Scaling Teams Through an Unconventional Approach

Senthil Kumar

Manager, Software Engineering at Twilio



We were first established as a back-end team and then an opportunity to start a front-end team. We started working on app developments for evangelizing the platform, which will enable the internal customers to adopt the medium with an open mind. The problem we faced was that we were having difficulties setting up our front-end development as our current staff were angular-based developers, and the talent pool was narrow. Due to the demand of the market, most individuals in Bangalore were experienced in back-end development such as React or Javascript framework. In addition, many people rejected the opportunity to join us as, at that time, we were a niche. Our recruiters, who were geographically distributed, were using conventional channels for recruitment, and as we lacked experience in the front-end, we faced challenges in setting up interviews.

Actions taken

I worked with the recruiters and focused on approaching talent through unconventional channels. We looked up angular meetup communities and reached out to developer-friendly job portals such as Stack Overflow. This helped us to get the right talent, and we had access to an inventory of profiles. We also participated in front-end-specific conferences.

In parallel, when we could not solve the problem through the aforementioned steps, we would turn to our existing staff, who were talented and inclined towards front-end development. However, as they had to tend to their current responsibilities, we suggested changing their percentages. In the coming weeks, they will dedicate 30% of their duties to front-end development. Within a month, they were comfortable enough to work with remote team members and became productive to work on bug fixes and enhancements. Instead of waiting for external recruitment, we started working with our two staff on fundamental things.

In the recruitment process, we needed to connect the panelists with the mountain view. However, a lot of logistical problems were arising. Therefore, we went through online sources such as Hacker Rank and Accurate Platform to find a solution. Along with that, we switched our approach to our custom day project. This helped us get suitable profiles and describe the content of the work via the one-day project. The interaction with team members was slowly reduced as we would do pairing code review sessions and then usual problem-solving rounds. By bringing in the right external talent, we were also able to upscale our existing two members, who were being groomed for front-end development, up to their level. For non-critical problems which did not require experienced staff, we leveraged our internship programs. In the process, we enriched our relationship with our recruiters and improved the recruitment team.

Lessons learned

  • Always anticipate faster. Be prepared for unexpected situations and try to have a backup plan.
  • Try to have the right mix of specialists and generalists in the team. The availability of a suitable talent base will help make use of a growing business demand in the future.
  • Allow your team members to move around and explore opportunities for growth in their careers. You need to facilitate and grow talents with good training, along with measuring their progress.

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Senthil Kumar

Manager, Software Engineering at Twilio

Engineering ManagementCareer GrowthCareer Progression

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