Working at Skyscanner
By Oreste Luci
What makes Skyscanner different from other companies I have worked for is that Skyscanner really puts the traveller first, it’s a product driven company. You get the sense every day that everything is driven by making the product better for the traveller.
This attitude has an impact on how our decisions are made, which technologies are used, how software is built and how we communicate to each other and the rest of the world. The company encourages us to always push ourselves to deliver the best with the finest tools available, this covers the full spectrum of engineering tasks from processes, languages, frameworks, architecture, real-time business metric monitoring and even cutting-edge data science and machine learning solutions.
Skyscanner is a non-stop learning ride. Nearly every day I’m challenged by a new problem requiring investigation, discussion, learning and challenging implementations of solutions. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by very smart people that are always willing to help and challenge my assumptions and proposals in a constructive manner. Also, there is Skyscanner University which has online material for self-study and taught courses which are held through the different offices.
We have a decentralized micro-services architecture which allows us to leverage the best tools for the job and allows the companies numerous independent systems to grow in an organic manner. For example, in my squad, services began as a small script embedded in the main environment and grew to become an autonomous service supplying a number of large partners in a compressed timespan and continuously putting new innovation at their disposal. The adoption of a micro-services architecture has also facilitated the structure of people into squads that have a lot of freedom on how to implement their services but also have a big responsibility for them. The sentence “You build it you run it” is has never been truer than here.
To allow the high throughput of small changes to production there is a whole ecosystem of bespoke tools that integrate with our cloud environment which allows the developers to push changes to production very easily, automatically and reliably by leveraging our enormous data throughput through monitoring and deployment processes that can only be found in an elite group of tech companies. For example, in our squad we frequently push to production, often several times a day, code that is then containerised and deployed to an AWS cluster and monitored automatically through a blue/green test pattern and then instantly rolled out to all users. Anomalies are automatically detected and the changes are rolled back in real time.
An important part of these deployments are experiments. Every time we want to add a new feature we test it first to make sure it works as expected and that it is useful to our travellers. Once the experiment finishes we analyse the data to see if the hypothesis is met, and if so we rollout the feature to all travellers.
So, the technology allows the software engineers to spend more time in building software and discussing new features rather than wrestling with legacy and difficult to maintain applications.
This is in sharp contrast from the banking industry where I used to work. In that environment once development was finished it could take weeks for it to be deployed to production, mainly due to Kafkaesque approval process. Also, the monolith architectures did not facilitate an agile environment, projects would take months to be completed.
Probably the most important part of any company are the people. Skyscanner is no exception, it has talented and hardworking people from a variety of backgrounds and from every corner of the world. As a consequence, it´s a uniquely satisfying place to work and a rare thing: a company where everyone is willing to help and share their extensive expertise.
SEE the world with us
Many of our employees have had the opportunity to take advantage of our Skyscanner Employee Experience (SEE) — a self-funded, self-organized programme to work up to 30 days during a 24 month period, in some of our 10 global offices. There is also the opportunity to work for 15 days per year from their home country, if an employee is based in an office outside of the country they call home.
Like the sound of this? Look at our current Skyscanner Product Engineering job roles.
About the author
My name is Oreste Luci, I’m currently a Senior Software Engineer in the Modern Advertising Squad based in Barcelona. We work on delivering quality ads to our travellers, that are relevant and useful. Outside work, I enjoy travelling, reading, philosophy, photography and obviously tech.
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