Porter is one of the largest intra-city, last-mile logistics service providers in the country. The company has serviced over 70 lakh customers across 15 cities in India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Chennai.
Founded in 2014, Porter has launched an on-demand marketplace for LCVs and bikes, Porter for Enterprise, and Packers & Movers to disrupt various logistics domains.
“Data and analytics have played a key role in our success,” said Nitesh Shende, vice president of product management at Porter. He said Porter leverages data and analytics to take product, business, operational and tactical decisions.
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Data complexity & challenges
“A lot of complexity comes from the fact that data is dispersed across multiple internal and external systems, which we need to collate to help with the decision making,” said Shende.
The team collects data from internal systems involved in configurations, transactions, customer support, sales, etc. “There’s a wide variety of data spread out in different systems. We can also capture behavioural data eventually,” said Shende.
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He said one of the biggest challenges is creating a data lake, single storage for all data, for further analysis. Porter also faces data extraction issues, pipeline disruptions, and formatting problems. He said this would automatically have ripple effects. “In the logistics business, usually every city does not have the same rules. So I think the complexity is bound to increase as we expand our business,” said Shende.
Porter has a 30 member data science team and is looking to hire more than 40 members across job roles and experiential levels in the next six to seven months. In addition, the company is planning to expand to 20 more cities by next year. “Even in existing cities, our depth is continuously increasing. On top of this, there are seven new verticals that, as a business, will lead to more growth in our team size also,” said Shende.
At Porter, the data and analytics team is part of the product experience team, working alongside design and product management teams. It is also part of the tech team, consisting of software developers, engineers, and product developers.
“But, when it comes to working in particular business areas, we put together a cross-functional team from technology, product and business departments,” said Shende. He said the data science and analytics team brings a lot of value to the table and helps save cost, improve customer experience, scale operations effectively, etc.
Porter’s data science team works as a cross-functional unit, driving product development, business outcomes and operational efficiencies.
Porter’s data science interview has three to four rounds, depending on the role. The interview panel looks at the candidate’s technical know-how, say, SQL and other tech stacks, and core thinking abilities in terms of logic, basics of programming languages etc. The recruiters also scrutinise the candidate’s statistical skills, modelling concepts and general understanding of architectures and soft skills.
“We have dedicated rounds towards identifying certain key skills depending on the role,” said Shende. He said the fourth round of interviews is to understand the cultural fit.
Dos and don’ts
The candidates talk about linear progression, R square, blah, blah, blah. But when it comes down to applying the processes, that’s where the word problem or case study approach comes into the picture, Shinde said.
The biggest thing for the data science team is to prioritise where to apply the models, what models to choose, understand the business context, etc.
Shende said candidates are not aware of the latest trends and tools used in the industry. “At the end of the day, we are not living in the manufacturing era; we are in the 21st century. Everything is an abstract problem that we are trying to solve, and you need to know which tools to use to solve the problem. It is about working smarter than harder,” he said.
Culture of nurturing
“One of the things about our organisation and also our data science team is that we call ourselves a nurturing organisation,” said Shende. He said disrupting is not the word we want to associate ourselves with. Instead, the company believes nurturing and curiosity plus fun work culture are essential for the growth of the team and the organisation.
Shende pointed out many employees got promoted from business analysts to senior business analysts, team lead, and managerial positions within a year.
“As the team grows, we want to try and avoid hiring lateral for some positions as it adds to the growth factor, which comes with a nurturing culture. Another important aspect of our culture is that a lot of our interactions are geared for the long term, and we are not trying to disrupt anybody,” said Shende.
Why should you join Porter?
Shende believes there are a lot of opportunities to explore at Porter. You get to interact with many people and work with them to drive huge outcomes and solve the problems in the logistics space. “Porter- from bottom management to leadership–is committed to building a strong data analytics organisation. It has been like this from day one,” he added.
Most importantly, Porter believes it is changing people’s lives through its products and services, and people who want to make an impact are always welcome to join the team.
Check out the job openings at Porter here.