Evernote is more than an app or a service; it’s also an outstanding team of dedicated individuals, and we’d like to share their stories with you. Mansi Shah is an Engineer on Evernote’s iOS team. She has been with the company for a year and a half.
How did you get into engineering?
My love for computers and design led me to become an engineer. The ability to whip up some magic under the hood, and create the most visually appealing user experience at the same time, impacting millions of users — that’s what excites me the most about being an engineer.
What role do you play on the iOS team?
My role involves designing and building the user interface and core application, ensuring that the Evernote iOS users have fast, reliable and secure access to their notes. Working on a small, high-performance team means writing large amounts of reliable, scalable, and maintainable code. Removing technical debt is also an important part of the job, to enable considerable performance enhancements. The last and most important part is to constantly collaborate with the PM and designers to help design and build new features.
What is the biggest technical challenge you’ve faced in the past year?
The developers of Evernote for iOS in the past were struggling to add new features to the existing app, keep it working with newer versions of iOS, and untangle the technical debt in the code.
To fix this we began an effort called Lightning to completely revamp the application with a new design, a new user interface, new software architecture, a new language (Swift 3.0) — but the biggest caveat to this was execution by a completely new team of 7 engineers.
The challenges of being part of a new team were to understand each other’s strengths, collaborate effectively to make better-informed decisions, and to deliver fast, responsive, and high-quality product in a timely manner. This included learning a new language, rewriting and rearchitecting legacy code, and revisiting technical decisions made in the past. Agile development policies allowed the team to introduce faster development cycles and automate processes to foster rapid growth and scale.
As a result of this effort, the product has become more reliable, easy to use, consistent, and future proof. This was a significant milestone in the engineering as well as product front, for our team, and for the company as a whole.
How are the mobile engineering teams structured at Evernote?
We have small, high-performance teams catering to each platform. But one really great thing I noticed is the way we structure many teams as cross-platform: ownership will be around a product or a feature. That lets us build cohesive products that can stand own their own on each platform, but all sharing a common user experience language. Common decisions are made in the best interest of all platforms. The process employed is efficient and there is a lot of fluidity. You will also see some people owning features in both iOS and Android. The team is like a small task force on a feature/product, creating more collaboration and communication, which in turn makes the team closer.
How much autonomy do engineers have at Evernote?
I will never forget my first week at Evernote where I was given a task to improve the photo picker experience on just my second day. I had to get well-versed with the code and get this feature in immediately for the next release. And to my surprise, I also got the opportunity to showcase this cool feature in front of the entire company in our weekly Demo Day.
This experience bowled me over. There is a strong focus on giving engineers at Evernote as much autonomy as they are comfortable with and holding them responsible for making good use of that freedom. If you have a high bar for hiring, you can assume that you will be working with the most intelligent and dedicated people who will pick the most important projects and steer them from ideation to execution to deployment.
What is the most satisfying part of your job?
Just the fact that every line of code I punch in impacts 100 million users is the most exhilarating part of the job. Also, another most beautiful thing I have discovered working here is building this innate relationship with customers with the continuous, iterative feedback and improvement cycles that we go into. Design and playing with colors is my other passion, thus naturally I love working on aesthetically appealing and beautifully designed applications, which I get to do in abundance here.
What is your favorite Evernote feature?
There is no single favorite feature, as I use Evernote for almost everything. I use it to manage my to-do list at work, to keep a track of my household chores, to scan my receipts and important documents so that I never lose them, and to clip web articles that I find really helpful specifically related to design, architecture, and fashion. I also really love the fact that I can organize my information into notebooks and stacks and access them easily through the powerful search engine that Evernote provides.
What advice do you have for young women in tech?
The most important thing is to identify what you love to do the most and then have a tunnel vision focus to achieve it and the rest will follow. The thing that drives me every morning is to become the best version of myself and not compare myself to anyone. Improving and seeing myself grow and excel in what I love to do gives me a high. Finding a support group of women in similar situations is incredibly helpful, people with whom you can share your experiences and hear “oh yeah, me too, I went through the same thing.” Gaining the support and motivation that comes from finding others in similar situations helps a great deal.
What is a fun fact about you?
Apart from being this geek at work nibbling with bits and bytes, in my free time I love to pursue this other passion of mine and that is art & design. My imagination is always out for a wild run. I love doing up different spaces, creating wall arts. I also love rejuvenating myself with cooking, dancing, and outdoor activities.
We’re looking for more people to join the “notable herd” at Evernote! Learn more and see all our current openings at evernote.com/careers