Engineers explain the mission-critical projects they're working on

May 9, 2018
engineer
image via shutterstock

A creative engineering team is at the core of every successful tech company. They’re responsible for building the product, maintaining it and constantly generating ideas for improvement. We caught up with several engineers who shared the coolest company projects they’re working on — like technology that can automatically extract data and predict data breaches — and potential initiatives for the future. See what else NYC’s engineers are currently building.

 

Radford Tam
Senior manager of payments engineering

As a platform that automates HR processes for businesses, Justworks helps free up entrepreneurs so they can focus on their mission. Senior Manager of Payments Engineering Radford Tam has been with the company for four years and has worked on a number of critical projects that help push the platform forward.

 

What’s one mission-critical project you’re working on?

One project that I'm working on is the generation of W2 and 1099 forms for all of our customers' employees and contractors. This is a core function that we provide as part of our payroll services, but because Justworks is growing, we are bringing on a ton of new businesses to the platform every year. I'm working to make sure our system is scalable so that we can efficiently generate all W2s and 1099s year-in, year-out, no matter how big we get.

 

What’s one company project you’d love to initiate for your company?

I'd love to start having whole teams pair up for lunch every week. As our company grows, departments are naturally becoming more siloed. We do regular random lunches in small groups across the company, but bringing whole teams together in a social setting would build rapport and empathy for each other, as well as for what we're all working on.

 

Sasha Konovolova
Software engineer

Managed by Q is a platform for office management with a mission to make the world work better. For Software Engineer Sasha Konovolova, that means building a product that helps customers run world-class workplaces and creates good jobs for cleaning and maintenance employees. She told us how her current projects fit into the bigger picture.

 

What’s one mission-critical project you’re working on?

As we’ve grown, the ways in which customers can order services on our platform have multiplied. In addition to providing multiple quotes from our partners for recurring services, we also can instantly book jobs such as handyman services. Administrative staffing and large project management have their own booking experiences. We’re now working on refactoring our core ordering domain model so that we have greater flexibility to support these and other new initiatives. We’re also taking the opportunity to build some better management tools for our internal operations teams so that they can best support our customers.

 

What’s one company project you’d love to initiate for your company?

We pretty frequently take on developer-initiated projects. For instance, all of our front-end properties for customers, partners and operational teams are backed by their own Node.js service that intermediates communication with our backend services, which are all Python. The establishment of this backend-for-front-end (BFF) pattern is an initiative that I led a couple of years ago, and it has served us well. However, I’d like to revisit some of the decisions we made and set some better guidelines for teams so that as we all move forward autonomously, it’s easier to do so with speed and quality.

 

Andrew Wilkes
Engineering team lead

At HyperScience, the team works hard to build artificial intelligence that automates manual enterprise processes. Engineering Team Lead Andrew Wilkes has been with the company for close to three years and has played a major role in some of the startup’s most important projects.

 

What’s one mission-critical project you’re working on?

Near the end of 2016, I put together a customer-facing capability demo that showed how our existing machine learning models could automatically extract data from scanned forms. This small demo was met with so much market excitement that we put the full force of HyperScience engineering behind it — and that’s how the HyperScience Forms product was born. Ever since, I’ve been an active engineering member and technical lead of the product and team. We’ve seen this project grow from a kernel of an idea to an enterprise-grade, forward-deployed software package that our customers trust in their own mission-critical processes.

 

What’s one company project you’d love to initiate for your company?

Entering the consumer space with HyperScience is one idea that has excited me for as long as I’ve been here. We’re building amazing products that help large operations automatically process tons of analog data that was previously a boring and laborious back-office task. While we may not be processing thousands of forms every day in our personal lives, we still save receipts, sign contracts, receive mail, store personal medical records, and file our taxes. I would find it very rewarding to assist people in automating these types of everyday life chores that we all universally dread.

 

Vikash Dat
Principal software engineer

SecurityScorecard aims to create a new language for companies and their partners to communicate, understand and improve each other’s security posture. Principal Software Engineer Vikash Dat let us in on what he’s been working on to improve the technology during a time when cybersecurity is more important than ever.

 

What’s one mission-critical project you’re working on?

Earlier this year, we released a machine learning analytic named Breach Insights. This algorithm allows us to quantify the relative likelihood of a future breach within a portfolio of vendors using a multiplier. Attributes we take into account are known CVES, common technologies, and SecurityScorecard-defined issues. Packaged with this risk identifier is an action log of steps to take to reduce risk across a portfolio of vendors. We are excited about creating differentiators in the cyber risk assessment space, and Breach Insights is the first of many that will allow our customers to get a better understanding of their cybersecurity stance.

 

What’s one company project you’d love to initiate for your company?

I'd like to continue to push SSC to utilize more analytical tools, specifically in the realm of machine learning and predictive models. The hard problems in our space revolve around the ability to accurately assess a company's vulnerabilities and the impacts of those vulnerabilities. To do this, we have to crunch a lot of data and produce a prediction that we are confident in. Machine learning tools and methodologies can provide a  robust way of aiding in this effort and handling the scale of the entities on the web.

 

 

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