Xiaolan Shen is Imply’s new Senior Director of Engineering

by Andrew Flowers · April 27, 2021

Xiaolan Shen is Imply’s new Senior Director of Engineering. She joined the company to get back to her passion: working with data engines and analytics.

Please tell us what brought you to the company?

I think Imply is in the right place at the right time.

My 20-year career has taken me through multiple companies at different stages and in distinct domains: database application suite, OLAP data warehousing, infrastructure observability, global payment platforms, and so on.

After returning from Europe to the Bay Area, I realized that my passion is still very much in the data-analytics space and that the market opportunity is massive. I think Imply has unique value to offer, so I signed up without any reservations!

What can you say about the space and how it’s changing?

The data-analytics space started booming more than a decade ago. Today, the field is much more mature.

There are established players in ‘hot-warm-cold’ analytics. Cloud systems are also much more mature in terms of allowing the creation of cloud-native analytics solutions. The automation CI/CD systems that underpin engineering development are now super mature too. We also have abundantly mature tools and infrastructure that enable us to deliver and monitor our services.

“The definition of ‘done’ is when the code is in a product that makes a customer happy.”

How does Imply fit into the market mix?

The Imply founders identified a massive market opportunity to create an infinitely scalable analytics solution. We already innovate in the space with Druid, and now Imply is providing a nice playground for re-innovation. The massive growth in data over the past decade has challenged data technologists to find real-time solutions for business intelligence needs. This is where Imply stands out.

The challenge for us is how to take Druid, which was born in the open-source foundation, to the highest level of performance. The definition of “done” is not writing the code – the definition of “done” is when the code is in production and makes a customer happy. Creating a superior customer journey is a team effort that brings together our colleagues in marketing, sales and customer-support. Imply’s business leaders point us to the top of the mountain and it’s up to us to figure out the best way to get there. I’m here to help us on this journey as we create the world’s best real-time analytics platform.

“As an engineer at Imply, you can have unlimited fun and make an impact every single day.”

What are your impressions of the team?

The people here are simply awesome – super talented, intelligent and collaborative.

Even now, when we’re working in almost 100% remote conditions, cross-team coordination and collaboration is excellent. Working together like a well-oiled machine in this way takes a lot of maturity and willingness to help each other.

When companies are young, they may or may not have good processes in place. Sometimes companies have to deal with many organizational challenges as they grow, but people at Imply are very mature. I’m impressed with how the company is getting things done.

What would you say to anyone considering an engineering role at Imply?

Join us! We’re recruiting top talent at all levels – from college graduates to senior developers. There are a lot of skill-sets we need in the application, backend, core data engine, cloud infra, tooling, automation, CI/CD pipeline and more.

Here you get to work in a broad landscape with lots of room to grow and make an impact every day. Culturally, it’s a very warm and welcoming environment where people can learn. Technologically, it’s a space where you can have unlimited fun: big data, analytics, compute, storage, infrastructure – you name it, you can work on it at Imply.

Xiaolan Shen is Imply’s new Senior Director of Engineering. She joined the company to get back to her passion: working with data engines and analytics.

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