Q&A with Neha Agarwal, Director of Engineering
Neha is an Engineering Director at Thumbtack. She has been a central part of our team for more than 5 years. Prior to joining Thumbtack, Neha spent time at Thomson Reuters, Model N, and Google — where she worked for more than 6 years. Read on to learn what Neha and her teams are building at Thumbtack, to hear her advice on “taking ownership,” and to get an inside look at what’s changed and what’s stayed the same during the company’s growth.
How long have you been with Thumbtack? How big was the team at the time and what motivated you to join?
I have been with Thumbtack for more than 5 years. When I joined, we had roughly 40 engineers and now around 150 people are on the team. I found the mission of the company very compelling — in an era of increasing automation and lost jobs, here was a company focused on helping more people start their own business and finding new jobs for their craft. Additionally, I was impressed with the caliber of people I met. I found everyone to be really open and authentic, which has been a consistent thread throughout my tenure here.
How have you seen things evolve since you joined?
One of the biggest changes has been in the Thumbtack platform itself. We have gone from a manual request-a-quote website to an instant experience on our app. Today, customers can connect with skilled professionals in a few clicks and even book and pay in the app as well.
Tell me about the teams you’re leading! Any exciting projects underway?
We are working on a variety of things like instant booking, in-app payments, homecare recommendations, improved machine learning models for our search and ranking, a brand new frontend framework built on Next.js, and much more. I am particularly excited about building out payments on the platform. In addition to being a very important element of Thumbtack’s offering, it is the kind of project that shows the best aspects of working at Thumbtack — it spans orgs, teams and various functions (engineering, product, analytics, design, operations, customer support and more), all working toward a common goal.
What motivates you to get out of bed day-to-day? What are your passions?
Working on interesting and challenging problems especially in service of something that makes a meaningful difference is what motivates me the most. Our product empowers our independent pros to run and grow their business. Hearing from them about the difference it makes in their lives is always inspiring. Additionally we have some pretty ambitious plans for what we want to do next and how much we want to grow — which definitely keeps us on our toes and keeps me motivated.
You’re a Director of Engineering and a parent! How do you do it all? Tell us about your newest addition to the family!!
We recently welcomed a new addition to our family — a baby boy who is 10 months old now.
Thumbtack as a company is great at work-life balance. While having supportive colleagues has helped make it easier to balance my work, I have had to make small adjustments in my work schedule so that I can spend precious time with my baby. For example I make sure to block off my calendar for any family commitments so that I have the flexibility to be present as a parent and get my work done at a time that’s best for me.
What is your advice for other women in tech who want to become leaders one day?
Don’t ask for permission or wait for someone to hand you a mandate. When you see a problem, take ownership and go fix it.
What does success look like on your team?
Taking ownership and embracing responsibility. My team recognizes that in a startup there are always more problems than people. And they are always ready to step up and take responsibility. This helps folks grow in their craft and their careers — and it benefits our company and our cross-functional colleagues as well.
Thoughts on virtual work — love it or hate it?
Love it and hate it. I love the flexibility it provides and with a small baby at home it gives me so much more time with my family. However, I also loved meeting and talking to my colleagues in person on a day-to-day basis and I miss those connections. Fortunately, we have started hosting in-person events, and we have been recently catching up informally in small groups as well. In this new hybrid world, I look forward to striking this balance of time with my family and also catching up with colleagues in-person from time to time.
Do you have time for hobbies? / What have you been binge watching recently? / Are you taking any fun vacations soon?
Yes I do. Reading is at the top of the list for me. I am not much of a binge watcher, but I love watching reruns of Seinfeld and The Office. And in terms of travel, I will be going to India for the winter holidays so that my baby can meet the rest of the family.
Vision for your next career move?
I tend not to think of my career in planned moves. When the time comes, I will look for the next big challenge and hope that the rest falls into place.
To learn more about Thumbtack and our open positions, visit www.thumbtack.com/careers.
Thumbtack (www.thumbtack.com) is a local services marketplace where customers find and hire skilled professionals. Our app intelligently matches customers to electricians, landscapers, photographers and more with the right expertise, availability, and pricing. Headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack has raised more than $400 million from Baillie Gifford, Capital G, Javelin Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Tiger Global Management among others.