Backend Engineer

Meet Jen Varela Lijo

Meet Jen who works as a Backend Engineer building the Collabary self-service platform, helping connect brands to influencers! Read on to find out how Jen keeps up-to-date with all things tech, and why for her, data is queen!

What is your current role at ZMS? How long have you been working with ZMS? 

I’m a Backend Engineer and have been in ZMS since April 2017, so almost 4 years. 

What were the main reasons for you joining ZMS? What team do you work on and how would you describe what you do and how you approach it? 

I joined as an intern, I didn’t have an engineering background back then, so I was looking for a team that would offer me support to learn and grow in my career. I found this in ZMS, where my lead and colleagues helped me gain confidence to own complex topics. I can genuinely say this is the best team I have ever worked in.

We built Collabary by ZMS, a platform where brands profit from diverse data-driven solutions to Influencer Marketing. We put ourselves in our customer’s shoes adapting fast to new trends and building features around them. 

How would you describe the working and team culture at ZMS?

Fresh and easy going, it is beautiful to see people from different seniority levels, ages, backgrounds and cultures having fun and collaborating in such smooth and respectful ways. We are all one in a flat-hierarchy trying to reach the same goal by being supportive with each other, which brings us closer together.

Where do you feel you can have the most impact (on customers, partners or our colleagues)?

On our customers. Brands benefit on a weekly basis from the agile nature of our team. We add value to the product being built in short iterations.

How do you think ZMS makes a difference? What was the most exciting challenge at ZMS that helped you grow?

For ZMS data is Queen, the company reached a mature state at a very fast pace while delivering unique solutions backed by verifiable results. The constant dialogue and exchange between customers, colleagues and partners makes this possible. 

I wrote my first production lines of code (ever) in 2017 for ZMS. Back then, Collabary by ZMS was taking its first baby steps, just like I was as a developer. My mentor K. Gallinowski took me from prototype to production ready 😉 He didn’t only train me on the job but taught me the importance of taking pride in the craft we do. I grew alongside the product, and the journey itself has been one whole exciting challenge.

How do you stay up to date with the technology you use?

From time to time I attend conferences and meet-ups as well as being subscribed to mailing lists about trending topics in Tech where I get news relevant to our tech stack. Zalando gives us access to great learning resources and I take advantage of them when I pick a task that’s outside of my comfort zone.

The collaboration in our team plays a key role. We allocate time to discuss backend topics every month where we learn from each other by exchanging interesting stuff that would help improve our codebase. We also tackle technical debt every quarter and this is a great opportunity to research and implement solutions.

Have you ever implemented something you learned in a work context at Zalando/ZMS?

All the time! Thanks to the creativity of our Product team, the roadmap of the product is full of interesting features. Since we take care of the whole development cycle and have a diverse tech stack (Java, JS, postgres, mysql, elasticsearch, aws, kubernetes…), I often get the chance to tackle new things and learn while doing.

What causes do you care about or support, when it comes to Diversity & Inclusion?

To me, it’s very important to work in a company that takes diversity seriously. I’m happy to see initiatives within ZMS/Zalando (Women in Tech, LGBTQI+, Diversity Guild…) that help raise awareness about topics like BLM, the gender gap in Tech… and that get things moving forward in regards to creating a more inclusive working environment, educating recruiters on these topics, etc.

On the marketing side, I was positively surprised when I switched on the TV in Spain and watched the new Zalando European ad ”Here to Stay” showcasing different genders, bodies, colors and giving visibility to the LGBTQI+ community. The educational impact of this campaign is invaluable, especially in more traditional countries like Spain.

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