Audible Sound Bites with Oluwaleke Aina
Oluwaleke Aina is a Software Development Engineer working on the voice-controlled Audible experience on Alexa. Since joining us in 2018, he has been able to deepen his technological knowledge and abilities, all while working in a supportive, collaborative culture. Best of all, he says, is knowing that he and his teammates are working on a product that brings a great deal of joy, comfort, and meaning to customers all over the world. We checked in with Oluwaleke about the work he’s doing here and the advice he has for engineers interested in careers with us.
How has working at Audible helped you in your career journey?
I grew up in Nigeria and completed my undergraduate degree in electronic and electrical engineering. At the time, I wasn’t writing code but it was an area of interest I wanted to explore. I worked for a bit as a DevOps engineer before coming to the US in 2015 for a Master’s program in computer science. I then worked for a prominent technology company for close to two years before joining Audible in 2018. I was encouraged to take the Amazon Web Services developer certification and given many supportive materials, like A Cloud Guru, which is free for Audible employees. I have also had the opportunity to attend conferences like Amazon’s DevCon through Audible. Looking back to when I joined, I have grown tremendously, taken on many challenging projects, and been able to mentor others.
What do you like best about being a Software Development Engineer at Audible?
I have always been fascinated by audiobooks and also voice interactions, so getting to work on the Audible on Alexa team has been great. Knowing that a feature that I worked on is being used and benefits so many people around the world is one of the major reasons I want to keep working at Audible. We are always innovating ground-breaking features to our customers, helping to bring the power of the spoken to word to everyone.
What makes you excited to come to work in the morning?
One thing is the knowledge that what I do has an impact in the lives of customers around the world. There was a feature we launched on Alexa some years ago which allowed customers to smoothly make purchases for books by voice, and we got a comment from a visually impaired customer who was retired, mentioning how much Audible keeps him company and has changed his life. He loved reading and wasn’t able to do this after losing his sight, but he could listen to many audiobooks, just using his voice on Alexa. Stories like these inspire me to give my best at work.
What do you love about the culture here?
The diversity of people from all walks of life. I get to work with brilliant minds and build software and services which I know people love and enjoy. My main goal is to be the best I can be—not just with my technical abilities but also my ability to communicate with others about ideas I have, to collaborate with my teammates to help them find solutions and keep the team on track. I think of my stakeholders as my customers too. In my day-to-day, I look for ways to help others be more productive and the best versions of themselves by striving to embody our People Principle of Activate Caring, as well as Be Customer Obsessed.
There are also quite a number of benefits that have been invaluable to me. Audible cares so much about its employees. We get a wellness day every quarter, and the free food and snacks means I don’t spend money for lunch during workdays, which is fantastic.
Can you share the best piece of advice you’ve received or given about remaining productive while working from home?
When the pandemic first began, I found it challenging to really disengage after work hours because it was easy to sit at my computer and keep working. My manager at the time noticed this, and one piece of advice she gave me was to make sure I consciously separated my work hours from my personal time, to log off at 5:30pm unless there was something critical to fix. I could work with my mind more relaxed, knowing I could continue what I was working on the next day.
How should a Software Development Engineer candidate prepare for an interview at Audible?
Don’t just practice for the technical side of the interview, but also look through the Audible People Principles. They’re part of our DNA, and we look for people who exhibit these principles at Audible.
And focus on your ability and desire to learn and grow. Though success is celebrated, we never rest on our achievements.
What is your favorite listen?
Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. It’s my favorite listen because it demystifies learning and gives practical examples of normal people who created new ways to learn to become good at what they do. Anyone can become good at anything if they truly put their minds to it.