This week, our Head of Recruitment met with one of our Python Engineers, Abhishekh Jay Baskaran, to hear what he’s enjoying working on at the moment, what advice he’d give to newbies at ThoughtRiver and his surprising love of street and break dancing.
What’s your role here at ThoughtRiver? Whose team do you work in?
I joined the Exploration Squad in June 2020 as a Python Engineer; however, my role has broadened to a mixture of data science and software engineering over the past few months. As we’re a team of 3, we take a variety of responsibilities to complete bigger projects and we get to dabble with different technologies, which is always interesting.
Why did you decide this was the place for you?
The Natural Language Processing (NLP) field interested me, and I wanted to look for companies within this space. When looking at ThoughtRiver, I was impressed that they already had a vision and knew who their clients were, this was important to me and was something demonstrated throughout my interview process. This was one of the only companies I interviewed with that gave me a small project to work on and it tested my skills on how I write code and how they can help me improve as a developer; following this, the interview questions were relevant to the role and made me want to learn from these Senior Engineers.
Who did you meet at interview?
My process lasted 2-3 weeks in total which consisted of 3 rounds of interviews with the Lead Engineer and VP Technology covering a mixture of technical, competency and situational questions, and a final chat with Tim, the CEO. It was great to meet Tim and get to know the brains behind the business. It was a relaxed conversation; I shared my vision and he advised what he would like me to learn about the business, explaining that he wants people to feel and be a part of the business. The chat was great and the fact that he took the time out of his schedule was impressive to me.
What’s surprised you the most about working at ThoughtRiver?
The code quality here is extremely high. Each Engineer is thorough, well qualified and extremely good at their job. My colleagues outside of the Technology team are of the same standard and this is really pushing me to be the best Engineer I can be. Perhaps people wouldn’t expect this standard from a small company in Cambridge, however it has that level a capability that your larger, more established brands do. People are doing their job with passion and enjoying it.
What technologies are we using that excite you the most?
I’m enjoying working with Microsoft Azure which gives you AI capabilities and allows you to index your data for faster searching. I haven’t extensively used a cloud based technology before joining ThoughtRiver and had the opportunity to dive in as soon as I started, it was something great to tell my Tech friends who aren’t getting that exposure just yet.
What excites you about the project that you’re currently working on?
Building a full-scale service that will plug into the current architecture for the contact review pipeline excited me. This service will provide semantic search functionalities for the contract review pipeline. I have gone into building a product that is supporting our clients, improving their performance and value.
What excites you about the ThoughtRiver product?
It’s very cool when I talk to me friends and family about the tool and explain what it does. My family are not from a legal background, but they are impressed that you can have an AI tool that looks through contracts and is able to summaries and extract information that can speed up the process for lawyers. Anyone who has worked with contracts will understand the challenges and I really see the use for the product.
How would you describe the culture at ThoughtRiver?
For me, the culture is inspiring, promotes self-ownership and empowers people to take responsibility and we couldn’t build this product without having great teamwork.
How do you feel ThoughtRiver have supported you and the wider business throughout Covid-19?
I’ve had a smooth experience onboarding from home and integrating with the team. My laptop arrived and I was virtually introduced to several teams and individuals, which has continued throughout my time here. The only thing that is challenging is that I’ve not had the chance to meet anyone face to face, however that is the reality for many people right now; I’m looking forward to getting to the office as soon as we can.
How would you describe the leadership?
I think they lead from the front and everyone attempts to do the best possible work they can. My Manager and VP Technology (and currently our Product Lead) gets involved in writing code from time to time, he is short on time, however he likes to be involved and helps support us to get were we need to be. I’ve found that many of the leaders in the technology team have a significant tech background, so they are hands on and can advise through past experience.
Do you feel connected to your team?
I do, I feel I have a good relationship with my team. We have good communication regarding workload and are using the agile methodology. We have daily stand ups and sprint planning/review fortnightly. I have a fairly informal meeting to go over my priorities with my Tech Lead weekly and feel thatif I have questions, I can just call my team members.
What advice would you give a new starter coming into TR?
Don’t get stuck in a hole and stay quiet, keep asking questions and keep reporting progress to Managers. If you’re working from home, make an effort to communicate. There is no micromanagement here, lots of autonomy and room to learn, however if you need help my advice is to ask someone as everyone is willing to help.
Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I often program in my free time, working on small projects using React JS, c++ and other technologies that I don’t use at work. Outside of technology, I practice break and street dancing. I started doing this when I started my master’s and enjoy it as it’s a great psychical outlet and fun way to keep fit.
For open roles we are recruiting for, head over to our Careers page.