As we build the largest library in the world, we need more manpower, and more importantly: more womanpower. As we make plans to scale our product and make way to scale our users, we need a way to scale our engineering teams as well. We are actively looking to expand our teams at all our offices and particularly in Toronto. Between the University of Toronto and Waterloo, we discovered long ago that there are lots of talented people around Toronto, and have since made Toronto the home of our second engineering office! Partnering with Women Who Code Toronto chapter seemed like a perfect way for us to launch Scribd’s footprint as an engineering brand and attract a diverse talent. Four women from Scribd engineering flew to Toronto from San Francisco last week to talk about a wide range of topics. The event was organized by our SF based recruiter Lucas and our HR partner in Toronto office, Tammy who took care of every detail for the event to be successful. There were about 50+ attendees to the event, mostly women. The event started off with Katerina welcoming the guests and giving a brief overview of what we’re building at Scribd, and then went straight into the talks (PDF of slides).
First up was Paige Stone (Software Engineer, Notifications) who presented “Green Field projects and how I learnt to love Migrations.” She talked about the importance of evaluating and determining whether the solution should be to re-iterate through existing code or build something from scratch. She also shared some nitty-gritty details on the re-write of our marketing integration to integrate with Iterable, and the different trade-offs that we made in the process.
Next up was Nikki Hernandez (Web QA engineer) who chose to talk on the importance of quality with “Don’t go chasing waterfalls: owning quality as a whole team effort in an agile world.” Not many people are aware of what a fully agile process means and most of us are pretty satisfied with “as long as we are not following the waterfall model” but Nikki’s talk explained mini-waterfalls and how they may sneak up even when we are (or we think we are) following the agile process. She talked about about the many challenges that we face today to maintain quality in an environment with many cross functional teams. Building quality products is everyone’s responsibility and she shared various tips, tricks and practical approaches that we could all use to build quality products and not make it just a certain team’s responsibility.
Katerina Hanson (Engineering Manager, Payments) jumped back “on stage” to share some thoughts on metrics and alerts with “Instrumenting your Code for Great Justice.” Katerina is a self taught software engineer. She talked about metrics and alerts, the why’s and how’s of developing meaningful metrics, visualizing the health of your systems, and using instrumentation to effectively debug, deprecate, and optimize your code.
The last talk of the night was from me, and I chose a non-technical topic: “What you seek is seeking you : Find the company and culture that is right for you.” I shared my journey as an engineer, as a woman in the tech field and as a mom, the many difficult situations one might face in this fast moving industry and how introspection to evaluate oneself is essential to make meaningful career decisions. Having imposter syndrome is a real issue but consciously fighting it is important too. I also discussed the importance of being valued and accepted at a company and how culture of a company could be influenced.
Towards the end, we had some time for answering questions and most of the questions were around women wanting to know more about switching careers to software! There were some interesting questions about hiring and the process to go about it. One of my greatest joys in life is to witness women uplifting other women and this event was certainly one of those occasions. We, at Scribd, are fueled to reach out to more female engineers and tell them about Scribd and the positive workplace it is to be - To be valued, to be accepted and to be a woman.