A Day In the Life of Andressa Kalil, Director of Engineering at Tapad

This article originally appeared in Econsultancy

Tapad is described on its website as ‘a global leader in digital identity resolution solutions’.

This technology enables brands and agencies to, amongst other things: unify consumer activity (cross device), manage ad frequency and suppression, retarget users, perform accurate attribution, and map the customer journey.

We caught up with Director of Engineering Andressa Kalil to find out more about her role at Tapad.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

Andressa Kalil: I am the Director of Engineering at Tapad, and have been since September last year. I work mostly with the engineering teams on data engineering and deployment, as this is our core business. But my role is a mix of the technical elements and also management. A large part of my job is managing the 18 engineers who report directly to me. I thrive in an environment where I am able to empower people and teams to grow and be high performing, so I really enjoy this element of my job as well.

As an engineer I love the mix of technical challenges that I face; it’s about finding a solution to the problems that are presented to us and working out the best way to achieve our goal as a team. For instance, a recent goal was to cut cloud costs that come from running our services, which we have been very successful in doing.

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?

Andressa Kalil: I sit within Tapad’s Oslo Engineering ‘hub’, together with Product, and I report to Jeff Olchovy, the CTO at Tapad.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Andressa Kalil: Apart from the obvious technical skills needed to be a software engineer (i.e. cloud infrastructure, continuous integration, continuous deployment and other engineering practices), I also need to be a very good listener and learner to understand client needs and guide a team to solve those problems. By doing so, my team and I can drive continual improvements, create solutions for our clients and ensure the continued success and growth of the team. Communication, coordination, and delivery skills are other key necessities to be effective in my role.

Tell us about a typical working day…

Andressa Kalil: Although I am based in Oslo, I work with the New York team a lot, where Tapad is headquartered. So the time difference plays a big part in my day, every day, in terms of coordination and delivery of objectives.

But a typical day for me is usually filled with meetings. As a senior manager I have a lot of one-on-ones with my team which I use to check-in with them, not only just on their day-to-day workload but also their personal development within the business. I really pride myself on my ability to effectively coach my team to perform to their best of their ability, and actively invest in their success.

Other meetings I usually have include delivery coordination, improving our agile approach, planning ahead, and breaking down larger company objectives into smaller tasks so our teams ‘on the ground’ can help achieve those goals.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

Andressa Kalil: I love working with people; people really are my passion. I enjoy coaching them, and seeing them grow in their careers. In the process I’m learning a lot about myself, so it’s a win-win. I also do have a lot of fun in my role; we’re always encouraging teams to socialise together and have breakout sessions during the week. For example, in the Oslo office we have a ping-pong table we frequent, but not every day, of course.

However, the time zone difference between Oslo and New York can be challenging. Just as my day is ending, New York is just starting. So I sometimes have days that feel quite long, but both teams are actively striving for more autonomy, and we make sure effective coordination is a top priority. We make it work.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

Andressa Kalil: There are two aspects of my job that are very important — people development and delivery rate. For both I apply a variety of metric tools.

We use Officevibe to collect feedback from our employees on how we can improve internal processes, but more importantly to also measure employee happiness, manage stress. The well-being of our employees is vital to the Tapad business, so we ensure we’re always looking for ways we can improve their working life.

In terms of delivery, product requirements, and how we are accomplishing our objectives, we use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). We also have product metrics that are more important for our customers. A lot of our metrics on the product side are in terms of monitoring; i.e. finding potential problems and discussing how we fix the problem, as well as product development. From the Engineering team, we will work with the Product team on the features we want to deliver to our customers and then follow-up on the delivery of those.

What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?

Time management is such an integral part of my job, as so many people rely on me for coordination, and also I want to make sure the work I’m doing has an impact.

It used to be the case where weeks would pass by spent helping others and making sure everything else was running smoothly, before I realised I wasn’t getting much accomplished on my own to do list. So, to ensure I’m being smart with my time and setting realistic expectations with my team, I give myself three core tasks I’d like to accomplish that day. Writing them down and having them visible throughout the day ensures they get done!

How did you end up at Tapad, and where might you go from here?

Andressa Kalil: I had worked for a number of large tech companies before joining Tapad, including Spotify in Sweden, so I knew what I was looking for in a role. When the time came to move to Norway to be closer to my partner, I wanted to make sure I was also making the right move for my career. I took my time to investigate the best possible companies to work for, which meant attending lots of interviews and meeting many different teams to test chemistry.

I wanted to work for a company that I could be proud of, where the engineering team was producing quality products. It ultimately sealed the deal when I met the engineering team at Tapad. I was extremely impressed with what they were producing. It made me excited about the prospect of working with a group of such talented people.

Which campaigns have impressed you lately?

Andressa Kalil: I think the Nike Dream Crazier campaign is really inspiring. Campaigns that reach out and touch our most human side are the most impactful. Anyone can relate to, and be inspired by campaigns like this one.

Do you have any advice for marketers / advertisers not sure where to start with personalisation?

Andressa Kalil: The main focus areas for the industry have been around privacy and personalisation and it’s clearly something people are concerned about. As the industry continues to evolve, we need to continue to focus on the best ways to market to consumers without being invasive or irresponsible with data. But, consumers still want to receive a personalised experience, so it’s a fine line to tread.

My recommendation for marketers and advertisers is to continue to keep these factors as a priority, ensure we are marketing responsibly to consumers, and not taking advantage of the trust they have instilled in us, as ultimately any breach of trust damages the whole industry. At Tapad, we prioritise privacy, and all of our products are privacy-by-design, which I think should be the approach of companies across the industry.