Meet Denis - Full Stack Engineer at Encord

August 22, 2023
5 mins
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We sat down with Denis Gavrielov, Full Stack Engineer at Encord, to learn more about his day-to-day. Denis is an essential player on the Engineering team, he has been a part of Encord's exciting journey from a small 8-person team to the dynamic startup it is today. He walks us through the highs and lows of his experiences, the camaraderie he shares with his team, and the thrill of working on some truly fascinating projects. If you've ever wondered what it's like to work at a startup like Encord, strap in and join us for this conversation!

Denis, first question. What inspired you to join Encord?

I applied about two years ago when the team was still getting started (we were eight people strong — all engineers!). At that time, I wasn't sure if I wanted to join a startup as I had been working in a larger company up until then (Bloomberg). I met most of the team throughout the interview process, and the more I spoke to everyone, the more I felt I'd really enjoy working with them.

I also had a great first impression of the founders (Eric & Ulrik) and the more I spoke with them the more I got a sense for how strong their skillset was and how unique and unparalleled of an opportunity it'd be. The combination of team, founders, and opportunity is what ultimately led me to join Encord. I still remember my first week sitting in our 10m2 office space in the middle of Soho without any meeting rooms or kitchen, quite different from today!

Very different from now indeed! What does a typical day as a full-stack engineer at Encord look like?

Every day is a bit different. Some people like to focus on back-end engineering and some like front-end work — I like to work on both! Typically, I start by catching up with everyone's messages on Slack. I might have one or two meetings in the morning before starting to code. Throughout the day there's a lot of collaboration via impromptu short catch-ups in person or on Slack. During these meetings, I often discuss architectural designs and problem-solving strategies with more senior team members. A significant component of my day is spent coding and solving problems.

And I guess you fit in lunch in between that as well, right?

That's true, a good lunch break is important for recharging! I usually grab lunch with a few colleagues — if the weather is nice, like during the summer, we enjoy our lunch outside. On Fridays, the entire team gets together in the office for a company lunch, that's always fun and one of my favorite Encord traditions.

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You mentioned teamwork and customer centricity how would you describe the company culture at Encord more broadly?

The company culture is very collaborative. The founders and senior managers are encouraging and open to suggestions, so it's easy to take (good) decisions independently. We try to maintain a relaxed office culture focused on team success, where people are free to work in a manner that works best for them and for us as a team more broadly. People are always trying to help each other out and break down any silos there might arise — although we've been very intentional though about building the right environment, so luckily there are very little silos in the first place. For example, our engineering and commercial team all work in one big room and getting context or feedback is incredibly quick.

Another key part of our culture is being able to adapt quickly. Previously, I was working at Bloomberg in an infrastructure team, where we had to plan everything very precisely. Everything had to be correct from the start, and every decision would need to go through many layers of approval and planning sessions. Speed of progress was naturally quite different.

Here at Encord, we are a nimble, rapid team — we move quickly and have been able to achieve things that teams many times our size have struggled with. Customers tell us every week how much better our product is compared to other alternatives they're looking at. It is always very rewarding when we hear this feedback.

What we aim for as a team is to be great — ship high-performing industry-leading products quickly, get feedback from customers and prospects early, and consistently focus on building what customers and users really want. I think these are the two principles that stand out to me as an engineer the most.

Can you tell us a bit about a project that you're currently working on?

One of the projects I'm working on is overhauling of our task management system. The core problem we're trying to solve is that our customers need a detailed overview and a flexible interface to control the annotation and review process for their data operations. The process can be complicated, involving multiple review stages and different levels of scrutiny. So we're developing a system to allow our clients to implement more complex workflows and be able to review the process even faster!

In terms of how I spend my time between collaborating and individual development, it varies heavily by what point of the project we're in. At the beginning, a large part of my time is spent brainstorming, talking through the objectives with other engineers and product managers, and listening in on client calls. After gathering ideas and refining our approach, I spend most of my time coding and focusing on the project — while still staying in sync with the rest of the team so that we keep moving quickly in the same direction.

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Lastly, what advice would you give to someone considering working at Encord?

Many people reach out to me each week asking this and there's a few things I think many people don't consider.

Encord is obviously in a very exciting position — we're a strong team, in the right market (AI infrastructure), and have a clear vision of what the future will be like and what we need to build to get there.

Yet early-stage startups, especially ones moving very quickly, require working-modes and dispositions that the vast majority of people are not looking for nor comfortable with — and that's okay! If you don’t particularly enjoy collaborating on tasks, or you prefer being told very precisely/prescriptively what to do, or you're not at the stage in your career where you want to own processes, then I'd say Encord (and similar-type companies) are probably not the best fit. It really depends on what excites you.

Here, you need to embrace pace, ownership, collaboration, and autonomy, often to degrees you may not have considered possible. These are key traits that, I think, have all made us successful in our roles.

If you want to own problem areas and find solutions, if you like collaborating and prototyping MVPs quickly to get client feedback early, and if you pride yourself in making the right decisions with limited amounts of information — then Encord may be a good fit!

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Thank you, Denis!

We have big plans for 2023 & are hiring across all teams. Find here the roles we are hiring for!

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Lavanya Cholaraju

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