Vancouver Canada

An interview with Gautam Gupta, Engineering

Date Posted: January 29, 2021

Gautam is a Software Engineer at Alloy. He is a University of Waterloo alum and has previously also worked at Shopify, Venmo, and Paytm. 

Why did you join Alloy?

I joined Alloy because it has a good mix of challenging technical problems, a hard-working team, and a great culture. Furthermore, the smaller size of the team allows for more ownership of whatever you’re working on and enables you to deliver quickly. 

When I first started at Alloy in the beginning of 2018, I joined as an intern. We were a team of about twelve people, and I very quickly found all those things to be true. I graduated University and came back full-time and continue to find those points ring true every day!

What do you do at Alloy?

I am a Software Engineer at Alloy, which means that I get to translate the solutions to our customers’ problems into code. This work involves collaborating with other members on my team and the product manager to execute on the product vision.

Pre-Covid, I also took pride in being the Chief Snacks Officer of the Vancouver office—always trying to ensure that there was enough supply of the snacks and stocked shelves to meet consumption.

What’s been the most challenging part of your work so far?

Modeling the supply chain isn’t easy for a number of reasons: 

  1. The amount of data you’re dealing with is huge—for any consumer brand there could be thousands of SKUs being sold at thousands of locations, and each SKU-location pair can have multiple data points for every day
  2. There is no pre-defined network in which the goods flow—you need to be able to infer the network from all the different sources of data and put it together in a way that’s consumable by the user
  3. Different types of products usually flow through different supply chain networks—for example, cold products like milk follow a different network than shelf stable products like candy, even if they’re manufactured by the same company
  4. There are multiple layers in a network—goods produced at a production facility get stored at a warehouse, which then get shipped to third-party distributors, who in-turn supply them to the stores

One of my more challenging projects has been to model supply chain data in such a way that you’re able to do analysis on it in a matter of seconds, not hours. We should be able to aggregate data and quickly extract useful insights for our customers, like how long the inventory at a specific warehouse will last given downstream store-level sales.

What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar career?

I would say, get as much practical experience as possible via internships. You learn a lot in a very short period—not just the technical stuff, but also working with different people and understanding how work gets done. It’s one of the things that has accelerated my career relatively quickly.

What first interested you in Software Engineering?

I remember when I was around 12 years old, I wanted to hack my brother’s social account. I followed a simple phishing tutorial to gain access to his account. And of course, he got back at me by disconnecting the internet for a week. 

But once I had done that, the questions quickly changed from “How do I hack” to “How do I write this simple program?” And the curiosity just led me to teach myself programming while I was still in middle school. Computers and technology became my passion and I decided to turn it into my career!

Gautam on a hike in the summer of 2020
What do you like to do outside of the office?

I think Covid has upended everyone’s activities and hobbies. I find that activities I used to engage in before, like travel, trying out new restaurants, and dance classes are now replaced with biking outdoors, exercising, and catching up with friends online. One thing that hasn’t changed however, is going hiking when it’s nice and sunny in the summer!

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