Mark Gillett: Inside Skype

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Geek in Question: Mark Gillett

Job title: Corporate VP, Skype Engineering & Operations

Here at JobsBlog, we love Skype. And who doesn’t? (except maybe some telecom execs)

 

We’re really excited that Skype is joining Microsoft, so we reached out to Mark who runs Skype’s Product, Engineering, Site Operations, Service Operations & Business Operations to get a sense of what it’s like to work for one of the world’s hottest and most beloved technologies.

Mark, what personally attracted you to working for Skype?
This is one of the few companies where millions of people use your product every day. But beyond that, we feel like an important part of those peoples’ lives. They use Skype for reasons ranging from ordering a pizza to connecting with loved ones separated by thousands of miles.

Every day, we hear stories of fathers attending their baby’s birth by Skype, folks seeing weddings of far-flung relatives and people connecting in other ways that we never even imagined here at Skype.

 

Why is now an exciting time to work at Skype? 
Over the past two years, we’ve moved from the desktop to be truly multi-platform with the addition of iOS and Android. The next 12 months will see significant growth with development efforts in Windows Phone and Windows 8, which will bring the new, fast and fluid Metro interface to Skype. It’ll also drive our mission of making Skype “Always on and Always Connected” for millions of users.

We started as a business with a disruptive agenda – voice across the internet that “just works,” and was free for everyone. We care about enabling communications across geography, device and modality.

What are some of the big challenges that engineers will have to solve?
Over the next year, we’ll have a range of cutting-edge technical challenges. These will include exploiting the power of the WindowsRT networking stack, optimizing our group video calling technology for new microprocessors and building notification services that function at hundreds of millions of users of scale.

How would you summarize the work culture at Skype?
We “live” our product and are a truly international organization, with engineering at scale in Estonia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Russia, London and the US in both Palo Alto and New York.

We’re agile and consumer focused. We aim to make our products and services better every day and get our innovations into our users’ hands as quickly as possible.

We work in small teams with a high degree of interaction and communication and value commitment, shipping and technical excellence in equal measure.  We want to “move the dial” and find new ways to enhance communications all the time. We want Designers, Program Managers, Developers and Testers alike to be able to link what we do today directly to a better product and better experience for our users – on every platform.

 

What makes an otherwise qualified candidate an especially great fit for Skype?
We have tens of nationalities in almost as many locations worldwide, so a real interest in and sensitivity to working with a diverse range of people is a big benefit at Skype.

Experience shipping consumer products and services, particularly at scale, can often give a candidate an edge. The best potential Skype candidates show a real passion and deep interest in their profession often with as much enthusiasm about something outside of work.

Where do you see Skype as a technology in 5 years?
We see Skype continuing to evolve to offer more and better communication – synchronously with audio and video, between groups supported by cloud services and asynchronously with rich video.  We believe people want to do more than just communicate, they want to share experiences. Our challenge is to remove the barriers of hardware, software, network and geography to bring people together.

What do you think Skype most stands to gain from joining Microsoft?
We believe Skype stands to benefit from being a part of the bigger, but passionately product- and engineering-focused business Microsoft has built. Bringing our ideas together will provide our community with more, better products and services over the next few months and years.

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