We sat down with Jerry Balderas at Cognizant Digital Engineering who leads the delivery process in the Enablement team to find out a little more about the culture in their digital labs and the future vision of the business.
What sets Cognizant Digital Engineering apart in the cloud-native market?
“High performing teams are driven by collaborative, educational environments with fluid, continuous feedback. In the process of teaching our developers Pair Programming, Test Driven Development, and the best practices for implementing cloud-native microservice architectures, our Enablement program perpetuates this kind of culture. As a result, our delivery teams (Pods) can ship resilient, scalable products for our customers in less time.”
This Digital space is competitive for talent like you – What appealed to you about Cognizant Digital Engineering?
“I have stressful memories of searching for new opportunities in the past. When you [Geektastic Hiring] handed me this opportunity, it was a breath of fresh air! Both Cognizant and Geektastic Hiring ensured I was ready and comfortable for the technical portion of the interview, and after visiting the office, I was hooked. This place has an open and collaborative environment – even the interview is cooperative! There’s a contagious energy here – you can see the passion in everybody. As a developer myself, that was the thing that appealed to me the most. Of course, the amazing salary may have played a part.”
The cultural factors on engineering teams of Cloud Native adoption, particularly the continuous delivery model can be a real challenge. How do you and your team address it?
“Something we see from CI/CD is the constant feedback loop between the team and customer and how positive of an impact that has on the development of products. For example, adjustments can be made on the fly without wasting weeks of developer time on a feature the client may want to later change or adjust. With this delivery model, a change can be made and implemented in a few hours.
The time from a commit to production is one of our metrics for a delivery team’s health. We teach all of our developers how to implement a pipeline. Once a developer touches a pipeline and understands each stage, it becomes immediately straightforward. Under the jargon, it’s actually a very simple concept.”
How would you describe the broader company culture?
“In a software team, the blame-game creates an atmosphere of fear where sharing information is risky. Cognizant Digital Engineering explicitly avoids this kind of culture with a flat management structure. Combining development and deployment operations into one job description eliminates information silos. Developers own their code in production, and the team succeeds or fails as a unit. This kind of structure has a huge impact on the team’s relationship with their defects. For us, culture differentiates us from the competition, and our developers love it here.”
Cognizant prides itself on its core values of; Transparency, Passion, Empowerment, Collaboration, Customer Focus and Integrity – in such a hyper growth phase, how challenging has it been to stay true to those core values?
“In most organizations, developers assimilate naturally over time. Rapid growth of the sort that we’ve experienced in Digital Engineering makes this challenging. Our Enablement program was designed in part to combat this. We rotate developers through a set of trainers who instill a consistent set of values in trainees.
Our core values are inherently helpful. They’re the reason our growth has been possible in the first place. We are constantly updating and redefining our hiring process to demonstrate our values from initial contact. We want everyone to succeed and we want everyone to want the company to succeed.”
You have only been at the company for 5 months - and already you have stepped into a leadership role – what is the story behind that?
“At Cognizant Digital Engineering, we have a four-week training and assimilation program called Enablement. I went through this program myself, and I was selected to be an Enabler by our chief architect, Rick. About two months ago, I stepped into a leadership role. I’m passionate about Digital Engineering because I believe in it, and I’m fighting tooth and nail to see it flourish! This is the best job I’ve ever had, and I’m trying my best to spread this incredible opportunity to others.”
What does the future hold for you within Cognizant?
“The main focus right now is the company vision. We are smoothing out our interview processes, and we continuously develop our curriculum for the Enablement program. I want to build a streamlined procedure that gives developers the opportunity to earn a competitive salary in a positive, collaborative, and exciting environment. I’m thankful for the opportunity they have given me and I want to help others obtain the same thing!”
What is the best thing about working at Cognizant?
“The mix between our tech stack and culture. It’s one thing to develop cutting-edge, marketable skills, but without an environment that encourages learning, teaching, and having fun, there’s a hard limit to career growth. Here, we enjoy the best of both worlds. Great technologies and great people. It has been an amazing 5 months here.”
What are the opportunities to grow your skills?
“Our four-week Enablement training challenges new developers to grow their careers. At the end of the training, new developers will understand all aspects of our development cycle with respect to cloud-native development. Upon graduation, developers join the “Bench” where they continue to hone their skills by working on internal tools. Developers on a team are free to change the software stack for a specific project if they want to ramp up on new technology.”
What’s your advice to someone interested in entering the cloud-native / digital transformation space?
“Jump right in! Continually develop your core skills and aim for a space that invests in your future and your career goals (like Cognizant Digital Engineering!). Once you get your foot in the door, it is so much better than training yourself. You’re surrounded by people who have become experts in the cloud native space - plus you’ll be assigned projects that require to be implemented in the cloud. It’s like going to school and getting paid!”
For us to fulfill this vision we are always looking for talented engineers to join the Cognizant team – please reach out to Sam Harrison at Geektastic HIRING to apply.