Sr. Systems Engineer (Remote Optional)

Chicago, IL /
Engineering /
Full time

Centro delivers software and services to automate digital media operations for more than 1,000 leading agencies and brands. 

Our comprehensive ad tech platform, Basis, supports the planning, reporting, and financial reconciliation of direct, programmatic, search, and social media, all in one place. 

We are deeply committed to building software that will change the ad tech industry for the better and are equally dedicated to building an inclusive culture of highly motivated individuals who create a positive and supportive environment together. We invest in our culture and support our employees so they can do their best work. 

Centro is headquartered in Chicago, with beautiful offices also in Toronto, Dallas, Denver, and New York to name a few. Post-COVID, many of us will be returning to one of our offices (by choice, not requirement -- we believe results matter more than where they are produced). Our employees have the flexibility to work in one of our office locations, completely remote, or a hybrid of the two. Please note, we are hiring on a remote working basis only in the U.S. and Canada.


Thanks for checking out Centro and specifically the Senior Systems Engineer role. My name is Jeff and I’m the hiring manager for the position. Centro has always been about making people’s lives better – from our employees to our clients. This is exactly what the production operations team tries to do for our software engineers!  We work hard to keep our developers productive through tooling, automation and safe visibility into the production environment. We’re in the process of a DevOps transformation. Centro is further along than some companies but not as far along as we’d like to be. I’d really like your help in getting us further down the DevOps path.


The Production operations team is responsible for all product-related infrastructure. We think it’s important that a single team manages the entire lifecycle of infrastructure from development to production. This helps us create reproducible environments with very little variance as code moves through the various environments on its way to production. As a member of the team you’ll be responsible for helping us maintain and improve that infrastructure. One of the ways we improve is by automating as much as possible. As a manager, I track the amount of TOIL work the team is doing and try to keep it below 20% of all ticket volume. (And we try to reduce that percentage limit every quarter as well) This keeps us away from busy work and instead focusing on interesting problems. You’ll probably spend more time in a code editor than a Bash shell.
You’ll also work with developers on a variety of tasks from troubleshooting production issues, to aiding in design decisions for new features and services. We tend to also lead the discussions around monitoring. You’ll work with development teams to help coach them on the kind of metrics we need, building actionable alerts and visualizing these metrics in a dashboard. These conversations usually go pretty smoothly, but sometimes there might be a disagreement. Being comfortable providing input and supplying supporting arguments is a necessary skill to be successful in this position. We like strong opinions, loosely held.


·       Enables CI and CD through development of appropriate tools and infrastructure.
·       Participates in technical discussions, provides insights based upon past experience and implements the best solutions.
·       Works across application stack to move software to production, as needed.
·       Develops monitoring solutions, which alert the team of potential issues.
·       Develops self-service solutions to help increase productivity and reduce unnecessary roadblocks
·       Helps resolve technical issues in production and other environments, which are critical to business needs.
·       Develops suites of applications to assist with removing TOIL work. Examples include automated image patching pipelines, automated script execution tying in with JIRA approvals and Bitbucket PR approvals, automated security remediation tools using Lambda functions, etc.

We put a big emphasis on empathy at Centro. You must be able to place yourself in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. We don’t blame people; we blame systems. We don’t say “why did John do X?” we say, “If John shouldn’t have done X, why did the system let him do it?” You won’t be successful if you can’t learn to think in those terms. It’s a muscle that requires constant exercising.
Coding is a must. You don’t have to be the most prolific programmer ever, but you need to be comfortable solving programming problems on your own as well as having an interest in improving your craft. We use Python for infrastructure related code, but experience with any object-oriented language is fine. If you have the concepts down, we don’t mind you learning the syntactical sugar.
Speaking of which, you must have the capacity for self-learning. There’s constantly new technology we’re evaluating and implementing, and paid classroom training isn’t always an option for us. You must feel comfortable experimenting, reading and learning on your own. We make time during the workday for this type of learning, so don’t worry about being up all night on your days off. When there’s a new technology to learn, a ticket goes in the work queue and we treat it like any other piece of work.
Experience with a public or private cloud is strongly preferred. Our work has us always thinking about ephemerality, how to avoid state and how to scale, recover automatically. We use private/public cloud experience as a proxy for understanding this type of behavior.
Those are the strong requirements. Where we’re weak as a team is in the areas of networking and database administration. While we’re not novices, anyone with experience in Postgres or advanced networking would be a really big boon to the team!
·       Self-driven and takes ownership very seriously
·       A mindset for automation
·       4+ years of experience with an object-oriented language is a must
·       4+ years of experience in a public or private cloud preferred
·       Familiarity with Terraform is a plus
·       Experience with Service Discovery is a plus
·       Knowledge of development tool creation and application architecture design
·       2+ years of experience with continuous integration tools like Jenkins, Bamboo
·       4+ years of experience with a configuration Management / Orchestration tool – Salt preferred, but not required.
·       4+ years of experience supporting production web applications is a must, production support of SaaS is a big plus
·       A desire to move into management later in your career is also a big plus, but not required


Don't think you have all the skills required for this role? That's okay, we recognize that experience can be built in many ways. If you have relevant skills that are not reflected in your resume, we welcome your candidacy and encourage you to share more in an optional cover letter, even if your experience doesn’t match our exact requirements.  


We take care of our people and believe that Centro’s success depends on the growth and well-being of each one of our team members.  

We provide a thoughtful perks and benefits package including competitive 401k/RRSP matching, mental health support, a funded health savings account, paid sabbatical, generous parental leave, a flexible work environment and time off policy, and more. 

We are proud to be an equal opportunity employer are committed to building teams of Centrons that are diverse in thought, perspective, and culture. We celebrate all team members regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race or cultural background, religion, disability, and age. Our employee-led communities enrich our culture of uniqueness, inclusivity, and empowerment.