Senior Software Engineer – Engineering
Tell us about your path to computer science. Was it something you knew you wanted to pursue from a young age?
Not really. I was very interested in math and engineering from an early age. During my high school years, I was looking for ways to pursue those interests, and also get out of having to take biology courses. I stumbled upon electronics as an elective and got hooked onto it. Computer engineering was also up and coming around that time and seemed like the right match for me in terms of leveraging my analytical and problem-solving skills. Once I started programming, it was an instant connection and I knew I was on the right path!
What advice do you have for someone just getting started down that path?
In my experience, being able to apply software engineering principles has been crucial, more so than mastering a specific technology or programming language. It is such a fast-paced space that one should be ready to learn/unlearn/relearn constantly and be able to acquire and apply skills that transcend technologies.
What influenced your decision to leave India after graduating from the University of Pune?
After graduating from University of Pune, I worked for a US based technology product company for a few years in Pune. I got plenty of opportunities to work with geographically distributed teams and visit US for work on regular basis. I was fascinated by how much these life experiences helped me grow and evolve. So when the opportunity presented itself to move to US for a few years, to completely immerse myself in this different culture and head space, I took the plunge right away!
What unique challenge or problem stands out for you in almost five years at CarMax?
The high volume and nature of traffic to our digital properties probably has been one of the unique challenges that stands out for me. It has forced us to get creative and innovative in how we build and release software while striving to move fast to deliver value and delight our customers.
What makes up the CarMax tech stack?
Carmax.com tech stack comprises .NET applications and RESTful Web APIs hosted in a hybrid cloud infrastructure on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform. The carmax.com website is a responsive website that leverages ReactJS front end technology to deliver a rich web experience on all devices–desktop, tablets, and phones. We also have iOS and Android apps geared toward providing great shopping and ownership experience to our customers. Our mission is to build a world-class platform that allows us to deliver value to our customers faster. Our short-term roadmap also includes micro services architecture that will allow us to expand beyond our current technology stack. As a technology professional, my five years here at CarMax have been incredible, and I am thrilled to be part of CarMax through this digital transformation.
We hear you’re one of the in-house Endeca experts. How does CarMax utilize this framework in its digital properties?
Unlike other major retailers, CarMax customers face a very unique challenge when looking through over 50,000 used cars in our inventory–no two cars are the same even when they are the same make and model year. Each used car is unique when it comes to features, specifications, accessories, mileage, etc. The search platform plays a key role in helping our customers navigate this unique landscape to find the perfect car they are looking for. Endeca serves as the back plane of our search platform for our retail and wholesale inventories, and is leveraged by our public websites as well as iOS and Android shoppers apps.
Carmax.com just underwent a pretty big re-platforming. What drove that decision, and why now?
At CarMax, we are always looking for ways to understand our customers and better serve their car buying and selling needs. In the past couple of years, the carmax.com team has been marching toward product management paradigm in order to better engage with our customers, listen to their pain points, and provide them with a world-class shopping experience. Our recent re-platforming of carmax.com, along with other initiatives, positions us well to connect our customers’ online shopping experiences with their in-store experiences and tailor their shopping journey to their specific needs.
How does that effort support CarMax’s broader vision for the future of the used-car space?
Today’s customers are digitally savvy and want to be able to do most of their car shopping online from the comfort of their homes. It is imperative that we adapt to these changing needs and provide the customers the tools to research online and arrive at the perfect car they are looking for, and then enable them to complete their purchase without having to leave their homes, if they so desire. The new platform sets us up to quickly iterate and pivot to provide that best-in-class and personalized digital experience to our customers.