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Keen to hear all about life in a squad at Which??

We sat down with Chris Williams, Engineer Manager, to answer all your burning questions!

What does your frontend tech stack look like?

Like any normal organisation, we have our fair share of legacy codebases, but we are trying really hard to migrate everything onto our new tech stack, which is an isomorphic React application that uses Node and Express to host and render the server-side components.

We maintain state through hooks and the Apollo GraphQL client, which connects to our Apollo GraphQL server on the backend. The server consolidates our various data APIs (which are managed by our backend team) and transforms the data depending on the users permission levels.

We also manage our own component library, which are React/SASS components hosted on Storybook.

Finally, we are also in the process of consolidating and replacing our previous native IOS and Android Apps with a React Native App.

What does the team structure look like, and what would I be working on?

We have recently implemented the squad model here, where a squad comprises all the skills required to manage, maintain and develop a specific section of our technical real-estate and corporate domain. Each squad is led by a Product Lead, a Technical Lead and a Design Lead, with the rest of the squad comprising of members who either know the domain (e.g. copy-writers, legal experts, data scientists) or those tasked with the development of the technical features and functionality (e.g. UX, design, engineers, QA, devops).

However, because we are looking for engineers across all our squads we cannot specifically say what projects you will be working on or which squad you will be in, until closer to the date you will join.

What are your working practices?

Each squad is semi-autonomous, so has the option to choose either Scrum or Kanban as an agile methodology, depending on which works best for them. We utilise Jira for workflow management, and each squad is supported by a Delivery Manager to help facilitate this.

We use Git and Github for our source control, follow a Git Flow approach to developing new features and use CircleCI for our CI/CD pipeline tool.

What would a normal day look like for an engineer?

Typically the first thing first is to grab a coffee/tea before checking emails/priorities or even doing a little coding for the first hour of the day, at around 10am the squad/team have a quick standup so that everyone is aware of what each other is doing, to raise any blockers/issues and to check if anything requires clarification.

After standup, we can continue with our coding tasks or perhaps we may have picked up a new ticket, we either work on these individually or even pair on more complex cases sometimes. Tickets can vary in the type of work involved, from new features, changes, bugs, spikes and tech debt. As a cross functional squad/team, you might work on various Github repositories containing different types of projects.

Depending on the day/your responsibilities, you may also have meetings, agile ceremonies (sprint planning, retrospectives etc), recruitment (interviews, test reviews etc) to attend to.

What opportunities are there for me to learn and progress?

As an engineer, you will get one day a month (8 hours) set aside for training. You will be able to decide when, what and how you learn although we do have some resources available for you to use, including corporate membership to Frontend Masters and LinkedIn Learning. We also run internal training courses on a wide variety of topics.

Progression is also something we are keen to promote, whether you are keen on keeping a strictly technical role or are looking to move in more of a management and leadership role, or even if you are keen to explore other areas of the organisation, there are avenues open to you.

How do flexible hours and office vs wfh days work at Which?

We are quite flexible about daily working hours, although this will vary depending on the squad you are working in and the meetings you are required to attend.

With regards to hybrid working, we are currently looking at two days a week in the office for all squads, although some other areas of the business will be in for more or less, depending on organisational need.

What is expected of me in my first couple of months?

Firstly, we want you to feel welcomed into Which? Getting up to speed with You will be assigned to a squad, an engineering manager as your line manager and to a buddy, who will introduce you to your squad, your codebase and will be your first point of contact for any questions.

We are not expecting you to hit the ground running, though, as we hope you take some time to familiarize yourself with the codebase, your squad and the working practices, as well as understanding more about the wider organisation you will be working for.

We have extensive documentation for the codebases and processes we use in Confluence, as well as a truly enormous repository of information available on the wider organisation on our intranet. We also have training videos available on specific areas of the codebase and our CMS system.

What is the social life like at Which?

As you may know, it has been really difficult to maintain a level of non-work related social activities throughout the pandemic and lockdowns. We make strong use of Slack for communication, and have many channels dedicated to areas outside of work. We also have a plugin in Slack called Donut, that helps connect you to people within the organisation you might otherwise not meet.

We also have a few clubs organising events, which includes the book club, football club and choir. We also have an organisation-wide social committee that should be running events such as quizzes, film nights, fundraisers and our office parties. We have a number of active communities and networks at Which? We also leverage Slack, our internal collaboration tool, to facilitate conversations and networking on key topics through ‘slack live’- these are of course open to everyone. These include, LGBTQ+ network and our Mosaic network - for our ethnically diverse colleagues.

We are also looking at setting up an engineering social committee, to help organise more social events specifically for the engineering team.

Also, working closely with your squads will create strong bonds, and there will be both organised and im-promtu events when you are in the office for squad meetings, such as lunches and after-work drinks.