As part of our #Life@NGINX series, we’re chatting with members of our team around the world to find out more about what they do, why they to do it, and how we can all contribute to the NGINX community. This month, we chat to Veena Raja Rathna, Senior Product Management Analyst at NGINX, who is based at our San Francisco office.
Hi Veena! What do you do at NGINX?
Hi! I am a product manager for the developer portal offering in the NGINX Controller API Management Module. NGINX Controller is the management and monitoring platform for the NGINX data plane. Up until recently I was on the Quality Engineering team, ensuring quality releases and maintaining the high standards of quality that customers and community have come to expect from NGINX. During my time in engineering, I saw our team rapidly adapt and execute to changing market requirements. As a quality engineer, my responsibility was to ensure what goes out the door not only works correctly, but is also customer‑friendly in terms of upgrades, migrations, and so on.
What’s a quality engineer’s typical work week like?
It involves working with developers, product managers, and DevOps engineers in a focused feature team, called a squad based on Spotify’s working model. In each two‑week sprint the squad addresses a subset of the well‑groomed product backlog. A quality engineer’s main task is to design a test plan according to the functional specification for each new or updated feature, ensuring that it works as designed and doesn’t break existing functionality.
Engineering relies heavily on an automation pipeline to continuously build and integrate code being checked in from various developers. As a feature matures, feature testing is also automated and added to the pipeline.
Our monthly release cadence means quality engineers are always working on release‑related testing jobs as well, such as installation, upgrade/migrations, documentation, regression, and some ad‑hoc executions.
What led you to working at NGINX?
After working at large companies, I started focusing on startups where I could make an immediate impact using my enterprise experience. Immediately before NGINX, I worked at a security startup – that was an eye opener for me, in terms of technology stacks and open source usage. Being a service provider, the company was always trying out new technologies to see if they met the company’s needs better. They made quick decisions about dropping or picking up technologies, which was very different from larger companies where it took forever to make a change. I saw the benefits and how quickly something got rolled out.
I had also used NGINX Open Source, and it is one piece of tech that you can just assume is going to work, like Linux. When the opportunity opened up at NGINX, I was more than excited to be part of something so core to what people do every day.
What’s your favorite NGINX memory?
Meeting tech celebrities is something very exciting, so it was great to meet Igor Sysoev [Editor – the original author of NGINX Open Source] when he visited the San Francisco office. There are other great memories like being on phone calls with customers and helping to resolve their issues. It’s very informative for quality engineering to learn how a customer sees and interacts with our product.
How would you explain your job to a kid or your grandmother?
I tell my kids that I do similar things at work as at home: I am very critical and try to find fault in everything! I explain to them how taking the job lightly can cause repercussions for the company, and how bad it could be for customer experience. They can really relate to this now that they’re Internet‑savvy – they know what it’s like when they want to buy a popular game or tickets to a favorite show, and the website is slow to respond. It’s a great opportunity to show them the value of rolling out something that’s reliable, solves a real problem, and results in a great customer experience.
What has been your highlight so far at NGINX?
During my two years at NGINX, I’ve been through a couple of go-to-markets with NGINX Controller, where we had to swiftly adapt to market needs. I had the opportunity to work on key requirements that were customer requests, and provide proof of concept for a working solution.
What is even better is that it is now under development to become an integral part of the product offering.
Another highlight is my recent transition to product management, having always been part of engineering organizations. I’m really happy that I can explore a different career path at a company I already know I like!
What’s your favorite part of NGINX culture?
As an organization, we are working toward providing value. This is very evident in what we do on a daily basis. Within the engineering organization, we are very aware of customer feedback and constantly working on improving the product in response to it. We freely interact across organizations, working with pre‑sales, systems engineering, and customer support to gather feedback and find solutions. This open culture truly empowers everyone to do the best that they can, see the impact, and get feedback quickly. NGINX’s culture of Curiosity, Openness, Progress, Excellence, and Mutual Accountability is visible across teams and how people interact with each other.
What do you like to do when you power off the laptop?
My weekends and evening mostly revolve around my kids and their activities. The open work culture at NGINX enables me to be part of the events at school. We do love to travel and spend time exploring new places. Every year, I run two half marathons and it’s great to be able to continue to do that.
Life at NGINX is only as good as the people who work with us and share our values. To find out more about what drives us as part of the F5 family, check out #LifeatNGINX on Twitter and read about #Culture@NGINX on our blog. If our values speak to you, apply to join the team at NGINX, or browse through the current open roles available throughout F5 and Aspen Mesh.
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