Women of Datamattic | Menaka Sankaralingam

Welcome to Women of Datamattic—conversations with some of the remarkable women working all over the world to build, maintain, and explore Automattic’s data landscape and make the web a better place. Today’s interviewee is the Code Wrangler, Menaka Sankaralingam.

Who are you and what do you do?

I am a Code Wrangler in the WooCommerce Data team at Automattic. We focus on helping various teams in the WooCommerce Division make data informed decisions. I work on a range of things: (1) data ingestion from various data sources like Stripe or the WooCommerce Marketplace, (2) data transformations via code in Scala and SQL, (3) reporting on Looker dashboards. 

Originally from India, I currently live in Dubai with my spouse, two children, and my mother. I love to read good humor, and am always searching for it. If you have recommendations, please pass them on. I like realistic fiction, but don’t enjoy science fiction. I also enjoy children’s literature which makes me think I am a child at heart.

What inspired you to become an engineer?

I am not an engineer by degree, but by role.

In high school, I chose Computer Science to avoid Biology (as those were the only two options). Back then, society’s dictates were such that choosing Biology implied that I had to work towards the medical profession, and I was not keen on that path. That was the first step that led me towards engineering.

I enjoyed programming (in BASIC 😀) in high school and that love of programming still continues.

However, I have to say that I never consciously chose engineering, but always chose to do things that interested me…. Most of the other things that I tried, I failed. So, it was engineering that chose me.

What’s your day-to-day like and which tools do you use? 

My day starts around 5:30 am with cooking. Around 7:30 am, once I’m done sending the children out, I spend an hour learning. Around 9:00 am, I start my work. Though the first half of my day is very structured, I have a loose schedule towards the evening to accommodate meetings with my co-workers in other time zones. In the evening, I go for a Yoga session or a walk in the nearby park.

Vim is my favorite editor and I used the command line utilities a lot. In my daily work, I use these two extensively, as well as Looker, SQL, and a wide range of other technologies on an as-needed basis.

Recently, I’ve been working with Amazon RedShift and Meltano for Stripe data ingestion.

How does Automattic support you both in work-place and making sure you have a good life-work balance?

Automattic has transformed my life in many ways. In the workplace, I have the freedom to work on things that I enjoy. I work on a range of tools and technologies.

Automattic supports my personal and professional development. I’ve signed up for courses to learn a new technology or even a new skill like video presentations. (I did the BetterOn video training last year, which I thoroughly enjoyed.)

Thanks to the remote nature of my work, I can juggle my family responsibilities, personal time, and work without compromising much on any of them. Before I started working remotely, when my daughter was at school, I had to keep her waiting at the daycare until I finished my work. Today, I take a break in the evening to spend time with my son when he returns home and resume work when he goes out to play.

Lastly, it was thanks to the distributed nature of my work that I could relocate to Dubai a couple of years back.

Menaka presenting at the recent WooCommerce Division meetup

That’s it for today’s edition of Women of Datamattic! Stay with us as the interview series continues in the future! And if you’d like to do more than just read about these great people, consider working with us! Join our team of diverse, global perspectives building a better web, and connect your career to the power of Open Source.

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