Ever wondered what it's like to work as part of the tech team for one of the country's most established retailers? Our event in partnership with Sainsbury's Tech gave great insight into the science behind their processes and how data is really driving their decisions. And, as they're currently hiring via hackajob, we've got all the details you're looking for. So if you want to know how their teams operate, how important data is and more then keep reading.

And if you're interested in 5 reasons why a role with Sainsbury's Tech might be for you, check out our previous post here. Right, let's get into it.

How do teams operate?

We started off strong with finding out how teams at Sainsbury's Tech operate. We heard from Dan Chowdhury, a Data Engineering Manager within Data Tech who took a look at "What happens when Big Data is too big?". Within data engineering, there's billions of records for each group. And considering that Sainsbury's has monumental data to process (from Bank, Retail, Argos, Habitat etc), it's a huge task. So how exactly do teams manage this?

They manage tasks involving data with autonomy, including over technologies that they select. They also have autonomy over the processes they enact, what kind of agile they're doing ,how quickly they move and what they will deliver. As there's a mix of Data Engineers, DevOps, Product Management and Delivery Management in the teams, if you land a role with them, you'll be sure to learn a lot from your colleagues.

Just some of the technologies they're using:


The key takeaway here was that it's up to you as a squad to use what works for you. As there's no stone-age corporate legacy software, it's all about leveraging modern technologies. Sounds like a dream, right?

Which Data Drives Decisions?

We also heard more about how analytics helped this 150 year old retailer to respond to the pandemic. Steph Bell, a Senior Analytics Manager, shared how the main objective of how her team uses data is to really deliver impact to the business. During the beginning of COVID-19, stores and employees were facing immense pressure. Sainsbury's wanted to know, how could they adapt to the situation?

Data and analytics came to the rescue, and supported some of the key decisions the business made, which helped them to keep serving their customers better than anyone else. If you're wondering what some of the challenges they faced were, take a look:

"How do we manage the panic buying?"
"How do we ensure we have stock to respond to the levels of demand?"
"With lower numbers of colleagues available, how do we deal with this using the data?"
"How should we respond to changing demand in city centre stores?"

From the data, they were able to see information such as customers shopping much earlier in the day. This coupled with colleague need of optimum replenishment protocols, meant that they combined these information points and could identify a right way to amend their opening hours.

What skills do you need to make Data Science relevant and valuable to a 152 year old business?

Finally, we found out more about Data Science, and that in tech companies, the majority of decisions are algorithmic. So what's the main difference between tech and non-tech? According to Michalis Palaiokostas, a Data Science Manager at Sainsbury's DTD, the difference is algorithms vs processes.

Michalis also ran us through what Data Science is. In a nutshell, it's the discipline that automates decision-making at a massive scale.To achieve automation, a data scientist needs a broad set of skills. Three domains Michalis recommended are: Business expertise – you need to be able to understand the problem you're trying to solve. Maths and stats in order to model the problem in a quantitative way, and programming in order to make the solution available to use for the rest of the business.


We only picked out 3 of the gems we learnt from our event with Sainsbury's, but remember there are so many more that you can find from here. If you think you'd be a great addition to the Sainsbury's Tech team, remember you can sign up to hackajob where Sainsbury's is currently hiring for a whole host of roles. From Data Engineers to Cloud Engineers and Front and Back End Developers, you could land your dream tech role in no time.  

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