale your engineering team – throwing more people at a single problem. The consequence of hiring for the wrong reasons will cost you money. Bad code will cost you – and developers don’t come cheap.
Technical leaders, Ying Cong mentioned, are responsible for the team’s output, and are required to define that responsibility clearly. It’s not just about hiring a bigger number of developers to get things done.
Ying Cong is guided by the desire for true velocity, and bases his performance as a technical leader on the output of his engineering team. Glints works from the top down and focuses on its business goals to define the tech team’s direction and strategies.
What exactly is team output to Glints?
Latency and bandwidth, according to Ying Cong. How much value can you deliver in a fixed amount of time? He went into the leverage that a leader has and the potential to optimise systems and people under them.
He brought up three key areas to optimise: team structure, workflow, and performance management.
Some of what he elaborated on included the problem of communication overhead. That’s a natural consequence of rapidly scaling teams and hiring more people along the way. Lines of communication need to be drawn out based on your software architecture.
If you’re using the same codebase, you need frequent, reliable communication.
“There’s a lot of information to be communicated that can’t be done remotely,” Ying Cong said.
He also shared that technical leaders need to be candid and transparent, and they need to assess their candidates based on performance and not potential. Tech leaders out there, take note! “Tech talent is something you really have to invest in,” he concluded. And investment is not something done lightly.
His parting thoughts were focused on leveraging on the best tech talent out there, and maximising your own leverage as a technical leader. If you’re interested to find out more, we’ve got his slide deck available for download.
The event ended off with a Q&A session. Several guests from the floor had the opportunity to ask their burning questions for Victor and Ying Cong to answer. Someone asked how to find strong leaders as you scale and hire globally. Another attendee asked about the heavy issue of letting people go during performance reviews.
After several questions, the crowd broke off for a cozy networking session over wine (sponsored by Native) with Carousell and Glints’ representatives.
Needless to say, Carousell and Glints imparted a lot of great teaching points to the crowd. If you’re someone interested in scaling your tech team globally but missed the event, don’t fret.