My placement year at Expedia Group

Sofia Pisacane | Marketing Intern in London

If I had to describe my placement year at Expedia in one word I would say “brilliant” and it was, absolutely brilliant.

I joined in July 2018 as a Marketing Industrial Trainee and with this week being my last week, I can now confidently say that choosing to do a placement year as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I worked in the Expedia Partner Solutions Marketing team in London where I had the opportunity to rotate every four months to support the different sub-teams within Marketing: Digital, Brand & Campaigns and Product Marketing. The structure of my internship was great because it gave me exposure to a variety of different activities within Marketing, allowing me to try different things, which I believe, especially at the start of your career, is incredibly valuable.

From organizing events to planning and executing Digital Marketing campaigns such as LinkedIn Advertising, to working on our first ABM (Account-Based Marketing) project, there are so many initiatives I’ve been involved in. Not only I was involved in them, but I was also given the opportunity to take the lead on a few of them and this is probably one of the things I love the most about Expedia, you can get as much responsibility as you like, no matter your level of experience, as long as you work hard and are able to show positive results. 

The Partner Marketing team at the WTM partner appreciation event in London.

Only a few weeks ago I flew to Prague to coordinate our stand presence at a preferred supplier showcase event organized by one of our partners, which was a great experience. 

I felt like a valued member of the team from day one, my opinions were valued and taken into account, which was definitely a big motivator for me.

I was really surprised about how, even senior stakeholders, truly welcome new ideas and value a fresh perspective on things. This is definitely one of Expedia’s top strengths because it creates an environment that favors innovation.

My manager genuinely cared about my professional development and he scheduled regular meetings to talk about my progress, what things interested me the most and what skills I wanted to work on next. I feel really grateful for all the support he gave me throughout the course of my internship. 

I worked alongside some really talented people and I was able to learn a lot from them and over time I was able to build strong relationships with my teammates. They’re such a great bunch of people and I’m definitely going to miss them when I go back to university, even though we’ll surely keep in touch!

Looking back, I can say that this year has been a great year, I’ve learned a lot and gained invaluable experience which enabled me to grow, both professionally and personally. Overall I couldn’t have been happier about my time here.

Global Early Talent

Ready to kick start your career? Explore Expedia Groups’ worldwide intern, apprentice, and early career opportunities. Learn More



Building and Managing High Performing Teams and Products

Hitesh Gupta | Sr. Technical Product Manager in Gurgaon

We at Expedia Group want to be a place where Exceptional People who share our passion for technology and travel want to do their Best Work

I have played multiple roles in my last 3 years of experience with Expedia Group ranging from Program Manager to Engineering Manager to a Product Manager based on the situation, need and personal interest. Sharing a few experiences on how we were successful in building and managing a high performing team and product while incorporating all the feedback and getting better each day.

1. Innovating Fridays

One piece of feedback we got from the team is that they would like to have more dedicated time for innovation while working on sprint stories in parallel. We (I and my peer Manager) discussed with Management and came up with the concept of “InnovatingFridays” where every Friday (second half), the team innovates. It can be anything from learning new technology (Machine Learning/AI) to writing blogs as this is non-project time and they are free to work on any feature which they feel is good for end customers. It came out really well where the team ended up burning few features which were taking a back seat in the backlog. Few team members got their hands dirty on Machine Learning and did a few POC’s. Though one can’t time-bound innovation, this concept really helped me boosting team morale and the team is ready to spend extra/personal time in learning technology and go the extra mile. Once a month, we do the demo to see how it’s going and celebrate it.

2. Setting Up a Complete “Engineering” Team

Few QA members wanted to move to the core development role and this led to setting up a complete Engineering team where everyone is responsible for the development and testing of the features. We came up with a plan where every QA member is paired with a core developer who helps them in day to day questions and ramp-up. Within 3–6 months, we started seeing the impact where newly added developers (QA) started burning complex stories (moving from 1 and 2 story points to a 3+ pointer story). Also, during this duration, they shared the regression and testing duties with the existing developers and let them own it while shadowing them. This is one of the great experiences to share as to how we managed to set up a complete Engineering team.

3. Organizing Tech Talks and Collaborating Across Teams

We tried to set up a culture of continuous learning and sharing where I connected with all other Managers/Directors who are working on other mobile apps. Then, I set up the weekly tech-talk series and asked everyone to vote on what topic they will like to discuss each week. With this, we got a prioritized list of topics and assigned speakers from the team (based on their preference). This enabled us to share our learnings and knowledge across teams in Expedia Group and helped us set a collaboration platform building trust and relationships. Also, it helped everyone in the team to speak in front of a large audience and build on their presentation skills.

4. Change of Guard

We decided to rotate regression and other recurring responsibilities within the team instead of one team member owning it every time. How we did this — Created a monthly roster where every team member takes a lead on the above mentioned responsibilities every week and passes the ball to the next one. This solved the dual purpose of not having a single point of failure and everyone gets a chance to manage complete process and own it.

5. Taking Care of Platform and Tech-Debt Together

Everyone wants to work on the best feature, but you can’t have the whole team working on the same feature. At the same time, you have to take care of tech-debt and platform work since you have to take care of Engineering KPI’s (Quality and robust Architecture) too. We decided to reserve some % of bandwidth in each sprint for burning tech-debt and platform items. Also, this goes back to the rotation cycle where we have one developer contribute to this work each sprint, thus enabling them to take platform and feature work hand in hand and get some time out from routine feature work. With each feature being delivered, we introspect and see what/how/where we can improvise and try to provide the best experience to travelers.

6. Setting Up a Culture of Open Feedback

We set up a concept of open feedback where we meet as a team (twice a month) and provide open feedback to each other. This can be anything related to work including appreciations and constructive feedback. This is more of a Vegas-style meeting where we set the ground rules as not to discuss anything out of the room and whatever being discussed stays in the room only. We saw a huge drop in conflicts post this approach and the team started to collaborate more and more, thus making my life as a Manager easier 🙂

7. Core Working Hours

All planned meetings (planning/grooming/retro/demo/tech-talks) were moved to a morning slot (before lunch) and no meetings were planned after lunch. This ensured there is agreement on core working hours (like 1:30–5:30 pm) where the team can concentrate on actual work and there is no more context switching with so many meetings running around the day.

8. Own the Product as Your Own Baby

We tried to set up the culture where we encourage each and every team member to ask questions as to why this feature is really important, why not prioritizing this over there, what benefits we expect here and what are the metrics we are targeting here. This really led to useful grooming meetings where everyone (including product) enjoyed the discussion and is actively contributing there. Inducing the feeling of product ownership made the team think innovatively and ending up getting a couple of feature ideas from the team itself 🙂 Also, we encouraged them to share any suggestions/bugs which they find in other Products/Line of Business and communicate it using Dogfood process.

9. 1 on 1’s

Though I had recurring 1×1’s set up with each team member, I never stopped anyone asking for a quick ad-hoc discussion and not waiting for 1×1 to discuss that. Also, I used to maintain a separate record for each 1×1 so that I can recollect as where we left and how the individual is working on action items to be discussed in the next meeting.

10. Joint Code Review Sessions

In order to bring everyone on the same page in understanding code and helping QA moving to a developer role, we had set up joint code review sessions where teams meet every day for half an hr and opens up existing PR (Code Review request) and jointly reviews it to cover the why and how part of coding. This helped everyone (specially the new developers) to think from a common coding ground perspective.

11. Celebrating Success Together

I believe that a small appreciation note goes a long way. We made it a habit to celebrate each and every success (not having a grand party every time but taking the team out for tea/snacks) and then having lunch together, once a week.

Well as a Manager, your primary responsibility is the people and if you make them feel like coming to work every day, half of your job is done. It took us some time to set up above mentioned processes but it went a long way for us as a team and I can see a great sense of ownership, collaboration and passion to do a better job each day.

Join our Careers Community

Expedia Group’s Career Community is a great way to learn about new opportunities and receive important job communications and updates. Sign up now!

Expedia Group Research Summit

Tammy Snow | Senior Director of User Research, Expedia in Bellevue

Sometimes, all it takes is a small spark to ignite something incredible.

Last fall, one of the researchers on my team suggested that a get together with the Vrbo, brand Expedia and Lodging Partner Services (LPS) research teams might be a good idea. I agreed but envisioned something even bigger.

My dream was to bring together all researchers—user researchers, brand insights & market researchers—across Expedia Group, so we could information share, learn from each other and most importantly, discover ways to collaborate across the platform. I raised the idea with Sarah Gavin, Expedia Group’s VP of corporate communications and she was immediately on board.

The rest was history.

On June 18-19, the first annual Expedia Group Research Summit took place in San Francisco with over 70 researchers and research groupies across the globe coming together to fulfill the objective of creating a sense of community and trust across Expedia Group’s research discipline. From all indications, the event was a massive success!

Here are my top 5 takeaways from the Summit:

  1. We have an amazingly talented, passionate, and diverse group of researchers at Expedia Group. I’m willing to make the claim that we have the best researchers in the travel industry! On Day One of the Summit, there were 12 breakout sessions where researchers from each of the brand teams presented their work. We heard about a broad range of topics including trust, neuroscience in ad testing, the influence Generation Alpha has on travel decisions and more.

    Every one of the presentations contained incredible content and were delivered with polish and professionalism. On the second day, we split into 6 cross-brand groups to workshop actions that we could take to solve 6 distinct problems that align with Expedia Group’s strategic imperatives. Each team gave an 8-minute pitch to explain their ideas, methodologies and suggested actions to our panel of executive judges.

    All of the pitches were incredible. In the end, there were two winning pitches. The runners up suggested actions Expedia Group can take to attract and delight lodging partners with research. The winning pitch was delivered by a team that defined collaborative actions we can take to test brand creative from concept to live.

2. We needed an event like this to establish a foundation of synergy and trust across the Expedia Group research discipline. Two fun facts for you readers: First, those of us with research as part of our role make up only .3% of the overall Expedia Group employee base. Second, researchers are sort of funny about trusting other researchers until we’ve had a chance to work together. It was inspiring and rewarding to see every researcher at the Summit embrace the idea of operating as one team. We made great progress in collaborating during the event and have clear next steps that we will take as a unified group of researchers over the next several months. All of these steps are focused on helping Expedia Group be more customer and partner centric.

3. There is an appetite and need for researchers to continue sharing information and best practices. It was clear throughout the course of the two days (and particularly when hearing the workshop pitches) that we have a need to find ways to better share research best practices and insights.

One of the key actions coming out of the Summit is to find or revise an existing repository for sharing all of our research insights. Another key set of actions relates to aligning on approaches for measuring site and app experiences as well as brand creative. As we make progress on alignment, the quality and cost efficiency of our research efforts will undoubtedly improve.

4. Technology companies known for customer centricity are pervasively obsessed with putting their users at the core of their decisions. On Day 2 we hosted a panel with representatives from three customer-centric organizations: Slack, Poshmark and Pinterest. Each of the representatives have roles in their organizations that are related to – but not part of research.

One of the more interesting titles was the storyteller from Pinterest whose job it is to share stories about their users (better known as Pinners) to ensure that customers are at the heart of everything Pinterest does. What stood out from this panel is that each of these organizations have customer obsession as part of their corporate DNA. One of my favorite anecdotes was from our guest speaker from Slack, who talked about how they were getting frequent requests to add a “like” feature for Slack posts. As this feedback was considered, the Slack team decided to go the extra mile and instead of offering a “like” feature they decided to add emojis. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the Slack emojis!

Expedia Group leadership is committed to making customer centricity a reality. We were fortunate to have executives from each of the brands attend the Summit and participate as our executive judging panel for the workshops and in an executive panel later that day.

5. Our CEO, Mark Okerstrom, was our closing keynote speaker. The fact that our leaders were willing to take time out of their busy schedules and attend this event with our researchers, the people at Expedia Group who spend all of our time observing, listening to and understanding customers and partners, is a testament to their commitment to our strategic imperative to walk in our customers’ shoes. In addition to our fearless leader, Aman Bhutani and Arthur Chapin from Brand Expedia, Tina Weyand from Vrbo, Josh Crossick from Hotels.com, Neha Parikh from Hotwire, and Jay Fluegel from GCO helped make this vision a reality. It was clear from our executives’ feedback that they value the role of research and are fully committed to continuing on our journey of being customer-centric.

Finally, the Summit would not have been possible without our group of amazing research leaders and their commitment to making the event a success. I want to give a special thank you to: Adam Smolinski from Brand Expedia Group, Chris Matthews from Hotels.com, Karen Swanson from Brand Expedia Group & LPS, Karl Steiner from Vrbo, and Rachael Wussow from Hotwire.

The research team weren’t the only employees who came together as a platform for the Summit – I must give a huge thank you to the amazing team who did all of the planning, programming and organizing for the Summit: Sarah Gavin, VP of corporate communications; Mallorie Mach and Alison Kwong Vrbo’s PR and communications team; Carolin Fuller, Hotwire PR; Carrie Adams, Executive Admin for BEXG UX and Research teams; Dave McDowell, Lab tech for BEXG. And finally, Victoria Cagliero from the EG corporate communications team who took the lead in planning and coordinating this entire platform initiative and made our dream a reality. You are amazing!

Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Rehana Nanji

Rehana Nanji | Programme Manager in London

Rehana Nanji speaks to us about her role in the technology sector and shares her thoughts on London’s Women of Silicon Roundabout Event, taking place 25-26th June 2019.

Rehana leads the London Engagement Team which provides London-based employees with access to learning and volunteering opportunities, as well as building out a sense of community, a place where people enjoy working and feel heard and valued. Rehana partners across all brands, levels, geographies and Business Resource Groups to drive culture change, working towards an inclusive and exceptional workplace for Expedians worldwide alongside Expedia’s Global Inclusion forum. Expedia Group is guided by a purpose that is inherently inclusive: to bring the world within reach. As the world’s travel platform, it’s extensive brand portfolio includes some of the world’s most trusted online travel brands.

Having partnered with Tech leads on the set-up of the latest Expedia Group engineering office in Amman (the first gender-balanced EG Tech office globally), Rehana enjoys traveling to different Expedia offices to learn about cultural differences across locations. As well as travel, dance is one of Rehana’s biggest passions and she has competed at 10 dance Latin and Ballroom National competitions.

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the field of Engagement? 

Throughout my life, I have tried different types of career: from studying biochemistry to teaching Latin and Ballroom dancing, from being a Teaching Assistant in a Secondary school to Recruiting Occupational Therapists for the NHS.  Now I find myself at Expedia Group working in Engagement across Technology, Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility and Internal Communications.  Each of my experiences have been developing different skills in preparation for this role and I love what I do!  

What’s a typical day like for you? 

No two days are the same. The team run events across all the areas above which keeps us busy, we also run trainings and at the moment are gearing up for Pride month (June).  I usually have to context switch a lot which keeps things exciting (and somewhat confusing at times 🙂)

Who is your female tech inspiration? What have they done and why do they inspire you? 

Lori Hofmann is my manager and my inspiration.  Lori believes in Life Long Learning and is currently getting a PhD in Leadership and Change.  Lori continues to challenge me and help me improve in everything I do.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment that you’d like to share with our readers? 

The Inclusion Learning Series is an example of a globally aligned and locally relevant programme being rolled out at Expedia.  It has had great success across many locations and in London we are working on engaging everyone across Expedia Group in conversations around Privilege, Identity and Inclusive Language.  Having an inclusive culture is important but you must bring all your employees on the journey with you.  We are excited to see where this will take us!

What is your Women of Silicon Roundabout talk about?

Chris and I will be talking through the journey of Inclusion at Expedia Group through Allyship.  The key stages to changing and creating an inclusive environment.  We hope the people at the conference will take away some simple actions to create positive change and an inclusive environment around them.   

What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?

The phrase Women in Tech does not refer to just one or two professions anymore.  Technology is being woven into everything we do, embrace it and be proud of who you are and what you bring to the table.  Keep an open mind, keep learning and remember to take people with you on your journey.

You can catch Rehana’s speech at the Women of Silicon Roundabout event on Tuesday 25th June from 10 am – 10:30 am.  

Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Jenna Prescott

Jenna Prescott | Recruiting Manager in London

Jenna Prescott speaks about her role in the technology sector and shares her thoughts on London’s Women of Silicon Roundabout Event, taking place 25-26th June 2019.

Jenna Prescott leads Tech Recruitment globally for two of Expedia Group’s brands; Hotels.com and Expedia Partner Solutions. Previously she was in tech recruitment at Sky where she began the Women in Tech meetup series. Jenna is very passionate about making technology a more diverse and inclusive place for all.  In her spare time Jenna loves to travel (mostly with the intent to try the local food!).  

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the field of recruitment?

I think most people in recruitment will tell you that it was not a planned move coming out of university! However working in a recruitment agency made me realise what I loved doing is working with people; delighting them with job offers and hard to find top talent. I took that to my first in-house role at Sky where I found my true love – tech recruitment! I think it’s my personal drive and passion that has allowed me to progress within HR functions to today at Expedia where I lead tech recruitment globally for 2 of Expedia Group’s brands, Hotels.com and Expedia Group.

What’s a typical day like for you?

What I love about my job is how varied it is and that means there often is not a typical day! In a day I will usually be having a catch up with a team member or a business stakeholder, check in on progress on the organisation of my next event, use LinkedIn to source hard to find talent, work with business or HR colleagues on various projects from diversity hiring to referrals and approve today’s posting for our LinkedIn page. Throughout this I will be keeping up to date with LinkedIn, posting updates and answering many slack messages!

Who is your female tech inspiration? What have they done and why do they inspire you?

I meet amazing female talent in tech who inspire me everyday! However here I have to mention Phoebe Greig and Misa Ogura who set up Women Driven Development in their spare time to build community and help move the dial when it comes to women in tech by creating sponsorship opportunities. Expedia Group were lucky enough to host the 2nd ever Women Driven Development Hackathon it was an absolute pleasure to work with this inspirational couple!

As a recruitment manager what is your top tip for people who are looking for their next opportunity?

Network! There are so many opportunities now to meet companies in their natural environments so if you think that company could be a great place for your next opportunity go to their next meet-up, Hackathon or visit their stand at a conference. This way you can speak to their engineers yourself and ask questions that are important to you. It’s a great way to gain a true insight into company culture!

What is your Women of Silicon Roundabout talk about?

We are talking about Diversity recruiting and what actions businesses can take to meet their diversity targets (I am sure there will be something on there on if we need targets too?!). The key takeaways will be actionable, tactical moves that everyone can use to influence tangible improvements in the diversity and inclusivity of their company.

What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?

My advice would be to take opportunity, stretch yourself but most of all do something that you love and you are passionate about 😀

You can catch Jenna on Tuesday 25th June at 1:30 pm as part of the Hired panel on ‘Taking actions towards Diversity Hiring Goals’.

Expedia Group Dads Share the Power of Paternity Leave

Lauren von Stackelberg | Director, Industry Relations in London

Countries around the world mark Father’s Day on different dates and at least 86 nations will be observing the occasion the week of June 16th. Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the dads in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on how we support not only fathers in the workplace, but families at home.

According to a 2016 report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 41% of Americans have employers that provide paid paternity leave to some workers, and only 9% work for companies that provide paid paternity leave to all. And even when a company offers leave, many men are reluctant to take the time off, as one in three men said that they feared the stigma associated with paternity leave.

Expedia Group has one of the most comprehensive paternity leave plans today to provide dads with time to bond with their newborns, support their family, and enable their partners to return to the work force to support gender equality. Anyone who has spent long hours with an infant knows the joys of watching momentous milestones, from first smiles to first steps, and the many challenging hours spent trying to get them to eat and sleep.

Parenting is hard, wonderful, messy, fulfilling and never boring. On this Father’s Day, we celebrate all the amazing dads of Expedia Group, and those who shared their paternity leave story. Enjoy!

Chris Hodges | Director, Business Development

I feel so lucky that I was able to take advantage of paternity leave after the birth of my daughter Grace. For me to be able to spend quality time with my wife and newborn in those precious early stages of life allowed me to create bonding moments that are priceless. I was initially nervous to go out on leave, but I had so much support from my boss and my team and I’m so grateful for that. And am excited to be taking pat leave again in a couple of months when my twins are born.

Nicolas Grande | Area Manager, MM Argentina

At the end of 2018, I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life when my third child was born–I needed to help my wife as well as support my other kids. Even though I knew we had the paternity leave benefit, it took me a while to make the decision to use it. Now, I can say the paternity leave was a key moment both in my life and my professional career. I was able to enjoy my newborn and all of my family without worrying about my job, as I was supported by my Manager and all my team. I believe life is about moments–I strongly encourage you to fully enjoy the most important ones.

Nico Daudin | Senior Director, Program Development

I went on paternity leave in 2018 to take care of my first son. I was a bit afraid at first to take the time off. I had a ton of questions that were racing in my head: Would I know how to handle parenting alone? Would my team be ok? Would it impact my career negatively? However, thanks to the support of my boss, my team and the other product leaders, I took it and couldn’t be more grateful that I did!

Not only was I able to create a special bond with my son, but the time off also helped my career. It empowered everyone on my team to be even more autonomous, which increased their performance. It also gave me the time to really think about our product strategy and how to improve our overall performance. That’s a pretty amazing ROI when you think about it.

Jonathan Harris | Senior Manager, Business Development and Initiatives

I’m so grateful that the company has a culture where taking time off to nurture a baby is not only offered for men, but strongly encouraged. The fact that several senior leaders and members of my team had already paved the way with their own leave made my transition easier. I was able to completely disconnect for the full 12 weeks, although spending entire days with my daughter Erika felt like anything but “time off” – she is a far more demanding boss than anyone I have worked for at LPS!

Mike Doyle | Director, Market Management

My life got turned upside down in June 2017 with the birth of triplets. Yes, triplets. With no family living nearby, my wife and I had no idea how we would be able to handle this. It would have to be the ultimate team effort and would require time to get in sync with each other. Thankfully, we have a great paternity leave benefit at Expedia Group and my boss was fully supportive of me taking the full leave in order to bond with my new family. This afforded me the time needed to adjust to a “new normal.” It allowed me to spend quality time bonding with my kids while learning how to be a triplet parent. (Honestly though, I’m still learning). I felt no pressure from the workplace while I was out. When I came back to work, I got a great welcome from the Denver team and was allowed to gradually acclimate back into my role. I’m grateful for having this benefit – and the support to be able to use it.

Nicholas Ursini | Director, Strategic Accounts

We are fortunate to work for a company that offers a generous parental leave policy and it seems like it should be a no brainer decision, but I still was uncertain about taking the time off! Having an open dialogue and having overwhelming support from my leadership really helped me take paternity leave. Looking back, the time I had with my wife and son Theo was irreplaceable! It also helped reduce pressure for my wife, who had to go back to work (although she did check in on us a lot, to make sure we were both alive)!

Shuhei Kondo | LPA II, MO Kuala Lumpur

When I had my second child, I couldn’t take long leave due to my previous company’s benefit/policy. It was hard for my wife to take care of 2 kids alone as our family is living far away. Four years later, when our third child was born, I was able to spend quality time with our new family member as well as my wife, son and second daughter. I am grateful that our company offers such a great benefit to even fathers. I had a great time with my kids.

Jeffrey Scheidt | Area Manager, MM US Casino Markets

Our paternity leave at Expedia Group has been such a blessing, as I’ve recently returned to work from my second paternity leave. Taking the full 12 weeks of new parent leave allowed for both myself and my wife to adjust to our new journey of parenthood while embracing every moment of our kids. Being home to catch their milestone achievements, like the first laugh or the first time they rolled over, are moments that I’ll never forget and am extremely grateful to have.
 

Sachin Kumar | LPA III, MO Gurgaon

“Fatherhood is a feeling which cannot be put into words appropriately, ’til the day it’s experienced”. This was something I was told by my father and it was in the month of February 2019 when I really understood it. Since it’s a first time feeling, I wasn’t sure how it would be or how I’d be able to care for my child. Living away from my parents, with no previous experience, I was a bit nervous, curious, and excited at the same time. Being blessed with a son, he has brought a sea of change into our lives in terms of everything that we do. He has become the center of our lives, bringing all positive changes to our relationship and marriage. There has been so much learning in these first three months: my ability to communicate has improved by trying to understand my newborn son’s crying, cooing, and gurgling! In short, it’s a unique, ongoing experience and I’m loving every bit of it. I hold heartfelt gratitude that Expedia has supported these initial days of parenthood in such a beautiful way so that I could give undivided attention to my son during the very early days of infancy.

David Hamblin | Vice President, MM APAC

Taking paternity leave was an amazing experience and opportunity to spend time not only with my daughter, but also bonding as a family. It was a really important period for all of us to spend some quality, family-focused time. Taking paternity leave when Aliya was just 3-months old, I could also see the difference it made in my relationship with her (I got my first “Dada” before going back to work). It’s a priceless time that I’m really thankful to have had. My team, manager, and peers were fantastic in supporting me to really switch off and fully focus on my wife, son, and new daughter.

Speaker Spotlight: Q&A with Neeraj Bhadani

Neeraj Bhadani | Data Scientist in London

Neeraj Bhadani speaks about his role in the technology sector and shares his thoughts on London’s Women of Silicon Roundabout Event, taking place 25-26th June 2019.

Neeraj is a Big Data Engineer at Hotels.com, one of the Expedia Group brands. He has more than a decade’s experience in the industry and is currently managing the Big Data Platform for Hotels.com and delivering trainings/workshops both internally and externally. Prior to Hotels.com, he worked on various Big Data projects, dealt directly with clients as a Technical specialist and migrated various ETL pipelines to Spark. He has received a Gold Medal for being topper of batch during the Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Science. 

Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got into the field of BIG Data Engineering?

Being entirely honest, I was a below average student during my school days! But my family really motivated me a lot for studies (special thanks to my elder brother). Gradually I started focusing on my studies. No one from my family had a technical background when I started engineering but I was always passionate about the subject. Going from a below average student during school days to finishing my engineering as a Gold Medallist was very satisfactory. During the initial days of my career I was a SAP Business Objects Admin but my younger brother motivated me to mould the career towards Big Data and he always helped me during this journey. Also I am happy to share that we are now working in the same team at Hotels.com.

What’s a typical day like for you?

I am working as a Big Data engineer managing  the Big Data platform for Hotels.com. In my day to day activities I help our Analysts/Data Engineers to improve their query performance, work on ETL jobs written in Hive/Presto/Spark and support the platform. I also deliver trainings and workshops on Apache Spark and strengthen the skillset around the same. Working with the world’s leader in travel industry is really an honor for me and I am happy that I am making my contribution within the company.

What is your Women of Silicon Roundabout talk about?

Henrietta Forssen and I are are talking about “Data science: beyond the hype“. In this session we will take you through exactly what data science and machine learning really is. We’ll explain some of the key algorithms used, how to understand what they do and how to know when to use machine learning in the first place, versus other methodologies.

What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in tech?

With the new technologies and innovations, there are immense opportunities in different areas and at various levels to showcase their talent. Also, with the increase in the cloud technologies which make the entire software development pipeline very easy. Business can now focus more on solving the problems rather than worrying about the infrastructure and related problems. It’s not only about working with the latest technologies, but one can also innovate the solutions which can help to improve the  basic necessities around the world like Education and Healthcare which will be a great contribution to the society.

Neeraj will be sharing his session entitled “Data Science: Beyond the hype” at 13:30 PM on 25th June. His talk will cover what data science and machine learning really is and also explain some of the key algorithms and methodologies used.