Office Hours: I’m the Head of Logistics Engineering at Doordash. I’m Gayatri Iyengar. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

I’m Gayatri Iyengar and I’m the Director of Engineering, Logistics and Growth, at Doordash. I love building teams, software and products. I have the honor to lead and support some of the most talented engineers and leaders and help transform their careers to pursue their calling.

For the most part, my career has happened to be building marketplaces with multiple participants having different goals. I started my career building algorithmic trading platforms. This meant using technology to bring efficiency, speed and access to our financial markets. From there on I went on to build digital banking consumer apps. I have spent many years in the Logistics, marketplace and delivery space and love the challenges that it lends.

During my downtime, I enjoy creating art, spending time with my family and 2 kids, cataloging the innumerable house plants that I have taken to since the pandemic and hiking!

Ask me about engineering management, building and growing high performing global teams, leadership during crisis/tough times ( I started my career just around the big mortgage crisis and recession so I can share a few stories;) , balancing parenting and a career, or anything else!

Thanks so much for joining us @griyenga!Elphas – please ask @griyenga your questions before Friday, January 27th. @griyenga may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Thanks for joining us @griyenga. In these new remote-first work settings, do you have any advice for effective, yet authentic, ways you have built internal visibility digitally? I find that the more senior you get, the more important that becomes for your career trajectory (+ the teams you lead benefit from that too)
Great question @anyaSF. I do have to admit that this is something that I haven't figured out fully and its a learning process. First there was fully remote, then there was hybrid and in some places return back to work.. :) A few things that comes to my mind are:1) As a leader a large part of your responsibility is "synthesis" - You hear a lot of info from your peers, your managers, your C-suite, your customers, and your team. I periodically synthesize this information into simple nuggets and share with my directs, and my leaders and publish on my internal news feed. 2) As a engineering leader, I get super excited when we are designing large scale systems and I love to be a fly on the wall and sometimes even contribute by sharing perspectives that our engineers and product managers might not have heard. The final output is a strong design plan - which is also a great artifact to then share with the larger orgs.3) Sharing your experiences, knowledge with others in the industry that you work in (outside of your org) is also a great way to build your digital visibility.
Hi @griyenga, thanks for doing the AMA! I'm a Software Engineer at Microsoft. Do you have any advice for someone trying to develop skillsets to transition into an engineering manager role?
Hi @somyavasudevan - Thanks for the question. Also this is something I get asked all the time so happy to bring some perspective.- For starters a role of a software engineer and a manager is quite different. The role expectations, the contributions and most importantly how we measure success of the roles are different. - I would say start with really understanding what it means to be a manager. I generally encourage engineers who want to transition to an EM, write down why they think becoming an EM is a goal for them and most time it helps to cess out if EM is the right transition or not. - Being a manager would include leading through influence, creating impact through others, being responsible not just for your own career but other folks on the team, ensuring you are now helping influence the direction of the team and the vision for the product/platform you are creating. As you see there are some skills that a senior IC on the team builds that could set them up to be a good manager, but it only takes you half way there. - I would also encourage you to talk to other EMs who have transitioned recently from an IC role, and their learnings. If there is an opportunity, raise your hand and try it out for a 6 months and then commit to it. Good luck with your journey !
Hi @griyenga it's nice to meet you! From my work experience, many marketplaces see expanding international sales as a key strategy for growth. Is there a region in the world that you expect marketplaces becoming more popular in the future, whether that marketplace originates in the U.S. (Amazon, Walmart, etc.) or not (Rappi, etc.)?
Great question. More than expanding to international regions, I feel that the number of marketplaces and choices for the end customer will increase exponentially over the coming year. First, the concept of marketplaces being this platform where one can buy everything will be replaced with marketplaces that cater to certain type of audiences or are #1 in a particular type of a service or product. Secondly, the barrier to entry to create a marketplace is very low. But, what would be interesting to keep a watch out is how do these marketplaces continue to scale rapidly. This will differentiate the top 5%. Finally, Asia and Africa ( also driven by higher population figures) are international regions where I see marketplaces becoming popular and growing at a rapid scale. Hope this helps!
Awesome! I hadn't considered marketplace scaling as an important distinguisher until you mentioned it. Thank you for your insight!
Hi Gayatri, I'd love to hear what your favorite interview questions are when hiring members for your team. Thanks!!
Hi Kendra, thank you for your question.Depending on the role, seniority, responsibilities and sometimes even the phase of a company ( startup, mid-size, large) the questions I would ask on an interview will differ.So stepping back, let me list a few things I would look for in a candidate:- Given an opportunity will this person come and figure out whats needed for the team/company?- I believe in hiring folks with a high slope - Litmus test being: can this candidate take on larger problem spaces and continue to keep growing?- Does the candidate have product sensibility beyond being a top notch engineer - Do they have the ability to understand unmet needs of the marketplace?- Also most importantly, ( especially for peer, directs and senior roles) - Do I see myself working for this person and will this person not be just a "culture fit" but will they be the "culture add".
Very helpful, appreciate you taking the time to share!
Thank you, @griyenga, for doing the AMA! Could you please share some thoughts on how you go about managing stress, and balancing work and personal life/goals? Are there any practices that helped you in this regard?
Hi Gayatri - Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. I am a junior software engineer (joined a wonderful company about 4 months ago). Although this is not my first professional experience, it is my first full-time Software Engineering Job out of school. I find myself being harsh on myself when I get stuck (which is all the time) or when I am not learning and progressing as fast as my colleagues. So I am looking for tips and resources (especially books) that can help me be a better and faster learner and also navigate my own self-talk and imposter syndrome. I am also a visual learner and sometimes I get lost in the details of code and don't know how things connect when zooming out. so if you know of any specific tools that help engineers visualize the connections between files and parts of a code base. That would AMAZING!
Congratulations on your first professional experience as a software engineer! Engineering is a lot of fun and a lot of building!! For what its worth, all of us suffer from imposter syndrome. But having some discontent will help push you keep getting better at what you do! I would say for learning, videos on youtube or even coding school would be great help. Nothing helps like really building and trying things yourself. As a junior engineer, through the early days I used to pick up side projects, freelance and try out new frameworks. Would certainly encourage you to do that. In terms of books, I love visual books too. There is the "Head First Series" that I absolutely love. They are visual fun books that delve into strong foundational concepts. Hope this helps!
Thank you so much for your thoughtful response and sharing the books recommendation. I will certainly check them out. Very grateful!