Jan 15, 2022

Director of Search Engineering

  • Canva
  • San Francisco, California, United States

Job Description

We’re constantly working towards making Canva the best place to work, for everyone. We believe deeply that bringing together diversity of thoughts, perspectives and expression is key for building the best product for our equally diverse community all around the world. We celebrate uniqueness and whatever makes you, you and encourage everyone who wants to help us transform the way the world designs, to join us on this journey. We value all different types of experiences. If you don’t think you quite meet all of the qualifications, we’d still love to hear from you.  
About UsAt Canva, our mission is to democratise design and empower creativity for anyone and everyone, on every platform. Inspired by a team of talented thinkers, an amazing culture and a remarkable growth trajectory – we’re out to change the world, one design at a time. 
Since launch in August 2013, we have grown exponentially, amassing over 60 million monthly active users across 190 different countries who have created more than 6 Billion designs. We are one of the world’s fastest-growing technology companies and we have only achieved about 1% of what we want to do.
The Search and Recommendations Group is a core component of the Canva user experience. They are responsible for providing the core platform that allows all of Canva's amazing templates, images, stickers, video, audio, etc, to be discovered inside and outside Canva. With that, they also own key in-product surfaces to allow users to discover content before and during design. With over 100 million assets in our library (and rapidly growing), this group is key in ensuring that every user in every locale can find the content they need to create amazing designs. With so much content, surfacing the right ingredients to the right user, at the right time will be critical for the future success of Canva. We're seeking a Head of Engineering Search and Recommendations with deep experience and knowledge in the search and recommendations space to lead a team (40+ Eng and growing) of software, machine learning engineers, data analysts, QA, etc, towards achieving our ambitious growth goals.

Role Responsibilities

  • Drive the technical strategy across Search and Recommendations in a fast-paced, innovation-focused environment.
  • Set the group up for success on the march towards 1B Monthly Active Users, which will require a deep thinking across a broad range of technologies, talent, team shape etc. 
  • Collaborate with talented engineers, product, UX / Design to set and execute group-level goals which impact the core Canva experience
  • People leader across engineering in Search and Recommendations group, coaching and supporting the team leads
  • Scale engineering within the group to meet the growing needs of an ever more personalized content discovery journey.
  • Further up-level the technical capabilities of the group by bringing on board world-class talent and deep experts via partnering with Canva's Talent Acquisition team where needed and identifying and developing emerging leaders within the group
  • Nurture the progression of current members within the team, creating a team for the present and future needs of Canva
  • Foster a culture of communication, bridging the communication gap between teams, group, and company leadership
  • Coordinating and communicating across various specialties and parts of the business to understand the impact and feasibility of strategic goals within the group
  • Ensure the Search and Recommendations group is constantly working towards delivering on the high impact efforts by continuously assessing current and future business needs

Required Experience and Background

  • Five or more (5+) years of experience leading teams across disciplines in a Search or Recommendations product environment or similar.
  • Demonstrated ability to lead large transformative efforts that involves a large number of people and makes a broad impact on the organization. 
  • Previous experience as a Software Engineer - and still in tune with software engineering fundamentals and first principles. You should have strong technical and people leadership skills to be successful in this role
  • Invested in working with engineers on growth and development opportunities to help further their skill set and grow into new roles, with an ability to deliver relevant and timely feedback (positive & constructive) to help them continuously improve and learn
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills; with the ability to work with a diverse range of individuals from different backgrounds, with different expertise, and with different professional and personal needs
  • Strong customer focus to understand the use cases and requirements of internal stakeholders, and identify opportunities to empower them to do their best work
  • Be capable of leading by example - promoting Canva’s values, psychological safety, no-blame mentality and engineering values

Helpful Experience (not required)

  • An understanding of search services built on Elasticsearch or SOLR would be beneficial
  • Previous technical background in Search, Recommendations, Machine Learning, or AI domain


  • Competitive salary, plus stock options via our ESOP plan
  • Flexible daily working hours, we value work-life balance
  • Breakfast and lunch prepared by our wonderful Vibe team
  • Onsite-Gym and Yoga Membership
  • End-of-Trip Facilities: Bicycle parking and showers
  • Vibe and Thrive Allowance to support health and wellness
  • Travel allowance for interstate employees
  • Generous parental (including secondary) leave policy
  • Pet-friendly offices
  • Internal Coaching and Employee Support Programs
  • Sponsored social clubs, team events, and celebrations
Remote applicants will require occasional travel to Sydney up to three times per quarter, once it is safe to do so.
The Canva workspace is set up for you to do your best work and have a great time doing so, with breakout areas, little nooks, and quiet places to retreat.
If you're seeking professional growth and enjoy working on large, distributed, cloud-based applications that delight our millions of individual and business users alike - then apply now to be considered for the position!
We will not accept or review any CVs from external recruitment agencies.
We make hiring decisions based on your experience, skills and passion. If you’re keen to apply and need reasonable adjustments or would like to note which pronouns you use at any point in the application or interview process, please let us know.