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Navigating the Software Engineering Landscape: Insights from Hiking

Harita Tipparaju | Senior Manager, Software Development Engineering

Hello there! I am Harita Tipparaju, Senior Manager, Software Development Engineering with the Intelligent Services and Retail Affiliates group within Expedia Group. I’ve been with Expedia Group for 6+ years and I’ve been fortunate to be part of several initiatives and helped launch various successful projects. Our team now is on a mission to enable our partners to leverage Expedia Group’s Conversation Platform offering through the OpenWorld platform, empowering our partners to build VirtualAgent and skills easily and quickly that can help self-serve capabilities to their travelers.

Being fit and active has always been one of my top priorities but more so after the birth of my second child. I started running about 7 years back with local neighborhood groups initially and then eventually participated in a few half marathons. This gave me the confidence to try out more daunting adventures. I have lived in Redmond, WA for 16+ years and have always admired the majestic snowcapped peaks of the Cascades ranges around the area. And when I used to see the pictures of distant friends and acquaintances posting their summit pictures on social media, I was enticed by the idea of standing on top of these majestic mountains. Having had limited outdoor experience growing up in India, I wanted to push myself physically and mentally to get there and set some big mountaineering goals at the beginning of the year, 2022.

I started connecting hiking with software engineering leadership/management. As a software engineering manager, you continue to show up and push yourself and your team to reach new heights while overcoming countless challenges along the way. I can’t help but see the striking similarities in characteristics needed for hiking or software engineering management. Below, I outline a few comparisons.


Hiking often requires setting a goal much like an organization’s vision. This past year I set myself a few arduous goals of climbing a few mountains, some successful and some unfinished nevertheless these goals have led me with a sense of purpose and mission. You are more likely to achieve your objective when you are aware of its purpose and why it matters.

Both hiking and software engineering management needs careful planning and preparation. Whether tacking a new mountain trail or building complex software, both need research, gathering necessary information and resources, and then having a prior plan in place.

Determination coupled with discipline is a characteristic that is vital in achieving any goal. Whether it is trying to conquer difficult trails while facing harsh weather conditions or challenging situations owing to budget or resources or other external factors in software engineering management, laser focus, and drive are important to stay motivated and be on track.

Prioritization is a must so we don’t lose track of the goal. There were many distractions along the way and I chose to de-prioritize, for example, not watching TV or movies or hanging out with friends only for important occasions, the same way as cutting out of the scope the nice-to-have features during story grooming or planning exercises.

Having a structured process and regimen for the execution of the plan. My weekly routine was structured with one day of a hike, two days of a gym workout, and a day for running which helped me stay physically fit and incrementally work towards the larger goal. Having a process like agile methodology and setting incremental milestones is essential for any software engineering project and its delivery.

Efficient time management. Being a full-time working mom of two kids, I needed to devise ways to be efficient in spreading my time across kids and family, work, friends, volunteering, and also pursuing personal passions/goals. Scheduling, monitoring, and controlling my activities across all these spheres to keep the regimen going is no different than any software engineering project management activities.

Teamwork and relationships. Teamwork makes dreams work. This year I tried to achieve my hiking goals with the help of my training team and I can’t help but emphasize the value of teamwork in a successful summit/ project. Effective collaboration and communication needed for the team to achieve the shared goals are skills you develop over time. The motivation that you draw from the team is an easy way to stay focused and achieve the larger vision. The accountability and trust you develop help build strong relations, making the teamwork successful. Oftentimes, individual(s) can bring down the morale of the team but that’s when a strong relationship or trust was lacking within the team.

Mindset — It isn’t always easy. Moments of doubt and exhaustion often creep up but each time we learn to find strength and rise over the challenges. I’ve had several unsuccessful summits but then also been successful in the next attempts and I’ve come to realize that all that matters is the mindset. It is possible to achieve the goals as long as there is a growth mindset. Sometimes projects fail but you take the learnings, apply them and prepare well for the next phases/projects.

Mentors, Believers, and Sponsors– Having had mentors who helped me through hiking and mountaineering- the invaluable support and encouragement I gained, and the skills/ perspectives I developed, I can’t help but stress the positive influence a mentor can bring in an individual. It would have been impossible for me to pursue my passions had it not been for the immense support and belief of my family. The pickups/drop-offs, household chores, and many other things they supported me all through so that things kept going despite my absence during day-long hikes. Garnering support from leadership/ management/peer teams is crucial in any project’s mission and delivery. Finding mentors and sponsors is critical to an individual’s growth and learning. I’ve been lucky to have had great mentors and leaders who have supported me through my journey so far and as a leader myself that is what I strive to give back.

Finally, the sense of accomplishment! Each time I tackled a new challenging trail or successfully delivered a project, the sense of pride and achievement, the dopamine that it yields is probably what carries into other projects/missions and in general several aspects of life.

This journey improved my physical and mental health, which in turn made me more productive and efficient at work. The regular exercise and time in nature have helped me stay focused and motivated; finally has shown me how much more I’m capable of.


Expedia Group offers such a dynamic and inclusive environment and opportunities for growth in so many aspects and according to one’s interests. Able to grow one’s skills and work on cutting-edge technologies through Hackathons and Career Hub, great wellness and travel benefits to be able to travel or invest in one’s wellness, mentorship opportunities to learn from others’ unique perspectives, and ways to give back to the community through volunteering, to name a few.

For anyone who wants to grow and be part of this dynamic environment, Expedia Group is the place to be.

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