Camelia Roman knows that perfect is overrated—and she’s keeping that in mind as she works on several DIY home-improvement projects.
“I have big plans for microcement. We’ll see how it goes!” says Camelia, smiling.
The Android developer at global media streaming company Plex believes in the power of experimentation in more than just her home improvement projects. It’s something she’s kept front of mind throughout her career.
“Don't demand perfection from others, or yourself. That’s very common nowadays. We’ve all looked for perfection for so long. And we’ve finally learned that it’s not the way to go,” says Camelia, referencing lessons learned during the pandemic.
We sat down with the Romania-born and -based developer to hear more about what she’s learned over the years, including what advice she has for other developers building their careers remotely.
Finding Her Space
Camelia liked math in high school, and when she entered college, she set out on a dual path: psychology and computer science.
Two years in, her program required her to get some on-the-job experience, so she found a role as an Android developer. The job helped her make a decision on her future path, and while she’s still interested in psychology, she satiates that interest via books and Ted Talks.
Camelia came to her current role by way of a startup that Plex acquired in 2017.
It meant going from being a team of one to one of many, but Camelia enjoyed that. “It was a bit intimidating, because at the previous startup, I was the only Android developer, and I was working alone. Here, I have very experienced colleagues, and I was wondering if I would be able to keep up,” she says.
She did, though, and has been thriving at Plex for over five years now.
“I was happy for the change,” she says. “When I met with one of the founders and the CEO, it sounded like an awesome place. And after all these years, I still think it’s true.”
5 Tips on Thriving While Remote
Plex has a headquarters in California, but it’s always been a fully remote company. Here are the guiding principles that help Camelia find success at work, even while working with colleagues in different countries:
- Practically, always have a video backup. “Most people have had those problems: internet stops working, your dog starts barking, computer crashes, et cetera. I’ve learned the hard way to have a video prepared that I can share in case my presentation doesn’t work as I would have wanted it to,” says Camelia, sharing that she once had this problem and accidentally autoplayed a video of her cat to her entire company. “Even though everyone was very understanding, it’s still better to have a video or PowerPoint of what you want to share instead of dealing with whatever the remote demo gods will throw your way!”
- Have the right attitude. “It’s common sense, but accept that we are all humans. We make mistakes, we should own our mistakes, we should fix them and learn something from them if we can, and then move on,” she says.
- If you’re having trouble focusing, let your workflow change as needed. It’s normal for personal to-dos to creep into the workday, says Camelia. But the nice thing about working remotely is being able to control your own schedule, and it’s good to take advantage of that. She gives an example: “Maybe my mom’s coming over and I haven’t done the dishes. Instead of looking at my watch and saying, ‘Okay, in one hour, my mom will come; in 50 minutes, my mom will come,’ it’s better to just wash the dishes and be done with it.”
- Approach imposter syndrome with gratitude. “My colleagues are very experienced and very smart, and instead of being overwhelmed by that, which sometimes happens, it’s better to be grateful that you have something to learn from them, and to take advantage of that,” says Camelia.
- Ask for the help you need—and give it, too. Even now, years into her career, Camelia regularly finds herself confronted with things she doesn’t know. When that happens, she first goes online and looks for help. Her second port of call is her colleagues. “I still have a lot to learn, and that’s what makes me happy, in a way. I’m not stagnating,” she says. “And it’s good to remind ourselves that there’s always something you can learn, or something that you can teach. Teaching is very rewarding, too.”
Vera Huie had her first exposure to finance via a shoe store.
She worked there in high school and found herself more interested in the back office side of the business, with its bookkeeping and accounting functions, than the retail side, with its aisles of shoes to be sold.
“I really enjoyed the checks and balances and arranging the puzzle pieces in order to make sense of things and to understand the story behind the business,” says Vera, who is now a Senior Finance Manager at food and beverage giant Nestlé USA.
That after-school job launched a multi-decade career. After working in finance for a few other companies, Vera is currently celebrating her 22nd anniversary at Nestlé—and we sat down with her to learn more about her story and to hear her advice for other women interested in building a successful career in finance.
Investing in the foundation
Vera studied business economics in college, but it was her experience working in the field after graduating that really cemented the importance of a strong understanding of financial fundamentals.
“I see finance as a base foundation for running a business,” she explains. “Businesses evolve and change. Look at ecommerce, which wasn’t something someone might have thought of 30 years ago. You need to evaluate the go-to-market strategy. What does the business plan look like? What are the tax implications? There’s a core component that remains foundational but there are parts that evolve, and that’s what makes finance so interesting.”
Vera thinks of finance as “vast and ever-changing,” though even she was surprised by the abundant opportunities to continue to learn and deepen her knowledge during her 20+ year Nestlé career.
She joined the Nestlé USA team first and foremost because of its leadership, she says. “The hiring manager that took me on was very energetic and warm, and that spoke to their culture and the type of talent they brought in. Not only did they have strong business acumen, but it was very much a personal company.”
The focus on an industry that interested her was—excuse the food pun—the cherry on top.
“Food speaks to everyone. Those of different ethnic backgrounds, different cultures, in different markets – we get to satisfy the needs of our diverse consumers,” says Vera. “When I meet people and they find out I work for Nestlé, they often react with a lot of passion and excitement. It’s neat to see how far-reaching our products are.”
Vera started her career at Nestlé in corporate accounting and describes her work there as “speaking finance to finance.” But that’s not where she stayed.
Over the years, Vera has worked in corporate reporting, where she partnered with business units; in management, where she managed a sales disbursement team; in project management, where she was involved in the transformation of the company’s finance organization; and in specific business units, like the company’s import and export business, which had her traveling to Mexico to learn how to leverage local production capacity to bring brands like La Lechera and Abuelita to the States.
Across these different roles, one thing kept Vera focused: the people.
“Role or title never mattered,” she says. “It has always been about colleagues working together to collectively drive the business. I really do appreciate working with our people, and that has carried me forward.”
Looking back, Vera sees her finance career as having had two distinct paths: initially it was focused on corporate finance, followed by her transition to business units, where she learned to be a business leader first, a financial expert second.
“In a business unit, you’re working with sales, marketing, supply chain and manufacturing. You’re speaking finance to non-finance folks, working to really understand impacts, and how we can work collectively as a team to ensure brand growth and development and effective new product launches,” she says. “For instance, I didn’t know much about marketing, but my marketers would educate me and I would educate them on the finance side.”
Vera credits her career advancement to two forces: her own will and Nestlé USA’s commitment to investing in its people.
“You drive your own career, and you are your own limit,” she says, referencing opportunities Nestlé offers to do things like move into different divisions and even move abroad. (Vera has stayed positioned in the U.S., but she did move from California to Virginia to be closer to Nestlé’s new headquarters in Arlington.)
“Growing up, I was very timid, but at Nestlé, I’ve constantly been encouraged and supported and have built my confidence as a finance business partner,” she says. “I’ve come out of my shell and developed, not just technically, but also in how to interact with people, how to be an influencer without needing to be in a particular role of formal authority. I’ve learned leadership, effectiveness, collaboration, and how to leverage radical candor and healthy conflict to move things forward.”
4 key strategies for a successful finance career
We asked Vera what advice she’d want to pass on to other women in mid-level and high-level finance roles who want to advance their career path:
- Have the courage to ask questions and learn from others. “It’s normal to hesitate,” says Vera. “But it’s a sign of leadership to be able to step forward and admit that you don’t know something. Your example could open up the floodgates for everyone else. It establishes your position as a leader,” she says.
- Every experience is a learning experience, good or bad. “That means you shouldn’t dwell on any one particular incident,” says Vera, “but rather reflect on what happened, learn from it and move forward.”
- Be present at the table as if you already belonged. “Don’t wait for anyone to invite you. Put yourself forward and do the work to make sure you do belong,” says Vera. “If there are things you don’t know, take the initiative to go out on your own accord or with your network to sharpen that skillset.”
- How you project yourself is how others will receive you. Related to her point above, Vera encourages women to learn how to be their own best advocates. “My personality and my culture had always been, ‘Keep your head down, do your work, and people will recognize you.’ That’s not true,” she says. “You also have to learn to proactively build your brand.”
Auna Walton designed her first website in high school.
She later built on that skill set while studying computer science in college.
But it wasn’t until her first Silicon Valley internship where she learned what it really meant to be a software engineer, which is her current job title at data platform company Splunk, Inc. It was less of neat assignments and more of pushing out features, and Auna rose to the occasion.
“In the classroom, all the parameters are set up nicely for you. In the real world, things aren’t set up perfectly. You may not have this, or that, and projects are undefined. You have to figure out both the problem and the solution,” she says.
But Auna is comfortable tackling problems and speaking up about how she solves them, which has been a boon to her work. We sat down with Auna to hear more about how she’s built a satisfying career, and why she’s excited to keep growing at Splunk.
Tip 1: Ask for what you need
Auna was sitting through a presentation in college about an alum’s startup when she realized that she had a lot to learn from him.
She went up to the founder, Michael, after the presentation, showed him the website she’d built for a local nonprofit during her senior year of high school and asked if she could work with him on his company’s site.
Michael said yes, and Auna credits that early professional experience with setting her up for success with future internships.
“It’s hard to go to someone and say, ‘Give me this,’ if you don’t have anything to offer,” says Auna. “So put in the time first. I know it’s not easy—you have schoolwork and you’re a human being and you need to rest—but spend time working on side projects, because it shows people what you can do.”
Having that experience on her resume prepared Auna well to do her school’s semester in Silicon Valley program, structured like a co-op model, where she worked at a startup and took classes in the area.
“It was stressful in that it was a lot of work with only six engineers. They actually used their interns. The training wheels were off, and Michael was no longer there for mentorship. But it helped me move at a faster pace and figure things out on my own,” says Auna.
Tip 2: Work to understand, even if it’s uncomfortable
Auna’s first exposure to Splunk was at the Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC), a global women in tech conference, where her school sponsored her to attend. Splunk had reached out to meet with Auna before the conference began, and upon arrival, Auna says she was immediately impressed with the company's witty t-shirt taglines and warm energy.
She got an offer to become an intern, and was placed on the company’s engineering productivity team. She helped build a tool that measured productivity, identified roadblocks and bottlenecks, and showed which stage each feature was at so that teams could make improvements based on real data insights.
When she was first assigned the project, though, Auna didn’t quite see the value in it—and she decided to tell her manager that.
“I remember thinking, ‘Okay, there’s a lot of ways this can go wrong, because I’m an intern, I’m a Black woman, and I don’t want to come off aggressive; I don’t want to step on any toes,’” says Auna. “But the culture at Splunk is truly collaborative. I knew my manager was an open-minded person and a really nice guy. I felt like I could go and give him my perspective.”
The conversation with her manager went well; he appreciated her questions and shared some of his own doubts about the project. “It was interesting to hear that managers don’t always know everything, either, and that they’re looking for their team members to contribute ideas,” says Auna.
She shifted her mindset into how she could improve the project, and ended up working with other engineers to make a tool that was more useful to them.
Tip 3: Do your best on all your work, even what seems small
After finishing her internship, Auna accepted a full-time offer at Splunk and moved to the Bay Area to start work. While she’s been mostly remote because of the pandemic, she’s happy to have made the move and to have stuck with Splunk. (Though she is now on an external-facing team—a move that her management fully supported.)
Auna says she feels taken care of by Splunk, citing benefits like extra time off called “pandemic days” that employees can take to deal with health concerns or family responsibilities and a “power hour” each day in which employees are encouraged to spend 60 minutes of each workday focused on their mental or physical wellbeing.
“Sometimes I tell my parents about these benefits and they’re like, ‘Are you guys working over there?’” says Auna, laughing. “It truly feels like we’re all a team. If we have the mentality that we can take breaks, we can keep working towards our goals. And it’s about all of us. If I’m successful on my project, we’re all successful as a company.”
With her renewed energy, Auna is able to dedicate herself fully to her work, and encourages budding engineers to find ways to do the same. As an example, she cites a collaborative side project she built with two engineering productivity interns during a Splunk hackathon—and put her all into—that has grown into something that the company uses every day.
“Try to do things that you may not think will bring value, but very well might,” she says. “Even if it looks small, it could really blossom into something huge.”
💎 If you're looking for engineering job opportunities, the engineering team at Turo is the one for you! Watch the video until the end to learn more about growing your technical and soft skills and how you'd impact the business by joining the company!
📼 Make sure to catch all the engineering job opportunities currently available at Turo. In this video, you'll meet Linda Zhang, Director of Engineering at Turo, who will share a bit about the engineering team, how you can thrive, plus what the company looks for in candidates.
📼 Before applying for one of the many engineering job opportunities at Turo, get to know the company and the team. They organize their product development teams by domain: Guest, Host, and Risk Protection, each responsible for an area of their product. Several cross-functional teams exist under each domain, represented by a dedicated product manager and designers. Each group owns the project from the beginning to the end and is responsible for defining the customer experience and delivering on the business metrics that support Turo's goals and mission.
📼 What roles can you find within Turo's engineering job opportunities? The company is hiring engineers on all platforms and at all levels. Specifically, they're looking for senior-level and above with (typically) four-plus years of experience. During your interviews, they will evaluate technical skills and soft skills based on their company core values. On the technical side, the team wants you to be passionate about technology, comfortable in your chosen language, and possess the skills necessary to solve problems efficiently and effectively. You should be able to articulate the trade-offs for your decisions. On the soft skills side, Turo would like you to talk about your experience and projects you're proud of and how you collaborated with and supported others.
Engineering Job Opportunities at Turo - What Do You Need to Thrive?
For you to thrive at Turo, you'll want to exercise the company's four core values: being supportive, down-to-earth, pioneering, and efficient. At Turo, team members help each other, challenge each other, and collaborate. As Linda puts it, "We're humble, transparent, and we lead without being arrogant. We encourage people to get out of their comfort zone and try new things. We're rational and react quickly."
🧑💼 The engineering team at Turo is growing! Make sure you don't miss any of their open positions. To apply, click here.
More About Turo
Turo is the world's largest car-sharing marketplace. You can book the perfect vehicle for your next adventure from a vibrant community of trusted hosts across the US, Canada, and the UK. Recognized as A Great Place to Work®, Turo prides itself on creating a supportive, down-to-earth, pioneering, and efficient work environment. As a community-centered company, they embrace diverse talent from all backgrounds and from all over the globe. They care deeply for their work, for each other, and for their mission to put the world's 1.5+ billion cars to better use.