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Hackbright Goes to GoDaddy

Pictured: GoDaddy CTO Elissa Murphy strikes a pose with the Hackbright Winter 2016 engineering fellows at GoDaddy’s Sunnyvale office.

Hackbright fellows got to feel out the GoDaddy culture and mingle with engineers at GoDaddy on Monday, February 22, 2016 at their South Bay office. We also had the chance to speak with Elissa Murphy (Chief Technology Officer) and Lauren Antonoff (Senior Vice President, Presence and Commerce) at GoDaddy.

Elissa spent an hour before and after lunch speaking to the Hackbright fellows. She created an inviting and open forum for students to ask a wide variety of questions and was transparent about GoDaddy, career progression, and industry gender biases – giving the engineering fellows clarity on what it will be like to join the industry as Software Engineers.

Elissa recounted what brought her to GoDaddy, her initial pushback, and how they are working to change their reputation. She felt that she could better serve the female community by changing their culture from the inside out. She has spearheaded how they can better recruit and bring more women on board. This caused a fellow to ask how a junior hire can change the culture of a company, Elissa advised her to be self-aware, communicate well, and to always be yourself.

Hackbright engineering fellows asked questions about career progression and how to be successful. This is industry is filled with intelligent people, so to get ahead you have to fill the gap. Elissa broached the need to recognize and solve the problems other people aren’t. Both women at GoDaddy emphasized the importance of being passionate and staying curious about technology to be successful in engineering.

A question that gets asked a lot both within the coding bootcamp community and to engineering leaders is “What are the challenges of hiring non-traditional engineering talent?” Elissa confidently answered, “None.” She gave examples of some successful non-traditional engineers she worked with in the past and assured the anxious group that the best engineers don’t need a technical background. Hackbright graduates are providing Cognitive Diversity to the teams they join, a huge value add to any group.

During lunch, students had time to talk and ask questions to engineers at GoDaddy.

Lauren joined the discussion after lunch. She spoke about her background and how she broke into engineering. Both Elissa and Lauren provided an inspiring example of how women can work together to support each other throughout their career – having met as young women in their twenties, they have grown with each other, first at Microsoft and now at GoDaddy.

When asked how to push through tough times at work especially at an age when women leave the workplace, Lauren reflected that her mother instilled in her a sense of “I will continue working and get through it simply because I have to.” Concerning her personal success, Elissa “didn’t get the memo” and encouraged others not to get the memo either. Meaning, you shouldn’t allow other people to tell you how to do things and to never limit yourself.

My favorite tip from the women easily became my new mantra: “Be yourself, be authentic, and be transparent.”

Thank you to GoDaddy for hosting the Hackbright engineering fellows – it was so much fun!

3 Important Lessons Learned from Maria Klawe

Dr. Maria Klawe sits on the board of Microsoft, holds a PhD in mathematics, and is currently the fifth President of Harvey Mudd College – where the percentage of women graduating from the computing program increased from 12% to approximately 40% in five years.

She speaks frankly on the topic of imposter syndrome:

“I have started each academic year by telling the first-year students about impostor syndrome, since I know many of them will have times when they wonder whether they belong and whether they are as talented as the other students around them. I give them advice on how to cope: Ask for help and take it, recognize that such feelings are common and are often connected to high degrees of success, surround yourself with people who encourage you, share your feelings with others, celebrate your successes, be willing to try new approaches if your usual one isn’t working, and don’t let your fears stop you from giving your best effort.”

Maria shared some important lessons in a conversation with leading women in technology and entrepreneurship in the Silicon Valley, hosted at GoDaddy last week —

Lesson #1: Importance of Negotiation (AKA Effective Communication)

Dr. Maria Klawe credits the “extraordinary gift” of Harvard negotiation training for helping her learn to communicate effectively. In negotiation training, she learned to phrase what she wanted as “a plus for the other side”.

Maria recommends negotiation training as a way to handle conflicts in the workplace:

“You have to be willing to learn a variety of skills as you move up: negotiation, conflict resolution… I think this is something that can be really useful. Talking about yourself — it’s not bragging, it’s value add. Communicate in a way that other people can hear you to have a place at the table. We are transitioning into a world where women have positions of greater power. We can then demonstrate more inclusive ways of leading than the people currently leading. Because we are moving into a space we haven’t been before, both the men and women are developing better skills. They are seeing the value of diversity. Students from inclusive environments like Harvey Mudd are more intentional in where they want to work. They want their workplace to be inclusive too.”

Negotiation in the workplace means that what starts as an individual negotiating in the context of an existing negotiated order might yield to more systemic changes, which can create an entirely different playing field for those negotiators who follow.

Lesson #2: Importance of Inclusion for Diversity

For diversity to succeed, we have to first create an inclusive environment. To illustrate this point, Dr. Maria Klawe shared the story of Accenture CHRO Ellyn Shook who worked to increase the ratio of women hired at Accenture. From rewriting job descriptions, to changing the process of hiring and sourcing, Accenture successfully increased their ratio of women from 30% to 43%.

Maria questions the traditional interview process for inclusive workplaces:

“Technical interviewing is very adversarial. It’s often the case the female being interviewed will not see another female in the process. Technical interviewing doesn’t predict for hiring the best candidate, or women. At Accenture, job descriptions were updated to stress team work, creativity, problem-solving — not particular skills.”

She stressed the importance of making sure your interview panel includes at least one woman to hire more women into your company.

In the interview process, ask more interesting questions, like:

“How would you explain Java or any other object-oriented programming language to a five year old? You are looking for the general idea — to see if down one knows an overall concept rather than particular details. Frame it less about data structures, and more about how do you understand basic concepts? How would you explain it to someone who is not an expert?”

Lesson #3: Importance of Understanding Bias

In a Q&A discussion on hiring and promoting women, the issue of bias was broached.

Part of the problem in hiring more women is a need to debug our own biases in unravelling the false promise of meritocracy. For example, research has shown that those who think they are the most objective can actually exhibit the most bias in their evaluations.

What can you do right now? Try taking some 5-minute tests for various biases to become more aware of your own biases in recruiting women or hiring women.

The other half of the problem is female candidates not applying themselves upward and being conservative in their job searches. As Maria Klawe dryly noted, “women often tell you the things they are not” to be appear polite or modest. Instead, try using “I” statements like “I want…” and “I need…” to express needs and abilities (“I can…”). Also, try applying for more ambitious jobs outside of your comfort zone.

Recognizing all our biases in the recruiting process on both sides will help women be considered for positions across the board, from entry-level to the highest levels.

12 Female CTOs You Should Know – and Follow on Twitter!

These female chief technology officers (CTOs) are leaders of startups and technology companies. Women who can code AND lead are role models who inspire and motivate the next generation of female technology leaders to succeed!
By Angie Chang (Director of Growth, Hackbright Academy)

Women make up 5% of the technology industry and yet fill only 9% of executive roles in the field. These 12 female Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) are leading cutting-edge tech startups and companies, inspiring the next generation of female technology leaders!

Female CTOs are role models for women looking to pursue a career in engineering, from the young girls in Black Girls Code and Girls Who Code, to the women studying at the accelerated engineering school Hackbright Academy. Here are 12 women who are leading their engineering departments:

#1 – ActivityHero CTO Shilpa Dalmia

Shilpa Dalmia left her successful engineering career to have kids. To solve a problem she found as a new mom, she coded the first version of a website to help parents source activities for their kids. Today, she is the CTO of ActivityHero, an early-stage startup backed by 500 Startups for parents like herself to find activities for kids. Follow her at @shilpa_dalmia.

#2 – Affectiva CTO Rana el Kaliouby

Spun out from the MIT Media Lab to help those in the autism spectrum, venture-funded startup Affectiva delivers breakthrough emotion measurement technology for market researchers. MIT research scientist Rana El Kaliouby co-founded Affectiva with MIT Professor Rosalind W. Picard to bring emotion measurement and communication technologies to the masses. Their products include facial expression recognition technology Rana invented. Follow her at @kaliouby.

#3 – Birchbox CTO Liz Crawford

Serial entrepreneur Liz Crawford is the CTO at Birchbox, a New York-based beauty subscription service. Liz previously was CTO at Aprizi (“Pandora for shopping”) and co-founded time management startup Crono as CTO. She studied computer science in her undergraduate studies in Australia (where she grew up!) and earned a Ph.D in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University. Follow her at @liscrawford.

#4 – Chomp CTO Cathy Edwards

Currently heading the search and measurement teams at Apple, Cathy Edwards previously co-founded and ran as CTO a search engine for mobile apps called Chomp. While at Chomp, Cathy filed 11 patents on app search algorithms and interaction design. Apple acquired Chomp for $50 million in early 2012. She holds degrees in pure mathematics, linguistics and computer science from the University of Western Australia. Follow her at @cathye.

#5 – Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior

The former CTO of Motorola, Padmasree Warrior is currently the CTO of Cisco Systems, a Silicon Valley-based technology company that designs, manufactures, and sells networking equipment. Padmasree is also a board member at Gap, Inc and occasionally contributes to the Huffington Post. She loves art, photography, Haiku, food, and helping women in tech. Follow her at @padmasree.

#6 – GoDaddy CTO Elissa Murphy

Elissa Murphy made headlines earlier this year for leaving her coveted Yahoo! post as Vice President of Engineering for Hadoop and cloud services. She is now CTO and Executive Vice President at GoDaddy, an Internet domain registrar and web hosting company. Her expertise is in global-scale platforms, big data and predictive analytics. Elissa currently has 15 patents issued and more than 19 patents pending in the areas of distributed systems, cloud, machine learning and security.

#7 – Meebo CTO Sandy Jen

Sandy Jen co-founded Meebo in 2005 as a chat application. Fast-forward to 2012 and Google acquired Meebo for $100 million, absorbing the Meebo team into the Google Plus experience. Since its inception, Sandy has been Meebo’s CTO and grew the company from the original team of herself and her two co-founders, to over 200 employees. Follow her at @meebosandy.

#8 – Minted CTO Niniane Wang

Niniane Wang is the CTO at Minted, a global community of independent graphic designers and an online store that prints and sells the best of their designs in the form of paper goods. Previously, Niniane co-founded a coworking space and was an engineering manager at Google and Microsoft, spending five years at each. She graduated from Caltech at the age of 18 with a degree in computer science, and is a co-inventor on 30 patents (in various stages of filing). Follow her at @niniane.

#9 – Noise CTO Alison Gianotto

Alison Gianotto was one of the first developers to leverage the Facebook and Twitter APIs to build interactive web applications. She is currently both CTO and CSO at Noise, a business innovation agency in New York City. She is an open source advocate, published author, and frequent conference speaker on security and privacy issues. Follow her at @snipeyhead.

#10 – PandaWhale CTO Joyce Park

Serial entrepreneur Joyce Park is CTO at PandaWhale, a fun Internet service for consuming, saving, and organizing content found on Twitter, Facebook, and the Web. She is the former co-founder and CTO of Renkoo, and was an engineer at Friendster, KnowNow and Epinions. Joyce holds a multiple graduate degrees in history and this photo credit goes to her co-founder Adam Rifkin. Follow her at @troutgirl.

#11 – StubHub CTO Raji Arasu

Starting her career as a software engineer at Oracle, Raji Arasu served as director of engineering at marchFIRST before joining eBay in 2001. This was a time of innovation and growth for the company, and Raji helped tackle problems involving scalability, traffic and payments in the rapidly evolving world of e-commerce. She transitioned from the VP of Engineering at eBay into a role of CTO at StubHub. She now leads a team to create a personalized and intuitive experience for StubHub’s users, while also staying on top of technology trends. Follow her at @rarasu.

#12 – ThoughtWorks CTO Rebecca Parsons

Rebecca Parsons is CTO of ThoughtWorks, a software application development company headquartered in Chicago. She has more than 20 years’ application development experience, in industries ranging from telecommunications to emergent internet services. She has published in both language and artificial intelligence publications, served on numerous program committees, and reviews for several journals. Rebecca has extensive experience leading in the creation of large-scale distributed object applications and the integration of disparate systems. Follow her at @rebeccaparsons.

Next week, we’ll cover the up-and-coming CTOS:
VPs and directors of engineers who happen to be women!

Thanks to Marc Hedlund, Stripe Vice President of Engineering, for initiating the call for female CTOs for a Twitter list!