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On Identifying Vendors and Adapting to Change
By Ameesh Paleja, Chief Technology Officer, OfferUp
As the largest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers, OfferUp is primarily focused on the consumer space but a set of common trends that impact everyone are security, privacy, and scalability. Mobile devices are the primary computing devices for people around the world, and our ability to scale our infrastructure in a secure and compliant way, is a topic that’s always on my mind.
Could you talk about your approach to identifying the right partnership providers from the lot?
Transparency and track record are two areas I tend to focus on when evaluating partners. Vendors that claim to do everything well or those who claim that all the features or functionality I’m looking for are “coming soon” seem disingenuous. I respect vendors who are forthcoming enough to say “we don’t do that” or “unfortunately, that’s not on our near-term roadmap, but we’ll take it into consideration.” That authenticity becomes a very easy way for them to build trust with me. The second most important aspect is a track record of success. With critical parts of our infrastructure, it's important to know that we aren't the first people exercising the functionality.
Could you elaborate on some interesting and impactful project/initiatives that you’re currently overseeing?
I’m just getting settled into my role at OfferUp but my focus right now is building operational excellence and a strong engineering culture. Making OfferUp a great place to work and grow is critically important to all of our future initiatives, so having a healthy team and environment is of utmost importance.
OfferUp’s mission is to build the simplest and most trusted local marketplace, and one of our key operating principles is simplicity. “Slow is smooth and smooth is fast” is a phrase used by a lot of amazing organizations. The team and I are focused on doing things right and eliminating as much complexity from our stack so we can focus on innovation that will drive growth within our core business.
Transparency and track record are two areas I tend to focus on when evaluating partners
Can you draw an analogy between your personality traits, hobbies and how they reflect on your leadership strategy?
That’s a tough question. I’m an avid poker player and off-road enthusiast. These hobbies help me read people a little better than the average person and help me know when to take risks and when not to. I think good leaders need to know their audience and manage themselves in a way that helps achieve their company goals. I think great leaders know how to take on risks in a managed and thoughtful way. I’d like to think I’m getting better at both of those skills.
How do you see the evolution of the Enterprise Mobility arena a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?
Two areas to keep an eye on are Augmented Reality (AR) and Machine Learning (ML). With the confluence of higher power devices, better networking infrastructure like 5G, and easy to build cloud based services, I believe we’ll see a significant amount of innovation in AR across a multitude of industries, from maps, to education, to games, and beyond.
Secondly, I believe we’ll see significant growth in the commoditization of ML systems. Right now, data scientists are using enterprise resources to create interesting models, but as our devices grow in computational power, things like smart voice-enabled systems will bring much of this modeling closer to the customer to create even more compelling and engaging experiences.
What would be the single piece of advice that you could impart to a fellow or aspiring professional in your field, looking to embark on a similar venture or professional journey along the lines of your service and area of expertise?
The best piece of advice I can give is: if you’re not learning in your current role, change roles or change companies. To this day, I make sure that wherever I’m working I’m surrounded by people I can learn from, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in your field of expertise. For example, I’m an engineer by trade but am constantly learning about marketing, communications, and legal from my peers. It makes me a much more well-rounded colleague and executive.