Dileshni Jayasinghe grew up swimming around the beautiful islands of her home in Sri Lanka.
From a young age, she actively pursued what she loved and dedicated herself to mastering new skills, even if they scared her. As a kid, this led her to learn to scuba dive and swim competitively. As an adult, she plunged into learning how to code from scratch and pursuing a career in software engineering, despite having grown up without a computer.
We sat down with Dileshni to hear more about her experiences, her work as a Senior Engineering Manager at PagerDuty, and her insightful advice for increasing diversity in tech.
Determination is Key for Growth
Dileshni’s family moved to Toronto, Canada during her last year of high school. While dealing with the challenge of a new culture and country, Dileshni was thrown into her first computer courses — Java and visual basics — with very little computer experience. “I liked it because it was challenging and it wasn’t something I had done before,” she explains. Though she struggled to keep up with the rest of her class, she enjoyed the challenge enough to pursueComputer Science as her college major the following year.
“I felt like it was this puzzle that you can solve and you can do so many cool things with it,” says Dileshni. She did a lot of her learning at university, which she admits was extremely hard, since she had to play catch up. “The first two years I thought about dropping out,” she says. “I wasn’t at the same level as the other kids who grew up learning computer science overnight.”
Through hard work and perseverance, Dileshni learned to give herself the grace to learn at her own pace. “My stubborn streak came out and I said, ‘No, I started this, I want to finish it,’' she says. “And I [ended up] developing really good habits about learning new things and giving myself space to learn on my own.”
Her determination opened the door to dive straight into her career. After gaining ten years of software engineering experience, she was offered an opportunity at PagerDuty, a multi-product platform that helps companies of all sizes proactively manage their digital operations. What first attracted her to the company was the people, who she deemed as inclusive and empathetic. That, along with the opportunity to develop her skills on a deeper level, convinced her to accept the offer.
Stretching Her Skills at PagerDuty
Another thing about PagerDuty that stood out to Dileshni was the opportunity for growth and development. “PagerDuty really encourages me to grow and gives me opportunities to stretch my skills and keep growing in my career” she elaborates. “At other companies, I felt like I had to ask for opportunities and always push to learn something new.” At PagerDuty, she has been learning and growing from day one.
For example, one of her managers offered her the chance to manage a second team of engineers in the Event Management group. “I still remember thinking, ‘Are you sure this is a good idea?,’” she reminisces. “But he believed in me and he gave me this stretch goal and I surprised myself!” After successfully leading multiple teams, she was asked to lead the PagerDuty Process Automation (formerly Rundeck) teams. This was a bigger challenge, because it involved taking on a team from a group recently acquired by the company.
“My manager told me, ‘You're going to have to grow this team, launch a new product, learn how to work with a whole different set of people who are coming from a startup world,;” explains Dileshni. “I thought, ‘Well this is a big challenge, but I'll give it a shot.”
As a woman and person of color, Dileshni emphasizes PagerDuty’s work in creating places “that foster inclusion, well-being, and innovation,” which enables safe spaces to ask questions and have the resources to step into new challenges.
“PagerDuty is a place where people really like to help each other and see each other grow. All my coworkers are people who would say, ‘I'm not sure about this either, but let's work on it together and we'll figure this out.’”
Finding Ways to Support Your Peers
PagerDuty enables a strong community by providing learning and development programs, gender pay equity, generous paid parental leave, and employee resource groups (ERGs).
One of the ERGs is SisterDuty, a group of women, non-binary, agender, genderqueer, and ally Dutonians who regularly get together and give back to the community. PagerDuty also partners with local organizations that provide education for women and non-binary people in tech.
Apart from her strong community at work, Dileshni credits her confidence as a woman in tech to her group of mentors, women who cheered her on when she came back into the workforce after becoming a mother. Much of this support has led her to create initiatives that help bring visibility to women and people of color in tech.
One of these initiatives was a volunteer-based tech talk development platform for diverse professionals. When she spoke to tech event organizers, she noticed the speakers weren’t reflective of Toronto’s true tech community. “We wanted to see more people like us speaking at tech conferences,” explains Dileshni. “So I said, ‘Why don't we start something where we give people a welcoming space to do their first tech talk?”
Over five years, Dileshni and a group of volunteers supported countless women and people of color by giving them a space to practice their tech talks, receive feedback and training, and connect them to monthly events. She hopes to continue making an impact in the tech space by giving diverse professionals in tech new opportunities to grow in their careers and communities.
How to Bring Diversity to Your Team
“Diversity in tech is important because you get so many different perspectives from people,” says Dileshni. “If you have a diverse group that you're working with, you see how their careers are growing, and it gives you a vision for your own future.”
We asked Dileshni for three pieces of advice in creating places of diversity in the tech field:
- Listen to your team. Diverse perspectives are important. “Don’t just hire people from different backgrounds, but give them the space to share their ideas and feedback,” advises Dileshni. She recommends keeping it personal. “I prefer one-on-one conversations, not surveys. You have to find unique ways to communicate, ways that make sense for your team.”
- Be aware of your own bias. “We all have different biases, right? If you're lucky, someone will point it out,” she says. “You should thank them for it because it takes a lot of courage for someone to share that with you.” Being aware of your biases allows you to see how they affect people, and what work you can do to address them. “They're not sharing it as a negative thing. It's because they want you to understand that bias and how it might be affecting them,” Dileshni continues. “Communicating and setting expectations with your team is important. Let them know that it's okay for them to come to you about these things and give you feedback.”
- Create equity within your company and your team. “Managers have the ability to push for pay and promotion equity, and recognize the work that underrepresented folks do to hold teams together,” says Dileshni. “Recognize the work they do to create inclusive places of work and always look for ways to improve the work culture.”
To find out more about Dileshni’s work at PagerDuty or to discover similar opportunities, check out their job listings here.
Remote Work Tips: Fostering Belonging in a Distributed Environment
💎 We’re living in times when remote work is becoming more and more typical for employees. And many companies have organized hybrid workplaces, with some people coming to the office and some working from home. How can teams foster belonging in this kind of distributed environment?
📼 Play this video to get three top remote work tips on how to foster belonging in a distributed environment. You'll hear from Phylicia Jones (“PJ”), Senior Director of People Development at PagerDuty, who shares her experience when it comes to connecting and staying engaged on a distributed team (like the one at PagerDuty).
👉Want to work at PagerDuty? They’re hiring! Check out the company’s open jobs:
Senior Engineering Manager (Lisbon) https://bit.ly/PagerDutySrEngManagerPTF
Senior Software Engineer - Platform (remote!) https://bit.ly/PagerDutySrSoftwareEngPTF
VP Partnerships (remote!) https://bit.ly/PagerDutyVPPartnershipsPTF
📼 Tip #1: Share Your Story. In a remote work or hybrid environment, you may find it challenging to build a genuine connection with your team. So you should find ways and opportunities to share pieces of yourself with others so they can see and know your whole self at work. Each time you connect with others, it's an opportunity to share a story, whether it's in an interview, a one-on-one, or in a team meeting. Share a piece of your life! What makes you “you” outside of your role? What experiences energize you? Share how you are really feeling, versus always saying, “I’m fine,” so you can be more present at work. That’s how you humanize moments that matter and connect with others.
📼 Tip #2: Be Curious, Always. Now with remote work, most of our interactions are behind a screen. To help foster belonging within your team, take a genuine interest in understanding how people think and feel. Remember, a lot happens that we can't see or read. So ask more questions! You can reach better decisions, outcomes, and ideas when everyone can have a voice, share a point of view, and give input in a way to move forward. Invite people in by asking for their opinions. That way, you’ll open up a powerful dialogue that includes people and creates an engaging and healthy debate.
Tips for Remote Work Team Connections: Be Present
Phylicia advises to be present and always listen. The more aware we are of our actions and how we impact others, we can better connect and engage with everyone. But this requires us to be present in each interaction. We must listen to what is said, along with what is not said.
📨 Are you interested in joining PagerDuty? They have open positions! To learn more, click here: https://bit.ly/PagerDutyPTF
Get to Know PJ
Phylicia “PJ” Jones is a driven global talent and organizational development professional with 12+ years of experience advising and working for organizations in the areas of organizational and talent development and transformation. PJ has expertise in managing projects, collaborating and leading teams, executing programs and processes in employee and leadership development, training facilitation and delivery, learning content development, communications, and change management. In addition, she’s passionate about implementing solutions to improve talent performance and business operations to achieve organizational goals.
More About PagerDuty
Latest News: PagerDuty made Parity.org's Best Companies for Women to Advance List 2021!
PagerDuty was founded in 2009 by three innovative software developers who knew what it was like to carry the pager for “always-on” cloud services. What started as automating on-call rotations has evolved into a multi-product platform that helps companies of all sizes proactively manage their digital operations so their teams can spend less time reacting to incidents and more time building for the future.
💎 Wondering how to prepare for a job interview with PagerDuty?
📼 Press PLAY to hear tips that will help you ace your interview, from PagerDuty's Sarah Solecky, Senior Sales Talent Partner, and Doni Evans, Technical Recruiting Business Partner.
📼 What is the best way for candidates to stand out during an interview with PagerDuty? The first thing you should know is that the company recruiters are going into it with a “yes!” mentality. The recruiting team is looking for candidates who are passionate about what they do, visible within the technical world, have graded content that’s viewable online, and (ideally!) even speak at conferences. Make sure you share positive experiences and are open to feedback.
📼 The interview process at PagerDuty starts off with an introductory call with the recruiter when you’ll have a general high-level discussion of your background and experience. The recruiter will ensure that you align with the available opportunity. Moving forward, you’ll have a conversation with the hiring manager, who will then advance you to meeting with the team. At this point, you’ll get a lay of the land, the technical stack scope, and the role’s responsibilities.
Key tip for your interview with PagerDuty
Can you quantify and qualify what you’d bring to the role? Make sure that you’re tailoring your resume to the opening, including your technical qualifications and past career growth. You should provide answers to questions such as: How did you add value to that project? Did you save the company time or money? Adding numbers and percentages that relate to your skill set helps to tell your story.
📨 Are you interested in joining PagerDuty? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
Get to know Sarah and Doni
Sarah Solecky is an energetic and charismatic head of recruitment in a SaaS-based environment who seeks top talent locally, regionally, provincially, nationally and internationally to drive the business forward.
Doni Evans has been a part of PagerDuty for six months now, working alongside the Corporate Talent Acquisition team as a Strategic Partner supporting the US & Canada Business Units, LOB's and Product & Engineering teams.
More About PagerDuty
Latest News: PagerDuty made Parity.org's Best Companies for Women to Advance List 2021!
PagerDuty was founded in 2009 by three innovative software developers who knew what it was like to carry the pager for “always-on” cloud services.
What started as automating on-call rotations has evolved into a multi-product platform that helps companies of all sizes proactively manage their digital operations so their teams can spend less time reacting to incidents and more time building for the future.
The phrase 'work-life balance' doesn't work for Lindsay Jones. She much prefers 'work-life integration.'
The London-based enterprise account executive at cloud computing company PagerDuty starts her day with a wakeup call from her four-year-old son. Once the children are off to school, she links up with her team in a virtual coffee meeting, and spends the rest of her work day helping grow international business for PagerDuty. After a full day of work and meetings, she returns to mom duty. "As a working mom, you've got to figure out how to integrate all of that together," she explains.
Working for a company with a supportive culture facilitates that integration. "I've never, ever felt that I couldn't say no to something work-related because family needed to take priority at that particular time."
We sat down with Lindsay to learn more about how PagerDuty has supported her in achieving that work-life integration, even in the midst of the company's global expansion and growth.
Breaking into the business
Lindsay studied psychology in university. "I'm analytical, but also creative. The psychology degree allowed me to explore human behavior and why people act the way they do and how they think, which has been super relevant for my job in sales," she says. "It reminds me that, at the end of the day, people buy from people, and it helps me establish business relationships on a human level."
After finishing her studies in psychology, she turned to dance choreography to satisfy her creative side. "I danced for eight hours a day, every day, for two years." But at the end of those two years, Lindsay had to make a decision to either pursue dance professionally or enter into a corporate career. She decided to hang up her dancing shoes and find a career where she could apply creativity and love of people to her work.
Eager to start a new chapter in her professional life, Lindsay signed up for a career guidance workshop where she would showcase her skills and learn the best career fit for her. "At the end of the workshop, I was sent a job application for a sales position for an organization focused on building the sales pipeline for enterprise software companies." Lindsay spent five years at this company, learning and perfecting the art of sales. "[My path] was slightly unconventional, but I absolutely wouldn't change it. I am really honored that that was my first step into sales, because I built a super strong foundation that has enabled me to springboard into other roles."
Creating true impact
Nearly 15 years after that career guidance workshop, Lindsay started thinking of ways she could further grow in her career. "It was really important for me to end up in an organization that was doing something innovative, that had strong leaders, that had a culture that I could buy into and be part of, and that was really making a difference," she says. After doing research and connecting with different companies, she found a company that checked all of her boxes. "The clincher for me was meeting with some of the leaders and learning not only the culture that exists at PagerDuty, but how they were so maniacal about creating and maintaining it."
Lindsay attributes the intentionality behind the company culture to the impact it has on transforming businesses. "I've never worked at an organization like PagerDuty where the culture was really felt from the top all the way down through the organization and actually has transferred into every engagement that we have with our customers."
"The cultural values are really well communicated and that allows you to embody them and represent those on a daily basis." One of Lindsay's favorite company culture principles is #AckAndOwn, which stands for acknowledge and own. "It's about empowering everybody at all levels in the organization to be responsible and accountable for the types of engagements that they're having, not only externally, but internally as well," she says."Everyone has the best of interests at heart, always."
Navigating growth in a hybrid environment
In 2017, PagerDuty announced the launch of its UK offices. Since then, the company has expanded into the markets throughout EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) and APJ (Asia-Pacific Japan), and evolved from an office culture to 'distributed by design'. (The Europe-based sales team continues to scale, now hiring beyond London in Germany and the Netherlands, and the company has added a sales team based in Australia. Four years later and the international business continues to be one of the fastest growing parts of PagerDuty.) This rapid growth has kept Lindsay on her toes. "Everybody needs to wear quite a few hats, especially in those early days, and that means that we're super busy." With shifting responsibilities at work and two growing boys at home, Lindsay has learned the importance of work-life integration for both personal and professional success.
"One of the challenges that comes as an organization grows is maintaining company culture." Luckily for Lindsay, PagerDuty's collaborative culture has only been reinforced by the company's growth. This makes work-life integration much more feasible because she knows she's not expected to solve every problem on her own. "We've got a policy here that if you've been working on a problem for more than five minutes on your own, and you've not managed to think of a solution, get your team involved."
Maintaining these personal interactions with her team has been crucial to Lindsay's personal development as well. "Personal growth has come from an awareness of the integral parts that all work together in a business the size of PagerDuty," she explains. "While we are expanding globally, we're at a stage of growth where I can still have personal interactions with other departments." Finding ways to collaborate with other teams and work toward a common goal has helped Lindsay to support some of PagerDuty's largest enterprise customers.
Working virtually also poses its challenges for a rapidly growing team, but regular communication has been Lindsay's key to successfully navigating growth in a virtual work environment. "We're pretty maniacal about making sure that we have regular touch points as a team and talk through our business, share our wins, and brainstorm through challenges." These twice per week 'tea-time' meetings have kept Lindsay and her team united as they navigate challenges and collectively come up with solutions.
"For every challenge, there are two wins we're celebrating." Apart from visible wins such as onboarding new clients, Lindsay's team celebrates less obvious wins like reaching personal objectives, welcoming new team members, and "continuing to hire diverse talent and making sure that we've got a good representation, across the board, with different beliefs, cultures, and ethnicities."
Advice for leaders experiencing global expansion
If you find yourself in a situation similar to Lindsay's, here are her tips for continuing to pursue personal growth and work-life integration while your company grows:
- Create the culture that you want to be part of. "Invest time in defining the attributes that you want your team culture to have, and communicate why they are important." Lindsay also highlights that a team's culture should appeal to heart and mind. "Think about how you can encourage everyone to work cohesively so that they buy into the culture and collectively work toward a common goal."
- Get clear on your goals. While it is easy to get caught up in busywork, don't lose track of your objectives. "I check in with myself every day on my daily goals. I also track my monthly goals and my quarterly goals. At any time I know where I am against each one." And with the rapidly shifting climate of global sales, one must be flexible and fearless. "Don't be afraid to change those smaller goals if they are not driving you towards your north star goal."
- Celebrate your wins. While global expansion comes with growing pains, it is necessary to bring attention to the positive outcomes. "You're going to have some tough times ahead, especially in that early global expansion stage, so it's important to celebrate your wins, not only internally with your colleagues, but also with your customers."
Want to celebrate personal and professional wins alongside Lindsay at PagerDuty? Check out their open roles here.