Spotlight: Sunil Kapil

Sunil Kapil PictureName: Sunil Kapil

Role: Senior Software Engineer in Test

Hire Date: Nov 2014

Fun Fact: He likes to volunteer in the local Indian community by joining meet-up groups, supporting causes, and dancing in cultural events.

“I decided Chegg would be the best choice because of the culture and their openness not only to new ideas, but technologies as well, which is something I hadn’t experienced before when I worked at larger companies”

What did you do before coming to Chegg?

I worked in the same role at different companies such as Samsung, T-Mobile, Qualcomm, and I joined a bio-tech company at one point because I needed to relocate to the bay area. Previously, I mostly worked in software engineering as a Software Developer in Test.

Why did you decide to come to Chegg?

After working 2 years at Qualcomm, I decided to move to the bay area due to family circumstances and started working for a bio-tech start-up thereafter. Prior to coming to Chegg, I was mostly working on the mobile side and mostly with Android and iOS kind of things. Upon considering all of my offers for my next role, which came from companies ranging from start-ups to a large company and Chegg, I decided Chegg would be the best choice because of the culture and their openness not only to new ideas, but technologies as well, which is something I hadn’t experienced before when I worked at larger companies. Since I’ve been working here, I’ve found that what I had read online was what I found to be true.

What are you proud of?

In the last 6-7 months since I’ve been here, I have two things that I’m proud of. The first project involved moving me from a different project onto this project because it was such a high priority and has a direct impact on the Chegg business since it involves our transition over to Ingram. First, I had to understand everything from back end and front end and how the process worked and how it affected our payments system, which is really critical for any business. We are now close to completing this project and are moving onto the next phase.

The second project involved measuring our site performance and building a culture around it within the company. When I joined Chegg, my manager pointed out that we should build something to start measuring how our site performs under different circumstances and build more awareness and even a culture around it across departments. So I built out a framework that lets us test how particular modules perform in particular roads, how it scales with different parts of the website, along with different api’s and databases. It’s a work in progress, but it’s a good start because it’s never been done the way it’s being done right now and enables teams to cross check their work. Before they were never able to find any tool or software that would enable them to use it in this manner. Now it’s becoming a Chegg priority and more people are using it.

Has anything surprised you about working here?

I would say what mostly surprised me is how much easier it is to reach upper management. It’s really easy because you can just walk up to their desk whereas at a big company, I would have to go through multiple layers of managers before I could even reach the VP. The second thing that has surprised me since working here is task sprint for our departments. As an employee, I can see what’s going on with the business, what new features are coming, which keeps me in the loop of what’s happening with Chegg. The third thing that has surprised me is the culture. You don’t need permission to talk to another team or anybody else. You can just walk to a different department and ask for help on something and they usually help you; you don’t have to go through the manager. It’s a culture thing where it’s really open and you can talk to anyone about anything and if you have any problems, you can share it with them. So it’s very collaborative between the teams, which makes it really helpful because it makes it very efficient while you do your work. The fourth thing that surprised me is the open-mindedness of everybody, especially for managers towards new technologies. For example, we could be using this type of technology this week, but if I suggest an alternative, they usually will allow me to use it the next week to test out and compare which is better to use. Especially with my big company background, it was very surprising to me.

How did you get into your field?

When I was in high school, computers were the new thing. I was fascinated by how they worked, the internet, and those types of things. In my family, most of the people were in the army and headed there once they were of age. If I didn’t go into computer science, I would’ve gone into the army. I decided to pursue a career involving computers because I enjoyed them and figured I would at least try it out and it worked out! Engineering is a little more costly compared to other careers, but I managed with the help of my parents.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to start in a role like this at Chegg?

Software Engineering in Test is a different path because it’s a mixture of a couple of different areas. Imagine, you went to a car manufacturer company and you see a lot of robot tools that are making the car. These robot tools are a lot more complex than the car itself. So if you think of it within this framework, you, as a software engineer in test, are building the actual robots to complete those types of jobs. You have to have the overall picture of the product and how that particular system works and then have the capability to look at the details of the system itself. This is the main attitude change that needs to happen. With this understanding of how everything factors into everything else as a whole, then you can create the tools that make it possible for the developer or the QA tester to test out their parts and how it affects the rest of the system. You’re not just testing one feature, but rather how that feature works with the whole system overall.

Also, you should have at least good programming skills, either Java, Python, or any programming language. The specific programming languages are the languages that we’re mostly looking for since we use them at Chegg. In addition to this, it is always good to know some type of tool, such as Selenium (front end), database, and how the website works internally and how it tracks with the client and the database. These aren’t hard tasks to learn and the information is easily accessible since a lot of it is on the internet already.

What excites you most about Chegg’s future?

The one thing is us going digital. Dan was talking about how it’s going to give Chegg the chance to grow internationally as well. I’m also excited about our upcoming partnerships with other companies because they’re another way of reaching the student. These are some of the things I’m really excited about.