A Major Next Step: End-to-end R&D in Bengaluru

December 10, 2020
Written by

R&D in Bengaluru

Even though 2020 was one for the books, good things still happened this year. Digital transformation accelerated in nearly every sector, with Twilio being the critical component of digital acceleration for our customers. This is reflected in tremendous growth in the number of employees, new offices, and an impressive stock performance.

Twilio has virtualized the world's communications infrastructure through voice, text, chat, video, and email APIs that are simple enough for any developer to use yet so robust that they can power the most demanding applications. We're enabling innovators across every industry — from emerging unicorns to established enterprises — to reinvent how they engage with customers. Anytime. Anywhere.

That "anywhere" is what helps Twilio find the best talent worldwide. With 26 offices in 16 countries, we embrace a global workforce as few companies do. And that's why India simply could not be ignored.

India is now

According to PWC, India will be the second leading economy in the world by 2050. With accelerated growth in foreign investments, forward-thinking economic policies, billions spent on infrastructure, and an unrivaled youth demographic, opportunities in the nation are limitless. It’s often said that if you can solve a problem in India and then scale that solution, you can solve for any market worldwide.

Having chosen to open our new R&D offices in India earlier this year, we couldn't agree more. India is an exciting market with a cultural diversity that encompasses different languages, religions, and cuisines. For decades, industries have looked to India to support international customer service practices and tech support, but we see something more: rich engineering, data analysis, and product development talent.

Breaking new ground in India is a significant moment for Twilio that will have a lasting impact on our business and solidify our role as a top global employer of choice.

Being local makes a difference

With Twilio's global headquarters in Silicon Valley — San Francisco to be exact — it was only natural for us to have our sights set on the city of Bengaluru, considered India's predominant digital hub.

Our vision for expanding into Bengaluru is to become a trusted global research and development center — focused on teams with total ownership of core engineering work, critical business functions, and end-to-end product development cycles. With that in mind, we've found that the local mix of talent, competitive spirit and authentic culture there will enable our newly formed teams to do their best work.

As we partner in building key features for the Twilio product roadmap, our Bengaluru-based go-to-market teams are uniquely positioned to support global Twilio customers. They'll be helping solve problems on a massive scale with billions of API requests from millions of developers.

No one anticipated the pandemic

When the pandemic hit, our first and foremost priority was the health, safety, and well-being of employees and customers. Twilio has always been remote-work-friendly, so global work-from-home mandates and (in some instances) paid leave helped empower and support keeping Twilions and their families safe.

Moving interactions to conference calls and Slack was nearly seamless. And every leader regularly touches base with their team to empower their success in these extraordinary circumstances. At the same time, Twilio showed remarkable resilience and support to all customers and handled their scale and changing business requirements without issue.

We had big plans to launch the Twilio India Development Center by April 2020. However, opening our new, world-class office was delayed due to the emerging health and economic crisis. We recognized the pandemic's criticality early on and realigned launch timelines to assess and respond to the risk. It required a quick pivot with new approaches to recruiting and on-boarding.

Innovative on-boarding in Bengaluru

While the pandemic altered our approach, our mission for the Bengaluru footprint remained unchanged. Our hiring plan focused on sourcing the best talent for our founding teams, and our talent acquisition staff did a fantastic job, given the circumstances. Engineers from Twilio offices in other countries pitched in to ensure candidate introductions went as scheduled. In efforts to not compromise the interview experience — even in this situation — we replaced in-person interviews with video calls and hands-on assignments.

Twilio India opened its doors as planned in April 2020, albeit virtually, followed by an entirely virtual onboarding experience. As of this writing, we have onboarded three groups of new hires across all functions. Each onboarding session was attended remotely by key representatives from finance, HR, and technology, who provided a deep dive into their department's functionality.

"We instituted a monthly cadence of All-Hands meetings very early on," said Aditi Jain, Twilio's Director HR Business Partner for the Asia-Pacific region. "And we created an employee engagement committee of like-minded employees to drive connection." Scavenger hunts, fitness challenges, seminars on nutrition, and various other non-work-related activities were set up under the banner 'Chai Pe Charcha,' which loosely translates to Conversations Over Tea.  

"We also initiated a regular Executive Speaker series in partnership with Twilio's global employee experience team to establish direct connections with new hires in India and across APAC," added Aditi. "This helped us better understand the priorities and focus areas, and where Bengaluru fit into the bigger picture." These sessions also became a platform to share stories around the Twilio Magic, the principles used to build an impactful, high-growth business while staying true to ourselves.

Additionally, every new Twilion was paired with a “buddy” — or colleague — from a variety of roles and business units from Twilio offices worldwide. And while virtual onboarding went on without a hitch, physical challenges on the ground were harder to navigate due to India's nationwide lockdown. We worked closely with local authorities to ensure simple things like delivering laptops to new employees stayed on track.

As we grow, we continue to modify and think through the best ways to support our candidates and employees. We're excited about the upcoming developments and improvements we're making to our processes.

"Twilio builds leading engineering teams around the world by giving ownership, agency, and exciting challenges to the most talented engineers."

— Chee Chew, Chief Product Officer, Twilio

The Bengaluru experience

Starting a new job is always exciting, and sometimes a little anxiety-inducing. We spoke with 3 new hires at the Twilio India Development Center in Bengaluru, to see how things were going. On deck were:

  • Pawan Choudhary, Senior Engineering Manager. Pawan is responsible for building secure communication platforms and hiring a Consumer Trust team of engineers and data scientists.
  • Shobhita Agarwal, Principal Engineer. Shobhita is responsible for leading the design and development efforts for Twilio  Customer Engagement products.
  • Karthik Rameshkumar, Manager of Technical Support. Karthik’s role involves building the customer support function in India from the ground up to ensure an excellent experience for our customers in APJ and EMEA.

What attracted you to working at Twilio?

Pawan: On peak days, Twilio sends several billion emails and SMS messages. As a technologist, this is a unique and exciting challenge that very few companies offer. The team I hire will develop end-to-end products that meet compliance, risk, and anti-fraud requirements. Coming from a financial background specifically around “KYC” — know your customer — and onboarding, this was a match made in heaven.

Did the pandemic impact the hiring process?

Karthik: Yes and No. I applied right around the time international restrictions started coming into place, so Covid delayed the process a bit. But once the hiring team overcame that hurdle, the interview process was 100% remote. I’ve been with Twilio for almost 7 months now, and I’ve actually never physically met anyone at the company. We’ve nailed down the processes though,  and have gotten very good at hiring remotely!

What was onboarding like?

Shobhita: My onboarding process was great. I had chat sessions with various people from the company, including the leadership team. Very quickly, I became acquainted with the Twilio way of working and building products.

What have you discovered about Twilio that you didn’t know before joining us?

Pawan: There’s a strong sense of belonging at Twilio and it reflects in how we develop products and how we treat others. Twilio cares about inclusion and diversity and doesn’t just talk about it.

How has it been interacting with co-workers from around the world?

Shobhita: This isn’t the first time I’ve worked with a global team. It is obviously challenging to manage due to different time zones, but as our local team grows and takes more ownership of the products we work on, it is just going to become more and more exciting and interesting.

What would you say to entice someone to join you at Twilio India?

Karthik: Do you like rollercoasters? The kind that gives you the exhilarating ride of a lifetime? If you do, what are you waiting for? Jump aboard! We can’t wait to see what you’ll build!

Come do your best work 

Twilio's presence in Bengaluru is the beginning of something big. Over the next three years, Twilio will be investing in exciting software engineering capabilities across the product stack, with core R&D and end-to-end product development, making Bengaluru a critical part of the Twilio offering.

As in all of our global locations, Twilio is committed to building diverse teams in Bengaluru. By encouraging inclusion and belonging, our employees benefit from a free-thinking environment where ideas can grow and become world-class products.

Interested in opportunities? At Twilio India — just as it is in every Twilio location — you'll have the resources, flexibility, and training you need to do your best work. We have current openings in business intelligence, customer trust, customer support, developer network, engineering, IT, product, talent acquisition, and much more. Join us as we continue to #BuildInBengaluru.

Please visit our careers website and apply to our open roles.

We can't wait to see what you build.