A man in a salmon pink shirt smiles in an office setting, with plants and paintings on the wall behind him. He is Daniel Hunt, head of engineering at Zalando.
Daniel Hunt. Image: © Connor McKenna/SiliconRepublic.com

The reality of career progression in tech

27 Apr 2023

Zalando’s Daniel Hunt discusses his career journey and why moving around in a company is beneficial.

It can be hard to predict or visualise career progression in any sector, especially if you’re just starting out on your career journey.

A big concern for many people when starting a new job is how much progression the role or the company will provide and what professional path you will embark on.

To gain some insight into what sort of career journey can be expected in tech, we spoke to Daniel Hunt, head of engineering at fashion-tech company Zalando.

Hunt has worked at Zalando for three years. He spent the first two years working as an engineering manager in the product data side of the company, before moving over to the customer data side where he now leads the customer platform team.

Speaking to SiliconRepublic.com, Hunt categorised career progression into two main types: structured and unstructured, adding that the type of progression present in a workplace can depend on the company’s size and maturity.

“In bigger companies, you have structures in place like role expectations or guidelines so you know what level you’re at and how to achieve the next level and what you need to do to get there.

“In smaller companies, they might not have those structures in place and what you experience is more on-the-job learning.”

According to Hunt, mentoring has played a vital role in his career, both from being a mentor and a mentee.

“I’ve learned a lot of lessons and taken a lot of advice from leaders that I’ve respected in previous companies, as well as learned a lot about how to refine what I do by being a mentor for other people within Zalando.”

Moving around within a company

Hunt believes that moving between roles in a company can be very beneficial, not just for the company but for personal career progression.

Using himself as an example, he described the different processes and topics that he was exposed to during his time working in product data, where he covered everything from “data ingestion of product data to quality control of that data to logistics, customs information, category information and many other related topics”.

His transition to working in customer data has introduced him to a whole new group of topics.

“Now having moved over to the customer side, I’m exposed to things like compliance, securing data, serving that customer data at scale as well as consent management and a whole host of other related topics and stakeholders that I wouldn’t have been exposed to when I was in the previous part of the company.”

According to Hunt, this transition to a new area helped prepare him for the next stage of his career.

“I started as an engineering manager and gradually expanded that scope to include more teams, more areas of responsibility.

“That expansion of scope helped prepare me for the step up to the next level.”

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Colin Ryan
By Colin Ryan

Colin Ryan has worked as a copywriter/copyeditor with Silicon Republic since January 2023. Coming from a background in creative media and technology, Colin has previously worked as a researcher and camera operator. He enjoys watching films, listening to music, and befriending every dog he meets.

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