Sitting down with Shweta, you quickly realize that one of her of most impressive qualities is her unique ability to balance highly technical knowledge with thoughtful communication. She has a knack for taking complicated data ideas and translating them in a way that her audience can understand, whether that is another engineer or a less tech-savvy person, such as myself.
Since joining Sprout in February 2017, Shweta has used her time here to not only grow in her career, but also take on new personal challenges. She is now a city organizer for Tech Ladies Chicago, has attended her first engineering conference and is building her experience as a speaker on topics that impact women of color and women in technology. Shweta has so many fascinating stories to share and I’ve captured just a few of them below.
Name: Shweta Kapur
Started at Sprout: February 2017
What is your role at Sprout Social and can you explain what you do in one sentence?
I’m a Senior Software Engineer on the Data Ingest squad. It is difficult to boil down what I do in one sentence, but I’ll give it a shot. I am responsible for gathering data from the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and Google+) and importing it into Sprout’s platform so our customers have the data they need to view and engage with social messages.
Before we jump further into what you do, can you share a fun fact about yourself so we can get to know you a little better?
I am both a mechanical and software engineer. While I have been programming since I was a young child, it was the Mechanical and Automation Engineering program in college that initially grabbed my interest. Courses taught me about everything from engines and turbines to mechatronics and robotics. However, following an internship at a railways workshop, I realized my true passion was to be a software engineer.
I still received my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, but went back for a Master’s degree in Computer Science, and ultimately took my first job out of college with a software firm.
Now switching back to work, what is one aspect of your job that is unique to your role or department?
Our engineering department generally consists of squads that focus on different pillars of the Sprout product. This includes engagement, publishing and analytics. The Data Ingest squad is unique because we are not focused on a specific pillar, but rather touch every aspect of the platform.
Ultimately, for everyone else to do their jobs, we first need to ensure they have the right data. This means my role comes with a lot of responsibility and dependencies. I need to anticipate needs and stay in constant communication with other teams to ensure I am providing the most value.
What is one of you or your team’s greatest successes from the past year?
In late 2017, Facebook changed the format for private message identifiers, which impacted how different squads were going to be able to access that data within the Sprout platform. Albeit, a small change in theory, this presented a huge challenge as it required us to not only adjust how we were going to pull in future Facebook private message data, but also how we were going to retroactively update historical data to match the new identifier format.
Most importantly, the end goal was to ensure that there would be no loss of data and little to no impact to our customers as we migrated the identifiers behind the scene.
The entire project took almost three months to complete and it touched almost every aspect within the Sprout platform. While we ran into obstacles throughout the process, our cross-squad team was able to work through them all and successfully make the switch. What was most rewarding about the project was that with more than 20,000 customers, we only received one support ticket in response to the change.
What is currently at the top of your bucket list?
Traveling to Ireland. I don’t know exactly where this desire came from, but I think the scenery is absolutely beautiful and, of course, who doesn’t want to drink Baileys in Ireland. Plus, if you turn the Indian flag clockwise and remove the chakra, it is almost a replica of the Irish flag, so I’m convinced that may have something to do with it.
Do you use any specific tools or have a routine that helps you stay productive?
As a team, we practice agile engineering using Jira, a project tracking software developed by Atlassian. Within this methodology, we work in two week sprints and focus our time and efforts on priority projects that align with our goals. This allows us, as a team, to more efficiently and effectively delegate our time to priority tasks.
Personally, I use a task management app called OmniFocus. I always have so many ideas floating around my head and by using OmniFocus I can pretty much do a braindump and quickly capture and classify my thoughts in one place. It helps me organize and prioritize without having to keep it all in my head, which also frees up space for me to concentrate on what project is in front of me.
Do you work at a standing desk or seated desk? Why?
Seated desk. I find it harder to concentrate when I am standing. I also do a lot of pair programming, which is when you partner up with another team member and sit together to tackle a problem as opposed to doing it on your own. This requires a lot of back and forth conversation as well as two screens so seated desks are typically the preference among myself and my colleagues for this type of work.
Lightning round! Answer the following with whatever comes to mind first.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: Guardians of the Galaxy
Q: Go-to karaoke song?
A: I stay far away from karaoke
Q: Favorite social platform?
Q: Salty or sweet?
A: Definitely sweet