Colleague Stories

Life at Tesco

July 30, 2020     2063 Views

Hi. I am Karthikeyan Sengottuvelusamy, Head of Software Development at Tesco. I have been at Tesco for a little over two years.

I began my career running my own start-ups for about 12 years before moving to Amazon, where I worked on onboarding time background verification for Amazon customers in NA and EU.

What do I do?

I lead the In-Store Platform Engineering team which provides a PAAS for peer application teams within Tesco. The app teams use the platform to register one or more applications, push new versions, and roll them out in thousands of stores and on 10,000+ Point of Sale (PoS) devices. We also drive the system reliability engineering for the POS devices to keep track of the available devices vis-a-vis projected customer demand.

What does the software look like?

Given the distributed nature of the stores, we work on ways to enable the POS terminals to work offline in case of network issues. The platform consists of control plane APIs on the Cloud for our SREs and peer app team members, as well as a control panel at the store level for offline or real-time features required at the store level.

We also deal with some of the POS peripherals such as barcode scanners and weighing scales, and provide a WebSocket endpoint to interact with them in the same manner that an Android or iOS Software Development Kit (SDK) helps you to interact with the camera or microphone. It would be fair to say that my team works on all levels of the stack – motherboard firmware updates, baselining BIOS settings, OS updates, application updates, peripherals via Web Sockets, microservices on the POS devices, microservices on servers within the store and on the Cloud.

A typical week for me in Tesco Technology

I do not have a typical week at Tesco. Work varies. My core responsibilities are wide-ranging. I do Engineering reviews to help my team progress on new initiatives with the exact scope and solution design. I help peer teams in areas where they are dependent on my team. I also keep tabs on toil or techdebt for my team and give them inputs to prioritize them. I meet with stakeholders regularly to understand upcoming requirements or persistent issues they may be facing. To facilitate healthy conversations on project delivery and personal growth, I schedule regular 1:1 meetings with each team member. Additionally, I help with hiring for Tesco. I have plenty going on!

I particularly love the way my team is able to help shoppers and colleagues at the Tesco stores benefit from faster delivery of new features or quick bugfixes to ensure a consistently great user experience. It is extremely rewarding to be able to make that difference.

What is Tesco like? What are my aspirations for the future?

Tesco is an elephant…it is a large company with a vast number of stores, customers, and technology systems in place. Every one of us at Tesco obsess about how we can make the shopping experience better for our shoppers and store colleagues. We also find ways to move quickly and deliver greater value to customers. So, you could say that our work is about how we make the elephant dance (read move fast gracefully), while keeping the current technology systems and user journeys chugging along nicely.

Personally, I am learning more and more about the Retail domain with every passing day and trying to get ahead of times. I keep thinking of ways to enable even more innovation and deliver customer value and delight.

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