Glassdoor CTO: ‘Our platform plays a key role in workplace transparency’

5 Mar 2021513 Views

Bhawna Singh. Image: Glassdoor

Bhawna Singh oversees engineering operations at Glassdoor and lays out the company’s tech strategy.

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As senior vice-president of engineering and chief technology officer of employer review site Glassdoor, Bhawna Singh is responsible for technological innovation at the company from her base in San Francisco.

She joined Glassdoor in 2016 and was promoted to her current role last year. Before this, Singh was senior director of engineering at Ask.com, focusing on search, machine learning, data science and platform services.

Singh holds master’s degrees in software engineering and computer applications, in addition to a bachelor’s degree in electronics.

‘Data enables us to build more insightful features for our users and is important for us to make data-backed decisions’
– BHAWNA SINGH

Describe your role and your responsibilities in driving tech strategy.

As head of engineering at Glassdoor, I oversee all of Glassdoor engineering operations, the company’s websites and mobile platforms, in addition to its software engineering, data platform and machine learning teams. In this role I lay out the tech vision and strategy to ensure that technology – and technology budget –  support our business needs and direction.

Increasingly, professionals worldwide are leveraging Glassdoor to help answer the question, ‘Where to work and why?’. Our mission is to help people everywhere find a job and a company they love. We therefore aim to connect people to the best opportunities and empower them with transparency in the form of insights and data to help them make informed choices.

This requires complex engineering and machine learning to solve problems at scale, dealing with immense data we have on employers and jobs, to provide our users with more personalised experience and unique insights. These efforts are driven by our tech vision and strategy.

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

We continuously innovate in tech, both to bring relevant insights to our users and to improve engineering efficiency.

We recently rolled out new product features to deliver greater transparency into the state of diversity, equity and inclusion at companies, so our users can ensure that their work experience aligns with their personal values in addition to being a positive environment. Transparency is key to us and we will continue to be a powerful voice in this space.

In addition, we are continuously investing in scaling our infrastructure, thereby delivering a better user experience. As an example, we are investing in adopting Kubernetes to help automate application deployment, scaling and management. We are building data discovery tools, and auto-scaling our data platform for flexible resource provisioning while optimising cost.

How big is your team?

Glassdoor’s engineering team is around 200 people and we actively work to improve our engineering efficiency. We make outsourcing decisions wherever possible to increase the team’s contribution to core engineering and product development.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

With the pandemic impacting all businesses and more people working remotely, we are bound to see an acceleration in digital transformation.

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Glassdoor has been ahead in this area, which also minimised the impact of moving our own staff to work fully remote for the time being. We now have a ‘work from anywhere’ policy and we have the tools required in order to collaborate, communicate and keep people both informed and engaged.

With more companies adopting the remote working and interviewing practice, Glassdoor is needed more than ever by employers to attract the right talent since office buildings, free food or location will not be a major factor for everyone any more.

The Glassdoor platform has a key role in continuing to build on workplace transparency and keep the workforce informed of the employer environment in this new world.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

I see the DevOps practices continue to evolve and play a key role in improving engineering efficiency.

One of the areas we are investing in is machine learning operations to further strengthen our machine learning efforts and accelerate the machine learning development process.

We have also aligned platform and infrastructure teams to scale our DevOps including further adoption of Kubernetes in our deployment process across the organisation. Infrastructure auto-scaling is another key area to gain momentum in this year to maximise flexibility and optimise infrastructure cost.

Glassdoor’s rich data enables us to build more insightful features for our users and is important for us to make data-backed decisions. To support easy access to the data, we are investing in auto-discovery tools and auto-scaling our data platform.

Adoption and innovation in the cloud will also accelerate in this year. Glassdoor infrastructure is fully hosted on the cloud. Managed services and elasticity of spinning instances in cloud has accelerated our ability to scale fast and fail fast, fuelling our ability to innovate.

The ‘self-healing’ nature of cloud solutions is a game changer for the level of optimisation we can get to without active resource management, solving for resource efficiency and our productivity.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Data security and privacy is our top priority, as it should be. This is a dynamic area and we keep this under review in order to incorporate industry best practices. We review all our applications and services with zero-trust guidelines and have a cadence of reviewing our safety measures through vulnerability assessments and pen tests.

It’s important that we have a process in place to continuously identify and classify sensitive data so we can apply the right security measures and control access to it. Have log trails set up for any sensitive data access. Data encryption and staying up to date on our security patches is fundamental to protecting data.

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