A Day in the Life: Vera Mehta (Senior Engineering Manager, Twitter)

Vera Mehta (Senior Engineering Manager, Twitter)

What has your journey in tech been so far?

I started programming long before formally studying it, and I particularly enjoyed making things for the web. I went on to study Architecture (of buildings, not software!) and Computer Science. My career began in a few start-ups, then moved into larger UK-based organisations and government departments. This was mainly as a software engineer before I moved into leadership roles.

I’d say my biggest impact was being one of the founding members of Digital in the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and helping MOJ to deliver its first digital strategy. As well as delivering some of the earliest services to citizens, I built a highly successful team of 60+ engineers within the challenging environment of a central government department. I helped to establish the Ministry of Justice as one of the centres of excellence for digital delivery in the public sector, before heading to Marks & Spencers and finally Twitter.

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced moving into your current role?

Twitter is a globally distributed organisation, with a complex ecosystem of technology at its heart. A big challenge for me has been adjusting to this and finding the right balance between the freedom and autonomy of my team vs. the need to seamlessly integrate with the culture, processes and technical systems in the wider organisation.

Briefly describe your tech stack

The codebase is really exciting. The product has been around for nearly ten years. Tweets in columns sound simple, right? But there is a whole world of complexity to providing tweets and interactions in near-real-time. As a team, we constantly stumble into new areas and have opportunities to discover other parts of the Twitter codebase: there is a lot of tech debt we are tackling, but there is always something new to master.

What does your typical day look like?

I receive a tonne of emails like most people. I spend the first part of my morning reading and replying to things, figuring out what decisions need to be made, creating/adding thoughts to documents people have shared. I scatter 1:1s with the team and tactical meetings with other teams / EMs throughout the week. We have a strong agile process that cycles every two weeks.

What’s the best and worst part of your job?

The thing I enjoy the most is giving opportunities for my team to develop, and seeing the impact this has on what we’re trying to achieve with the product. I love finding out people’s unique strengths and interests and using these to help them build skills, knowledge and confidence. A key part of this for me is being a strong supporter of women in technology, and I’ve been helping to run @womeng+ (Women in Technology) at Twitter for nearly 2 years.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

“Don’t do things simply for recognition. It will never be enough and your expectations will rarely be met. Do things because they are the right thing to do, because you care.”

What is your most useful resource?

I’m dyslexic and I find it challenging to read large blocks of text. Twitter to me is easier to read, a bit like comics — bitesize chunks and visuals. Blinkist is also my go-to, Harvard Business Review which I take the time to read, and audiobooks wherever possible.

What one thing would you like to learn, develop or work on for 2019?

I’m keen to get more insight into what aspects of a job really make me happy and shaping this into what I currently do. Understanding what you can do next sets a direction, allows you to plan, and set out on a journey of fun and exploration!

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