Principal Engineer - Data Applications

Toronto, CA
Technology – Data - Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence
Xero is a beautiful, easy-to-use platform that helps small businesses and their accounting and bookkeeping advisors grow and thrive. 

At Xero, our purpose is to make life better for people in small business, their advisors, and communities around the world. This purpose sits at the centre of everything we do. We support our people to do the best work of their lives so that they can help small businesses succeed through better tools, information and connections. Because when they succeed they make a difference, and when millions of small businesses are making a difference, the world is a more beautiful place.

How you’ll make an impact

Xero views the application of intelligent, data-driven products and services at scale as a key competitive advantage for our business, now and into the future. 
As a Principal Engineer in the Data Applications team you will lead the design and build of the data pipelines and applications that will enable Xero to bring smart, data-driven, personalized services to millions of customers around the world. As a professional, commercially experienced software engineer you will provide technical leadership for  a group of talented and enthusiastic engineers. You will set technical standards, coach, mentor and develop individuals to create a high calibre delivery capability with a specialization in the design, build, operation and refinement of machine learning training and inference pipelines and frameworks at scale. You will lift the AI/ML capability of teams around Xero, working closely with the relevant Architecture  and Engineering Practice teams to establish data processing ecosystems and development patterns that maximize the reach and impact of your teams and programs of work.

What you’ll do

    • Hands on coding including troubleshooting, proofs of concept and core project contributions
    • Form and lead cross-functional teams to conceive, design, build and operate web-scale, data driven solutions to internal and customer facing Xero business challenges
    • Across multiple teams, drive adoption of software-engineering best practice adapted to modern data-driven products including peer-review, data testing, documentation, reproducibility and agile processes
    • Technical and architectural collaboration over the Data domain in general, and the ML/AI domain specifically, to align teams and ensure consistency across the systems they build
    • Keep a watching brief on adjacent roadmaps and upcoming technology challenges, guiding the team to navigate them successfully and integrate seamlessly with other pods
    • Seek out and quantify cross-cutting problems that hinder development teams' ability to deliver ML solutions within Xero
    • Mentor and develop members of your team, increasing our capability to build and operate intelligent, data-driven, products and services in our core customer offerings
    • Contribute to the organizational design of the Data team as a whole including designing the capability matrix, talent development plan and leading hiring efforts
    • Act as an educator and evangelist globally across the Xero business helping to raise the data and AI literacy of the Xero workforce with a particular focus on those in product and engineering roles
    • Work closely with the Engineering Practice and Architecture teams to uplift the ML/AI knowledge and capability of pods across Xero
    • Stay current with emerging practices, techniques and frameworks in the fields of applied machine learning and artificial intelligence at scale
    • Champion the ethical development of data processing systems which include ML/AI components and ensure your teams are always working with the best interests of our users in mindFrom ideation to production enable the development of easy-to-use infrastructure, tooling and monitoring for data applications and reproducible data science workflows
    • Represent Xero externally by speaking at Meetups and on panels to raise awareness of the work we do and the career opportunities we offer
    • Cultivate a fun, rewarding, agile and results-driven culture that lives and breathes our Xero values

Success looks like

    • We are delivering intelligent products and services to market and improving the user experience across our product portfolio
    • Your team is continually learning and growing and view Xero as a fantastic place to develop their career for the long term
    • Teams developing ‘ML inside’ systems at Xero have a faster cycle time delivering new products from conception to production deployment
    • Xero’s in engineering and product management roles are increasingly confident in their ability to identify and evaluate problems that can be solved by the application of analytical data processing and machine learning and are actively considering product ideas that capitalize on our growing capability to execute ML projects quickly and sustainably
    • Our analytical data stores & processing pipelines have entered into a virtuous cycle with teams across the business committed to improving the quality of the data flowing through our systems
    • Xero is becoming a destination of choice for software engineers who build and operate machine learning pipelines at scale in our hubs around the world

Critical competencies

    • Track record of innovating and delivering technology at scale
    • Thorough understanding of the practices and components required to support machine learning pipelines in production
    • Strong communication skills, both written and oral and the ability to translate between business and technical audiences
    • Strong leadership skills with the ability to articulate & advocate the technical vision and direction for your programs of work
    • The ability to exercise effective judgment, sensitivity and creativity to changing needs and situations within the business
    • Can successfully build trust and credibility with stakeholders and working relationships across all levels of the business
    • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to contribute meaningful and accurate advice


    • Extensive experience coding in production
    • Expert level hands on practitioner skills in a good selection of the following areas and the appetite to learn those which are unfamiliar:data architecture, solutions architecture, CI/CD, distributed computing, streaming data, machine learning pipelines, deep learning frameworks
    • Comfortable at the ‘nix command line and with AWS, Hive, Kinesis, Kafka, Kubernetes and an expert programmer in Python/Scala/Java/.Net/Demonstrable experience in developing both training and inference systems for machine learning pipelines at scale
    • Good understanding and experience measuring and designing for non-functionals, like reliability, availability, security and performance
    • Proven experience in operating at a senior technical level including leading and mentoring teams 
    • Extensive experience working on software development projects at scale at all stages of the SDLC
    • Experience mentoring, leading and developing high performing teams within an agile delivery environment
Why Xero?

At Xero, we empower our staff to bring their ‘whole self’ to work and support flexible working arrangements that allow you to balance your work, your life and your passions. We offer a great remuneration package which includes shares and life insurance plus a range of leave options to suit your well-being. In Canada, our Xero family includes Hubdoc, a data capture platform and we have offices in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

Our work environment encourages continuous improvement and career development and you’ll get to work with the latest technology.  Our collaborative and inclusive culture is one we’re immensely proud of. We know that a diverse workforce is a strength that enables businesses, including ours, to better understand and serve customers, attract top talent and innovate successfully. So, from the moment you step through our doors, you’ll feel welcome and supported to do the best work of your life.