Interview with Angelika Podlinska, Head of Engineering at Spicy Mango

Founded in 2015 and headquartered in London, Spicy Mango is a media technology consulting and software delivery group to broadcasters, content owners and service providers worldwide. We understand the nuances of developing high performance video platforms and products that scale to support 195 countries, whilst accounting for local legal, technical and regulatory requirements.

I was Spicy Mango’s first employee and at the time we were a start-up company, so being the first engineer made it both an exciting and challenging experience – something I have loved about Spicy Mango since the outset. As the company has grown, I have grown with it. We now have a team of full time developers and this year I was incredibly pleased to be promoted to Head of Engineering.

My role now involves managing the engineering team, planning projects and completing new project estimates, taking responsibility for the timelines and requirements this entails. I have gained a huge amount of experience having taken part in many exciting projects across the four years I’ve been a part of Spicy Mango.


How did the company start?

When Chris, the founder of Spicy Mango, first started the company, there were two primary drivers. The first was in coming from a start-up where nothing was off the table into a global product company, where large organisations don’t want to do custom. They want rinse and repeat products without the headache of supporting lots of custom code for specific use cases. The OTT world we’re in just isn’t standardised and customers need specific things for either integration complexity or competitive edge.

In large companies, there is often a lot of push back from product and engineering teams when there’s an attempt to divert attention from the ‘core roadmap. The second driver was from conversations that Chris had with friends in the industry. They had money to spend and requirements to fulfil – but there are very few platform specialist organisations with good domain knowledge. It really just grew from there.

What advice would you give to other aspiring female entrepreneurs?

The most important piece of advice I could give is do not be afraid of any challenge. It is essential to remember that you don’t have to go to university to have a career in technology. Apprenticeships are a great alternative and they provide the opportunity to get practical, hands-on experience with real projects and earn while you are learning.

For anyone looking to begin a career in technology, a great place to start is the wide variety of online resources available, from coding to security, project planning and such for all levels. There is a wealth of resources available nowadays and you can begin learning whenever you want online.

From my experience the technology industry is still unfortunately viewed as largely a ‘male dominated’ sphere. But everything today revolves around technology in our daily lives and tech is an exciting and important sector to be involved in.

For this reason, I think it is so important to teach IT/STEM subjects in early education years and throughout school to make sure every individual has access to all the different opportunities ahead of them from an early age. This will be so important to breaking down the barriers and increasing the number of women involved in the tech industry.

What can we hope to see from Spicy Mango in the future?

In the last five years, we’ve started to see patterns in the things that our clients are asking for – Device and Concurrency Management is a great example. It’s a simple idea but it can be tricky to execute. As a company, we’re exploring productising these but with a mandate that we’d still offer customisation. There’s a lot of saturation in OTT with product companies and customers are starting to learn that trading one vendor for another still doesn’t complete the picture; we’re there to fill those gaps – and hope we always will be for a while to come!

In terms of my own personal career development, I would love to experiment with new programming languages and tools, which can be tricky when we have tight deadlines to work against, although I am hoping to do more of this next year. My current role is mainly involved in back-end engineering, project planning and the design phase and I would like to get more hands on with front-end engineering in the future. I would also like to get involved with the security side of software products, for example white hat hacking.