A woman smiles at the camera. Behind her is a picturesque view overlooking a body of water.
Sonali Bendre. Image: Dun & Bradstreet

Find out how this principal engineer stays focused

8 Mar 2022

Dun & Bradstreet’s Sonali Bendre discusses why she likes working in the realm of big data and what she finds most challenging about her job.

Read more Engineers Week stories.

There are many engineering career paths in the world of tech, from front-end engineers to big data engineers. As part of Engineers Week, we want to explore some of these different careers through the eyes of professionals who are working in the field.

Sonali Bendre is a big data principal engineer working for analytics company Dun & Bradstreet. She told SiliconRepublic.com what a typical day is like in her role and how she stays focused.

‘I have been working on different big data projects for more than a decade’

If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?

I relish the fact that each day is different and brings in new challenges and unique tasks to solve.

However, working in agile framework does brings a certain structure to the day. My day starts with a nice walk home after dropping my daughter to school and a cup of coffee.

I then go through emails and Teams chat to catch up on any communication from the previous day. We then have our daily cross-team and team scrum meetings at 10am and 10.30am, where we discuss our progress and any issues or blockers we have.

After the daily stand-ups, I usually try and spend some dedicated time coding for the tasks assigned.

Being a senior member of the team, apart from coding most of my day is spent mentoring other team members, designing and planning for future releases and attending meetings with other teams and architects to discuss on upcoming features and requirements.

What types of engineering projects do you work on?

I have been working on different big data projects for more than a decade now, where I get to use latest technologies and frameworks. I enjoy the fact that there is so much to learn every day.

What engineering skills do you use on a daily basis?

I use a combination of technical and business/domain expertise along with communication skills. Some of my skills include teamwork, mentoring junior team members, code reviews, problem-solving, design and planning.

Because of the pandemic, the one skill that I think became most important was communication, especially when you are working on projects that have cross-team dependencies.

What are the hardest parts of a role in engineering?

The hardest part for me has been working from home due to the pandemic. The long hours in front of the screen is a challenge and I miss meeting people in person.

Having a few small breaks during the day helps. Making a list of prioritised tasks and having some focused time set aside to complete it makes a big difference.

Do you have any productivity tips that help you through the day?

One thing I try to follow is having a full 30-minute lunch break. By blocking out my calendar every day, it gives me time to reset and improves my productivity for the rest of the day.

Having and maintaining a prioritised to-do list is another best way to stay focused on deadlines.

What skills and tools are you using to communicate daily with your colleagues?

I use communication tools like Teams, Outlook and technical/project management tools such as Jira.

How has this role changed as the engineering sector has grown and evolved?

The software industry constantly changes. As a big data principal engineer, I continuously think about how we can make the product the best it can be not only for end users but also for ourselves as developers.

Lots of companies rely on the value their data can provide, and with new technologies coming in it’s very important to keep learning and stay on top of things.

What do you enjoy most about working as an engineer?

I really enjoy being able to work in the big data and cloud technologies realm, which brings its own challenges as well as learning opportunities. And, of course, having nice co-workers.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in engineering?

The software industry is constantly evolving and staying on top of things is very important. Commit yourself to continuous professional development and never stop learning.

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