Today, we’re interviewing a core member of Cowbell Cyber’s engineering team, Vaidehi Rao. Vaidehi has been with Cowbell since day one and has enriched the team with a wealth of experience, expertise, and team building abilities ever since.  

Vaidehi – tell us about your background and what led you to join Cowbell.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from India and a Master’s from Cal State Eastbay. After university, I started working in the Software Industry as an QA Automation engineer before becoming a Software Developer. There, I had the chance to build amazing products in various startups, as well as big companies.                 

Eventually, I moved into managing engineering teams where I continued to work on developing high quality products. This is when I realized that the product can only be as good as the team building it. Every member needs to feel comfortable in the team to be at their best and their most productive self. They need to be able to communicate with each other and bounce off ideas. When interviewing potential candidates, I look not only for good engineering skills, but also for a good chemistry between the individual team members.

I believe that having a background in QA gave me a different perspective on software development, and how to create the best products. My team and I always strive for great performance, security and quality. The beauty lies in the simplicity. This also applies for building software. My passion lies in developing high performing solutions with the right technology, tools and clean code.

What is the scope of your responsibilities at Cowbell?

As Director of Platform Engineering at Cowbell Cyber, I work closely with the insurance product team to understand requirements and develop the backend of our cyber insurance platform to bring our vision for continuous underwriting to life. To do so, I need to understand the scope of every release, announcement timelines and work to be done. 

For more expertise and a different perspective, I like to work closely with external companies, partners, and their tech teams. This really helps to enrich Cowbell’s approach to building a modern, cloud-based software platform.

Along with managing the team, I also mentor junior team members in our internship program to contribute to our product feature set. I take every member’s career goals seriously and provide direct support so that they can accomplish their goals.

Lastly, I hire developers. We take great pride in hiring the right team members at Cowbell. As mentioned earlier, only a strong team can build  an excellent product. 

What are the challenges about your job that are specific to engineering? 

There has been a rapid advancement in technology in the software industry. 

Leveraging the right technology, architecture, and design pattern is key in software development to gain and maintain a cutting edge over the competition and stand out in the market. 

The technology we have used to build our solution is bound to change over time and become obsolete. As a result of this constant change, software applications have to be designed with ease of technology change in mind. 

“The product can only be as good as the team building it. Every member needs to feel comfortable in the team to be at their best and their most productive self.”

My team and I built the backend of the Cowbell’s platform at a very fast pace. We always strive to meet deadlines even with limited resources. In this fast paced environment it is vital to understand requirements, break down complex problems into simpler solutions, follow design patterns and yet continue to write high-quality clean code.

The rapid advancement in technology adds pressure on every software engineer professional. Staying in constant touch with new, cutting-edge technology and hiring the right talent is critical.

June 23 is International Women in Engineering day. Do you have any advice on building a career in engineering as a woman?

Be confident, believe in yourself and never give up. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and continue to have a thirst for knowledge. Show great passion in what you build. What matters in this industry is experience, and building said experience through relevant internships is key. Do not limit yourself by thinking that women are a minority in the tech industry. We are at an interesting time where businesses must strive to build a balanced work culture by hiring female engineers. 

What is special about engineering at Cowbell?

At Cowbell, we have a strong engineering culture. Each and every team member has a huge impact on how we deliver cyber insurance through our AI-powered platform. Being a startup, there is no strict code ownership. This increases our productivity; the entire team has full and complete knowledge of the entire solution. 

We give engineers the flexibility to choose the right technology, bounce off ideas with other team members, have architecture design meetings and peer code reviews. We work towards a healthy work environment where everyone feels extremely comfortable and can enrich their career. 

This makes for an amazing team where everybody is passionate about what they do and the innovative approach that Cowbell is building for cyber insurance. We collaborate often and effectively. Speed is key but we also take the time to recognize team members every week for their great work.

For me, Cowbell is not just my work but also a home away from home. 

Is there anything else you would like the reader to know about?

Here are some thoughts for all, but especially women: have a thirst for knowledge, put teamwork as a priority, work hard, never give up, and follow your dreams. Finally, if you are looking to build an amazing product with the right vision and an amazing team, send us your resume. We are hiring! 

Because June 23rd is International Women in Engineering Day, we also want to recognize all women in our engineering team besides Vaidehi:

  • Nikita who also joined Cowbell in the early days and just got promoted to Senior Full Stack Engineer
  • Madhuri who started at Cowbell in 2020 as an intern and joined the back-end engineering team as a full time employee in June.