Spotlight: Anand Madhavan

anand-croppedRole:  Product Leader, Search and Personalization

Hire Date:  November 2011

Fun Fact:  Anand is a Black belt in Karate.

“The energy and the passion of building products with a ‘students first’ attitude is amazing. Chegg has top class people who dare to dream.”

                                                               How would you describe your role here?

I am a Product Leader focused on Student Graph, Search & Discovery. My main aim is to help students find stuffstuff that’s relevant to their academic life, stuff that helps them save time, save money and get smarter – like books, courses, study materials, and other students and experts. It’s a highly innovative role that demands a good balance of user experience and data science – which I enjoy.

 How do you describe your first year?

The first year was all about defining the vision for search and personalization and building the foundation – starting with building the team and building the infrastructure. Developing the platform that scales to the growing user base at Chegg and to the pace of product innovation was a daunting task – but the super star team made it all look easy!

What are you most proud of during your first year?

Building the Student Graph. When I joined Chegg in 2011, it was still a collection of companies – Chegg, Cramster, Notehall, CourseRank, and Zinch – and a lot of data hadn’t yet come together. And in the first year, the most important thing we did was to bring everything together and build the graph. This is immensely useful to power future personalization and cross promoting different services.

What did you do before Chegg?

I started my career at Yahoo! as a data science engineer in online advertising – connecting users to advertisements that are useful rather than boring or obtrusive. Since then, I have moved onto playing a mix of product and technology leadership roles in smaller companies – I led the e-commerce product at Lockerz – a social commerce company based on game theory and then worked at Nominum as a Principal Architect, helping them build a consumer product geared towards parents and students. And then Chegg happened and there’s no looking back.

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Spotlight: Colin Murphy

COLINRole:  Product Leader for eTextbooks and our eReader application

Hire Date:  August 2012

Fun Fact:  While he was a college student Colin spent a Semester at Sea. He traveled by boat from Vancouver all the way to Florida.

“When you think about what Chegg is actually doing – helping students learn and study – it’s pretty easy to be excited about.”

What have you done in your first 9 months here?

A lot, actually, which has been great for me. Chegg is the largest company I’ve worked at and since I’ve worked at much smaller companies, I’m used to the dive in, swim, figure it out and get things done mentality. I was afraid that coming to a larger company would come with more structure and that I’d be a cog in the wheel, which isn’t the case here.

Day 1, I was diving into actual products. I’m working on the eReader application that students are using to read their eTextbooks on their Mac, PC, mobile device or iPad, and the day I started was in the middle of rush and our largest day ever for the eReader application. This product was dropped in my lap – which was amazing!

Since then I’ve been working on some cool things and have been taking advantage of our on site user Research Lab. We’ve had about a dozen students come in and use the eReader and got a lot of great feedback from those students. It was very important to students that the eReader experience is similar to the core experience of reading a book – like flipping the page or having high quality readability for example – so we’ve been focusing on the core foundation and making it a great experience for students.  Having real feedback from students is awesome and we’re working on other ways to get in depth and continuous feedback, which is really interesting to me.

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Spotlight: Paul Sri

paul-sriRole: Director of Search and Personalization

Hire Date: May 2012

Fun Fact: Paul loves to travel and has been all over the world including a trip to Bora Bora.

“I felt all this energy, commitment, and excitement when I started and I thought it was all just because I was in a honeymoon phase, but it hasn’t gone away…”

What does your team do?

We treat my team as two separate areas right now (search and personalization) but we hope that in the future there’s going to be many connections between the two teams and we will perhaps be able to combine them.

On the search side, we are discussing and brainstorming about the future of search for Chegg and seeing how we can take it to the next level. That could mean any number of things – maybe there’s a more integrated search experience or we have a single search box – there’s a lot we are exploring. The main goal is to improve search across all the different types of content we have – whether you’re searching for books, questions, courses and more.

On the personalization side, we’re building a platform, framework and other pieces of infrastructure to support the personalization efforts at Chegg. We already invested in a recommendation platform that we released towards the end of last year and we’re iterating on that now — making it more robust and continuing to explore other paths for investment.

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Spotlight: Trupti Devdas Nayak

trupti-croppedRole:  Senior Software Engineer

Hire Date:  June 2012

Fun facts:  Trupti was part of the team that had the winning entry for Chegg Hack Day 2012

“Chegg offers a great growth path – you can be as involved as you want in the strategy. If I have an idea, I can go right up to my manager or our leadership team and talk with them about it.”

Where were you before Chegg?

I was at Yahoo! doing Front-end engineering for Yahoo! Mail.

Why did you come to Chegg?

When interviewing last year, I was looking at the startup space and was keen on joining either a mid-size or smaller startup. I wanted to have an opportunity to continue to work on products which are used by millions of people – I love that adrenalin rush knowing that what I work on has a big impact. Chegg offers products and services which are used by millions of college students and I was very excited about the education space Chegg operated in, it is a new area which I’m eager to learn more about and work in. When interviewing, I met some really great people at Chegg and knew this was the place for me.

What are you working on here?

I’ve been at Chegg for just over 8 months now and as part of the front-end team, the most recent work I’ve done is providing the best-fit School Matches for Grad and Transfer students who are applying for college. I am also the frontend lead for Scholarships on Chegg which we launched a few months back. We’ve had scholarships feature on Zinch, but we wanted to make Scholarships available to all our users on Chegg as well, since finding the right one, applying for it and getting the scholarship is one of the top ways to save money while in school. We want students to sign up and find scholarships that are relevant to them and best match their profile and interests, and we’re using student data to help us do that.

Did anything surprise you about working here?

The first few All Hands meetings were awesome! I was really blown away. I read so many good things about Chegg in the news, but when I heard all the info presented in the All Hands meetings, it was such a positive and energetic vibe. Having our CEO, Dan, come in and present such great information and have everyone so excited about what’s ahead for the company, really was great to see.

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Spotlight: Jeff Buening

JeffBuening

Role:  Business Development Manager for Content and Services

Hire Date:  July 2012

Fun Fact:  Jeff has visited 47 of the 50 United States.

“…everyone is very accessible. If you have ideas, you pursue them and people listen to you. It’s been very refreshing.”

What is the main focus of your role?

The first thing is to think about additional content and services outside textbooks and homework help that will either compliment or provide new areas of use for students on Chegg. Then secondly, opportunistically, looking into some strategic partnerships we can do with various companies in the education space that can either improve the experience on Chegg or can increase the number of people using existing Chegg services.

How would you describe your first 8 months at Chegg?

It’s been a whirlwind! It’s been a crash course for me about Chegg, the culture here and the education space in general, having not spent a ton of time in the education space before, it’s been great learning very quickly about the marketplace and the opportunities and challenges. The team has been incredibly impressive and helpful

Since you weren’t in the education space before, how hard is it for someone to come in here from a different industry and ramp up?

Not hard. There are so many resources here from the people who have been in the industry for a while to help out; and frankly, we all have some sort of knowledge from our own experience of being a student in education, which is helpful. This space is so dynamic so knowing the landscape is very important; there is a ton of great information out there to help get you up to speed.

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