A Day in the Life of: NodeFlair's Head of Engineering


A Day in the Life-series provides insight into what it is like to work as a Software Engineer in different roles and companies, by following developers through a regular day at work.

What does a regular day in the life of a Product Engineer at NodeFlair look like? Follow Alvin Ng, Head of Engineering, through his workday to find out!

Alvin Ng, Head of Engineering and Tech Lead at NodeFlair

Hi! I’m Alvin, currently leading tech and software engineering here at NodeFlair.

Our team is responsible for maintaining and releasing features that directly impact all who use our platform—this includes our staff, our clients and the talents who we will be placing. We pride ourselves on getting features shipped on time, and on target.

I spend my spare time watching a lot of tech conference videos. It is unfortunate that we don't have as many tech conferences here in Singapore. They usually feature a lot of interesting knowledge that can be applied to work, or just for plain fun.

Growing up, I’ve always been interested in web technology and the possibilities of connecting people through the internet. Now, I’m glad to be given the responsibility of building a platform that helps people like me to find meaningful jobs, doing the same thing I do.

Here is a day in the life of me!

7:30 am

I’m up and ready for the day! During my one hour commute to work, I always check the company Slack, specifically the channel “tech-support”, to find out if any issues have surfaced since yesterday. This morning one of our Talent Consultants had a problem with using the product, and this was solved simply by guiding him through the process by commenting on his message. It happens though, that someone has identified an actual wrong in the system that takes more time and effort to look into in order to improve operations.

8:45 am

After arriving at the MRT by the office, I’m usually spotted around the nearby food court having breakfast. While I enjoy my kaya toast and kopi-o (a typical Singaporean breakfast with sweet bread and coffee), I check Hacker News for the latest news in the tech world.

9:30 am

At this time, I have arrived at the NodeFlair office at block 71. After I have greeted my colleagues good morning, I start to check and respond to emails. I also run through Papertrail (a cloud-hosted logging software) and Rollbar (error tracking and reporting tool) to see things that have gone wrong in detail, so I know what to do for the day.

10:00 am

At 10 me and my product engineering teammates to discuss the work for the day ahead. I ask the team for updates on what they’re working on and to share what struggles they are facing. We listen and try to help each other and together we plan what our next steps should be.

The NodeFlair team having a stand-up meeting and going through JIRA

10:30 am

Time for stand-up! This is a 30 minutes meeting when everyone gathers around the TV to share high-level information about what they are up to. The TV displays all individual tasks on JIRA in the form of tickets that you can move between blocked, to do, in progress and done. This gives everyone a clearer insight of what is going on in all aspects of the company, and is a good time to ask questions to other teams. But you have to make sure your tickets in JIRA are updated, otherwise you owe a dollar to the food stash!

Afterwards, we usually go around the room and do a quick moral check. If someone is feeling down, whether it’s work-related or not, we can give that person our support.

11:00 am

After stand-up, it’s time to develop new features and squash some bugs! We use a Kanban board in JIRA to plan and get a good overview at how our projects are progressing. We split these into five categories; selected for development, in progress, require testing, pending deployment and done. There is always a lot that can be improved, so we focus only on the things we have selected to develop. However, we select to develop a lot, so it’s a continuous game of always prioritizing what should be done first.

Cleansing bugs is a vital part of improving a product

12:30 pm

Lunchtime! Sometimes we are so into what we’re doing that the NodeFlair Slackbot (Mum) has to remind us to go for lunch. We normally go to one of the two food courts in our building, and more often than not eat some delicious chicken rice. Everyone gets what they want and take-away to the office, where we sit together at the large common table. This time is for chilling with the co-workers, and is often filled with fun discussions and jokes. Before we go back to work, we enjoy a tough game of foosball.

The Slackbot (also called Mum) sends reminders on the daily to the whole NodeFlair team

1:30 pm

Early afternoon is usually the time when I start to really indulge myself in the development work. The tasks differ depending on how the Kanban Board looks for the day, but a typical thing to work on can be to make a live controller API.

3 pm

Today I’m also conducting a tech retrospective. This is when the engineering team and I gather and each take turns to talk about decisions we have made while developing features for the platform. The objective of the session is to review and learn from our own and each other’s past mistakes. I'm a big believer in making high-quality decisions, and one way to achieve that is to talk about your learnings and hear feedback about your past decisions.

The engineering team of NodeFlair meeting to share learnings and giving each other feedback

4 pm

Time for a short tea break! I take this break as an opportunity to relax and chit chat with my colleagues. At NodeFlair it is quite common to have one on one sessions with fellow teammates over a cup of tea or coffee - this helps us understand each other and forge better relationships!

4:30 - 6 pm

The last hours of the workday are dedicated to pushing out more features. Before I wrap up for the day, I make sure to check everyone’s progress and see if I can be of any assistance. If everything is on track I head on home!

And that’s my day as a Head of Engineering at NodeFlair!

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