From big finance to big ideals



Straight out of college Priyanka Harlalka landed an engineering job with a major global bank. It didn’t take her long to realise that her talents weren’t being put to the best use. Now a senior software engineer with Grab she explains why a culture that genuinely believes in the importance of team was the right move for her.


My first job out of college was with a global financial corporation. At the time it felt like the right place to be, big company, lots of opportunity to grow. It didn’t quite work out that way for me though. For a start, I was working on a legacy application – it was about 12 years old and we all knew that it was firmly stuck in the past. It surprised me a bit – here’s this massively successful company and under the hood it’s just all creaky and old-fashioned! The other thing that didn’t sit well with me was the corporate nature of the job. I felt like a very small cog in a very big wheel, there was absolutely no opportunity to make a difference.

I lasted two years before I knew I had to get out!

I suppose, in some ways, making the decision to join Grab was a reaction to that first work experience. Grab turned out to be the exact opposite. I knew that I wanted to get some experience in a start-up environment and at that stage Grab fitted the bill perfectly. It still thinks like a start-up but it has the added security of being a well established business, it’s the best of both worlds. What I really love is the sense that we’re all in it together. There really is a feeling that we’re all working towards the same goal, no matter what the project is.

Culturally as well, there’s a genuine sense that people are happy at Grab, not just doing their time, not waiting to move on but genuinely happy to be here. We feel like one big, happy team. I flat-share with another Grabber now and I found her through one of the company’s Slack channels. So I’ve got Grab to thank for that as well!

I think that sense of happiness comes from two places. First, there’s the overall culture of Grab, the trust that’s placed in us to get the job done, so there’s never anyone constantly checking up on you, there’s no one checking the clock, you’re trusted to deliver on the work however you do it. The second thing is the realisation that what we’re doing at Grab actually makes a difference, that you’re working to improve the lives of those who rely on our app to earn an income. That’s why we talk about impact so much, because what we do has a real effect on real people.

Beats my first job any day!

More of our women tech Grabbers’ stories here.