Flipkart: Flipster revolution in the e-commerce landscape
Flipkart Recruitment Scenario - As most mega-success stories often begin, Flipkart started out as a two-person operation. Founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal wore many hats, from developing the website to even taking customer calls and delivering products themselves. Today, the Bengaluru-based company is revolutionising e-commerce in India, and opening up exciting opportunities for young engineers, or ‘Flipsters’ as they’re called. From engineers to data scientists, product professionals and MBA graduates, Flipkart’s demand for campus recruits is ever-widening. Read on to find out what it takes to get placed there and the opportunities that unfold beyond the nine-to-five job at Flipkart.
Who can be a ‘Flipster’?
Once in a way, comes a company that looks at a candidate beyond his resume and academic achievements. This makes Flipkart’s selection all the more gruelling, but pertinently so. When out to solve the biggest e-commerce solutions in the country, ‘excellence is the only yardstick’.
“What’s important for us is their deep domain knowledge, whether they’ve done things differently at campus, taken initiatives, or demonstrated leadership that goes beyond,” says Kapil Vardhan, Senior Director, HR.
So, hopeful Flipsters, a decorated resume alone won’t cut it. What will help you bag the job is talking about the kind of projects and problem statements you’ve delved into. This helps the organisation reflect on the complexity of challenges and how you face them, to assess how you apply yourself.
Vice President and Principal Architect
Bootcamp kicks off the journey
Stepping into the working world is often a hard-hitting reality check for fresh graduates. “In college, you submit an assignment and you’re done and dusted. In real life, that solution needs to sustain and evolve. You need to think of how to manage it even when it’s live all the time—it’s like open heart surgery,” muses Utkarsh. To bridge this gap between theory and application, academia and industry, Flipkart inducts its fresh recruits through an exciting ‘bootcamp’.
In the course of a month, campus graduates get a bird’s eye view of how the entire platform and organisation is stitched together. Different e-commerce problems are presented in engaging case studies and gamification modules, and the grads learn to code the Flipkart way from the basics. There is also a culture of business assimilation. All this helps bear in mind the overarching tech, company vision and values, even once they get into their individual roles. At the end, their interest areas are reviewed and roles are typically matched.
Opportunities beyond work
There is no dearth of opportunities for growth at Flipkart, yet the company gives wings to its zealous employees to follow their dreams. Be it pursuing a Ph.D. or a promising ‘technovation’, Flipkart encourages its employees to take time off, as part of a sabbatical programme. The higher education assistance programme also provides certain financial aid. A friendly, open-door policy means they are always welcome to come back and find roles.
Developing a profession, not just a career
No ordinary nine-to-five job, working at Flipkart is more a way of life. Be it professional or personal, development happens in a holistic way. Here, the focus shifts from simply climbing the ladder with promotions and pay raises, to growing into a capable, competent, well-rounded professional. “All engineers can grow to a certain level, and then they have a choice, to continue to be an individual contributor, or become architects and data scientists, and go deep, or become leaders and managers, who orchestrate different teams and deliver at a large scale,” says Kapil. In tech, nothing is static. “Having a continuous improvement mind-set is critical. At the scale we work on, we won’t succeed if everyone isn’t thinking ‘what can I do better?,” he adds. “The challenge for a young engineer is to not become stagnant. You should keep reskilling yourself,” rightly sums up Utkarsh.
Rare opportunities, riveting challenges
“When they’re fresh out of campus, they will be given problem statements. They can innovate on the ‘how’ part to find a solution. As you grow and get more relevant understanding of e-commerce, you can start influencing the problem statements,” says Utkarsh, scoping an engineer’s work.
Besides the typical internship programmes, the company works closely with professors and students from top institutes like the IITs and IISC, with more collaborations on the docket. These deep engagements, particularly in the areas of data science, aim to solve live problems at Flipkart. “We have such great institutions in the country, they can really help in showing the next generations trends to the industry and open up new lines of thoughts. In our day-to-day problems, we can get boxed in sometimes. Institutes can explore more than we can,” says Utkarsh.
Flipkart kicks off its interview process with a hard-core machine coding round. This presents a live problem in e-commerce. Textbooks aside, how you approach a real-world scenario is what counts. The second round tackles problem-solving and data structure, looking at how you scope and solve problems. The candidate then goes on to meet with a hiring manager to see where he can fit into the organisation. A ‘culture fit’ round then determines how candidates will adapt to the culture, pace and environment.
“We cannot have a hard cell around a role,” believes Utkarsh, who himself has transitioned through many a role in his eight years at Flipkart. Once the company started to deconstruct roles, new functions emerged within the workflow. Besides the fundamental roles integral to any e-commerce company, like that of software development, quality, retail, product, and accounting engineering, Flipkart looks for analysts, web architects, engineering managers and technology leaders, among a gamut of other core functions. The portfolio of ‘Data Scientist’, which was deemed the ‘sexiest job of the 21st century’ by Harvard Business Review back in 2012, was introduced at Flipkart the same year.
Subject matter experts are coming up in demand in a big way. “In the typical interview process, some people may not meet the overall bar, but they may shine in a particular area. In the last few years, we’ve realised such engineers have certain strengths that they bring to the table much more deeply than others. They may have spent day and night thinking of only one problem statement. In that context, they will be the best problem solvers,” explains Utkarsh.
Work on home-grown tech
All of Flipkart’s tools and platforms have been developed in-house, sans the crutch of any enterprise software. This goes as far and wide as fin-tech instruments and consumer apps to product discovery, recommendations, network bandwidth, payment gateways, supply chain and more. Its own data centre is developed, managed and maintained by a strong crowd infrastructure team. To this diversity of portfolios, the company welcomes the new generation of bright and bold engineers to bring their A-game and continue to push the limits of the e-commerce ballgame in India.
Campus recruits are key contributors
The fresh perspective a graduate brings to the industry does not go unnoticed by Flipkart. “From 2012, may campus recruits have stuck on and taken up significant roles. We’re really proud of that, and campus is something we’ll continue to invest on,” From engineers to data scientists, product professionals and MBA graduates, Flipkart’s demand for campus recruits is ever-widening, as the company continues to grow exponentially. This year alone, around 140 graduates have joined the ranks of the Flipkart and its mobile payment app, PhonePe.
Commenting on the recent Walmart acquisition of a controlling stake in Flipkart, Kapil assures it’s ‘just business as usual’ and there will be ‘zero impact on the lives of engineers’.