Answers to Common Questions from Engineers in Casual Interviews: Part Two

Hi! This is @hana from Merpay HR.
We are actively recruiting for several engineering positions at Merpay. As a sequel to part one of this two-part series, we have put together answers to questions we typically receive from engineers in casual interviews. This article will focus on benefits, evaluations, and the scale of the organization.

Use the hashtag #メルカン on Twitter if you have any other questions. We’ll do our best to either write an article in response or answer directly on Twitter!

Benefits at Merpay

Q: Is it true that most men at Merpay take childcare leave?

A: Yes! Not just women, but most men at Merpay also take childcare leave. If anything, it’s rare for our members to not take childcare leave.

Our company culture definitely makes it easy to take childcare leave, regardless of your gender. Moreover, people take leave regardless of their position, including managers and tech leads.

<Childcare Leave at Mercari>
Extension of pre-partum childcare leave and 100% salary compensation during childbirth and childcare leave.
Women: Compensated for 100% of salary during the 10 weeks before and 6 months after birth
Men: Compensated for 100% of salary during the 8 weeks after birth

We spoke to @Mikael, a Merpay iOS engineer who just took childcare leave himself, to find out a bit more about what it’s like for fathers to take childcare leave at Merpay.

ーWhen did you take childcare leave and for how long? How was it?

Mikael: I took childcare leave for about two months starting a week or two after my child was born. Those two months off were absolutely essential and the financial support from the company was extremely helpful.

ーDo you feel that the company culture encourages taking childcare leave?

Mikael: I thought about coming back in less than two months, but my manager recommended that I take the full two months off. My manager and other co-workers also took the full two months off, so I didn’t hesitate at all to take childcare leave. At least for engineers, I don’t think there’s any hurdle to take childcare leave or particular challenges faced when returning to work.

Q: Are there any benefits specifically for engineers?

A: I’d say we receive many opportunities to learn about technology. At the same time there is very generous support for us to produce our own output.

One example for learning would be the Slack channels we have specifically for internal study sessions.

Go Friday: A chance for Go engineers to come together for one hour every Friday for a casual study session on Go
Go Static Analysis Study Session: One-hour weekly study session held by @tenntenn from the Merpay Expert Team
Android Tech Talk: Bi-weekly tech talk held by the Merpay Android Team
#tech-golang: Slack channel for the latest info on Go and to ask questions about Go Other channels of this kind include #tech-microservices, #tech-gcp, #tech-kotlin, and #tech-swiftui.

And plenty more!

Examples of output include tech talks and other events hosted by Merpay, community hosted events, and tech blogs. We also encourage members to contribute to open source. The Engineering Office and HR will help out when engineers host events, such as by providing a venue and refreshments. Fellow engineers will do a very thorough check when someone presents at an event, writes a tech blog, or posts on external media, providing an environment where members can feel comfortable communicating externally about their work.

We spoke to @tenten, the host of Go Friday.

ーWhat led you to holding these study sessions and supporting the output of other employees?

tennten: We believe that communicating about technology helps to foster the best technology. Sharing with other colleagues is a great opportunity to receive feedback. Communicating externally about technology can stimulate the overall community, leading to even better input. I believe the individual who receives feedback also benefits. Sharing about the technology you use can help you to really deepen your own understanding.

That being said, there are simply not that many opportunities to write in a magazine or share externally about your work in other ways. We have many engineers with sufficient knowledge and experience to write these kinds of posts. I hope to provide these kinds of opportunities for them.

ーAre there any other benefits for Merpay engineers?

tennten: I would say being able to work with very experienced engineers. I learn new things just by speaking to @kazegusuri, @sinmetal, and @shibata.

Engineers also get to enjoy developing with the foundation of Mercari, taking various new challenges that come with such a large-scale product.

We also spoke to @shibata, one of the go-to tech blog reviewers, about what inspired him to support the input/output of fellow members.

ーYou always provide very meticulous checks of other members’ tech blogs. What was your inspiration to do so?

shibata: Software engineers need not only programming skills, but also good writing skills. At my last job, a supervisor would always conduct a review of any internal technical documents. We have a flat organizational structure at Merpay, so often a member will review a document written by their superior. This kind of setup means that young employees at Merpay may never receive a review of their work, which is why I try to review others’ work and provide advice. I also do this out of pure curiosity for what is going on in other teams.

ーYou’ve been hosting technical book study groups for many years, correct?

shibata: Yes, since 1998. It can often be quite hard to fully understand and read to the end of a technical book. Coming together for an hour a week makes it easier to finish the book. I hosted study groups at my previous job, choosing from books related to our work, books with basic knowledge that everyone should know, and books based on my interests. After joining Merpay I held a session on the book The Go Programming Language. Since switching to working remotely after the start of COVID-19, I’ve held monthly online sessions on Saturday afternoons. Since last June I’ve held a session on The Go Programming Language and Effective Java 3rd Edition, and starting February of this year an online session on Becoming a Better Programmer.

Online session on The Go Programming Language
Online session on Effective Java 3rd Edition
Online session on Becoming a Better Programmer

Merpay Engineering Organization

Q: How many engineers are there at Merpay?

A: Unfortunately we do not disclose the precise number.

Most teams have four to ten people, and there are multiple teams for some positions. We have engineer positions for Backend, Frontend, iOS, Android, QA, SRE, Architect, Machine Learning, Data & ML Platform, and Data Management.

Q: What’s the percentage of members from overseas? Do you have to speak English to work at Merpay?

A: Just like Mercari, at Merpay we place great emphasis on D&I (diversity and inclusion). Currently about 20% of members are from overseas. This number is continuing to increase.

However, not speaking English well doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed at Merpay. Some positions do require English, but as long as you are open to studying English, you will have no problem succeeding in most positions. There are actually some teams that use mainly English, which would be the perfect environment for those that want to use more English at work.

What’s most important is an openness to learning English and the ability to always keep in mind D&I.

Merpay also provides extensive support for those wanting to improve their English. GOT, the Global Operations Team, provides translation and interpretation support on a daily basis. We also have a system in place for English learning support. This support includes free, daily online English lessons, as well as a Mercari custom-made English learning program.

Engineer Evaluations at Merpay

Q: How are engineers evaluated at Merpay?

A: We have the same evaluation process for both engineers and employees in other positions.

・Salary and grade adjustment once every six months
・Feedback from one’s manager and peer reviews (360° evaluation from one’s coworkers) once per quarter

One thing to highlight here is that engineers receive evaluations from engineering managers, who also have an engineering background. We did not yet have the role of Engineering Manager when Merpay was first established. At that time, a Product Manager would conduct engineer evaluations. We established the role of Engineering Manager based on the idea that engineers should receive evaluations and be supported in their growth from those that also understand technology.

For evaluations we look at not only contributions to the product and business, but also take into account presentations at external events and engagement with the tech community, such as contributing to open source. The Mercari Group’s engineering values reflect the importance of output for all engineers.

This aspect could be considered a type of benefit that caters to engineers and which may be hard to find at other companies. For those interested in proactively learning about and also producing output related to technology, Merpay offers a very unique work environment here in Japan. If you are interested in working with us, please go ahead and apply! We look forward to hearing from you.

Stay tuned for more Mercan articles!

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