GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
By signing up you accept the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy
GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY
Netskope

Why It’s Better to Be Wrong Than Silent

A Q&A with Netskope's Senior Engineering Manager May Yan

May Yan has spent most of her impressive decades-long engineering career in California, but I asked her to take me back to the beginning — to when she first moved to the Golden State from China to get her Master's Degree in Computer Engineering at Santa Clara University. Were there any challenges, I wondered, as she adjusted to life and corporate culture in the U.S.?


"There's a very famous Chinese saying," she said, "Think before you act." In her experience, for herself and many other Chinese people, this can translate to a fear of being wrong and waiting to do something until you know it will be perfect. But what she learned as her career progressed is that, "At work, it's not really about right or wrong. It's more about helping other people understand your perspective and listening to theirs as well so you can reach consensus."

I couldn't help but nod along fervently as she said this; I realized she wasn't just describing a cultural barrier, but a very universal fear of failure that can hold us all back (I can't count the number of times I've bit my tongue in a meeting out of fear of sounding stupid). Given the frequency with which women (and men) in tech report dealing with imposter syndrome, it's clear that far too many talented professionals hesitate to make their voice heard for fear that they'll be told they're wrong.

But what if we all were less worried about being right and more concerned with building consensus, as May proposed? We'd probably share our opinions a lot more frequently and help our teams reach better solutions.

As a Senior Engineering Manager at cloud security leader Netskope, this is exactly what May helps her team do. In coaching and giving feedback to her team, she's able to bring Netskope's belief in collaboration and transparency to life, creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind.

Sounds pretty refreshing, right? I recently sat down with May to learn more about the collaborative culture at Netskope and to get her tips for joining the Netskope team:

I saw that one of Netskope's cultural principles is "Always have fun." What does this look like day-to-day?

On an average day, we enjoy lots of perks that make it easy to spend time together as a team and have fun — like free, catered lunch onsite, free coffee and snacks. We also have a free gym on campus. But higher level, we have really good office managers and they do a great job of helping us have fun as a team. They plan in-office parties and offsites so we can all spend time together. We have a pink day in the office for breast cancer awareness, a Halloween party, and each year we celebrate Netskope's birthday!

What's something interesting about Netskope that people might not know?

Our office setting is really open. Our CEO and executives don't have offices — they sit among us. It's pretty cool that as an engineer you might be sitting next to one of the founders of the company.

What do you like the most about working at Netskope?

For me, it's the size — there are about 900+ of us right now. I've worked in big and small companies, and for me, a medium-sized company like Netskope offers the best of both worlds: stability and the ability to make significant contributions to important projects. I also like that there are no politics here — it's very easy to get to know everyone and make your voice be heard.

What are some tips you'd give to someone interested in joining your team?

There are a few steps in our hiring process: a resume screening, phone screening, and onsite interview. For the phone screening, you should be ready to answer technical questions, most of which have clearly right or wrong answers. We want to hear your reasoning, but it should be relatively short — we prefer someone who speaks directly and to the point.

Onsite we ask more complex questions that don't have clear-cut right or wrong answers. We want to see whether you can carry a conversation. It's more than just coding. We're looking to see if you have the potential to grow from an individual contributor to a senior IC to a lead, and so forth. How you communicate plays a big factor in the final decision.

Just be natural and speak your mind, in terms of what you do and don't know. The key thing is that you be able to articulate your reasoning, whether the interviewer agrees or disagrees with you. That's because that's very important on the job as well: everyone has different opinions and we want everyone to share and explain them so that we can all reach an agreement. We try to simulate that on a smaller scale during the interview.

And finally, what would you say to a woman who's on the fence about joining the Netskope team?

No matter what stage of your career you're at, you can do big things at Netskope. We have a wonderful intern program, with training and support to make you feel like you've learned and achieved a lot in just two months. If you're at the early stages of your career, then Netskope will give you the chance to take on real responsibility — you're not just doing one little thing, you're doing something much bigger than you think.

And finally, for someone more senior, you'll have the opportunity to interface with so many different people — from the backend to UI — and really get to take ownership of important features.

---

Interested in joining a team where you're encouraged to speak your mind and share your opinions? Check out Netskope's open roles here (including this software engineering role on the QE team)!

Inspiration

Crises Can Bring Out The Best in Us: 27 Ways Companies Are Stepping Up

Crises can bring out the best in us. It can be hard to believe that when headlines are crowded with toilet paper hoarders or raucous spring breakers under the impression that they're invincible, but it's true. A paper by the University of Delaware's Disaster Research Center found that assumptions about people acting in their own best interest during a crisis are "fundamentally incorrect" and that "human beings…typically rise to the daunting challenges that disasters pose."

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
For Employers

Experts Share 6 Tips for Supporting Employees’ Mental Health In the Midst of COVID-19

A PowerToFly Resource

Free Team Check-In Guide

Download Now

We may use your email address to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, please review our Privacy Policy.

COVID-19 has changed our world as we know it, and with that, the way we work. The fact is, these are unusual times. And to ask our teams to continue conducting business as usual would be unrealistic.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
popular

28 Companies Still Hiring During COVID-19

With unemployment and job-security-related anxiety on the rise, it's only natural to feel concerned about landing a new job in the current climate. But COVID-19 hasn't impacted all companies equally.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
CarGurus

10 Women in Tech Share Their Tips for Working From Home

How to stay productive and positive while working remotely

With the outbreak of COVID-19, scores of people are finding themselves working remotely for the first time. Trying to stay productive while at home with so many distractions can be overwhelming, so we asked women tech leaders what they were doing to work from home successfully. Along with getting a great pair of noise canceling headphones (game changer!), they have 10 excellent tips to help you thrive in a work-from-home environment.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
popular

5 Life-Changing Products You Didn't Know Were Invented by Women

I've been thinking about women's ingenuity a lot recently; after all, crises like the one we're facing now fuel innovation. They especially fuel innovation from those who are on the frontlines, in desperate need of solutions.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS Show less
Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2020