These 12 leaders are shaping the beverage alcohol industry while trailblazing more opportunities for AAPI professionals
The overwhelmingly white image of alcohol culture eclipses the work of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders whose influence rings through all three tiers of the system.
We have our stars: The recently retired Annette Alvarez-Peters, who moved markets from the helm of a $2 billion wine program at Costco; Alpana Singh, the youngest American woman and only South Asian to achieve the rank of Master Sommelier (which she renounced in 2020 in light of sexual harassment allegations in the organization); and Hae Un Lee, who in 1981 opened a small liquor shop in Las Vegas and grew it into the largest alcohol retailer in Nevada—Lee's Discount Liquor.
But beyond these established names, we're shining our light on a new class of AAPI innovators—and their latest innovations.
Located across the U.S., these 12 drinks professionals are brand creators, bamboo ceiling breakers, culture ambassadors, all of them walking uncharted territory as the only one, or one of a few, who look like them in the room.
Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung. Photo by Sam McCracken.
Celebrating Asian Culture Through Cocktail Pop-Ups
Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung, Co-creators, Daijoubu, Austin, Texas
Until bartenders Caer Maiko and Sharon Yeung joined forces in 2019, Asian-inspired cocktails in Austin were defined by the overuse of lychee. But at their Daijoubu pop-ups (meaning "it's fine" in Japanese), the veteran bartenders can finally dig into their roots, using childhood ingredients in their inventive concoctions. The Tapioca Express—aged rum, Earl Grey tea cream, homemade Italicus bergamot liqueur-infused boba—and Milk and Hunnay shots—Yakult, vodka, sake, and honeydew melon served inside Yakult cups—have been surefire hits.
A group of Asian guests "saw me pour the shot into a Yakult cup, and all of them gasped. They were like, 'This is my childhood, and now you made it into an alcoholic beverage,' and it gave me this moment of, 'Oh, yes, you feel like you belong. I feel like I belong,'" recounts Maiko.
The pop-ups present a fun and holistic way of celebrating Asian culture and community. Yeung and Maiko, who studied and taught at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, are masters at taking over a space and creating a vibe whether it's a dance party with fifteen different bamboo plants with giant pandas at a restaurant or a collaborative state-wide tour in their fire engine-red "Bruce the Daijoubus" (named after Bruce Lee) cocktail truck with Indian-, Vietnamese-, and Korean-American bartenders. They're currently saving up for a nationwide tour in 2022.
Guests can feel good about themselves, too. Japanese-American Maiko and Chinese-American Yeung have donated $13,000 of their pop-up revenue to AAPI nonprofits like Chinatown Community Development Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.
Thanh Nam Vo Duy. Photo by Brent Herrig Photography.
Paving the Way for Future AAPI Leaders
Thanh Nam Vo Duy, Vice President, Commercial Development, Moët Hennessy USA
Sixteen years into his career at Moët Hennessy USA, Thanh Nam Vo Duy is now leading a team of over 200 brand specialists, ambassadors, influencers, and merchandisers, which he grew from a third of its size. His trajectory is proof of his leadership skills—double-digit sales growth turnaround for Hennessy, the launch of Hennessy Black, which quickly topped sales projections. Yet he recognizes his path is one not often experienced by Asian Americans.
Vo Duy admits that "not having a mentor, a role model" particularly stung. A Vietnamese immigrant by way of France, he had to learn to adapt to American culture and "speak up," countering Asian customs of respecting one's elders, speaking only when spoken to, and having a shut-up-and-work mindset.
That's why he co-founded the Asian Employee Resource Group (ERG) in 2020 at Moët Hennessy USA. "None of us could look up to a VP who looked like us, and we had similar stories of how to speak up in meetings and how to advance our career," says Vo Duy. At the ERG, "you talk about those issues with people you can relate to culturally."
The ERG also provides mentorship opportunities, speaker series and celebration of cultural holidays. "I dream of a world where there's more diversity at the top," says Vo Duy. "It happens by us, the people who are in the ERG, doing everything we can to become the people on the top."
Ed Marszewski. Photo by Reuben Kincaid.
The Serial Community-Focused Entrepreneur
Ed Marszewski, Co-owner, Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar, Chicago
Chicago would not be what it is today without Ed Marszewski, who has been building a highly synergistic drinks-food empire since 2010. He grew up watching his mother, Maria Marszewski, engage in kye—a private lending circle often used among Korean immigrants—which in 1987 allowed her to save up, buy out, and operate Kaplan's Liquors in the South Side of Chicago.
"To see how all these Korean ladies chipped in money together to help each other run their businesses—that spirit of helping people in your community embedded in me," says Ed. "You know, immigrant families helping each other out."
Inspired by her entrepreneurial savvy and knack for drawing a diverse crowd, Ed started to forge a community-focused, family-owned complex. He converted Kaplan's to Maria's Packaged Goods and Community Bar, a 41-tap, two-bar "slashie" (liquor store-slash-bar), and built the Marz Community Brewing Co., a 15-barrel brewhouse and taproom whose inventive and conscientious brews—like the Triple Crown rice lager with jasmine, via a partnership with the eponymous dim sum restaurant—are sold at Maria's.
The slashie has long been cherished for its fantastic selection of local craft beers such as Half Acre and Off Color, a range of eclectic ciders, bottled house-made cocktails like the Royal Wailuku—gin, orgeat syrup, pineapple, lemon, and Peychaud's bitters—and Marz-label CBD-infused sodas and coffees.
Maria's long-running "policy of tolerance and respect for others" is another draw for guests. "We have a really mixed group of people coming to our establishment," says Marszewski. "We try to be open to all demographics and all people."
Next door to Maria's, Marszewski opened two counter-service restaurants: Kimski, serving riffs on the foods he ate in his Korean-Polish home and Pizza Fried Chicken Ice Cream. He's also building a second outpost for the brewery.
Carol Pak. Photo courtesy of Makku.
Bringing Korea's Oldest Alcoholic Drink Stateside
Carol Pak, Founder, Makku, New York City
Makgeolli isn't yet a household name among non-Korean drinkers, but Carol Pak is trying to change that. That's why the Columbia Business School graduate and Anheuser-Busch alumna is canning the centuries-old fermented rice alcohol for nationwide distribution under her Makku brand.
Makgeolli's complex personality—milky, fizzy, sweet, and sour—is achieved through a complicated brewing process that America is literally not equipped for. Makku requires a brewery with both sake and beer production capacity, equipment for canning, carbonation and pasteurization, and the capability to handle a fermentation agent called nuruk that's "uncontrollable like a wild child," describes Pak.
"But no one in all of America that I could find—and I talked to brewers, scientists, founders, everyone I could possibly think of—could figure out how to pasteurize this product," says Pak.
With maxed-out credit cards and depleted savings, she finally drew in Strong Ventures as an investor, teamed up with a brewery in South Korea, and launched Makku in 2019.
For Pak, the trouble is worth it, particularly in a country where cultural appropriation is common. "I'm doing this because I'm Korean, and I'm proud to do it," she says, recalling makgeolli flowing at family dinners in the Korean immigrant enclave of Flushing, Queens. "I'm supposed to be the one who's bringing makgeolli over." She's selling Makku at spots like Momofuku Noodle Bar and Sunac Natural Market and trying to start a new alcohol category for makgeolli (which can either be classified as beer or sake currently) while she's at it.
Krista Farrell. Photo by Eugene Lee.
Championing Craft Spirits
Krista Farrell, Spirits Sales Manager for the Northeast and Spirits Specialist, Skurnik Wines & Spirits, New York City
Before Krista Farrell gets behind a spirit, she zeroes in on its production. Was it made in a farm distillery? Is the distillery growing its own grain? Malting it?
"Whether it be in New York or Martinique or Guadeloupe, it's just so cool to see people using what is endemic to their land, supplying their communities and their GDP with their own products," says the Korean-American industry vet who grew up gaining insights from a small family distributorship in Martha's Vineyard. "It keeps the craft in craft spirits."
In 2019, she transitioned from Caribbean rum producer Spiribam, where she managed Northeast sales, to one of its distributors, Skurnik, which offered her a more diverse portfolio of wines and spirits to sell from. "As a supplier, it was cool to see a distributor who was mindful about the things that they put in their books and not just picking up things because they could sell tons of volume of it," says Farrell. To her, Skurnik had a tight spirits portfolio that really delved into a producer's key sustainability practices like farming processes, packaging, disposal of distilled waste, energy efficiency for production and transportation, and impact on the surrounding communities.
It was a perfect match for Farrell's farm-first approach. Some of her favorite producers—which she sells to on- and off-premise venues through Pennsylvania, California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky—include Uruapan Charanda Blanco, an "under-represented, historically significant" Mexican rum that highlights the country's sugarcane cultivation on volcanic soil, and combines sugarcane and molasses in its distillate for "a really funky yet accessible rum," and Idaho-based Square One Vodkas which is distilled exclusively from Montana-grown rye—infusing a nutty complexity—and is the largest consumer of Rocky Mountain Wind Power.
Farrell is also helping expand the Skurnik portfolio with more women and BIPOC producers.Ran Duan. Photo by Jesse Hsu.
Building Creative, Cross-Cultural Cocktail Programs
Ran Duan spots opportunities that others don't. He seizes them, and then blows them out of the water.
When his dad asked for help with the bar inside the family's Chinese restaurant, he taught himself to bartend and built Baldwin Bar into an acclaimed tiki cocktail destination, drawing bloggers and journalists out to a small suburb outside Boston to pair homestyle Sichuan cuisine with Duan's creative Mai Tais.
For his second act, Duan saw how Latin and Sichuan cuisines overlapped and conceived tropical drinks with the likes of cinnamon and star anise for Blossom Bar, located in his dad's other restaurant.
Duan's latest is an original concept: A seafood restaurant and oyster bar with multicultural flavors called Ivory Pearl that specializes in wine-inspired, carbonated cocktails like the Champagne Papi—a blend of vodka, fermented koji rice, honeydew, and citric acid, sold in both single-serve and large formats.
Fanfare follows all his projects—all undergirded by a deep sense of gratitude to his immigrant father who had sacrificed his passion for opera to provide for the family.
"The American dream for me is being able to set my kids up for success in the future, making sure they don't experience the same struggle as me," says Duan. "We're gonna work as hard as we can until we get there, even if that's seven days a week, twelve hours a day. That's the intelligence my parents were able to put in me. It's all about legacy."
Maya and Naoko Dalla Valle. Photo by Jimmy Hayes.
Revitalizing a Legacy Cult Wine
Naoko Dalla Valle, Founder, farmer, and proprietor, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley
Maya Dalla Valle, Winemaker, director, Dalla Valle Vineyards, Napa Valley.
When the husband-and-wife Dalla Valle team—Japanese-born Naoko and Italian-native Gustav—purchased their eponymous vineyard in 1982, they had no idea their estate would catapult to cult wine status, fetching $500 a bottle.
Dalla Valle's 1992 Maya cuvée, a Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend, earned a rare perfect score from Robert Parker. The Maya is still considered one of Napa Valley's greatest wines featuring Cabernet Franc.
Since Gustav's death in 1995, Naoko, who lives at the vineyard, has been directing the daily vineyard operations, walking weekly through the vines, and sorting grapes. "We work so hard to grow those grapes and this is the moment of truth," she says. "So yes, I take my pride in touching pretty much all the grapes." She's also ensuring that her daughter Maya, the famed wine's namesake, continues the legacy.
With oenology degrees from Cornell University and Bordeaux Science Agro, stints at renowned wineries like Ornellaia e Masseto and Château Latour, and four Dalla Valle vintages under her belt, Maya is now head winemaker and vineyard director. She has been pushing the company in new directions, by aging wine in clay amphorae instead of oak, and spearheading the conversion to biodynamics.
She's already observed higher vineyard resilience despite the increasingly extreme weather conditions. "One of our biggest issues was trying to protect the vines from the heat," says Maya. "And 2020 was the first year there was no sunburn on the grapes, which is rare." Microbial diversity has also increased with eight different types of naturally occurring yeasts which she employs for native fermentations.
"I really feel like the future is bright. By becoming a winemaker, it's like having your own destiny in your hand, and she does," Naoko proudly says of Maya. "She is the complete picture of the ideal winery owner—everything that's built into her."
Jhonel Faelnar. Photo by Mike Rush.
Setting the Standard for Wine and Korean Food Pairings
Pairing wine with Korean food is a relatively new thing, one that's followed the development of haute-Korean, Michelin-starred tasting menu restaurants like Atomix, where Filipino-American Jhonel Faelnar is leading the charge in this front.
"It's almost like open territory where nobody really knows what to pair with miyeokguk (seaweed soup) or galbi (barbecued short ribs) or whatnot," says Faelnar. "So then it becomes a process of experimentation and just, truly, freedom. Scary freedom but freedom nonetheless."
To pair chef JungHyun "JP" Park's food—heavy on seafood and vegetables, delicate in flavor—the former NoMad sommelier leans on white wines for 60 to 70 percent of the list, along with plenty of Champagne and lighter reds like Pinot Noir and Burgundy.
So for a deep-fried langoustine with doenjang (soy bean paste) caramel, he suggests Champagne from Jacquesson or a slightly off-dry Riesling with 20 to 30 years of age. For a grilled fish with sesame oil: a Godello from Spain by Raúl Pérez. "Actually, when I opened [the Godello], it had a bit of reduction on it, and was smelling a little bit like sesame oil itself."
Paula de Pano. Photo by Daniel Turbert.
Building a Big Wine Program in a Small Town
Paula de Pano, Beverage and Service Director of The Fearrington Village, Pittsboro, North Carolina
In a town that doesn't have the buying power of New York, Paula de Pano has championed a high-demand beverage program well-suited for the Relais & Châteaux property Fearrington Inn and Restaurant. The former Eleven Madison Park sommelier negotiates hard for every Champagne and Burgundy in Fearrington's roughly $200,000 cellar of 1,500 unique labels.
Heir to an existing wine list that focused on off-the-beaten-path regions like Chile and South Africa, De Pano expanded into classic regions like Italy and Spain during the 10 years she has been at Fearrington.
"We have a bottle for every person," says De Pano. Her well-rounded approach is key because she's charged with catering to the distinct needs of every venue in the villa: lunch counter, pizza and beer garden, fine dining restaurant, bookstore, and spa, in addition to the wine classes that she teaches.
Though De Pano used to doubt whether her opinions and ideas were worthwhile, finding the courage to speak up has resulted in new and exciting ways of approaching wine. "Suddenly you say [your ideas] out loud and people are like, 'Oh yeah, we didn't think about that,'" she says.
Take the "double" wine pairing concept introduced to Fearrington by the Philippines-born beverage director. "I find wine pairings to be subjective," says the Culinary Institute of America graduate. "What you taste might not be something that I taste."
So she'll serve a sea bass with two wines side by side: a Meursault and a Syrah. This way, diners can explore how each wine plays with either the fish or the ingredients in the sauce. Her method also invites a teaching moment for her guests: The perception of Syrah is that it's too full-bodied for fish. De Pano enlightens with a light Rhône Valley Syrah.
Joanie Kwok. Photo courtesy of AB InBev.
Bringing Innovation and Diversity into the Beer and Malt Beverage World
Joanie Kwok, Senior Marketing Director, Flavored Malt Beverages Portfolio and National Co-Chair of Pac-Asia, Anheuser Busch, New York City
Anyone who wants to know what's next in the world of flavored malt beverages—and how to market them to a more diverse consumer base—need only chat up Joanie Kwok.
She and her team have launched six brands (with two more on the way) for the Beyond Beer division at Anheuser Busch—a new group that was formed in response to today's drinking culture of declining beer sales and growing consumption of hard seltzer, whiskey, and tequila.
The second-generation Chinese American brings her lived experiences as an Asian American into the process, helping ensure that AB's products are launched with elevated social impact and culturally inoffensive messaging. For a Budweiser commercial featuring Dwayne Wade and Natalie Johnson, she heightened its impact by helping implement a scholarship to hire more Black brewers. For Super Bowl ads, she guarantees that a diverse list of advertising agency partners is considered.
"I think we're all trying to learn how to sell products in a way that's authentic," says Kwok, noting that contemporary customers are placing more weight on brand values. "There's more emphasis on, 'who am I supporting and are they then supporting my community back?' What is the quid pro quo?"
Reaching the consumer requires a multi-faceted approach, and for Kwok, that includes fostering an inclusive workplace where employees feel heard and educational conversations around experiences like Black Lives Matter happen—and engaging in a good dose of self-reflection.
"What are my privileges? What are the things that I've been taught that I need to unlearn, and then how do I lend a hand?" asks Kwok. "And everyone has the power [to do so] based on the rooms that they're in."Caroline Shin is a food journalist and founder of the "Cooking with Granny" video and workshop series celebrating diverse immigrant grandmothers. She grew up in Queens, NY with all its food, diversity, and attitude. Catch her work on Eater, New York Times, New York Magazine, and @CookingWGranny on Instagram.
Katie Thursfield, Director of Content at LetsGetChecked, on Pursuing Non-Traditional Roles in the Health Technology Sector
Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Katie Thursfield enjoys spending time with friends and taking advantage of good weather. “Ireland is not renowned for its weather,” Katie laughs. “So when we do get sun, we like to make the most of it.”
When she’s not soaking up the sun in the great outdoors or listening to a great podcast in her downtime, you can find her mindfully managing her team as the Director of Content at LetsGetChecked, a healthcare solutions company that empowers individuals to be their own health advocates.
We sat down with her to learn more about her career, creating patient-focused medical-related content that helps bridge the communication gap between patients and medical professionals. Keep reading to hear her story and her advice to women who are looking to advance in the Biotech space.
Combining Business and Science
Katie started off in pursuit of an art major. “I had all the interest and passion for art, but none of the skill,” she laughs. After this realization, she decided to pursue a completely unrelated degree — Science in University College Dublin. “I loved science because it was logical and results-generated,” she says. “You could pick apart something that seemed incredibly complex into its basic components and pathways and make it easier to understand.” Guided by her love for art and intrigue of the human body, she chose to major in physiology.
“I suppose I chose physiology over the other science branches because you can often see it,” says Katie. “There's a visual cue, a visual representation of what you’re looking at, whether it’s a tissue type or cell structure. I always felt this is what led me to pursue it.”
After completing her degree in physiology, Katie knew that she didn’t want to work in the traditional lab setting. "I loved the idea of theory in science, and we had a lot of brilliant opportunities to work in labs, which [I] enjoyed. But I just couldn't see myself doing it long term,” she elaborates. “I wanted to branch into the business a little more to understand the bigger picture of the market.” So she started a master's degree in Business and Biotechnology. “Coming from a purely science-based course, it was a really interesting perspective as it brought science into the business world, and provided insight into how these global leaders in the biotechnology industry bring their products to the market, how they are developed and regulated, and how they respond to the market impact,” she explains. “It gave you a 360-degree view, from the financial side to marketing of pharmaceuticals and other biotechnology products.”
Her newfound passion for science in business led her to an internship at a 3D medical education platform. That internship turned into a full-time job offer, and eventually, Katie grew her career there, where she was able to work on impactful projects that helped students globally. “The concept was based on the gap in the market where medical students were missing a take-home tool to accurately represent the 3D relationships between the body, like how all the muscles intertwine and where tendons attach and how bones are laid,” Katie shares. “We created a platform for medical students to leverage.” This platform helps students conceptualize the human body beyond textbooks and cadavers.
Production of this tool required Katie to communicate the complexities of the human body in a comprehensive and digestible way to artists with limited scientific backgrounds. “It was about finding a counterpoint in the non-science world to open up that communication channel,” she shares. “For muscles, we would use meat as a reference, because everyone knows what that looks like. For tendons, we would use things like fiber material, and cotton wool. There's such a storytelling aspect to science.”
After nearly three years at that company, Katie began looking for another professional opportunity where she could leverage her storytelling and communication skills in the healthcare field.
“I came to LetsGetChecked three years ago because of the type of impactful innovation that they were putting into play. I was following their story and the route to care they were presenting as a solution to so many who need it was really motivating,” she shares. LetsGetChecked is a healthcare solutions company that allows customers to manage their health from home through direct access to diagnostic testing, virtual care, and medication delivery for a wide range of health and wellness conditions
Katie first joined as a Content Strategist and has moved up to Senior Content Manager, and now Director of Content serving both the marketing and product needs across the business. Her team’s main goal is to create patient-centered content that focuses on the needs of the consumer. “It's about understanding what the patient needs and making sure that they feel confident in taking control of their health,” she elaborates. “We know what the pain points are in the current healthcare landscape globally, so we try to identify what they're motivated by, and help them understand that we have this incredible solution that's accessible and affordable.”
One of Katie’s main focuses is strategically finding ways to get the right message out to the right people, especially those with limited healthcare access. “We hear time and time again that patients are feeling unheard, or they feel that healthcare is out of reach both physically and financially. Introducing a service that is such a new concept to people offers its challenges, especially as there is such a trust-building element. What we find is the patient’s voice is the most powerful tool for us because we’re always trying to improve and enhance the experience. Positive feedback about how our tests are saving lives is really the most powerful motivator.” ,” Katie shares.
Katie has been able to build an incredible team of mostly women who are medical writers, campaign creators, and UX copywriters, all working together towards a patient-focused mission.
“So much of what we're doing is translating a service that has been an interpersonal one, and taking that level of assurance and communication into a platform that you can access from the comfort of your home,” Katie explains. “Our best method is to make sure that we're putting ourselves in the shoes of the patient, figuring out how they can feel the most informed and know exactly what to do next.”
Advice for Women in Science
Being an active voice in the Biotech industry is exciting, but at times it can be challenging and competitive. “It’s such an innovative space. There's a lot of energy in it and I know that people are always striving to improve on what they have,” Katie shares. “It's by no means a stagnant area of the market.” Katie offers the following advice to women pursuing a career in science.
- Shake off your preconceptions. “I can completely appreciate that specific industries are associated with a male-led workforce, and that can be intimidating. I’ve been lucky enough to have strong female leaders in the form of professors and mentors throughout my degrees and career which helped shift that stereotype,” Katie says. “At LetsGetChecked, we have an almost all-female content team and a strong female representation in our wider marketing team. I think that many of the newer companies in the health technology sector in general strongly believe that gender isn’t what drives success, it’s an innovative mind and a strong work ethic. If you find an environment that motivates you to grow, give it your all.”
- Pursue different areas of science. The career options for scientists may seem a bit limited, but Katie encourages women to look beyond traditional medical or lab roles. “Science is an incredible jumping-off point,” Katie says. “I've now worked in two companies that have teams of doctors, nurses, and scientists that wanted to work in a setting that wasn't the most traditional.” Remember, the opportunities are there. “Don't feel pigeonholed into a handful of roles off the back of a science degree, because the areas of health technology and biotechnology are rapidly expanding and diversifying in the types of roles that are available. There are countless roles that literally didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago simply because the technology wasn’t there, but with the expansion of telehealth services there is always a new avenue to pursue.”
Are you ready to combine your passion for science with business and technology? Check out LetsGetChecked’s open roles here!
We all have our favorite websites– the ones we frequent, bookmark, and recommend to others. You might even enjoy some website features so much that you’ve found yourself wondering why they aren’t more popular. Or maybe you’ve experienced times where you were frustrated with a website and wished you could add features or even design your own!
If you’ve ever found yourself intrigued at the prospect of designing and developing your own websites, then a career as a web developer might be just for you!
As a web developer you would be responsible for coding, designing, optimizing, and maintaining websites. Today, there are over 1.7 billion websites in the world and, in turn, the demand for web developers is on the rise. In order to figure out what kind of web development work best suits you let’s start with an introduction to the three main roles in web development that you can choose from.
The Three Types of Web Development Jobs
Front-End Web Development: The Creative Side
In addition to programming skills, front-end developers need to be detail oriented, creative, willing to keep up with the latest trends in web development, cyber security conscious, and geared toward user-friendly designs. The median salary for a front-end developer can reach well into the $90,000 to $100,000 range.
Back-End Web Development: The Logical Counterpart
While a house can be beautifully decorated, it’s incomplete without a solid foundation and efficient infrastructure. Similarly, a well-designed website depends on logical and functional code to power the features of that website. Back-end web development is code-heavy and focused on the specifics of how a website works. If you enjoy the analytical challenge of creating the behind-the-scenes code that powers a website, then back-end development is for you.
Full-Stack Web Development: A Little Bit of Everything
A full-stack developer is essentially the Jack (or Jill)-of-all-trades in web development. Full-stack developers need to be knowledgeable about both front-end and back-end roles. This does not necessarily imply that you would need to be an expert in both roles, but you should fully understand the different applications and synergies they each imply. In order to work in this position, you will need to know the programming languages used by front-end and back-end developers. In addition to these languages, full-stack developers also specialize in databases, storage, HTTP, REST, and web architecture.
Full-stack developers are often required to act as liaisons between front-end and back-end developers. Full-stack developers need to be both problem solvers and great communicators. The end goal for a full-stack developer is to ensure that the user’s experience is seamless, both on the front-end and on the back-end. In return, you can expect to earn a median salary of $100,000 – $115,000 a year for this role.
Taking the Next Step
Web development is both in-demand and lucrative! All three roles described above contribute to specific aspects of web development and the scope of each one can be customized to the industries and positions you feel best suit you. Regardless of which role you choose, all of them need a foundation in programming.
To gain the programming skills needed in each role, you can enroll in courses or learn independently. Coding bootcamps are a great way to boost your skillset quickly and efficiently.
Click here for some of our highly rated programming bootcamp options! Make sure to check out the discounts available to PowerToFly members.
💎Having curriculum gaps doesn’t necessarily imply a disadvantage in the recruiting process. Watch the video to the end to learn how to walk through them in an interview.
📼Worried about your curriculum gaps? Evan Farren and Ânia Sá, Talent Acquisition Specialists at LetsGetChecked, share advice on how to feel comfortable talking about gaps in education, experience, or employment when applying for a position.
📼 Curriculum gaps can be concerns for potential employers, but they're not necessarily deal breakers. Your recruiter will likely ask you for more information, but even if they don't, you should walk them through any gaps or moves, your reasons for those, and what you were doing during that time. This will help to alleviate any concerns that your recruiter or the hiring manager may have. And remember: be honest throughout the process!
📼If your curriculum has gaps in education, don’t feel discouraged to apply. LetsGetChecked understands that not everyone has been afforded the same opportunities. For this reason, they are working where possible to remove any education or qualification requirements from job descriptions and let your experience do the talking. Just be sure that you have plenty of examples prepared so that your interviewers can see the full benefit of your experience!
Relevant Experience Beats Curriculum Gaps - Get Through The Interview Process
A candidate will get an interview at LetsGetChecked if they are qualified for the position and have relevant experience working in a similar environment and industry. The tech interview process usually has four steps. The first step is a quick call with the recruiter to talk about motivation, experience, salary expectations, and availability to start. The second step is a 45-minute tech screening call with two tech members. The third step is an offline exercise plus a full technical interview and the exercise will be the base of the interview. The fourth and last step is a cultural fit interview with the team lead. Keep in mind that during an interview, it's important not only to show your experience with specific tools, languages, and procedures for a job but also the right motivations!
🧑💼 Are you interested in joining LetsGetChecked? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to Know Evan Farren and Ânia Sá
More About LetsGetChecked
LetsGetChecked is a virtual care company that allows customers to manage their health from home, providing direct access to telehealth services, pharmacy, and laboratory tests with at-home sample collection kits for a wide range of health conditions including Sexual Health, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Thyroid, Coronavirus (COVID-19), and more. Founded in 2015, the company empowers people with the care they need to live longer, happier lives. Today, LetsGetChecked is a leader in healthcare innovation with an end-to-end model including manufacturing, logistics, lab analysis, affiliated physician support, and prescription fulfillment, which provides a seamless user experience and a convenient, reliable and secure healthcare experience.
Lucy Wang only has one regret about her career in product marketing: that it took so long for her to find it.
“I switched between different lanes quite a bit early in my career, before I finally hit product marketing,” she says. “I wish that I had had a program or network of mentors to go to and say ‘Hey, I’m an engineer, but my passion is connecting with people. There are so many roles within marketing. I don’t know which one is cut out for me. Can you give me some advice?’”
She did figure it out eventually, building off of long and productive stints in marketing functions at Microsoft and Amazon, among other places. Currently, she is a Director and Head of Product Marketing at security software company Veracode. And now more than ever, she’s focused on paying back her hard-earned knowledge and perspective.
“I bumped around and figured it out years later, but I could’ve avoided some pitfalls,” she says. “And now I feel passionate about providing mentorship to others so they can avoid some of those detours.”
We sat down with Lucy to hear more about what advice she has for those considering a career in product marketing — including which soft skills are really necessary (and perhaps even more necessary than hard, coding-based skills) to succeed.
There’s one question Lucy asks all of her mentees when their relationship begins: “What’s your passion? That doesn’t mean the industry that gives you the highest pay. We spend a lot of time at work and if that’s not something you feel passionate about, you’ll feel burned out very quickly.”
As a student, Lucy considered educational psychology as a life-defining passion, but later found her passion elsewhere. She was in Seattle in the early 2000’s and saw how the tech field was taking off and impacting daily life, and she decided to give it a try.
Growing up, her engineer father had stressed the importance of pragmatic thinking and problem-solving skills, which served her well in her first tech role. She did a master’s in computer systems to deepen her knowledge, and her hard-working approach helped her make it through several rounds of layoffs when the dot com bubble burst.
But working through turbulent times made Lucy realize that pure engineering was not her true calling.
“I felt passion and energy from connecting with people,” she reflects. She took on some management roles and even ended up doing an MBA. Several jobs later, she found herself at Microsoft, where she had her first “true, bonafide product marketing experience.”
That’s when it all clicked for her. “I have a special knack for positioning and messaging a very technical product in a way that people understand,” says Lucy. “I can explain and sell things to someone who knows little about my industry.”
When it came to subject matter, Lucy jumped at the chance to head up the marketing for Microsoft’s cloud platform Azure (Platform as a Service) and later AWS’ portfolio of databases.
“Everybody was moving to the cloud; it was a full digital transformation,” she says. “People were freaking out about how to do that, and I understood that pain.”
Embracing cloud meant dealing with a new set of security concerns, which set Lucy up well to transition to Veracode when the opportunity came up.
“Customers had to think about business continuity when migrating to the cloud. If we transition to the cloud, what happens to our portfolio of applications? Can they continue to run without a break? What about cyber attacks? These are real topics people have to worry about.”
Passion + Skillset = Impact
Passion is the first step in Lucy’s framework for finding meaningful work — but the second is knowing that you can make a difference.
“When you feel passionate about something and you have the skill sets to bring value to the table, you are helping the business to do better down the road. It’s pretty powerful and fulfilling,” she says.
That’s what led Lucy to take a role at Veracode. She was interested in the security field, having worked through related problems for cloud products and also in her own personal life, where she’d dealt with data breaches twice as a customer of her bank.
She also liked that Veracode was a mid-sized company where she could really visualize making an impact.
“It’s not a small company, but it’s small enough for you to make a sizable impact,” she says. That’s been especially true during the last year and a half of the Great Resignation, she notes, which has put pressure on her and all managers to step up their game and really have an employee-first mentality.
“You cannot be their authority figure. That’s so 1980. You have to be the coach, the mentor, the shoulder that they can lean on in life. It’s extremely important that they’re happy, that they can feel safe and motivated to do more. You start by showing them what you can do for them: how you can enable them, how you can help unblock them, and how you can help them build a career here,” says Lucy.
Lucy is excited about the parallel problems she is currently working to solve — first, how to bring Veracode’s security platform to its target customers, and second, how to build a team that can empower customers while fulfilling their career goals at the same time.
5 Key Soft Skills for Product Marketing
When Lucy is hiring for her team — or even helping to interview for other teams within the company — she’s looking for a range of abilities, and few of them are hard skills.
“People think you have to be a nerdy person. You have to be a math genius to find a job here. That’s so not true,” she says. “If you have the right passion, portable skills, and a can-do, can-learn attitude, you will find a job in tech.”
Here are some of the key soft skills Lucy looks for and helps her mentees foster:
- Creative problem-solving. “If you want to grow faster, you have to find gaps and you have to find solutions to fill those gaps. People hire you for a reason. They have a real business problem to solve. So you come in, identify the problem, come up with a solution, and execute.”
- Getting curious. “Curiosity is really important. If you are curious about how things work, then you'll come up with something even better than what is already in place.”
- Building relationships with people who are doing what interests you. “This helps you get the real detail, the real download on what roles are like, and also gives you a support system like mentors you can go and ask for help.”
- Empathy. “I’ve seen many great [women] leaders in IT who, on top of having the same brain power as any other gender, have a special ability to nurture and connect, which I have found powerful and refreshing.”
- Accepting your mistakes. “You want to learn through the mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for small mistakes; there's no need to do that. If you don’t make any, when something bad does happen you won’t know how to deal with it.”
Overall, Lucy wants other women and underrepresented groups to have confidence in themselves — and to not cut themselves off from a promising career before even trying it out.
“All these other people, they seem to have everything. But underneath the calm surface, they also panic, just like you do,” she says, smiling. “Have confidence in yourself.”