Meet the Engineers: Carol Leung
Welcome to our second installment in our series that peeks behind the curtain of Airbnb’s engineering team. Today, say hello to Carol Leung, an Engineer on our mobile team working on our Android app. Carol shares with us her experiences from founding her own photography start-up in Hong Kong to making the Airbnb mobile app seamless to use.
How did you get started in Computer Science?
My high school started offering a computer science class in my sophomore year. I was curious and took the intro and follow-up CS classes. I was fascinated by how applicable CS is to so many things in our daily life. I was inspired to build a program that simplified the process of matching students with their interests for our annual “Diversity Day.” The experience of being able to build a solution to a real problem set me on the path to become a software engineer.
What was your path to Airbnb?
I love travel and immersing myself in different cultures. I have lived and worked as an engineer in different parts of the world: building algorithmic trading systems at Goldman Sachs Tokyo, co-founding my own digital photography software startup in Hong Kong, leading a mobile development team at XtremeLabs (now Pivotal) in Toronto, and building an iOS and Android app from the ground up for a small social network startup after I moved back to San Francisco. My love of travel (and software development) lead me to Airbnb. I love that I can use my passion for traveling to help shape a product that enriches other people’s journeys.
What’s the most interesting technical challenge you’ve worked on since joining?
Guests have traditionally felt more comfortable browsing and searching for listings on the web than on mobile. It’s my mission to change that perception by creating an outstanding guest experience on mobile. The challenge is creating a seamless, cohesive user experience across a variety of complex features in the app: Wish Lists, optimized search and filtering, embedded maps in the listing feed, listing navigation flows in map search. My teammates and I strive to hide that complexity from users and make the experience intuitive and “just work.”
What do you want to work on next?
I think we can go beyond helping guests find their ideal place. We can empower them to plan, build and experience the trips of their dreams. I want to build a mobile experience that would allow guests to enjoy a delightful journey from when they first start thinking about their trip. Searching, planning, and booking should be frictionless, delightful, and personalizable. We want users to be able to easily collect and compare listings they browse across different devices, make collaboration with friends and families on group trips fun, and surface recommendations based on users’ previous searches and location to inspire more meaningful trips.
What is your favorite core value, and how do you live it?
“Every frame matters!” As a mobile engineer, I look at every UI element on every screen with a critical lens. I constantly ask myself: is this iconography clear? Does this animation feel natural? Are the widgets user-friendly? Does this navigation and transition make sense? Does this screen provide enough context while being pleasant to use? These questions often lead to great discussions with my teammates: engineers, designers, and product managers. “Every frame matters,” is also a starting point when we create technical designs and review code. This detailed-oriented attitude allows us to constantly improve code quality and structure of the app. It also yields world class products.
What’s your favorite Airbnb experience?
While I’ve enjoyed Airbnb in large cities like New York, Barcelona and Tokyo, my favorite was a lovely, cozy listing in Sonoma with my boyfriend and his family. The host thoughtfully wrote down great recommendations of local restaurants and vineyards on their cute, colorful kitchen chalkboard, and left us a fruit basket and a complimentary bottle of wine as welcome gift. I still remember the delicious smell from their spacious, beautiful garden growing fresh tomatoes and herbs. We had a blast relaxing and playing croquet and horseshoes in their backyard at night, a perfect way to end our wine country trip.
Originally published at nerds.airbnb.com on November 24, 2014.