Traveloka’s Software Engineer tells us why greater responsibility also means more freedom
Ricky Christie, Software Engineer of online hotel and flight booking platform Traveloka is a bit shy when he begins talking to e27. But once we talk about working in one of Indonesia’s hottest startups, he starts to light up.
“As part of the platform team, our task is to support the front-end team to ensure a better delivery … We also work to make sure how even in just one go, the site will be able to carry multiple languages,” he explains.
Having spent almost two and a half years with the company, Christie started his career as a remote staff for a foreign developer company, followed by a stint in a Japanese advertising agency.
Follow our conversation with him to get a closer look on the challenges and opportunities an engineer faces when working in a startup.
Here are edited excerpts:
What makes working in a startup different?
In Traveloka, there is greater responsibility, while before, they (previous organisations) only told me what to do … “Hey, Rick, do this, do that” … But they did not really told me why I should do it, how it relates to the company’s goal in general.
But here, you can even challenge the context when it is given. Does it even matter? Do we need that?
I think, in terms of impact, you can give much greater impact here.
Doesn’t matter if you’re a team leader or a department head, if you are making a decision, you need to be able to give a justification why. [The hierarchy] is more flat. You are simply one of the colleagues; just with greater responsibility.
What’s the greatest challenge you have faced so far?
Transitioning from engineering coding works to juggling coding with other responsibilities. What my team wants to do in Q1, and such things.
What’s the most memorable experience you have ever had working here? Funny, or sad, or happy …
One that is most memorable is when I just joined. There were only 11 people in the engineering team; we could all fit into one meeting room. Every week we had a session to discuss our agenda for the week.
Then Deri [Kusuma, CTO of Traveloka] told us his vision about Traveloka, and [how] basically, he wanted it to become like Fairchild Semiconductor.
It’s a very old company and everyone who left it ended up building new companies, such as Intel, AMD. Just like PayPal. So he wanted Traveloka to be the Indonesian version of Fairchild Semiconductor. He even hoped that engineers who left the company ended up creating something new.
For me, this is something unheard of. In other companies, if someone is resigning, they are going to ask why did you do that?
Like recently, one employee just got funding for his own startup. We ended up celebrating, taking pictures with him. It’s a joyous occasion instead. It’s impressive because Deri’s vision from two years ago seemed to come true.
Do you have any advice for aspiring engineers who wants to work in a startup?
Oh, almost forgot, there’s another thing that sets it apart from big corporates.
And that is?
There is a greater degree of trust. I have a friend who works in a bank. In the first five months, basically, all he did was reading documents. [He was] not allowed to do anything [significant]. But here, once you pass the interview, they will see you as capable enough for responsibilities.
There is almost no micro-managing here.
I see. How about the advice?
Just focus on your craft. If you are into engineering, then you need to really focus on gaining skills in there. Going to good universities might help you pass the initial stage, but your portfolio matters more.
I have been involved in the hiring process … We tend to not give a fuss about where you studied. We even interviewed people from smaller universities or those who have not finished their degree. So there is more focus on the skills.
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