Better Companies

Inside Amazon, As Told By Top Women Developers

When PowerToFly's Seattle community spent the evening at Amazon's Seattle campus.


Most of us spend time on Amazon.com each week, ordering household goods or watching streaming shows (I highly recommend Catastrophe btw). We all know the experience is seamless, especially if you have an Echo. I mean, you don't even need to lift your hands to to make orders. Yeah, it's all pretty magical and futuristic - a future that is happening now thanks to a few of the brilliant female and male engineers who talked to the PowerToFly community at an event we held with Amazon on June 28th on their Seattle campus.

With the goal of introducing women in tech to the female and male developers in the room who are running engineering teams for Amazon Restaurants, Machine Learning for Ads, and the Amazon Tickets platform, the PowerToFly community in Seattle was able to ask about what it's like to work at Amazon as they got an inside look into what the company is building.

In that spirit, Rachel Valdez, PowerToFly's Chief Dream Maverick and the MC for the event, started us off with a behind the scenes demo from Uma Boddeti, the Software Development Manager for Amazon Restaurants. Uma explained the challenges of building applications for on-demand food delivery - from coordinating the in-restaurant ordering process to ensuring that the drivers who make the deliveries go to the right house. After Uma's presentation, the audience asked her questions about the product, but they also took the opportunity to understand how Uma balances being a tech leader while raising two children. Her answer: I ask for flexibility when I need it and I get my work done. She used an example from that day to illustrate her experiences. Uma said she was planned on leaving the office early to take her son to the dentist. It wasn't a problem because her team knew she was would make up for any lost time and productivity. Uma made it clear that family matters came first on her team, as long as goals are being met.


Uma Boddeti, the Software Development Manager for Amazon Restaurants answers questions about work-life integration and the products she's building.

To cap off the event we held a similar discussion with Alice Zheng, who is a Senior Software Development Manager for Advertising platforms at Amazon. Alice is also the author of "Mastering Feature Engineering" and "Evaluating Machine Learning Models". The PowerToFly members in the audience particularly wanted to know how Alice manages her time, especially if she's feeling overwhelmed. Alice advised the women in the room to sit down with their managers and go over their task lists to prioritize when things are due. She reiterated advice she received early on from a woman executive at Amazon: focus on "running a marathon" and not a sprint. At PowerToFly we give that same advice to our team members - it's all about training and preparing for a long steady pace. Too many sprints knock people out of the game and are unsustainable, especially at high-growth companies like Amazon.

After discussing how we can better manage ourselves and talk to our managers, Alice briefly discussed what she found different and useful about the hiring process at Amazon. She touched on the set of values Amazon asks candidates to match their experiences to in the interview process. In Alice's opinion, these core values allow candidates to measure themselves against a universal company framework. If you do end up joining Amazon then you know exactly what the company expects from you and your colleagues on day one.


Alice Zheng and Katharine Zaleski, PowerToFly's Co-Founder and President take questions from the audience.

Want to come to events like these? Sign up for PowerToFly.com and we'll send you exclusive invitations for events where we connect you to executives and hiring managers at companies that care about creating gender diverse and inclusive environments. And if you're interested in working at Amazon, check out their page on PowerToFly.com.

HomeAway

A Look at Our Recent Event with HomeAway

Featuring the CEO of Expedia and the President of HomeAway

When you convince more than 100 women in tech to come to an event on one of the coldest nights of the year, you want to have a stellar line up of executives from one of Austin's top companies discussing their diversity and tech initiatives. That's exactly what happened on January 17th when HomeAway and PowerToFly hosted an evening that included HomeAway's president, members of its executive team, and the CEO of Expedia, HomeAway's parent company.

For people who couldn't attend, we wanted to share a few quotes and anecdotes that moved the conversation forward in the room.

  • HomeAway President, John Kim: "In the last two years, there has been an awakening in diversity and inclusion. We are not going back."
  • Expedia CEO, Mark Okerstrom discussed how Expedia has made diversity a major initiative at the company by increasing the number of women on the Expedia board and expanding the number of women vice presidents.
  • Tina Weyand, Chief Product Officer at HomeAway discussed how "ideas can come from anywhere." She detailed how feedback has been key to her career. In fact, feedback is so valued at HomeAway that managers and teams recently received six hours of training on how to give constructive feedback that is actionable and unbiased.
  • Siobhan Burch, a Software Engineer at HomeAway, shared advice about returning to the workplace, something she herself has done after taking a five year break to raise her family. Burch leveraged her network of female supporters and kept herself sharp via internet courses to ensure that the transition back to the workforce was a successful one.
  • HomeAway Senior Strategic Data Analyst Nikole Phillips also stressed the importance of ongoing education citing advice her single mother gave her growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Philadelphia. "People can take anything away from you but they can't take the brain out of your head."
  • As one attendee, Violeta Albrecht, noted, it's important for women to not feel the need to hold back but to rather have a strong and equal voice at meetings, especially when you are one of the only women in the room. "I've taken myself off mute."

For more information on HomeAway's gender diversity initiatives and jobs follow their company page.

PowerToFly's Cristina Duke moderated a panel featuring HomeAway's female tech leaders

HomeAway's President John Kim kicked off the evening

A packed house!

Our panel discussion was followed by a great audience Q&A;

Career + Interview Tips

Elevate your Career in One Hour with Our Excel Masterclass: Filters and Functions

Jan. 22nd 2018

Got an hour to spare and elevate your career? In just one hour, learn everything you need to know about Excel and Google Spreadsheet filters and functions. We made this quick - yet full and valuable - course that won't waste your time.

Claim your spot here and start learning now.

PowerToFly's Senior Data and Web Analyst (and mom of two) will guide you through key formulas to make the most of your data.

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Women at Work

Your Monday Back-to-Work Motivation: Gender Equality Edition

This past Saturday's global Women's March left us with plenty to be inspired by, when it comes to gender equality. With so much out there in terms of signage, quotes, video, memes, gifs, stories, speeches, etc...etc...etc...out there in the stratosphere, we compiled some of our favorites to leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take over the world this week. Roar!

Which one is your favorite, or did we leave any out? Let me know by messaging me directly on our new Networks tool!

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Career + Interview Tips

I Found Some Inspiration in Emily Chang's Brotopia Sex-Party Piece

My friend Emily Chang is going to drop her book Brotopia on February 6th. I haven't read it - yet. I'm excited to, especially since I'm quoted in chapter seven where Emily gets into work-family issues for founders. But in case anyone was wondering, I'm not quoted in the chapter about drug-fueled sex parties that Vanity Fair excerpted earlier this month.

About twenty people sent me the link to the Vanity Fair Brotopia piece. I didn't get to reading it until last night. After losing my appetite (the content is pretty salacious), I found one quote by an anonymous "tech bro" actually inspired me. Yes, a silver lining in a story about sex-parties from a tech bro. Lesson: inspiration is everywhere.

(Keep in mind, this is in the context of nerdy guys feeling entitled to sex parties where the double-standards between men and women abound - read the article because Emily digs into the penalties women ultimately get from attending these parties.)

Here's what Founder X said that had me thinking beyond threesomes:

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OpenTable

An Evening With OpenTable CEO Christa Quarrels

This is an invite-only event for software engineers. Contact rachelv@powertofly.com for the event password if you think this event would be a good fit for your skill set.

"In Silicon Valley, today, there is a sisterhood of women who are supporting each other, telling each other about board opportunities, giving each other business ideas" - Christa Quarles, OpenTable CEO.

Meet and hear more from Christa and her executive team on March 14th about how they're building inclusive environments and innovative tech products at OpenTable. The night will kickoff with a keynote address by OpenTable CTO Joseph Essas and will feature a product demonstration from OpenTable's female tech leaders. We'll end the evening with an opportunity for you to network with additional women in tech over cocktails and light food.

Register now to claim a spot!

Also, OpenTable is hiring! They offer professional development opportunities, wellness events, four weeks of accrued PTO per year and access to such affinity groups as OpenTable's Women in Tech and Women of OpenTable. To learn more about OpenTable, a company that Glassdoor named one of the "Best Places to Work 2016", and their open opportunities, visit their page at PowerToFly.

About our Events: All RSVP'd attendees are welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, or age. If you require accommodation to fully participate in this event, please email talentgrowth@powertofly.com, and we will contact you to discuss your specific needs.

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