A few years ago, I discovered this really cool spot in the Old Port of Montreal called SSENSE. This understated boutique on Saint-Paul was selling some pretty high-end stuff that you couldn't really find anywhere else. At the time, I figured it was just a nice boutique on a trendy street.
It wasn't until a few years later, when I founded Decode, that I learned SSENSE is actually one of the largest and most innovative technology companies in Montreal. They've hired a bunch of alumni from Decode, and I only hear good things - Plus they have an office full of cute dogs, such as Griffin the #SSENSEIntern (pictured below).
I recently sat down with Jeffrey and Laurent, Talent Acquisition Partners at SSENSE, specifically as it relates to technology and engineering. I got the chance to learn a bit more about what makes SSENSE unique, it's engineering and technology teams, and ultimately why it's such a great place to work. Here are their answers:
What does SSENSE do?
SSENSE is a hidden gem in Montreal, that has a unique mix of culture, fashion, and technology. We’re known as a fashion platform ssense.com, but there's a whole lot that goes into it behind-the-scenes. We have close to 100 engineers including Web Developers, Architects, DevOps, and QA.
Our co-founder and CEO, Rami Atallah, studied computer engineering in university and built the first SSENSE website as part of his thesis. He decided early on, that we would build everything from the ground up, in-house. While our e-commerce platform is our largest project, we also have apps, microsites, a warehouse platform, and so on. This is why we have such a huge engineering presence at the company.
How many employees are you, and are you still growing?
Right now, we're around 650 permanent employees with about 20 new employees starting each week.
How are the technical teams structured?
We have a lot of different pillars when it comes to our technology, but overall we try to create multi-disciplinary teams. These would include people from QA, DevOps, Developers, Tech Leads, Managers, etc. These teams, internally referred to as "squads" work closely with a technical direction team, to ensure the individual squads work collectively towards company objectives.
What kind of technologies are you working with?
What's your take on Junior Developers?
The main idea with juniors is to look for people with lots of potential. We want fast learners,and good team players, who will grow with SSENSE and move up the ladder quickly. People who take initiative, demonstrate passion, and show a natural curiosity for technology make great junior developers.
What's the on-boarding process like for new hires?
Well specifically in technology, we use a buddy system. New hires from junior to senior are paired with someone with more experience, where they can get ramped up fairly quickly.From an HR perspective, we are also making sure new hires meet key people in each department, and learn more about the company as a whole.We also have a great group of senior talent who love coaching. This is a big plus for us when we recruit talent. We love people who have a natural interest in helping others and sharing their knowledge with the team. We have something called SSENSE University,where employees can host lunch and learns or seminars on specific topics, so others in the company can benefit.
As well, we have monthly Show & Tell events where teams present what they are working on to the rest of the company and of course our popular Hackathons where we develop new ideas.
As a technologist who doesn't necessarily "get" high fashion, is SSENSE still a good place for me?
Of course! Technology is at the core of everything we do at SSENSE. As a global online platform, we are as much a tech company as we are a fashion company.
What's the culture and work environment like at SSENSE?
The atmosphere is quite casual. We occupy a fully renovated floor in a building located in the Chabanel area (Montreal's garment district) with amazing panoramic views of the city.
The space is open-concept with a minimal and modern design. We work from long communal tables, break-out alcoves, standing desks and quiet rooms with leading edge tools and equipment. We also have great perks such as ping pong tables, foosball, a full on-site gym, free coffee, tea, and fresh fruit.
Ok, so if I want to work at SSENSE, what should I do?
Apply to one of the postings here. Nothing fancy, just a clean resume, which details your experience as it relates to the position.
To sum up, SSENSE is a technologist’s playground. You get to work with smart, talented and creative people on a daily basis, and tinker with new technologies constantly, all in a puppy-friendly environment 🐶. If you're looking for a new career, they are currently hiring for over 50 positions in everything from Finance, Real Estate, Technology, Design, Content and much more. See ssense.com/en-ca/careers for the complete list.