All About Yelp Hackathon
Below is an article originally written by Alexandra Phillips, an Engineering Manager at PowerToFly Partner Yelp, and published on November 7, 2018. Go to Yelp's page on PowerToFly to see their open positions and learn more.
It's time for our fall Hackathon! At Yelp, Hackathons are two-day events that provide unstructured time for our engineering and product teams to work on whatever may scratch their creative itch! Hackathon truly embodies our company values of "Playing Well with Others" and "Being Unboring," as it invites us to participate in so many different ways.
Engineers have the liberty to work on projects related to or completely outside the box of the Yelp product. We've seen many types of projects over the years from music videos and new photo classification algorithms to baking workshops, custom video games, and so much more! It's a great outlet for collaboration and innovation that really helps foster teamwork and creativity.
Ready, set, hack!
For the past several weeks, we've been hard at work preparing for the final Hackathon of the year: number 27! This year will be our ninth year running, with each year traditionally hosting three hackathons. This pace enables the engineering team to have reliable and regular outlets for their creativity and to take advantage of several opportunities throughout their career to work on a variety of different project types.
We're particularly focused on the celebration of building something together, and in an effort to recognize that, have come up with six different awards: Useful, Funny, Cool, Hardcore, Unhack, and Spotlight. The Spotlight award in particular rotates its theme every Hackathon; Hackathon 27 we'll be spotlighting "Inclusion" which is an important facet of Yelp culture. We're hoping to this inspires a broad range of projects and activities bringing awareness to how important inclusion is in workplace culture.
Hackathon planning is a collaboration between our awesome Engineering, Engineering Event Planning, and Engineering Recruiting teams. There's a lot of orchestration involved in selecting the theme, arranging the catering, helping engineers find or evangelize their ideal projects, designing the swag, and of course, planning the Ridiculousness!
Plenty of hacking fuel!
In the true spirit of being unboring, Ridiculousness is the center of fun and games during Hackathon. Need a break from hacking? Come on by to paint, build, draw, or play interactive games with your fellow engineers! Team connectedness is something that transcends both our SF and Hamburg Engineering teams and is celebrated by sharing a Hackathon kickoff toast and awards ceremony.
I've had the amazing opportunity of seeing so many unique, creative projects that have been the product of hard work and collaboration of our engineering and product teams. I'd like to share just a few with you!
One of my favorite projects coming out of Hackathon is "AWE the Book." AWE is our Awesome Women in Engineering employee group at Yelp, who champions and facilitates initiatives to improve inclusion and diversity within Yelp Engineering. "AWE the Book" is a collection of interviews from over 60 women in Engineering and Product, with each page speaking to their childhood aspirations, what they love about Yelp, and their pathway into the tech industry. It was an amazing demonstration of people coming together to work on a project they're passionate about. Read more about it in this blog post!
One useful Hackathon project that's now embedded into Yelp culture is Yelp Love, an app that allows any employee to send kudos to one or several colleagues at a time. Yelp Love has become the defacto way to say "thank you" to a coworker that really went above and beyond, and it helps us all live by our "play well with others" value.
Hackathon Science Fair - Winner of the Hardcore award, Neon Incident Pager
One of the most hardcore projects was the "Neon Incident Pager project." This was a physical neon light and LED display that integrated with our incident paging system to create a bright and eye-catching display when an incident is triggered! This project took on a creative, fun, and yet hardcore challenge to produce something really remarkable!
Hackathon Science Fair
I grow more and more excited as we head into Hackathon 27 as I'm reminded of some of my favorite aspects of Hackathon at Yelp: meeting new people, learning new things, and building! Hack on!
According to a recent study, anti-Asian hate crimes have risen 150% since the pandemic started. But these acts of violence are not new — they are part of a much larger history of anti-Asian racism and violence in the U.S.
That makes celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (which was named a month-long celebration in May by Congress in 1992 "to coincide with two important milestones in Asian/Pacific American history: the arrival in the United States of the first Japanese immigrants on May 7, 1843 and contributions of Chinese workers to the building of the transcontinental railroad, completed May 10, 1869") this year all the more important.
As we reflect on recent events and how they fit into a much larger history of discrimination, we're also taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the many achievements of the AAPI community.
We asked several of our partner companies what they're doing to honor AAPI Heritage Month at work, and we were inspired by the range of responses, covering everything from campaigns to #StopAsianHate to educational events on AAPI history.
Here's what they're doing, in their own words:
Empowering authenticity - LogMeIn
"Our theme this year is AIM to Be Real. We are embracing our new company values and celebrating those who bring their authentic selves to work, who help create space to celebrate diversity of thought, and who give back to the API community. Our Asian ERG, Asians in Motion (AIM), is hosting several events: a discussion about bringing your authentic self to work with Jerry Won (Dear Asian Americans podcast); a refugee-led virtual cooking class; ERG Movie Club discussions featuring Bollywood films, and a virtual volunteer event where we will offer career development mentoring for young women across Asia."
Learn more about LogMeIn here.
Educating on current events — Raytheon Technologies
"Raytheon Technologies is honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with an enterprise-wide global town hall event – Real Talk: Building CommUNITY Together. Organized by the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) employee resource groups across the company, employees will share their personal experiences and discuss ways to support Asian American Pacific Islander communities. The event will also feature prominent leading advocates from renowned civil rights organizations to provide insight into the national context surrounding recent events. We will also feature AAPI employees internally and on our social media channels."
Learn more about Raytheon Technologies here.
Encouraging awareness, growth, and learning — Moody's
"Moody's is encouraging awareness, growth, and learning during Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the following activities, led by our Multicultural Business Resource Group and DE&I team:
- Weekly newsletters featuring AAPI employee profiles and cultural resources
- Video screening and small-group discussions supporting #StopAsianHate
- Cultural panel discussion featuring employee stories
- Professional development activities
- External speakers speaking about Asian leadership"
Supporting professional development — Freddie Mac
"Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month at Freddie Mac – Together, We Are Stronger
Freddie Mac supports the professional development of Asian and Pacific Islander employees while promoting an increased awareness of the value they bring to the organization and our local communities. Our InspirASIAN Business Resource Group is hosting various activities throughout the month such as:
- Personal development session on empowerment led by a coach from our Employee Assistance Program.
- "Stop Asian Hate" lunch and learn geared toward discussing the hurdles facing the AAPI community.
- Fireside chat about racial injustice with leaders from our InspirASIAN and ARISE (employees of the African diaspora) BRGs."
Fostering inclusion, learning, and belonging – Nestlé USA
"At Nestlé USA, the Pan Asian Network (PAN), one of our many employee resource groups that support our Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion initiatives, will host a variety of events to honor and acknowledge Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. These activities will foster greater inclusion, enhanced learning, and belonging for the AAPI community. PAN will highlight women's development in Asian cultures, Asian leadership and what their culture means to them, culinary innovation of Asian cuisine, intersectionality of LGBTQ+ and Pan Asian community, as well as an enhanced learning watch party of the PBS movie 'Asian American.'"
Learn more about Nestlé USA here.
Promoting cultural literacy – Relativity
The Community Resource Group at Relativity
"For Relativity, Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month is an opportune time to not only celebrate the rich AAPI cultures represented within our company, but to also foster awareness and allyship amidst the current rise of AAPI hate. RelAsians, our internal community resource group, has organized a few activities for May: a book club focused on AAPI heritage—because we feel it's never too early to gain cultural literacy, a weekly spotlight on AAPI Relativians, and a virtual event that takes attendees on a tour through an Asian grocery store, introducing native vegetables and staple ingredients for traditional home-cooked Asian recipes."
- Contribution from Neha Pant, Sr. Performance Engineer & Angie Ocasek, Sr. Specialist, Partner Enablement – Co-Chairs of the RelAsians Community Resource Group at Relativity
Learn more about Relativity here.
Creating transformative experiences – Facebook
"At Facebook, our APIs employee resource group's mission is to create transformative experiences for all APIs at Facebook, Inc through key cultural awareness and engagement highlighting the API community. To kick off APIHM, we will host a series of events and conversations for the community and its allies designed to support the API community around the theme, The SUM of Us, including:
- Letting Others In: a mindful discussion series that privileges intersectional voices, storytelling, feedback, and vulnerability as tools for building empathy and inclusion amongst organizations.
- Racial Healing Learning Session: specific to the API Experience focused on naming of experiences and emotional responses, understanding the body's responses to racial trauma, what the audience can do in the moment for self-care, and long-term strategies to overcome the effect of the traumatic experience.
- Bystander Training/self Defense Workshop"
Learn more about Facebook here.
Extensive and exciting programming — 2U
"At 2U, Inc. we'll be honoring Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with extensive and exciting programming coordinated by our employee-led Asian Pacific Islander Network (APIN). In a year marred by exceptional challenges APIN has centered activities around the ameliorating themes of joy, culture and wellness. Be it delighting in a ukulele mini concert, reading an interview highlighting an API coworker, winding down after too much screen time with a somatic healing session or engaging in a panel discussion with API tattoo artists, we have a packed month ahead with opportunities to support oneself and the API culture! Follow along @Lifeat2U on Instagram for more!"
Learn more about 2U here.
Amplifying voices and educating others – Smartsheet
"During APAHM, the API at Smartsheet community will be hosting several events and activities to educate others, amplify AAPI voices, and celebrate the AAPI community! We plan to kick off the month with a documentary viewing and discussion to learn about AAPI history, and hope to share personal stories from our AAPI employees throughout the month. We'll end with an opportunity for the community to celebrate itself by gathering together for fun and games, while eating food from local Asian-owned restaurants."
Learn more about Smartsheet here.
Rising together in sports and culture – NBA
"For Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, APEX is proud to present a multitude of celebratory activities, headlined by an NBA Family Virtual Town Hall and, with the NFL and MLB, an Asians in Sports & Culture Symposium themed "Together We Rise" featuring prominent Asian personalities from the sports world. We are also launching a PSA with an NBA star, honoring Eid-al-Fitr at the end of Ramadan, offering a bystander intervention training led by AAJC, and – because the celebration wouldn't be complete without food – hosting a sushi making class for our members."
Learn more about the NBA here.
Creating courageous conversations – Commvault
"This May, we are celebrating all our Asian/Pacific Islander employees, not just Asian Americans. We will spend the month learning about and celebrating the diverse cultures of Asia through weekly events and activities led by our Multi-Culture ERG. Vaulters and external guests will teach us the history of practices such as yoga, origami, and Asian cuisines. We will also discuss topics like the rise of hate crimes against Asian people and the recent spike in COVID-19 in India. These activities and courageous conversations will engage our workforce and create support for our Asian and Pacific Islander communities around the world."
Learn more about Commvault here.
Honoring history through virtual events – Collins Aerospace
"Collins Aerospace supports our AAPI colleagues not only in May, but all year. Our parent company Raytheon Technologies hosted a virtual Town Hall last month to provide a safe space for open dialogue about recent events targeting Asian Americans in the U.S. In addition to this entity-wide event, our Asia Pacific ERG at Collins is hosting events that educate and honor the importance of Asian Pacific American history such as virtual Lunch & Tours spotlighting South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore, and India; and Thoughts & Support sessions. Site-specific events include virtual cooking class, and viewing PBS docuseries Asian Americans."
Learn more about Collins Aerospace here.
Highlighting new perspectives – MongoDB
"MongoDB will share daily historical facts, highlights of Asian American pioneers, and perspectives from our AAPI employees in a dedicated Slack channel. We will also be providing access to an Asian Pacific American Heritage Month webinar, organizing a trivia night, and holding Processing Together sessions for our internal AAPI community due to recent hate crimes happening across the globe. These sessions are a safe space for employees to share their stories and sentiments of what it is like as an Asian American in America today. (Read MongoDB employee Monica Lu's story about being an Asian American woman in tech here.)"
Learn more about MongoDB here.
Spotlighting diverse communities – Bumble
"At Bumble, moments like heritage month celebrations are often our anchor to ensure we are spotlighting diverse communities. In alignment with AAPI Heritage Month in May, Bumble is rolling out a series of thoughtful programming to encourage internal education and around how to support the Stop Asian Hate movement and better serve the Asian community globally. The lineup of initiatives include:
- BuzzWord DEI Discussion Series with featured guest speakers: This conversation will focus on the Asian community within the context of larger cultural issues such as dating app experiences, fetishization, masculinity, and representation.
- Bumble will be inviting employees to join a virtual Vietnamese coffee-making class. Created in partnership with Phin Bar, an urban brew-bar that offers Vietnamese-style steeped coffee combined with house-made ingredients, Bumble hopes to facilitate a deeper cultural learning and community bonding experience for the team.
- Bumble will also be activating channels across social media and our product to educate our community about bystander intervention and raise awareness around the importance of supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement."
Engaging in daring conversations – Procore
"In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in May, Procore recently organized an internal event to recognize and support the AAPI community. The event was hosted as part of our ongoing internal speaker series, 'Daring Conversations & Allyship,' to create space for an open dialogue around diversity, inclusion, and belonging. All employees were invited to tune in as employees from our AAPI communities shared their unique experiences, addressed anti-Asian hate, and discussed actionable ways to support our AAPI community."
Learn more about Procore here.
Taking action to foster change – SeatGeek
"This month the POC ERG will be meeting and hosting different activities to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This includes creating a safe space to discuss current events, and what actions our communities can take to foster change, sending out a newsletter which will highlight the Asian community in every aspect, and lastly, we will be hosting a guest speaker.
We hope with these planned activities and meetings, we can highlight, and uplift the Asian/Pacific American community, as well as bring awareness to the horrible ongoing attacks they are facing."
Learn more about SeatGeek here.
Uplifting and inspiring the community – Okta
"Okta's People of Color (POC@Okta) ERG is planning to commemorate AAPI Month with a series of fireside chats and iconographical facts posted internally in the #poc and #all diversity Slack channels! These chats will feature Dion Lim of ABC7 News and Comedian/Actor, Ronny Chieng. We will conclude the series with a partnership with Pride@Okta featuring supermodel, TED speaker, and transgender advocate Geena Rocero. The goal of this series is to educate, uplift, support, and inspire! The Okta leadership supports its AAPI employees, customers, and community."
Learn more about Okta here.
Empowering cultural diversity and leadership – Quip
"Salesforce will be celebrating through multiple virtual events, such as a leadership panel on the power of cultural diversity, a tea tasting, a tai chi class, a haka workshop, and more! Members of the Quip team have also compiled an extensive list of resources to support AAPI communities, including ways to donate, take action, and learn more."
Learn more about Quip here.
Focusing on lived experiences – Mindbody
"The Mindbody United ERG focuses on a different heritage or history each month, with May devoted to Asian & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This ERG seeks to provide a platform to both celebrate and learn together. This will manifest in two ways: As a newsletter and a Zoom meeting. The newsletter will feature contributions directly from team members, while the meeting will feature Assembly member Evan Low as our speaker. It is our goal to focus on the lived experiences of the AAPI community, address discrimination, and how to chase after the part of the world we can make better."
Learn more about Mindbody here.
Promoting harmony and unity – T. Rowe Price
"T. Rowe Price is aware and appalled at the recent spike in hate crimes against the Asian community. In response, the firm will center Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month efforts around harmony and unity, in alignment with the Hawaiian value, Lōkahi – Forward as One. To share best practices, successes and areas of opportunities, T. Rowe Price will co-host a Leadership Panel on Asian Leadership Challenges with Baltimore Asian Connect, a consortium of Asian business resource group leaders at local corporations. The firm will also host a book club and restorative listening circles for Asian American associates and their allies."
Learn more about T. Rowe Price here.
Celebrating Asians globally
"May is Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month. Although traditionally a US celebration, at Autodesk we are celebrating Asians globally. The Autodesk Asian Network is hosting Innovative Leaders, including Lori Mukoyama and Jonathan Zee. Lori Mukoyama is redefining experience-driven design globally at Gensler. Jonathan Zee has an extensive portfolio of buildings that are helping to shape cities around the world at Goettsch Partners. Lori and her husband Jonathan combine design, architecture and engineering in their work while simultaneously manage a family together during this pandemic. This event is hosted by AAN, as part of a monthlong series of APA Heritage Month events."
Learn more about AutoDesk here.
💎 Get ready to bring your best self to a job interview at a commercial real estate management company!
📼 Press PLAY to hear insight from a recruiter at VTS, a commercial real estate management company, into how to best prepare for your interview. Andres Harrison, Senior Talent Acquisition Manager at VTS, shares some tips on putting your best foot forward in a virtual setting, as well as the steps for the application process at VTS.
📼 What's the first thing to do before your interview with a commercial real estate management company? Always do your research. Check out the company's web presence, its "About Us" webpage section, social media profiles, everything! You should learn about the company, the position, and the company values. As Andres says, it's important that you know beforehand what you're walking into, not just about the scope of the role.
📼 Andres' go-to questions for a candidate in an interview dig into their motivation for applying to a position at a commercial real estate management company. The recruiter will want to know why you're excited about this role and that you did your research on the industry.
How to Dress for Your Interview at a Commercial Real Estate Management Company?
As a recruiter, Andres is often asked how candidates should dress during an interview. It's important that you do your research on the company culture. If it's more of a buttoned-up corporate environment, you should dress the part. And if it's casual, then you should also dress the part. In a virtual interview, it's no different. As for your interview with VTS, as long as you bring your best foot forward and your authentic self, you're good to go!
📨 Are you interested in joining VTS? They have open positions! To learn more, click here.
More About VTS
VTS is commercial real estate's leading leasing and asset management platform, bringing together landlords, brokers, and tenants to make deals happen. VTS software enables office, retail, and industrial landlords and brokers to transform their leasing process and convert leads to leases 41% more efficiently. MarketView™, the industry's first market benchmarking product gives landlords real-time information to inform deal negotiations and leasing strategies.
Completing the VTS platform offering is VTS Market & Marketplace, the industry's first, integrated online marketing platform and marketplace, powered by the 12B square feet of space managed on VTS software. VTS Market & Marketplace is designed to drive tenant demand for landlords, and remove friction from the leasing process for tenants and tenant rep brokers.
Join the team that's revolutionizing commercial real estate! The company vision is for every team member to bring a full expression of themselves – including their unique experiences, thoughts, and backgrounds – to their work. They innovate by earnestly engaging with, and including diverse perspectives to transform the technology and commercial real estate industries, and the communities they live in.
Learn more about the amazing speakers and sponsors from our September 2021 virtual summit Diversity Reboot: Early Career Connections & Mid-Career Pivots; 4 days of fireside chats, workshops, panels, networking sessions, and an interactive virtual career fair.
Our Early Career Connections & Mid-Career Pivots summit welcomed 8,000+ registrants to the PowerToFly community! From pro-tips on how to kickstart your career as a young professional to restarting your life after caregiving - we covered it all! If you tuned in, thank you! If you missed the summit, you can now relive the entire experience! If you're feeling the itch to pivot or learn some new skills, make sure to use your special PowerToFly code: POWERTOFLY750 to get $750 off your next course with Springboard.
We want to extend a HUGE thanks to our Gold sponsors Smartsheet and American Express and our Influencers Palo Alto Networks, amazing.community, Path Forward, and APCO Worldwide. Also, don't forget to visit our Merch Store and grab yourself some PowerToFly apparel, we donate 100% of the proceeds from our sales to TransTech Social, supporting transgender people in tech.
Last but not the least, registration for our October summit Lifting Latinx Voices at Work is now open! With topics ranging from bilingualism to growing Latinx representation in the C-suite, you won't want to miss this free opportunity to connect with your peers, network with top companies, and learn from leaders who've been in your shoes!
Our Gold Sponsors
In 2005, Smartsheet was founded on the idea that teams and millions of people worldwide deserve a better way to deliver their very best work. Today, the company delivers a leading cloud-based platform for work execution, empowering organizations to plan, capture, track, automate, and report on work at scale, resulting in more efficient processes and better business outcomes.
Smartsheet went public on the New York Stock Exchange in April 2018 and currently enables collaboration, better decision making, and accelerated innovation for over 76,000 domain-based customers in 190 countries, including 96 of the Fortune 100. Smartsheet is a passionate team of 1500+ employees spanning offices in Seattle, Boston, London, Edinburgh and Sydney.
As a global company, it is vital to their success that their employees are as diverse as the customers and communities they serve. American Express has built a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace— a culture they are committed to continuing.
Through their Global Diversity & Inclusion strategy, they're able to channel their efforts in specific ways. They aspire to continue to develop a talent pool that brings together unique perspectives, backgrounds and experiences. They foster a workplace culture where differences are valued and expressed freely and all employees have the support they need to take risks, learn, and collaborate.
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For your next bookclub:
Take charge of your career and create a life full of learning, adventure, joy, and success utilizing these never-before-shared leadership principles Ann Hiatt learned working alongside the world's top tech CEOs—Google's Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, and Yahoo!s Marissa Mayer.Whether you're stuck in your current job, starting your first job and wondering how you can use it as a stepping stone towards your dream career, or mid-career and wanting to finally be recognized for promotion or a leadership role, this book is for you.For the first time, Ann Hiatt shares both the daily habits and long-game strategies she learned working side-by-side for decades with the giants of technology at Amazon and Google.
Next Move, Best Move: Transitioning Into a Career You'll Love by Kimberly B. Cummings
Kimberly B. Cummings, author of Next Move, Best Move: Transitioning into a Career You'll Love, leaves no stone unturned with this thorough, expert guide for professionals seeking to understand how to navigate the world of work, from beginning to end, starting with uncovering personal and professional values in an effort to align their expertise and skills to roles and companies that will finally change the trajectory of their career and set them up to be leaders in the workforce. As a former career development adviser in some of the nation's top universities and a diversity + inclusion professional in a Fortune 100 company, Cummings has recognized that people work for the sake of working without understanding how to leverage their unique gifts and position themselves for success. As a result, Next Move, Best Move: Transitioning into a Career You'll Love shares transformational lessons to ensure success and puts the ball back in your court.
At twenty-five, Tracy Timm experienced a crisis of identity. She had a life that many would envy, but was plagued by the guilt that she was deeply unhappy with her career. Trapped on a Wall Street trading floor for more hours than she cared to add up in a week, and unfulfilled by her daily activities, Timm knew that there had to be more to life than this. But, much to her disappointment, she could not find a proven system that would help her identify her ideal career. That's when Tracy did the unthinkable: she quit her six-figure job, joined the undergraduate program Semester at Sea, and set out to discover her dream job. After two years of soul-searching, three years of human capital advisory work, and countless career and mentor conversations, Tracy made an incredible breakthrough.
Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado
For over a year, the Bronx has been plagued by sudden disappearances that no one can explain. Sixteen-year-old Raquel does her best to ignore it. After all, the police only look for the white kids. But when her crush Charlize's cousin goes missing, Raquel starts to pay attention--especially when her own mom comes down with a mysterious illness that seems linked to the disappearances.
Raquel and Charlize team up to investigate, but they soon discover that everything is tied to a terrifying urban legend called the Echo Game. The game is rumored to trap people in a sinister world underneath the city, and the rules are based on a particularly dark chapter in New York's past. And if the friends want to save their home and everyone they love, they will have to play the game and destroy the evil at its heart--or die trying.
Special Offer from Springboard
Use your special PowerToFly code: POWERTOFLY750 to get $750 off your next course with Springboard.
Springboard is on a mission to transform one million lives through education by 2030. They are an online learning platform that prepares students for the tech industry's most in-demand careers with comprehensive, mentor-led online programs in software engineering, data science, machine learning, UI/UX design, and more.
Learn about other companies that joined us
Part of PowerToFly's Employer Conversations Series: DEI All Year Long
Being your authentic self at work can be a struggle. That's where Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) come in. An ERG builds connections between teams that go beyond simple work relationships. Whether the focus is on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or being a parent, an ERG can be a powerful growth tool for both the individual and the company; and they go a long way in creating more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplaces.
Join PowerToFly and its partner APCO Worldwide, as we break down the ABCs of ERGs. Whether you are looking to start your own ERG, grow your membership, receive stakeholder buy-in, or take your group to the next level, we hope you'll join and participate in this interactive discussion with your fellow leaders. There's no need to prepare anything in advance, but we hope you'll lend your voice to the conversation. Questions are welcome!
This interactive discussion, part of PowerToFly's Employer Conversation Series: DEI All Year Long, will take place on October 7th from 12pm to 1pm ET.
Our subject matter experts will include:
- Dominique Scott, Associate Director, APCO Worldwide
- Grace Boyle, Senior Designer, Co-Chair, Asian and Pacific Islander (API) Employee Resource Group, Co-Chair, North America DEI Council Co-Chair, APCO Worldwide
- Clarence Clayton, Manager, Data Privacy, D&I Community Chair, Founding Member of Blacks United in Leadership and Diversity (B.U.I.L.D), Red Hat
- Michael Russo, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner at Dassault Systèmes
Some topics this talk will discuss include:
- The dos and don'ts of starting an Employee Resource Group
- What types of ERGs can you have
- Events and initiatives that your ERG can participate in
- Maintaining an ERG in a hybrid or remote workplace
- Securing executive buy-in to take your ERG to the next level
- Finding a balance between your "day job" and being involved in an ERG
- And much more.
Can't make the live session? Be sure to RSVP anyway and we will send you a recording.
From PM to Chief of Staff: How Kensho’s Meaghan Cassidy Approaches Career Growth & Continuous Learning
Meaghan Cassidy had all the cool pandemic hobbies before they were cool pandemic hobbies.
She started baking sourdough years ago. She took up yoga and bouldering even before that. And when much of America was frantically googling "how to keep a plant alive," she was caring for her thriving vegetable garden and turning its cherry tomato harvest into a delicious and easy Caprese salad (served alongside fresh sourdough, of course).
It's no surprise, then, that Meaghan has been an early mover when it comes to her career, too—or that she's continuously pursued opportunities to learn and grow on the job.
In fact, she said yes to her current role—Chief of Staff to Kensho's CEO, Bhavesh Dayalji—specifically because Bhavesh said she didn't know how to do it.
"He said to me, 'You're a great PM, but you don't know how to run a business.' I remember bristling and thinking, 'Yes I do!' But he's right. I actually didn't," says Meaghan, who has been at the AI innovation hub of parent company S&P Global for the past 18 months. "The message was, 'You don't know how to do it now, but you can learn. Would you like to learn?'"
Meaghan said yes, and we sat down with her to hear more about that decision, as well as her path to Kensho and what their learning-focused culture looks like writ large.
Stepping into—and out of—PMing
Meaghan came up as a product manager when it was still a brand new field.
"I remember being an intern and asking to have the difference between project and product management explained to me," she says.
While she got her undergraduate degree in social entrepreneurship, she spent half of her last three years of school working at a med tech startup that had her straddling marketing and product. She joined them on the product side full-time after graduating because she thought it would give her the best opportunity to learn about running a business and one day being a CEO, which is still a goal of hers.
After working at a startup in Tanzania where she was employee number two on the ground, she came back to the U.S. to take a job at a slightly larger startup back in the Boston area, where she stayed until getting to experience the volatility of startup life firsthand.
"The co-founders called an all-company meeting one Monday and told us, 'Hey, we weren't able to close our latest round of funding. Everyone's going to be laid off at the end of the week,'" remembers Meaghan.
Over the course of her career, Meaghan has learned to value companies where she can see a real path for her own growth. "It was less about what I would be doing right at the start and more about evaluating the company's mission and vision. Where are they in their own growth trajectory? What opportunities would there be?"
Kensho's work in the ML and AI space excited her, as did the company's growth plan. "I thought I'd have the room to grow and try new things without too much bureaucracy, but also have the stability of not coming into the office on a Monday to hear, 'The funding round didn't go through.' It was a really nice balance and a good mix for me," she says.
She worked as a PM for her first year, and when Bhavesh asked her to be his Chief of Staff, a new position for Kensho, she said yes without thinking twice.
In her role now, her mandate is to solve problems before they hit the CEO's desk and oversee the company's culture, including Kensho's DEI initiatives focused on creating an inclusive environment where every Kenshin feels they can bring their full selves to work. Her PM roles, which required her to translate business goals and values into product strategy and to deeply understand customer problems, have set her up well to run her suite of executive projects.
Making the most of a culture of learning
Kensho is committed to continuous learning, says Meaghan. From monthly knowledge days where engineers take a day to upskill themselves to impactathons where Kensho employees do 1-2 day projects with ESG partners, she notes there are plenty of opportunities to keep pushing yourself to learn and do more.
"There's a sense of intellectual curiosity," she says. "It's about learning, staying motivated, coming from a place of self-improvement and just being able to try things and go for it."
Meaghan credits her can-do attitude, her bias for action, and her self-confidence when approaching learning opportunities (like her new job!) to her family and other people in her life that believed in her from the get-go. Now she tries to pay that forward.
"I love telling my friends or people in my networking circles, 'Go for it, you can do this, what's the worst that will happen? You'll fail. And you'll get another job. It's okay,'" she says, also recognizing that there's privilege in being able to take those kinds of risks.
"I like to challenge myself. I like things that are hard," she says.
For those who aren't lucky enough to get a 1:1 Meaghan pep talk, we asked her what advice she has to keep pursuing growth. Here's what she said:
- Communicate your interest. "Sometimes you need help changing something to kickstart growth, and you shouldn't feel like you have to solve that on your own," she says. She recommends talking directly with your manager if you're in a healthy environment where they'd support you, or if not, finding a mentor or colleague who you can talk about career development goals with. "It can be as simple as, 'Hey, I'm looking for opportunities to be a lead on a project or learn Python.'"
- Volunteer to help. Meaghan points to a Kenshin who put a meeting on Meaghan's calendar and asked if she needed help with any PMing. "She straight up told me she was looking for more PM experience, and my response was, 'Ok, cool, what can I offload to you to help me and help you?' After checking with her manager, of course!" says Meaghan.
- "Sometimes it's just time to take a scary next step." If you feel like you've reached a learning ceiling, it might be time to leave, says Meaghan. "Eventually the time comes when you outgrow your current company. Parting ways is bittersweet, but it's also a time for celebration and reflection where you're looking back on all you've learned before you're onto something new."