Jitendra Agrawal, Global CTO, CARS24
In this insightful interview with Jitendra Agrawal, Global CTO, CARS24, we understand why CARS24 believes in building a meritocracy culture at work and how organisations can bridge the gap between “not enough talent” and “company reach” by conducting practical and realistic job interviews.
Q. Can you give us some background on CARS24’s global aspirations?
A. CARS24, India’s leading e-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles, is set to disrupt the used automobile ecosystem around the globe. The company has recently launched its business in Thailand, Australia, and UAE and is ready to launch it in other Southeast Asian and Middle East countries this year. CARS24 has earmarked an investment of over $100 million for international markets in 2021.
Q. As the company expands globally, how does CARS24 aim to grow its technology stack?
A. We are employing a hub and spoke model for our technology stack. The core e-commerce and data platform are shared by all geographies and custom adaptors are written for each country/region. Our platforms and front-end support internationalisation/localisation (language) and we will continue to add country-specific modules.
Q. Being an auto-tech company, what job opportunities does it create in the geographies that you are present in? What kind of hiring pipeline is there in India and other geographies? How was your tech hiring in numbers in the last 2-3 years?
A. CARS24 is a family of 7500+ members. Each individual is aligned with the company’s vision of creating the ‘best in the industry’ customer experience. Being an auto-tech company, most of the tools are made in-house from our external products like inspection app, auction app, seller app/website, buyer app/website, etc to internal products like admin panel for operations management, a lead management tool for retail team, visualization panel for the sales team, konnect app for fulfillment team, etc.
To successfully deliver on the highest quality customer experience through these tools/ technology, the CARS24 tech team includes engineers, folks in product management/design spread across data analytics, ML, and data warehousing.
Currently, we are hiring UX research, product research, and software quality teams across geographies. However, as of today, all of the development teams continue to be built in India at the moment. Hence, we are in the process of recruiting 100 engineers in the next one year to account for our future business and global growth.
CARS24 believes in awarding meritocracy and giving all our employees the freedom to chart a successful career. We run a lean team and as a result, many of our tech team members have been with us for over 2 years. With an exceptional leadership team in place, we are confident that we’ve got the talent to deliver our ambitious vision.
Q. What about the availability of high-quality talent? How has talent evolved in this present accelerated hiring situation?
A. Today’s fresh graduates are more prepared for the corporate world than graduates of 15 years ago. This rapid transformation can be accredited to increased awareness in engineering colleges and the easy availability of professional online courses.
However, hiring high-quality talent is never easy especially when every new hire is expected to be better than the current average. We have been able to attract some really good backend, ML, and front-end engineers thanks to our branding, category creation, and global expansion.
Ensuring the tech team always has the opportunity to upskill themselves, we promote a learning environment within CARS24.
Q. Is the current tech hiring crunch in India in particular and globally, in general, a pipeline problem (not enough tech talent) or a distribution problem (companies unclear on how to reach out to more tech talent)?
A. In my opinion, the tech crunch is more nuanced than just a shortage of the right talent. I believe the world is truly becoming flat and companies across the globe are hiring talented Indian engineers.
However, what can be improved upon is the education system and having practical and realistic job interviews that will help us bridge the gap between “not enough talent” and “company reach”.
At CARS24, we have some brilliant engineers in both React JS and React Native teams and when we talk about interviews – all of them tell me that they had to spend multiple weeks to prepare for Data Structures and Algorithms (DS/Algo) rounds but that skill isn’t of much use in day to day life.
That’s why our team at CARS24 changed our interview process and we haven’t been taking DS Algo rounds for front-end positions for 6+ months. We will continue to review and evolve our interviews in the coming months.
A. In an interview, our team would discuss the candidate’s current work, solve a problem that’s similar to what they may develop at CARS24, and concentrate on problems that help us know our future team members’ understanding of basic and advanced concepts.
“In an interview, our team would discuss the candidate’s current work, solve a problem that’s similar to what they may develop at CARS24, and concentrate on problems that help us know our future team members’ understanding of basic and advanced concepts.”
Q. What are the various new skill sets (wrt tech) that have emerged in the last one and a half years which weren’t in much demand earlier?
A. The pandemic accelerated remote working due to which newer roles in tech came to the forefront. For example, community or developer evangelists.
Q. When do you expect the demand situation to come to a reasonable level?
A. I believe this is the new normal. Companies will have to invest in hiring and upskilling talent. Indian engineering salaries will stabilize in a couple of years, only to be disrupted again in another 5 years.
Q. What could be a possible downside to this huge demand for tech talent everywhere? And how to prepare for it or overcome it?
A. We will soon see a positive shift in the Indian market. Due to the pandemic, many employees moved back to their hometowns. This remote working format resulted in a flat hybrid structure. Hence, this might prove to be good for Indian markets overall – we will soon witness the shift in focus. The transition into work from home culture will remove focus from metro cities and a larger number of tier-2 cities will eventually start contributing to entrepreneurship in the coming years.
Companies will have to work hard to earn a developer’s trust. Salary alignments, learning budgets, work from anywhere is all in line with developers’ expectations. Companies will also have to dig deeper into campus hiring.