Editor’s note: The following post is by Shweta B., Vertical Head for Financial Services, Media, Travel and Professional Services, in India. In her own words, she describes four core characteristics that empower client partners and client solution managers on the Global Business Group team to succeed.
When I’m asked about the last two years of my career journey, the first thing that comes to mind is the people I’ve worked with and the impactful change we’ve made together. After four years in business operations at another tech company, I started thinking about how I could apply my leadership skills to a new challenge. After exploring a few different opportunities, I was introduced to a position with the Global Business Group team in India that aligned with my experience and interests in developing a team of client partners and client solution managers. I was struck by something else I discovered through my interactions with my Meta colleagues as well: an incredibly inclusive culture where it was clear that the team was intentional about empowering one another to grow. Collaborating with a diverse group of people from unique backgrounds has been one of the most rewarding parts of my experience over the last two years with the company. I’ve also been inspired by observing how, despite the different paths people on my team have taken throughout their career journeys, we all share several key traits and skills: empathy, curiosity, authenticity, and the ability to think ahead. Looking back, I’ve reflected on how each of these characteristics are helping to power our collective success.
Empathy not only helps me connect with my team, but it empowers us to build relationships with one another, the cross-functional partners we work with internally, and our clients - advertisers across the travel, financial, media, and professional services industries. Strong relationships enable us to establish a foundation of trust, facilitate open and honest conversations, and see things from a perspective outside of our own. This is especially important for my team. Our clients depend on us to advise on their advertising strategy, and in order to help them meet their goals, it’s critical that we understand who they are, what they’re doing, and what matters most to their customers. With this, we must also recognize that there isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. What works for one client won’t necessarily work for another, and solving problems often means working together to think about a creative idea we haven’t tried before. Having deep care for the end-user and being empathetic about their needs is a north star that helps us continuously strive for building the best experience possible.
Shweta and the GBG In Market team enjoying time together at the Meta office in Gurgaon, India.
At Meta, we’re on the frontier of inventing cutting-edge ways to develop new advertising solutions—and with that, we’re implementing methods we haven’t tried before. Innovation is a key element of our team and company culture, and introducing new ideas calls for deep curiosity. Rather than doing things as they’ve always been done, people who thrive on my team challenge each other to be bold, think bigger and share outside-of-the-box ideas. We ask ourselves questions like, “What can we do for the client if we think beyond product or bandwidth constraints”, “What could this look like in the long-term?”, and “We might not have the skills internally to answer all of our client’s questions, but who can we partner with cross-functionally—or globally—to solve this problem?” As the first point of contact for clients, bringing our curiosity to our cross-functional teammates is incredibly valuable. We ask questions to introduce new ideas, and we collaborate closely to solve challenges.” Curiosity also means being open to change, and it’s a trait I look for when meeting with potential team members. Outside the questions focused on skills, I usually ask potential candidates for their honest view on Meta technologies, what do we do exceptionally well, and where we could do better as a company from their perspective. While we hire for specific roles, we leave space for people to help redefine their roles and take on new challenges as our work evolves. This not only empowers team members to employ their curiosity to explore different interests and possibilities, but to think more broadly about how to make the most meaningful impact.
Authenticity—bringing your full self to work—makes it possible to be open, transparent, and vulnerable. In turn, we can communicate more effectively, foster strong relationships and lead by example. Having these capabilities is like having superpowers when collaborating cross-functionally, developing a team, and working with clients. Despite the incredible benefits of being authentic, I wasn’t always certain how to balance being my full self and showing up as a strong leader. I initially felt hesitant to share details about my life or talk about what mattered to me outside of work—and that prevented my team from being more open with me. At Meta, being authentic is at the heart of our culture. Leaders embrace transparency and demonstrate what it means to be open. Experiencing this has inspired me to rethink my own approach and grow. “When we’re comfortable being our authentic selves, we’re most empowered to put our best foot forward.” Now, one of my favorite parts of the week is the first 15 minutes of our weekly team meeting. We talk about anything and everything—as long as it’s not work-related! This bonding time helps us learn more about one another. I’m proud of the relationship we’ve formed together, and they know I truly care about each of them. This comfort and connection extends to our work with clients as well, helping us bring a transparent, people-first approach to our work. We won’t suggest a product that doesn’t align with their goals just to fulfill ours, and we’ll be realistic when we need to think about changing course. While these authentic interactions may seem small, they make a big impact.
No two days are the same here, and we’re constantly thinking about what’s next. No matter a team member’s experience or role, having the ability to look ahead enables us to keep the big picture in mind and work toward longer-term goals. It also inspires us to be creative and start conversations about how small decisions today can contribute to what happens tomorrow.Right now, we have a massive opportunity to shape the future and make an impact across India in the travel, financial, media, and professional services industries. I often think about how this is the first time that India’s digital advertising industry has surpassed the TV industry, and how WhatsApp and Instagram have exploded in popularity over the last few years. The work we do with our clients is part of this shift in the way people consume advertising and media, and everyone on the team is able to drive change for the community. While we’ve already accomplished so much together, there’s still limitless opportunity to look forward to!
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.”
With Juneteenth right around the corner, we are reminded of the importance of freedom, diversity, equity, and inclusion — and the dangers of a world without them.
Special holidays like Juneteenth give us the ability to celebrate race and culture together, and they are an example of the progress we have made in the fight for a better world. But there is still so much more to do, and progress comes from a year-round celebration.
That’s why PowerToFly’s All Year Long Series focuses on carrying the spirit of these dedicated times throughout the rest of the year. We are devoted to being a part of that progress and want to ensure that the underrepresented feel uplifted, heard, and included — no matter the day or month!
As part of our All Year Long Series, we are amplifying Black voices by sharing some past talks on race, inclusion, history, and equity.
These talks deliver powerful messages of movement and change and feature Black voices speaking up about racism and inequality in the workplace and beyond, the changes that have been made, and the changes that must still occur.
Check out our list to keep the progress and celebration going all year long, and to help spread awareness!
Sista Circle: Celebrating Black Women In Tech - Featuring Leaders From Meta, Google, And Bank Of America
If you want to learn from some of the top tech leaders, then this is for you! PowerToFly partners with Sista Circle: Black Women In Tech to celebrate, learn from, and be inspired by some amazing Black women leaders in the tech industry. This talk discusses the power of technology to create safe communities of solidarity, the need for mentors to help young Black women navigate the tech world, the racial and gender inequality in the tech industry, the importance of mental health and self-care for Black women in the professional realm, and much more. Featuring Lexi B (Founder of Sista Circle: Black Women in Tech), Michelle Mitchell (Strategic Communities Program Manager, Media Partnerships at Meta), Dr. Chyna Hill (Sr. User Experience Researcher at Google), Yan Lawrence (Quantitative Analyst at Bank of America), and Isabel Cespedes (Creative Director of Sista Circle: Black Women in Tech), this powerful talk shows both the rise in Black women leaders and the need for continual change in the tech industry to better achieve diversity, equity, and inclusion. This conversation is presented in partnership with Sista Circle and Pickens Creative.
In this riveting talk, PowerToFly’s Sienna Brown sits down with New York Times bestselling author Julie Lythcott-Haims to discuss her memoir Real American. In her book, Julie talks about her journey from self-loathing to self-love as a Black and biracial woman living in predominantly white spaces in 1970s America, and how in sharing her path to self-acceptance she also discovered the healing power of community in overcoming the hurtful isolation she experienced in being incessantly considered "the other."
History, race, and identity – three powerful words that can invoke different emotions. In this talk, Camille T. Dungy, author of the personal essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers, joins Nadia Owusu, author of the memoir Aftershocks, for a thoughtful conversation on how their works overlap on these three themes and the powerful testament they share for what racism looks like today.
Very little is more powerful today than the media. That’s why DeShuna Spencer founded KweliTV, a Black-owned video streaming service that showcases indie films, documentaries, web shows, news, and children’s programs dedicated to the stories, issues, and culture of the global Black community. But in this interview hosted by David Morgan, President of The Multicultural Media & Correspondents Association, DeShuna and Kweli’s Head of Comedy Programming acclaimed actor and comedian Lil Rel Howery, share candid insights into the challenges KweliTV faces trying to achieve sustainability and scale in the competitive streaming industry still bereft of culturally diverse content and content creators, and the overarching cultural importance of consuming diverse Black stories. This conversation is presented in partnership with MMCA.
Maybe you find out your white colleague is making more money than you, even though you've been working there longer and do the exact same job; or maybe you hear your boss commit yet another microaggression. Whatever the catalyst, you finally decide enough is enough. But when you talk to someone about your experiences, you’re told it's all in your head... What do you do? How do you respond when your lived experiences of racism in the workplace are denied or ignored? In this talk, PowerToFly’s Global DEI Strategist and Trainer, Noelle Johnson, provides space to acknowledge the harm these experiences cause and shares tools and tips for preserving your mental health and well-being while getting your desired outcome.
February is Black History Month and June 19th is Juneteenth – two times of the year that special emphasis is placed on the Black community in the United States. But how can we Amplify Black Excellence and Elevate Black Employees all year long? Join PowerToFly’s Senior Director of DEIB, Sienna Brown, and Thumbtack’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Dionna Smith, as they discuss how leadership and professional development opportunities can amplify Black excellence. What pitfalls should you avoid when elevating Black employees? How does psychological safety play a key role in performance and retention? Learn how to create a better atmosphere of diversity and inclusion with two leaders in the DEI industry!
Thanks to Black Lives Matter, a powerful and necessary conversation has resulted in real change. But how do we keep that momentum moving forward? Join Dionna Smith (Thumbtack’s Global Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion), Candace Ramirez (Founder/Content & Branding Export at Moon Honey Media), Suzanne Sheely-Walker (Facilitator/Talent Consultant), Andrea Hall (Senior Global Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific), and Mira Stern (Equity & Impact Consultant) as this impressive group of women leaders tackle such important topics as anti-racism, inclusion, diversity, women's rights, and mental health in the workplace, and how the momentum of Black Lives Matter can help continue to spur change.
Did you know that a recent survey showed that Black transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination? Despite the continual push for diversity, equity, and inclusion today, there is so much work to be done. But how can we solve this problem? Moderated by Marti Allen-Cummings, drag artist and activist, this discussion features Aryah Lester (Deputy Director at Transgender Strategy Center), Diamond Stylz (Executive Director at Black Trans Women Inc.), and Carmarion D. Anderson (Alabama State Director, Project One America at the Human Rights Campaign) as they discuss the discrimination that the Black transgender community face, the effects that the anti-transgender bills of 2021 have on the transgender population and youth, how Black transgender and gender non-conforming people struggle to find work, and the continual need for support and inclusion that the community requires.
What does it take to organize a social justice movement? And how do you create change in a stubborn world? That’s what Alicia Garza, activist, organizer, and co-founder of Black Lives Matter, is joining Washington Post Pulitzer Prize-winning Robin Givhan to discuss. Host of Lady Don’t Take No podcast, author of The Purpose of Power: How We Come Together When We Fall Apart, and special projects director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Garza continues to fight against racial injustice and inequity as the principal at the Black Futures Lab and the Black to the Future Action Fund. By offering power and healing in community, she talks about the importance of coming together, individual experience, and the willingness to stand against injustice. This conversation is presented in partnership with The Washington Post.
This past year has seen unprecedented numbers of women of color – specifically Black women – leaving the workplace. Greater still, many more are considering leaving their jobs by the end of the year. The cause? For many of these women, feeling burnt out and wanting greater purpose in their careers is the biggest underlying factor. But what does that mean for the future of the workplace and the women of the Black community? In this insightful fireside chat, Rha Goddess, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of nFormation, CEO of Move The Crowd, and author of The Calling, and PowerToFly’s Senior Director of DEIB, Sienna Brown, discuss how Black women have the power to reimagine the future of their work. So what does that look like in this new reality? And how can they have a comeback that is aligned with their purpose and values? What will that comeback actually take? Join Sienna Brown and Rha Goddess to find out!
For the first time ever, we have a woman of color as Vice President and a Black woman nominated to the US Supreme Court. But while these are substantial achievements that should be celebrated, that doesn’t mean we don’t have a ways to go. According to the Human Rights Watch, “Black, Latinx, and Native communities have been disproportionately burdened by the negative impacts of Covid-19, which has deepened existing racial injustices in healthcare, housing, employment, education, and wealth accumulation. While poverty fell overall due to stimulus checks and unemployment aid, the Black-white wealth gap, which is still as big as it was in 1968, persisted.” So how do we change this injustice? Global Policy Solutions’ CEO Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and APCO Worldwide’s Licy Do Canto sit down to discuss just this. In an insightful conversation about what’s truly working and what’s needed when it comes to racial equity in 2022, they share some steps that everyone listening can take to make a difference – even in your own backyard!
Insight from CallRail’s Amanda Raymond
If you ask any of Amanda Raymond’s friends, family members, or colleagues, they’d all agree that she embodies living life to the fullest.
The Staff Engineer at CallRail is currently exploring the great American outdoors in a custom camper which doubles as her portable office. And when she’s not showcasing her coding skills at work, she’s busy exploring, kayaking, solo hiking, or making repairs on her house with wheels. “Everyday something breaks, so I'm learning how to be an electrician, learning how to be a plumber, and everyday I have to learn something new,” she says cheerfully.
This roadtrip is a full circle moment for Amanda because, just over 8 years ago, after quitting her job as a biochemist, she set off on another cross-country trip that reconnected her with an old friend who introduced her to an opportunity to change her career trajectory by joining a coding bootcamp.
“Coming from a biochem background, you had to have a certificate on a wall with a high degree to get through a door. I had a bachelor's, I didn't have a Masters, I didn't have a PhD,” says Amanda. “I knew that I wanted the freedom of a career in Tech and the lifestyle of a coder so I took a leap of faith.” And she dove headfirst into a full-stack web development bootcamp. That leap of faith has helped her transition from a job in science that she wasn’t passionate about and grow a fulfilling career that allows her the freedom and flexibility with a company that embraces her adventurous spirit.
We sat down with Amanda to hear more about her career journey, and to gain some unique insight on starting a career in technology with a non-traditional background. Keep reading for her top 5 tips for breaking into a career in technology.
Tip 1: Acquire the Skill Set: Join a Bootcamp or Use Online Resources
Amanda’s journey began when she attended a coding bootcamp. “At the time I joined, the whole concept of coding bootcamps was new,” she explains. “So a lot of people didn't know what bootcampers were.” But nowadays, bootcamps are one of the most popular ways to learn how to code and, like for Amanda, they serve as a great foundation for career pivoters to break into the world of tech.
Amanda highlights the fact that you don’t have to have a degree in computer science to start working in tech. Career pivoters have valuable experiences, perspectives, and transferable skills that can be hugely beneficial for companies. Amanda sees having a background in something other than tech should be seen, “not as a disadvantage, but as an advantage.”
But bootcamps aren’t the only way to accelerate your learning, especially considering the financial investment required for these intensive courses. “There are so many free resources out there,” Amanda elaborates. “If you have the discipline to teach yourself, you can listen to podcasts, you can do tutorials online, you can watch YouTube videos, the possibilities are endless. Information is free on the internet these days and so at the end of the day, if you're trying to see if you wanna go into tech, I would say immerse yourself with that information.”
Tip 2: Network to Build Personal Connections!
When it came to finding a job, Amanda eagerly recommended networking. “My advice to people going into transitioning into tech is to go to meetups consistently, but don't go with the intent of getting a job,” she warns. Instead, she advises to focus on making connections, and the professional opportunities will follow. “Get to know people, be excited to be there, be motivated to learn, and be curious about the people that you're meeting. Because at the end of the day, a lot of people just want to work with people that they get along with.” Amanda secured her first major tech job at a small startup via a networking event. Her connection with a friend of a CTO of a local startup led to an interview, her first job in tech, and a “forever mentor.”
After a bustling three years of learning under the wing of that CTO, Amanda was ready for the next learning experience via a different lane in the tech industry. “The fervor and energy surrounding ‘startup life’ was incredibly rewarding and insightful for my apprentice-like mind for 3 years, but eventually proved pretty taxing,” she explains. “ I was excited to dig into the next phase of my career transition at a larger company..” So, once again, she utilized her network to transition from her startup to a position in CallRail. “Some of the CallRail admins had previously worked for the same startup I was currently working at, and my CTO advocated for me as a reference to let them know I was going to apply.”. She started her journey with CallRail in 2017.
Tip 3: Leverage your Transferable Skills
When pivoting into tech, your transferable skills will help you bridge the gaps that you might be missing with education. In fact, they can also give you a leg up on your colleagues. In Amanda’s case, applying the scientific method to coding came as a strength. “I use it daily at work for solving problems,” she explains. “It comes down to observing a problem, researching the topic, proposing a hypothesis, running an experiment that can test that hypothesis, analyzing the results, and then reporting the conclusion.”
Having an idea of how your prior skill sets can be applied in your new career is an interview must. Being prepared to explain your non-traditional background can help employers better understand who you are and what you can bring to the table.
Tip 4: Find the Right Work Environment for You
One of Amanda's favorite aspects of working at CallRail is that the company prioritizes employee passions. “CallRail is a place where, if you are passionate about something, then they will do whatever it takes to help you to do it. They want people to be passionate about what they're working on.” And that doesn’t just mean in the workplace. In fact, Amanda credits her current lifestyle to CallRail’s trust and willingness to provide remote opportunities post-COVID. “Not many companies would be okay with what I am doing, but CallRail has been very supportive. My manager has, from the very beginning, been supportive of this track for me.”
Having a sense of support and trust at work translates to overall happiness and wellbeing. “At the beginning of my mobile office journey, I asked my manager to please let me know if I have a decrease in work efficiency, and that I would promptly adjust,” she explains. “And my manager responded with,, ‘If anything, we think that you are going to do better work because you will be happier.’”
To find the best work environment for you Amanda recommends doing your research on company values and culture and asking questions to make sure the company is a good fit. “When you're interviewing for a job, they're not just interviewing you, you're interviewing them to see if that's a place where you can thrive.” She further explains, “At the beginning of your career transition into Tech, you want to find an environment that celebrates where you are currently in that journey and provides you with tangible resources and guidance to take you to the next level.”
Tip 5: Build the Right Mindset
In order to best succeed in this field Amanda highlights three mindset shifts she believes led her to success.
Be patient with yourself. “You have to have a lot of patience with yourself when learning something new. And if you have confidence that you can do anything you set your mind to and the patience with yourself to stick with it (because it won't happen overnight)— you can be successful,” says Amanda. “The patience to stick with myself and continue to believe in my abilities during challenging times was my map to transitioning into tech.”
Get comfortable not always having the answer. For Amanda, starting a career in tech requires accepting that you will need to be a continual learner. “I think that being in tech is kind of like being on a constant roller coaster of newness and learning. That journey never ends, and you have to kind of be okay with that and then get good at it,” she explains.
Be passionate and coachable. As the previous point suggests, teachability is a trait that any career pivoter needs to embrace. During her time as a coding instructor, she noted that the most passionate students were the most likely to succeed, saying “What I saw as a teacher and as a mentor is that the people that were truly passionate, in a way that was contagious, were able to succeed by constantly communicating and staying humble, yet eager to tackle the rigorous process of learning.”