17 June 2021
Senior software engineer and environmental impact officer Suganth Krishna shares how he sees the impact of his work on a daily basis and breaks down how Flock Freight offers opportunity for creativity and growth unlike any other company
Here at Flock Freight®, our employees are working to transform the future of the freight industry. One of the best parts about working for an innovative and results-driven company is that you get to see the impact of your work. Flock Freight offers a unique environment in which each employee can watch their hard work take effect. From quick project turnovers to creative freedom and the use of cutting-edge technology, our employees have the opportunity to make a difference on a daily basis.
We’re taking an inside look at the unique culture within Flock Freight by getting to know Suganth Krishna. Suganth joined us as the fourth engineering hire and has spent over three years with the company. During his time at Flock Freight, Suganth has watched as we’ve transitioned from a startup into a competitive and powerful force that is disrupting the freight industry. As a Senior Software Engineer and member of our impact team, Suganth plays a pivotal role on our team. Join us as we interview Suganth about his “wild ride” here at Flock Freight.
What is your title, and how do you define your role at Flock Freight?
My title at Flock Freight is senior software engineer. I work as a full-stack developer, which means I have both front-end and back-end coding to do. I also have duties as an epic champion, which means taking the lead on the engineering effort for particular projects (epics). On a day-to-day basis, I do some coding, code reviews, verifications, interviews, and my epic champion duties. The product engineering team is divided into three subteams, and I work on the one that builds internal customer-facing features.
I’m also on Flock Freight’s environmental impact team. We weave sustainability throughout the organization and manage the administrative work associated with our environmental impact, among other things.
How long have you been here, and what has your career at Flock Freight been like up to this point?
It’s been a wild ride at Flock Freight. It’s been a great journey here. I started in December 2017, so it’s been a little over 3½ years since I joined.
I joined as a software engineer and have since been promoted to senior software engineer. When I joined, I didn’t have any experience working at such a fast-paced company.
In my previous role, I didn’t really feel like I did any meaningful work. When you’re working for a large company, you don’t really see the impact that you would at a smaller one.
I’ve had a great learning experience, thinking on my feet and hitting the ground running on all projects that I’ve worked on. I’m lucky to work with the team that we have at Flock Freight. Everybody is really smart and committed. At every step, I’ve had help from some amazing mentors.
How would you describe the opportunity you have at Flock Freight to see the impact of your work?
The thing about working on our team at Flock Freight, which is very different from any other company I’ve worked at, is the turnaround time on a ticket, a story, or any feature. The turnaround time from start to finish could be as short as a single day. So, you could do something today and, at most, a week later, see the fruits of your effort. You don’t get to see that instantaneous turnaround at most companies.
We slice big projects into little pieces so we can deliver increased value each week. At Flock Freight, you have a chance to understand what the stakeholders want. You can sit in on meetings and really grasp what your customer wants. With other companies, you don’t have that interaction with stakeholders or a full understanding.
At Flock Freight, you have an opportunity to come up with unique solutions that you think will best tackle problems. Being able to think out of the box is really cool. It’s motivating to see my work and all my effort — even over just the last week — actually make a difference.
Another thing that’s really cool about working on this team is the ability to experiment (within reason). There’s a lot of innovation in the worlds of technology and development. At Flock Freight, you have the opportunity to incorporate new technology that you come across, and the team will be open to it. If it works, the team will adopt it at large.
What were you doing in your previous roles, and why did you choose Flock Freight?
In my previous role, I was working on the developer platform as a full-stack engineer. I felt like I could have taken two months off and nobody would’ve known that I was gone. I didn’t really feel like I was making a huge difference and didn’t see my hours of effort bearing any fruit.
I jumped at the opportunity to join Flock Freight when I heard our CEO, Oren Zaslansky, speak at a UC San Diego startup event. The first company that I really wanted to speak to was ours. Oren is a really good salesman, and his pitch to join an eco-friendly tech company was appealing as I am super passionate about the environment. That appealed to me, and that’s what gets me up every day.
What’s the opportunity like at Flock Freight to change an industry?
Even though we’ve grown as an engineering team, we still have a startup mentality. We still want to prove ourselves, not only within the team but within the company. New engineers joining our team will be able to work towards developing products and features that enable us to scale in a rapid fashion. We need all the help we can get to achieve this goal and keep up with the pace at which the company is growing. We can only do that by delivering products that improve efficiency, creating features that eliminate unnecessary workflows, and eliminating customer pain points.
The freight industry is still in the Stone Age, and many companies are not ready to adapt technologically. Flock Freight is bringing innovation that’s long overdue to an entire industry.
What is it about our technology that gets you excited about the work you’re doing?
The driving factor that gets me up, that gets me excited about what I’m doing, is our company’s environmentally focused mission. In terms of technology, what gets me most excited is the fact that I can introduce new technologies whenever I think our current framework is slowing us down.
What have you learned at Flock Freight that has improved you personally and professionally?
I’ve learned all that I know about being a good, agile software developer at Flock Freight. The biggest learning has been looking at a problem and breaking it down into smaller pieces that we can solve in short periods of time. I’ve also learned how to make decisions on the fly at Flock Freight. In terms of professional decision-making, I’ve learned how to weigh the pros and cons, in addition to making decisions based on the time available and overall company goals.
Personally, I’ve had a great time working at Flock Freight. We have really cool people across teams. It feels like family here, and that’s not something I can say about any other job.
What’s the culture of our product and engineering team like?
One thing that I really like about our team is that everyone has a sense of responsibility. In most other jobs, people show up and sit in the office for seven or eight hours and, at the end of the day, go home. That’s not the case here. We are really passionate about what we do and are committed to delivering our features and products, hitting our deadlines, and assisting the company. Everybody is part of our mission and everybody is all in.
The other thing about the engineering culture is that it’s extremely helpful. You can ask questions at any time through our team Slack channel or reach out to a specific person. Someone will always point you in the right direction.
Our team as a whole has this great culture of documenting things, which comes from the top down. We want to make sure that another engineer who faces the same situation has some kind of documentation to fall back on.
Also, the team is always open to criticism. You can go up to your boss and say, “I don’t like the way we’re handling this,” and you’ll talk about it — no questions asked.
And we have a retrospective session at the end of every week to identify things that went well and not so well. We learn from our mistakes and come up with a solution for anything that did not go well.
Outside of work, everybody on the team is a friend. We like to play volleyball and grab drinks together. Every Tuesday after our planning session, we go to Culture Brewing Co. and get cheap beer. We sit around and talk about our lives and sometimes work (but mostly not work stuff). It’s really cool to have a close-knit team.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I love sports. I play soccer, volleyball, and Ping-Pong.
Apart from that, I dabble in music. I have a didgeridoo, a keyboard, and some percussion instruments. I’m a trained percussionist. I have a diploma in this Indian percussion instrument called the “mridangam.” I come from a pretty musical family and am really passionate about classical music.
Your Ping-Pong skills are legendary.
I didn’t play Ping-Pong growing up, but I took to it sometime in my undergrad. I had a friend who played, and I started playing with him. I guess I got pretty good at it. I’ve played at the San Diego Table Tennis Association at Balboa Park, where I won some tournaments. Back in the old [Flock Freight] Vista office, we had a room for Ping-Pong, where I’d play for 15-20 minutes a day.
During the pandemic, I bought a table, so I play at home now. I also have a ball-pitching machine!
Do you have favorite memories at Flock Freight?
There was a time in 2018 when we would take a shot of Fireball at the end of every day because the sales team knocked it out of the park. Those are great memories, everybody just having a great time and celebrating our success together.
And who can forget those summer parties when we mummified Oren and our CTO, Lu Saenz? We wrapped all the VP’s in toilet paper, and the fastest team won.
Anything else to add?
Working at Flock Freight is probably one of the greatest opportunities you can have as an engineer because you’ll be joining this rocket ship that’s taking off. Now would be the right time to get in because you’ll be able to work on so many different parts of the app in a company that’s growing really fast, which is not an opportunity you would normally have siloed into one part of an organization. At Flock Freight, you can have your fingers in a lot of different pies, and you have a lot of growth opportunity because of that.