Cloudflare Careers Day: Meet the Engineering Team
In this session you will get to know our Engineering Team and how they help Cloudflare build a better Internet. Learn more about what the team have achieved this year, the current projects they are working on and their goals for 2021!
Here are a few roles the Engineering Team are currently recruiting for - more can be found on our careers page:
Find all of our currently open roles on our careers page.
Hello everyone and welcome to our Meet the Engineering Team segments of our careers day.
So we are here to tell you a bit more about the engineering team at Cloudflare and so use this time to to know more about this amazing team and also to make some questions that you that you might have.
We are here for that so if you have any questions please feel free to submit them using the email address that you have in the segment which is livestudio at Cloudflare.tv and we will try to answer some of your questions more close to the end of the segments.
In the meantime and starting by the presentations I'm Isabel.
I'm a recruiter here at Cloudflare. I'm based in our Lisbon office and here with me we have Jen and Celso.
So I would like to start by asking if you could please present yourself and talk a bit about about your team.
I can start with that. So I'm Jennifer Langdon. I'm engineering director in London.
My remit of responsibility is a large part of our security portfolio so around the WAF, the firewall, the frontline platform that sees about 80 million requests a second.
Also the UI team which is essentially how our customers interact with you know our products and also our delivery team.
So yeah that's me.
Okay so my name is Celso Martinho. I joined Cloudflare in August. I'm engineer director in Lisbon and Lisbon is a newer office so in a lot of ways we're starting but we've been mostly focused on doing dating sites projects.
One of the products we launched recently was the Cloudflare Radar project but we're doing a lot of other things as well.
Okay very well. Thank you. And Jen getting back to you.
So you are a bit longer here at Cloudflare in another office in our London office and I would love to to have your view your own view on how do you feel the culture here at Cloudflare.
So if you have to to tell a bit about what you think and to describe it to someone.
Can you please highlight a few points about this. Yeah absolutely.
So I think you know the engineering culture at Cloudflare I think is very honestly unique to anything that I've actually seen before.
Bear in mind that we serve 20 million plus properties right.
I mean it's not small and I think the one thing that overrides our culture is collective responsibility.
So this is the idea that when something goes wrong which inevitably it does.
You know we band together.
We sort of figure it out. We have a very big retrospective culture. So you know yes we have a huge scale and that works great but what happens when something goes slightly wrong.
And I think that is what's very important to us. Like what we do very well is the retrospecting on how could we do better constantly.
So kind of you know constantly improving is I think very very important to our culture.
I totally agree and I could experience that myself.
The level of transparency and the helping that everyone does to each other.
It's really amazing and I've been around. I've known big companies and worked in some before and I can tell you honestly that Cloudflare's culture is unique and it's amazing that we're able to keep such an open and transparent culture even being a big company like we are today.
And I think you know that some of the things that you can see for instance in the blog posts we do which show how we like to share the way we work the way we behave.
It's really how we are internally. I think I think I think I can confirm this now.
Yes actually it's very interesting that you are both bringing those those topics.
I think there are a few things on Cloudflare culture that are similar wherever is the team that you that you are.
And one thing that keeps impressing me every day that I pass here at Cloudflare.
It's not that long. I joined in April by the way. But one things that one thing that still impressed me is how everyone is so focused on doing better.
So you celebrate the achievements you truly celebrate you celebrate everyone's victory.
So I see that people when someone does a good job you immediately see everyone just truly happy with that and truly celebrating.
And that's that feeling that I believe it's unselfish you know.
So people are always available to help everyone and they are everyone is also contagious right.
Yes because if one does it then you start doing it yourself more and more.
Yes that's that's that's true. And at least for me and I know that this was also your case.
So I joined Cloudflare completely remotely.
And I think Is there any other way to do it? Yes exactly.
It seems strange right. But but yeah we we joined completely remotely and this was not what's what was done at all before.
And this period really helped the integration and developing relations with everyone.
Actually I would also love to hear your thoughts on that Celso on how you how you felt that type of culture and feeling integrated on the team while joining remotely.
So so I I onboarded Cloudflare in August and we were fully remote by then.
So normally I think I should have gone to the U.S.
meet the team personally but I've done it everything online.
And it was actually so I was very skeptic that it could work. But it was actually a great experience.
I think I mean the nature of of what Cloudflare does make it makes it easier because we're tech savvy.
We've got all the tools in place. We just love and know how to use technology.
But besides that there was a really big investment I think on the company to make sure that we have the necessary steps and the necessary content and that everyone has a schedule and is available to onboard the new candidates when when they come to to Cloudflare.
And again you see the effects of the culture.
Everyone's always asking if you need help. I must confess that my first weeks at Cloudflare I suffered from the syndrome from the imposter syndrome.
I mean you're constantly there's it's a lot of information.
It's a lot of people. The wiki which has all of our internal documentation is huge.
And and you're always meeting people that are so talented.
Some of them wrote books or Linux kernel stuff. But at the same time everyone is trying to make sure that you are doing good.
They're always asking you if you need help.
And the culture really really really helps when when you onboard the company.
So to make it shorter I think I think if any company knows how to do digital online onboarding that company is Cloudflare.
I think we've done an amazing job.
Yes and that's that's good to know your your point of view on that. So I think that's it's one of the cases where Cloudflare could use could quickly adapt.
So it was a change from one day to two from night today.
So it's it's it's very interesting to to see that in record in retrospective.
So on another topic but also in the topic of challenges I would like to go back to you Jen and ask you if you if there is any particular any biggest challenges that you have felt in your team within Cloudflare with the with the situation that you could that you could talk about.
Yeah absolutely. I mean I think one of the biggest challenges is so my my dominant kind of presence is the security portfolio right.
And I think the biggest challenge is how do you balance how do we deliver things quickly but safely right.
And I think honestly that is our biggest challenge. It's you know how do we deliver new products but also do it safely and to make sure our customers are safe.
And and that's a big challenge when you're looking at you know 20 million properties.
And also when you know we're looking to develop ourselves so and we move at a pace which is generally fast.
I mean we move generally fast. And so I think that's probably the biggest challenge for us.
And when I when I actually on board somebody I talk to them quite a lot about in engineering.
When we on board a new person I say to them like I understand the pressure.
I get it. But we need to balance that with with actually what's safe right.
And that's not always obvious.
Yes for for sure. And on your perspective Celso anything that you have to to add on this.
Well as as you know because you've been helping quite a lot we're now and me particularly particularly we're focused on hiring the data insights team for for Lisbon.
And and so I think one of the biggest challenges I've been having is trying to find the right mix of candidates that knows how to deal with data from a data science perspective and machine learning perspective but also is curious understands the power of storytelling.
I think the cultural fit as we talk is also important.
And so we've been trying to find this mix of things we think are important especially for a new team that is emerging in Lisbon.
And that's that's been one of my main concerns to be completely transparent.
And I'm sure that we that's that we are going to be very successful on that and you will have new challenges very very soon.
And so and one other thing that I wanted you to talk about with you and it's interesting to have both of your perspectives is considering the amount of offices that we we have you know that we have offices spread in several places in the in the world which is not always I assume not always easy to manage.
So maybe starting with with Jen since you have the experience pre and post COVID.
How do you how do your teams collaborate across these different locations.
You know it's very interesting and I think that Cloudflare does this genuinely better than any other company I've actually worked with.
So San Francisco it's an eight hour time difference.
It's not easy. And then we're opening up offices in Munich in Paris all of these other places right.
It's about being it's about being honest transparent.
It's also about I think being diligent about what you're doing.
So I'm from an engineering perspective specifically what I mean by that is we've had to learn to document things in a different way.
So so you know if you're working with a team of four people in London and you're talking that's great.
But if actually you're you're transacting with somebody in San Francisco that's eight hours away like you've got to write it down right.
So the documentation has to be good. It has to be better. And actually I mean I take no credit for this.
I mean Cloudflare did this way before my time. They actually do a very good job of collaborating between teams.
If we think about our edge the Cloudflare edge which is you know a critical part of what we do.
The cache is in San Francisco and FL is in London.
And we make it work. And we make it work through documentation.
We make it make it work through communication all of that sort of stuff.
I mean it's not easy but it's something that we've done very well.
Yeah I totally agree. And I would add to that that the tools we use internally makes make things easier.
And the fact that we're always one click away from using the collaborative calendar the wiki or the chat makes things easier.
And it's frequent for me to actually have to ask where a specific person is in which office he is which is good because it also proves that it makes no difference if we're working on a team that has members from San Francisco or Austin or London or Lisbon.
So yeah. Okay and how do you think that Covid changed the way that engineer is working.
For instance also I know that you already joined during Covid but what are the types of challenges that you think that this new situation may be may brought.
Yeah well I think this varies from person to person. And personally I think that there's a lot we can do remotely.
And I think that again the nature of what Cloudflare does makes it easier.
And I think that we've been productive and we've been working just fine doing it completely remotely.
But I do miss the office.
I do miss being with the team getting on a room with the whiteboard and brainstorming or having lunch with the team.
We don't know how 2021 will be but I hope that there can be a mix of both worlds.
I think that if you're an engineering engineer you know working remotely can have some advantages in some contexts because often you need time for yourself or you need time to focus on a specific task or a specific project.
And so you know doing that from home remotely can actually be an advantage in some situations.
I don't know Jen do you want to add anything to this. Yeah I mean I think everything you've said makes total sense.
So like I think there are engineers who do their best work when they have you know time to breathe.
I would say that I think Covid had a major impact on Cloudflare.
And what I mean by that is I joined you know way before obviously you did.
Our co-location was a significant factor in how we worked.
We would be together constantly. And I think you know a shout out to frankly our people team who have managed to deal with our kind of onboarding people online versus doing it you know kind of co-located is a real step for us.
You know and we didn't really foresee this. I mean who did? We didn't right.
And so we spend all our time together in County Hall and like you I miss it.
I really I really miss it. But we've actually done a great job managing. We're very lucky with our people teams with our you know kind of internal teams that have made this happen.
Nobody really foresee this right. Yeah yes I think that's a good point Jen.
We are very lucky with the people that we have on the company overall and how everyone respects everyone's space but still wants to be in touch.
So you have opportunities to interact even on simple things like arranging Google Hangouts just to chat within your team.
So which I think those are those nice touch that helps during these times.
So on another topic we have a few more topics that we wanted to talk but I'm actually seeing that we are receiving a few questions from our viewers.
I'm trying to just catch up. So this is actually related with some of our open roles.
This is something that's actually interesting that's to talk about.
We currently are hiring for several roles in London in Lisbon in other locations that we are hiring for several roles and especially particularly in your teams.
And one of the questions that I'm seeing just to catch up everything is people asking in particular about jobs in machine learning, data science, software engineering to understand what is exactly the difference of software engineering, data science and machine learning at Cloudflare.
So can you both give us your inputs on this?
I don't know. Sure. I can maybe start because I have a few open roles on that.
So we actually discussed if we should just join both roles into one data science and machine learning engineering.
But we decided to separate them because we think although there's some common background in terms of mathematics, statistics, etc.
We also think that there are some specifics to what's a good data scientist or what's a good machine learning engineer.
And we wanted to get the best candidates out there for each specific field.
But I'd say that the candidates don't need to worry if they want to apply to both roles or if they want to apply to one role and they get on the interviewing process and then we see that they're better on the data science side or or the machine learning engineering side.
We can do those adjustments during the process. They don't need to worry about that.
But I mean long story short, yes there's a lot of overlap but there's also some specifics for machine learning or for data science that we're trying to separate when we're looking for candidates.
And on your side, Jen, as we were talking about we have people asking about data science, machine learning but also the systems engineers, system engineer roles that we have.
Is that something that you can share about what these people do in your team at Cloudflare?
Yeah I mean it's very similar to what Celso just said honestly.
I think Cloudflare is going through a transition at least in the security portfolio right now where we're thinking about software engineering not just being about software engineering but being about data science.
What we don't want to do is discourage people from adopting to those roles but that there probably is a distinction between the two.
And so it's actually very similar to what he just said.
We think there's a specialty. Having said that, what we know from the market is most people have a background in solid software engineering and then maybe data science and we can figure that out later.
What I don't want to do is I don't want to discourage people from applying for that reason.
Okay and for people who are about to join or for people who want to join, what do you think that they can find here at Cloudflare?
In your experience in particular, what surprises new engineers when they join?
Should I take that Celso?
Okay yeah yeah no problem. So I remember honestly I remember joining Cloudflare and I have been for the last 20 years working with startups either side of the Atlantic on on technology and I remember saying to JGC, oh my goodness, like the breadth of the breadth of products, the breadth of data, like the breadth of scale, you know it's something that it's not easy to comprehend.
And actually I now run the onboarding for EMEA for product and engineering.
One of the things I say to everyone is take your time, seriously take your time.
Like if you think you're going to onboard at Cloudflare in a month, you won't.
Like it's going to take you, it's going to take you two to three months to to figure this out.
It is huge. We develop products at a rate that I have never seen and so yeah that's my advice.
It's my advice would be pretty much the same.
I mean I think it's easy to forget that there's more than 50% of the global Internet traffic going through Cloudflare's platforms and when you get into the team you can see that immediately.
I mean yeah the the systems are so huge, the company is so complex from a technical perspective that you can feel overwhelmed when you join the team.
And when you do that also, right, the most important thing that you can do is lean on your colleagues, right?
Yes, yes. Lean on your colleagues, the people that are actually reaching out to you and saying it's okay, let me help you, you know it's hard, like that's the most important thing, right?
And again that's been so positive and so unique to Cloudflare and again the culture.
So I think that at the same time the candidates don't need to worry because we're going to be here for helping them and it's going to be fine.
Yeah, exactly. I think that's right. Thank you so much both for sharing that.
It's very interesting to listen to your experience, to your point of view.
We had for sure a lot of topics that we want to talk about.
We will have more opportunities for that. Now that we are coming to the end of our session, I believe that we have about three minutes or so until we end.
But there is just one final thing that I wanted to ask both of you, particularly since we have people who are watching us that are considering joining Cloudflare and starting a recruitment process.
So since you both have been hiring for your teams, I want to know from each one of you, what advice would you give to a candidate who is interviewing for your team?
I don't know if you want to start Jen with this?
Yeah, I can take it. So let's make some assumptions first of all very quickly.
Let's assume that this candidate is a strong candidate who wants to join the team.
It's not dissimilar to what I just said which is, you know, we'd be delighted to have you but if you expect to be onboarded in a month, that's probably unlikely.
So you have people around you, we're here to support you.
This is not going to be, you know, you join Cloudflare and then suddenly you think, okay, you know, I'm rolling and actually that's not the case.
It's just not. I mean the product suite is so vast, you can't possibly do that.
And so my advice would be a bit like I said, Celso and he'll remember this, like lean on the people around you.
Like, you know, we're here to support each other.
Yes, thank you Jen. Celso, we have less than one minute but I love to hear your opinion on this also.
So this is for candidates that are applying or that are joining Cloudflare?
Candidates that are applying. Applying, okay. So I'd say my best advice would be, I agree with everything that Jen said.
The process is kind of long but that's because we want to make sure that the candidate is comfortable with Cloudflare and the other way around.
And I'd say, you know, do your research.
Take the time to see what Cloudflare does. We have an amazing blog with lots of technical posts.
We share a lot of information with the world. There's a lot you can learn about Cloudflare and the way we do things, even from a technical perspective, just by reading the posts on the blog.
Do that and, you know, just be completely transparent and honest with us.
If you're talented, if you're good at what you do, I'm pretty sure you'll do just great.
Thank you so much. I think we are ending our session.
So thank you both. Always a pleasure to talk with you and thanks for everyone who joined.