Senior Software Eng Manager's Journey at Sensor Tower

Apr 03, 2023
hackajob Staff

Ever wondered what it would be like to work for the market leader in digital & mobile intelligence? Then Sensor Tower is the place to be. With millions of data points and devices contributing, you'll be right in the heart of the action!

We sat down with David, a Senior Software Engineering Manager at Sensor Tower, to get an inside look into how the company has evolved into a powerhouse of top-tier data and insights that Fortune 500 companies, game developers, and financial institutions rely on. Uncover the secrets of their tech stack, culture, projects and much more below.

Hi David, tell us more about yourself and your current role at the Sensor Tower including how you came to join the company.

Engineering wasn't my first career - far from it!

After studying economics and having a successful career in management consulting, I decided to challenge myself even further by working abroad as the Head of the Beijing office of an education business in China. After a few years of that, I felt that something was missing and decided to make the bold move to a new career - engineering.

Combining my management experience with ad tech engineering, I'm now proud to be managing the PpPlatform and SsSecurity team at Sensor Tower. Talk about a pivot. I owe it to Stefan, the VP of Engineering at Sensor Tower, for introducing me to this amazing company. After hiring me for my previous company, he moved on to Sensor Tower and I was able to follow in his footsteps. The team here is truly something special.

How is it that you and your team manage to look after data and allow customers to access it in a timely manner whilst staying security compliant?

Sensor Tower's Platform and Security Team are an unlikely duo, but it makes total sense! We started off with just the Platform team, taking care of the core data infrastructure and other tools. But soon enough, we got requests to keep sensitive information safe, so we started owning data security projects. That's when it all came together  – now, we're responsible for a whole range of security-related tasks, making us the perfect combination.

With the completion of our SOC 2 certification for Sensor Tower, our biggest security project, we've been able to build policies, tools, and frameworks that help our developers be productive while keeping sensitive data secure and meeting all the general security requirements. We don't want security to be an obstacle to productivity, so our Platform Security team is invested in finding tools and solutions that take security-related headaches out of their day-to-day.

Can you share an example of how you make this happen?

For example, with Teleport, developers can access any node in our cloud deployment with the right permissions - no more headaches! And if you're accessing the system with a Ruby on Rails console, you'll love how Teleport just knows what to do - no more worrying about if you're logged into the right server or if you'll run into permissions problems when you run a data query. It's like magic.

We've got a full suite of tools to make sure data is secure and compliant with all the necessary permissions for developers. Our Jenkins system pushes the boundaries of Continuous Integration, making sure we stay on top of many important audits and alerts, while deploying code extremely quickly: several times per day. On top of that, we've automated a lot of security and compliance processes, making sure databases are in good shape and audit logs are always up to date. We get lots of visibility into our system, all while boosting our developers' productivity.

What have been the highlights and challenges of your time at the Sensor Tower?

Our Snowflake Data Connector project was one of my favourite projects to work on!

It allows customers to access our data much easier than with our API. Customers need to slice and dice this data in many ways, and the Connector makes it simpler by pushing the data up to Snowflake. This allows customers to query the data directly and has been a great solution for easier and safer data access.

We've been around in the Mobile App Analytics industry for a while now, and while that has resulted in several great products that our customers love, it has also resulted in a complex code base with a lot of contextual dependencies. It's not the type of place where you can just show up and make big changes without really thinking it through first. We put a lot of effort into making sure our code is top-notch, with deep-quality testing, clear test plans, performance monitoring, and benchmarking.

It's not the kind of place you come to write "mindless code" - but after all the hard work, it's certainly worth it!

What are the progression opportunities like at Sensor Tower?

We love to see developers grow here at our organization! Not just for their benefit, but for the benefit of our team as a whole. We believe that when one person grows, everyone succeeds, and we’re committed to creating an environment that encourages and supports this growth.

We like to think of our engineering team as a ladder of Junior Engineer > Mid Level Engineer > Senior Engineer and Staff Engineer - with opportunities to move to the management track for those who are interested. No silos in sight.

Sensor Tower is very forward-thinking; what types of technologies or tech stack do you use in the Platform and Security team?

The Platform and Security team is very back-end oriented and we're a cloud-native company – we've been using AWS since day one. We prefer to self-host our tools in the cloud rather than using managed services because our scale makes it necessary for cost savings. We have a top-notch DevOps team to ensure the smooth operation of our tools. For example, with Teleport, we chose to take the self-managed route as the cost of the managed version was too high for what we needed.

As a Ruby on Rails powerhouse, boasting one of the largest deployments in the industry, our data architecture consists of two databases: MongoDB, our go-to for schemaless data, and ClickHouse, our new OLAP database we use for time series metrics. We're also stepping up our security game with Drata, a company that helps us manage policies and evidence collection, so we can stay compliant with SOC 2, GDPR, CCPA and other regulatory frameworks.

There are plenty of perks to being a remote-first company, what are some of them for you and what other benefits can engineers looking to join your team look forward to?

Our team's strength lies in the international talent we have on board. With at least six different nationalities represented on just the Platform and Security team, we can take advantage of working with some of the best people from across the world. It's a very diverse and talented environment.

With us, there's plenty of asynchronous work and flexible calendaring, with minimal mandatory meetings, to accommodate different time zones. This way, you can start and end your day early or late, depending on your time zone. As long as everyone is collaborating effectively, it's a very flexible system.

Our remote model allows you to take full advantage of our flexible PTO policies. You don't need to keep track of a specific number of days off, just show reasonable productivity and reap the benefits - it's one of my favorite parts of the compensation package we offer. So if any tech enthusiasts are looking for your next challenge, this is the place for you.

And that’s it!

If you’re ready to transform your career and become an engineer at Sensor Tower, you know what to do. Don't wait a second longer – create a profile on the hackajob platform, where they’re currently hiring for a variety of roles or log in to your profile here.

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