Companies That Care

This VP of Software Engineering Strives to Make Things Better

Jan. 8th 2018

The reasons why a person embarks on a journey to become a software engineer are ample: unlimited employment opportunities, generous salaries and benefits, pursuing passion. But for Sha Ma, the VP of Software Engineering at SendGrid, what initially drew her to be a software engineer is the ability to make things better. Sha elaborates "Collaboration and working in teams are crucial aspects of engineering. Being able to effectively communicate is a huge part of our day to day."

Managing and facilitating effective communication across teams within the workplace is no simple feat. Sha and her colleagues at SendGrid take it a step further to actively promote a sense of well-being and community amongst its employees. "SendGrid focuses heavily on creating ways for our employees to connect with one another and to make an impact within our local communities. Whether it's our new office space layout or twice a year alignment offsites or interest groups, we provide employee opportunities to meet and to connect in informal settings as we continue to grow. SendGrid is also forefront in local community involvement. We are heavily involved in tech meetups, startup mentorship, giving back to the community and women in tech events."

One way SendGrid accomplishes its goals of open communication is by permeating a "4H" culture: happy, honest, humble and hungry. "Every employee lives and breathes these values. We've incorporated them deeply into our everyday vocabulary, where people are comfortable giving each other feedback by saying 'Honest H…'. We place a high emphasis on culture during our recruiting and hiring process, where each 'H' is vetted carefully during the interview process. Culture is one of the most difficult things to scale in a fast growing organization, and we work hard on keeping true to these values. I've never been at another company where the culture is so apparent in everything we do," Sha clarifies.

Although culture is an important part of any successful and rapidly growing environment, Sha's day-to-day duties consist of leading the software development organization at SendGrid, building and scaling their world-class email Infrastructure, delivering over 36 billion emails on a monthly basis. Sha is also responsible for continuously developing new products and features to create better experiences for SendGrid's customers.

Sha joined SendGrid as a Senior Director in 2015. Her journey from an individual contributor to a people leader has been a fortuitous and gratifying one. Sha says, "I'm an Engineer at heart, and am always interested in solving problems and making an impact. Becoming a people leader allows me to solve bigger problems than I can as an individual contributor. Enabling people to achieve their full potential has been a super rewarding experience; and being a people leader has challenged me to learn new skills and to become a multiplier for my teams. Growing from IC to Director to VP, my role transitioned from being able to execute, to tactical cross functional planning and providing strategic direction to my teams. At SendGrid, we are focused on growing the next generation of managers and leaders to continue empowering our teams to accomplish more."

Making things better both in and out of the workplace is a lofty goal for any software engineer. But Sha's drive coupled with SendGrid's support and values has made all that possible.

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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