I started at DAZN in September. Now I’ve made it through to three months,
I thought I would reflect, and share my experiences.
I was approached via a personal friend who I’d also worked with before, who thought I’d be a good fit and enjoy the culture and the work. They told me about the company — I had never heard of it before, but it sounded pretty interesting. Thankfully they told me the correct pronunciation of DAZN before the interview (it’s Da-Zone…you’re welcome!).
I like sports casually, and I come from a sports background professionally.
The idea of a ‘Netflix for live sports’ caught me straight away. This is surely something that will be huge — and I wanted in! DAZN is not live in the U.K. — rights to the big competitions are essential to launch here and it simply has not been possible to obtain them so far — so the brand is low-profile here outside the industry, but that sort of intrigued me — maybe I’d get to be somewhere that went from unknown to huge, like a home-grown Spotify or a Netflix? Plus huge means working at scale, something I really enjoy. What sealed the deal and ensured I took the interview was the opportunity to work on a totally serverless backend, with everything in AWS (I’ve heard people saying at conferences that serverless isn’t ready for production at scale but we’re proving that’s not true at all). My Principal, Yan Cui, is actually someone who I’d already been following as an expert in serverless and AWS who writes and speaks extensively on the topic all over the world. I wanted in.
So I came for a face to face. I’m not making this up — I enjoyed my interview, and I’m not the sort of person who enjoys interviews.
It was tough, don’t get me wrong. The questions and whiteboarding were challenging. But I also got a real sense of friendliness and openness, and the people I met, I just liked and felt at ease with. The questions I was being asked really tested my knowledge, and I could tell that the idea was to find out what my level was, and what I was like, rather than to try and trip me up.
I received an offer, and accepted. Of course I did, or I wouldn’t be writing this.
From the start there was an effort to welcome and onboard us. It wasn’t perfect I’ll admit, but there was a real eagerness to know how to do it better next time and with each new starter they are onboarded with all the things we learned last time, so it’s running a lot smoother now. It’s still crazy sometimes though; we’re growing fast — I started on the same day as a colleague and we were the 4th consecutive pair in as many weeks to join our one team. That’s the rate of growth. It’s intense sometimes! I think this is what a real ‘unicorn’ start-up feels like, and I love it.
Within the first three days I was contributing code by pairing with existing devs. I got going really fast. But that was my choice — I was told I could either hang out, get the lay of the land for my first month, get to know people, or I could get cracking — basically the choice was mine. I really liked that approach. I chose to crack on and get into the code — what I didn’t know, I would go around and ask people. The folks around here are so friendly, it was a great way to meet people! But it would have been just as fine to just bed in and get settled too.
Our team was, as mentioned, brand new. We’re also working on a totally greenfield project. You’d think that would be chaos, but it’s not, mostly. There are people who have been around for a while — the company has existed for over two years. We have a really strong and experienced product team who keep things on track, and an outstanding Scrum Master. There are also people who have been brought in from our parent company. Many of my colleagues are leaders in their fields. I’ve never been around so many skilled people outside of conferences. It’s a tough thing to get right, growing explosively and keeping the culture and the experience going, but the development leaders are pulling it off beautifully.
Our team contains a really good mix of skills now. We have at present two Software Engineers for QA, three for Back End and two for Front End, as well as our PO and Scrum Master (we’re in the process of hiring a BA) so we’re really a cross-functional team that’s able to deliver the full stack, and there are plans to cross-skill people within the team too. We also get good support from our SRE and Architecture teams when we need them.
One thing that I think really brought us together as a team was our ‘pod’.
We noticed that the other product teams had a separated area of the office and before too long ours was being built for us. I’ve always hated open plan so I’m stoked about this. We’re gradually making it our own with our things, plants and bean bags etc. I love coming to work in the pod every day. We also have a Town Hall and a big open kitchen where we get together and host meet-ups.
I’ve not just been in the office in Hammersmith for the whole three months. I’ve also attended conferences in London and Amsterdam (the Amsterdam one was European Women in Tech where we were exhibiting alongside Google and Facebook!) and gone to job fairs to talk to potential DAZNers about life as an Engineer here. We’re always told “just be honest” and so I am; we’re really transparent about our culture because we’re proud of it, but we also know we have work to do. I’ve also coached development at a mentoring program that came to the office; we’re really big on giving back to the community and we’ll be doing a lot more of that.
The work is very rewarding. I love how fast paced we are, and I love how we’re given latitude to make bold choices and shake things up. We’re trusted and empowered. We’re building purely NodeJS microservices using AWS serverless technology on the backend, which is what I work on. We use Lambda a lot, where it’s the right fit, and we’ve also been getting heavily into Step Functions and DynamoDB Streams, and doing some really interesting stuff with CloudFront. My colleagues in our sister team are leveraging Amazon Rekognition to solve a tough problem in a really cool and creative way. That sort of thing is not at all uncommon here. I can honestly say that all the things I’ve griped about not having in the past, I have almost all of them now.
I say almost; there’s still some residual stuff that we’re working on, but people really care about making this the best workplace it can be. That shows in our work. We care, and our product is great. I’m really glad I joined, and think when people come and see what we’re about and meet us, they’ll want to work here too. And I know we’re going to be huge.