Ashish Gupta - Manager, Application Owner, Resiliency

Tell us a bit about yourself: where you're from, your education, your career path.

I am from India and came to the United States to do my Masters in Computer Science at Arizona State University.

After graduating from college, I started my career as the only software developer working for a startup where I was completely responsible for all aspects of software development like requirement gathering, coding, testing and deployment.

It was an amazing learning experience that helped kick-start my career. Later I joined University of Phoenix as a software developer working on their online education platform. I worked on both front-end and back-end applications and progressed through various individual contributor roles to Software Development Manager.

I joined Choice Hotels in 2015 as a Software Development Manager in the Resilience organization, where I work on managing our services platform.

What applications do you own?

I own the services platform, which comprises over 50 services that allow our choicehotels.com website, and OTA partners like Expedia, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor- to name a few- to sell our hotels on their respective platforms.

Our main goal is to continuously improve the resiliency of these applications by making them scalable, secure and stable. These are difficult problems to solve and provide a challenging work environment for us that keeps our jobs very interesting. We get to work on number of technologies and frameworks and have numerous opportunities to make significant impact in the organization.

What's your favorite application? What makes it your favorite?

My most favorite application is our shopping service. When users are searching for rates and availability at our hotels, the front-end applications on various platforms make calls to our shopping API to get the required information. It is very critical for these front-end applications to load the response to the user's query as quickly as possible since there is a direct impact on revenue for slow page load times. This year, while the load on this service has increased by 20 times, we were able to reduce the response times by over 70% which is an amazing achievement.

What's an unexpected facet of your job?

As part of the RUN organization, we are responsible for 24/7 support for our applications and are always prepared to handle the unexpected. There could be unexpected issues with our applications, or our applications could be impacted by upstream or downstream issues. We have made significant improvements and investments over time in alerting and monitoring tools that help us avert or recover from such issues quickly. In addition, we continuously work on modeling our future application usage scenarios, preparing our systems to be able to handle them to reduce occurrences of the unexpected.

What is something that is unique about your role at Choice as compared with your role at past companies you've worked with?

In past jobs, my focus was both delivery of new software as well as continued operational support. However, Choice follows the PBR (Plan, Build, Run) model, and since I am part of the Run organization, in my current role my main focus is improving the resiliency of our services platform focusing on its security, stability and scalability. This is my first job in the hospitality industry and this domain requires our systems to be operationally stable at all times- which was not the case with my past jobs. I have more responsibilities and opportunities in my current role than at any role in the past.

If you were to rate your top 3 favorite aspects of work at Choice, what would they be and why?

Culture, people, and being able to make an impact.

Choice has an amazing culture that promotes diversity, recognizes and rewards people for their efforts and provides a fun and challenging work environment.

Choice has a very talented work force that shares and embraces certain core values. Since joining Choice, I have gotten the opportunity to work with some of the smartest people in their fields- obviously, this has helped me continuously in gaining new knowledge.

It's common saying here at Choice that we are small enough where everyone has an opportunity to make significant impacts, but at same time, we are large enough where the impacts one makes can be significant. Working at Choice has given me a platform to make big strides in my career.

Can you tell us about your team and how they work?

I have a very cohesive team comprising of software developers, technical analysts and a program manager. My team understands the goals of our department and is empowered and committed to achieving them. There is a lot of open communication, collaboration, team work, sense of ownership and respect for each other in the team. In their current roles, my team has built 24/7 support applications using a wide spectrum of technologies, and they're continuously making them more resilient. It's challenging, but we're motivated.

Do you enjoy working in Phoenix? Tell us about your experiences there.

I love working in Phoenix and have been settled here for over 13 years. Phoenix is one of the top cities in terms of tech job growth, with plenty of global technology giants as well as fast-growing start-ups which provides a lot of job opportunities. The thing that I personally like the most is good weather all year long, and the short commute times between work and home.