foodpanda: The Ingredients Behind Landing a Good Tech Role

As the rate of digitalisation speeds up, so does foodpanda when it comes to keeping up with customer demands. With this in mind, what should graduates prepare for if they wish to pursue a career in tech?
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The gradsingapore Team
Dawn Yip
Editorial Intern, gradsingapore

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Clockwise from top left: Ms Amanda Lim, Head of Employer Branding and Recruitment Management, Mr Kenneth Li, Senior Data Manager, Mr Ronnie Liew, Senior Engineering Manager, and Ms Reine Fang, Full Stack Engineer

Since its launch in Singapore ten years ago, foodpanda has come a long way from a simple start-up to one of Asia’s biggest food and grocery delivery services, with more than 9,500 employees operating in over 12 countries worldwide. With the effects of the pandemic still ongoing, continued work-from-home (WFH) regulations and heightened restrictions on the food-and-beverage (F&B) establishments have caused a rapid shift among consumers towards food delivery services like foodpanda for both food and other necessities.

In addition to this surging demand, the rate of digitalisation has also increased at a significant pace. As a result, foodpanda has continued to innovate and improve both its web and mobile platforms to keep up, making strides in the food delivery and q-commerce (quick commerce) industry, and ensuring that its user base remains satisfied with the services it provides. In September 2021, gradsingapore hosted a webinar for foodpanda, which focused on life working at the company. In this Q&A session, several employees talked about their roles in foodpanda and answered various questions relating to not only their work experiences, but also what the company looks for when it comes to tech roles.

Technical prep-work

At the heart of any tech product or digital service is its code, and foodpanda is no exception. One of the bigger and more constant challenges faced by engineers, according to Kenneth Li, a senior engineering manager at foodpanda, is ensuring that their data solutions remain scalable as the company continues to expand. Ronnie Liew, a senior software engineer, noted that he previously had never had to deal with so much data prior to joining foodpanda six months ago. “The kind of problems and solutions that come to mind are very different from other organisations, where we constantly work on scalable data solutions, how do we ensure that whatever we’re planning out or whatever we’re going with will be able to scale up in one month, six months or twelve months as we move on to more verticals, more businesses or more countries,” he said. As a result, aspiring candidates who wish to join the company should come equipped with some technical skills to better their chances at being hired.

For instance, having some grasp of coding language is necessary for anyone wishing to join a tech role at foodpanda, although the language required will depend on the position. For example, back-end engineers will be expected to know Golang or Java, and basic HTML Javascript for front-end engineers, with other JavaScript libraries and frameworks to be learned on the job, according to Ronnie.

Moreover, because foodpanda’s apps are also catered to the mobile app market, a prospective candidate will find themselves at an advantage if they have experience working with the respective operating systems. “We work on two big mobile platforms – you should definitely have some experience dealing with iOS, Swift programming and also Android and CloudLink,” Ronnie said.

As for those looking to go into data engineering, having experience working with databases or data warehouses like Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud would also be very useful to the job.

To best showcase these, candidates should consider partaking in personal projects to showcase their technical ability and skill or contribute to open-source projects on software development sites like Git-Hub.

“Are there any additional projects that you have taken on in your free time – have you worked on your own pet project to do some sort of automation, or you have done some analysis on HDB pricings because you’re looking to get a house,” Kenneth said. “Building up a portfolio and working on personal projects tells us where your interests lie and shows your interest and your passion.”

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Importance of soft skills

Of course, it is not the only thing that determines your place at foodpanda. Over recent years, the hunt for new talent has expanded beyond just that – and what now sets a good employee apart from the others is being able to add value to the company beyond just their technical skill.

To Kenneth, having strong problem-solving skills is arguably one of the most essential skills for any employee to have at foodpanda, regardless of their role in the company, and being eager to tackle such challenges.

“As you’ve noticed in our conversation, we’re always dealing with a lot of unknown challenges – there’s always something new that comes up, some new problem that we have to solve,” he explained. “There will be a lot of situations where you’re given some problem, some information…and that’s it. You have to figure out how to solve it.” Ronnie also brought up a small detail that prospective candidates should take note of before heading into an interview with foodpanda – ensuring that their resume is properly well-written. This can show that not only is the candidate invested in getting the job, but also their eye for detail, a trait that is crucial in an industry where even the smallest mistake can be costly.

“These are the little things that interviewers will look at, and to give you some perspective, as an interviewer in foodpanda, you go through a lot of resumes every day,” he elaborated. “So all these things will add on – so how you make your resume stand out, the details you show will reflect your submission.”

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Some final advice

Candidates seeking for a challenging, yet fulfilling career may find foodpanda to be an ideal place to kick off their tech career. But for those hungry to join, just what should they prepare for to stand out? Starting with the resume, Kenneth notes that interested candidates should put emphasis on their interests that indicate passion towards responsibilities of the job role, especially if they are highly relevant, such as if they code or develop projects in their spare time.

“Building up a portfolio and working on personal projects kind of tells us where your interests lie and shows your interest and your passion. From my point of view, these are the things that stand out for me,” he said. Moreover, apart from preparing for common interview questions, candidates should also have some case studies or anecdotes on-hand to better showcase how their skills have helped them find success and in turn give the interviewers a glimpse of how they can contribute to the company.

“What are some of the difficult challenges that you have faced before in terms of projects, in terms of past internships or work experience,” Kenneth explained. “Having that sort of thing prepared so that if it’s asked, you can answer it – although sometimes it might not be asked directly in that way.”

And as for those who are still on the fence, Reine Fang, sometimes it’s best to just take your shot regardless. “For fresh grads, during this period, there’s probably a lot of anxiety and worry, just wondering what you should do or where to go,” Reine Fang, a full-stack engineer who joined foodpanda as a fresh graduate, said. “My own mini-advice is to just try it, give it a shot and see if you like it. Because I feel like at this stage, it’s hard to tell what you’re really into.”