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Meet a Gilt Technologist: Nithya Venkateswaran, Quality Assurance Engineer

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How did you get into Quality Assurance?

I worked as a developer in India, then earned my master’s degree in Management Information Systems in Arkansas. After I finished my degree, my first job was at Yahoo! That was a QA position, and so my career became geared toward QA.

How did you arrive at Gilt?

In early 2010, someone from Gilt reached out to me online. At the time I was living in Washington, DC. During the interview process, I made a purchase to see how the site worked. I thought, ‘this is such a great concept!’ I still have what I bought the first time: a pair of lounge pants.

When did you start working here?

I joined Gilt in March 2010 as an automation engineer, doing QA automation. My job was to create new test cases for automation for different parts of the site–both front-end and back-end. I then did automation at Gilt City for a year. Earlier this year I switched back to Gilt to join the International team.

Which technologies have you used most at Gilt?

When I started here, we used Java and Selenium; most of our automation framework was built on Java as well. We still use Selenium, but with Scala now.

You’ve been learning Scala on your own, correct?

Yes. So far mostly everything that I’ve wanted to learn has been through internal chats, Martin Odersky’s Coursera course, and my colleagues’ help. With Scala, as with any programming language, you learn more by doing and getting your hands dirty.

What do you like about Scala?

I’ve only been studying it for a few months, but already I see that it’s more concise than Java. Scala lets you mix object-orientation and functional programming, and it’s easy and fun to learn.

What else have you been studying and learning here?

Gilt is so open about learning – people support you and make it as easy as possible. Recently I’ve been learning how to use Cognos, a data warehouse tool. It’s not required for my job, but I told my mentor that I wanted to learn more about the business side of the work I do for International. He helped me to gain access to the Cognos system and so I could learn how to create dashboards and understand the core international business better.

This brings me to Gilt’s mentorship program: It’s definitely very helpful to everyone who wants to make use of it. My mentor meets with me regularly to help me work on my primary and secondary goals. This sort of guidance definitely helps us to understand how our work directly affects the growth of the company.

Tell us more about the International team.

I’ve been on this amazing team for almost six months now, and feel really lucky to be a part of it. We’ve grown so fast, and we have so much potential. Everyone on our team is awesome at what they do, and we are always brainstorming about how to make the international experience more beautiful and seamless for our customers.

What are your goals going forward?

I’m very interested in product management. I’d like to work on solving some of those bigger business challenges, to help Gilt grow.

How has Gilt helped you move toward achieving your goals?

Last year, after I told my manager that I wanted to move into product management, he helped me take a one-week executive education course at UC Berkeley. The course helped me learn all about product management concepts and processes, and was a great experience. When I came back from California, I got to lead a subscriber registration model project for Gilt City.

How would you describe Gilt Tech’s work environment?

Creative, open, friendly. We don’t have walls or private offices, and there is no bureaucracy. It’s very easy to ask members of the executive team for their input and feedback on ideas. I love how we have things like a Gilt Tech Women group, where women can talk about our experiences, share and learn from each other openly, and read books by other women in technology and business.

There’s also a focus on substance here. We have KPIs to measure exactly how we’re contributing to the company. And we obviously care about using the best technologies, and meeting our own high standards.

What do you do outside of work?

I do improv and am taking kickboxing and storytelling classes. I also just received my competent communicator certificate from Toastmasters International. I joined Toastmasters for personal growth–to be a good product manager, you have to be a good speaker.

I feel that everyone at Gilt is passionate about pursuing their personal interests. It helps you grow in your company–you remain open to different sources of inspiration. The company appreciates work-life balance. It means that they actually care about you.

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