120 Recipes in Pursuit of the American Dream – From Women, Immigrants and People of Color

La Cocina is a non-profit working to solve problems of equity in business ownership for women, immigrants and people of color, launching their career in food.

New cookbook “We Are La Cocina: Recipes In Pursuit of the American Dream” holds 120 recipes accompanied by 200+ striking photos of dishes — and shares the stories of immigrant + women of color who have launched successful restaurants + businesses.

Bookmark this for holiday gift-giving — all proceeds go to non-profit La Cocina to launch more women chefs and their businesses!

Authored by Caleb Zigas & Leticia Landa.

From Nite Yun’s Kuy Teav Phnom Penh to Rosa Martinez’s Oaxacan Cholito de Puerco and Fernay McPherson’s Rosemary Fried Chicken, this cookbook offers 200+ vivid photos and 120+ recipes — a glimpse into the world of La Cocina, and the world around all of us.

“For most La Cocina entrepreneurs, a few recipes handed down from mothers and grandmothers were their only capital when they came to the United States. It seems almost magical that they can use those recipes as a means of self-expression, making a living, supporting their families, and preserving their culture. Through food, they too can aspire to the American Dream,” writes Isabel Allende in the forward, an early supporter of La Cocina.

For more inspiring women in tech, check out:

Girl Geek X Bosch Lightning Talks (Video + Transcript)

Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

Tara Dowlat, Seow Yuen Yee, Yelena Gorlin, LisaMarion Garcia, Panpan Xu, Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan, Sun-Mi Choi

Bosch girl geeks: Tara Dowlat, Seow Yuen Yee, LisaMarion Garcia, Sun-Mi Choi, Yelena Gorlin, Panpan Xu and Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner in Sunnyvale, California.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Transcript from Bosch Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks:

Angie Chang: We are really excited coming to Bosch to be listening to so many amazing girl geeks tonight.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: We are very happy to host the Girl Geek dinner as a celebration of gender diversity, and I’m very proud of the team here who has put all this together.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: How many of you came here looking for headphones, acoustic systems in our demos? We’re not that company. You may have gone outside and you may have seen our car, autonomous car, so I don’t have to speak to our autonomous driving effort.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: Have you ever thought of how does the car know when to deploy these airbags? This is thanks to the airbags control unit in the car. It house a tiny little sensors which we call accelerometers.

Tara Dowlat: Did you guys know that at least every single one of you in this room, in your pockets or in your bags, have at least one sensor from Bosch on you? It’s a fun fact.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Each new generation of a battery management system looks to increase the charging speed of our device without having an effect on its lifetime.

LisaMarion Garcia: Each of these individual sectors provide us different opportunities to incorporate AI, either as a feature of a product that we sell or as part of the process of producing that product.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: So our idea is asking human and machine to work together to empower their both abilities with much more perception and knowledge, and also to make a better machine to help us in our everyday life.

Sun-Mi Choi: So how many of you are using ride hailing apps to get from A to B on a regular basis? Mobility is also getting more user centric. The consumer is more and more changing from owned to shared.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Big goals here. 2020, the goal is all of our electronic products will be connected. And in 2025, all our products are going to either possess intelligence or AI will have played a key role in their creation.

Angie Chang: Thanks for coming out tonight. I’m Angie Chang, founder of Girl Geek X. We’ve been hosting Girl Geek dinners up and down from San Francisco to San Jose for the last 11 plus years. We are really excited to be coming to Bosch to be listening to so many amazing girl geeks tonight.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I got my own microphone. You guys have no idea what that means. I’m Gretchen. Thank you. How many of you, it’s your first Girl Geek dinner? Good. Okay. So like she said, we do them every week. We also have a podcast, so pull out your phone now and go to your favorite podcast app and then rate it and then write a review or send us a message and say, “This is how it could be better.” Because we’re only doing it so it’ll be awesome for you guys. Right?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Then we also recently opened a little swag store on Zazzle. So there’s all sorts of cute things. I only have one or two cute things tonight. Cute water bottle.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I know. It’s ridiculous. Oh, I kind of had stuff with … There are more designs than this one. Apparently I only just brought things … But it’s a fanny pack. It’s so cute. Okay. Got it. So I’m going to try something new tonight. Who’s found a job through Girl Geek? No one? Okay, get out. Okay, has anyone got a … Oh, you did.

Audience member: No.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Oh. No, definitely not. That’s awesome. Okay, anyone found a job lead? Oh, okay.

Audience Member: I found candidates through Girl Geek.

Gretchen DeKnikker: You found candidates. Okay. So if you guys want to email us, I have these things and you can’t buy them. You can only get it from me. These adorable socks. So if you want to tell us, we would love to feature your story about finding a girl geek, a job through Girl Geek Dinner or something that you built and we want to have little community features and stuff. If you do it, you get those socks and it’s the only way in the world to get the socks.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay, so without further ado, how great is this space? This has been so awesome so far. You guys enjoying it? All right, so without further ado, we are bringing this gentleman right here.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: Thank you very much, and welcome to Bosch. So my name is Hauke Schmidt. I’m the head of corporate technology research for Bosch here in North America. And I’m also the site leader for the innovation center here in Sunnyvale. A few words about the company for those of you who don’t know Bosch all too well. We have our roots in the automotive business, so we’re actually the largest automotive supplier in the world.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: And very likely, if you open your car, there are a couple of Bosch components inside. You also might know us from household appliances or power tools. We’re also a leading IoT company, as you saw in the videos, here. And we’re driving product and services innovation in the areas of mobility, industrial, and building technologies.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: One interesting part about Bosch is the ownership structure. We are privately held. We’re a very large multinational out of Germany and privately held. And mostly to the largest part, owned by the Robert Bosch Foundation. And the Foundation then also takes all of the profits and earnings we create and puts them to use in charitable projects. So this gives us an extra motivation to work hard and provide good results.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: The site here, we’ve been in Silicon Valley for 20 years now. We have our 20th anniversary this year. We moved into this building one and a half years ago so this is now our new home here with a nice Bosch sign outside as well. We have about 200 scientists, engineers, and experts on site, and these experts cover a broad variety of different functions of the company. We have here everything from corporate research, venture capital technology scouting, prototyping, product development, but we also have product sales and engineering services here on site that we offer into the local industry around us.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: For us diversity is an important thing. We have associates here from a very broad variety of different ethnic backgrounds, also from experts in a large number of different technology fields. So today we are very happy to host the Girl Geek dinner as a celebration of gender diversity and I’m very proud of a team here who’s put all this together since I’m also the executive champion at the Women at Bosch Group here on site as well.

Dr. Hauke Schmidt: Thank you. So with that ,without further ado, I would like to hand over to Uma who has her own microphone to kick off some of the lightning talks that we’ll listen to right now. Thank you.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Can you hear me now?

Audience: Yes.

Uma Krishnamoorthy speaking

Director of Research Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy gives a warm welcome to the crowd at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Okay. First welcome from my side. My name is Uma Krishnamoorthy and I am a director here at Bosch RTC. We are part of corporate. We, me and my department, are part of corporate research of the bigger Bosch. My particular groups are focused on microsensor systems technologies and multiphysics modeling and simulation areas of research.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: So today, this works, my role is very easy. It’s going to be a bit longer than the others but my role is relatively easy. I’m going to be giving your introduction to Bosch from a broader scale than what hopefully Hauke did. Then, of course, I’m going to lead into the Internet of Things and how we play a role in there.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Hauke unfortunately told you what we do, so I’m going to ask anyway. How many of you already were aware of what Bosch does and what our products are before you came to the dinner today? Oh, that’s quite a few. Okay. The reason I ask, how many of you came here looking for headphones, acoustic systems in our demos or lens solutions? We’re not that company.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Yep, we are Bosch. Who are we? First thing, we’re very diverse and the range of products we cover is very broad. I’m going to try to cover some of it today from the perspective of IoT. I’ll start off with this slide here, market figures. Bosch, exactly as Hauke mentioned, is from– originally started by Robert Bosch in 1886. So we’re over 130 years old.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Yeah, we’re pretty old. We started in Germany, but as you can see we’re a global company. We have been in the Americas since 1906, I believe, over 100 years old. Very, very long time, very well established manufacturing company. We’ve made a very huge reputation in creating high quality products.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: We have 268 manufacturing sites across the world. Of course, we have a lot of representation in Asia-Pacific also. I wanted to draw your attention to that number right in the middle, 409,881 associates. That’s a huge number. Just to give you an idea, you take all of the associates at Alphabet, all of the associates at Apple, combine them, multiply it by approximately two. Okay, you’re all Girl Geek so approximately 1.78. And that will be the number of associates at Bosch. This was of course from 2018, so we are huge.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: To give you an idea of scale. So what do we do? I’m going to try to answer that question with this slide. You may be aware of our products in the consumer goods business. You may have seen our dishwashers, washing machines, maybe some coffee makers, many household appliances, power tools. Very popular there and a leading supplier. We also work in energy and building technology. What is this?

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Here’s a leading manufacturer of security communication technology. We actually make energy efficient heating products. This is a bigger business in Germany maybe than here, so we’re very well known for that. Or Europe, not Germany. On top of that, Hauke already mentioned mobility solutions.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Sixty percent of our sales come from the mobility solutions business. This includes automotive and also consumer electronics. Essentially things like sensors that go in your cell phone, smartwatches, things of that sort. We’re a leading provider of that too.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Surprising to me, I’ve been with Bosch for four years so this was a bit of a surprise, industrial technology. We also make a variety of industrial technologies. What does this mean? If you’ve ever been to the Jelly Belly factory, on the way back from Tahoe, you know, it’s a good stop.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: So if you stop there and look around, take a tour of the factory floor, you will see Bosch equipment, packaging equipment. I believe they might have been sorting the jellybeans, but I can’t remember exactly. So we are pretty broad and you’ll see us in many places, unexpected places. That’s how broad we are.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: To give you an idea of our culture, Hauke already mentioned our founder, Robert Bosch. We strongly follow the values of our founder Robert Bosch, which comprises of quality and innovation which is what our products are known for. This may not be as well-known over here in the US, but it’s known in Germany for sure, is the aspect of social commitment.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Robert Bosch himself gifted the Robert Bosch Hospital to the City of Stuttgart back in 1936, which stands to this day. A lot of very important medical research is done there, including, I believe … I can’t remember all the details but a variety of really good medical research is done there.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: As Hauke mentioned, we’re privately held. Ninety percent of our shares are held by this Robert Bosch Foundation and this foundation fundamentally finances work that addresses social challenges. So they focus on areas like healthcare, science, society, education, international relations, all about society and life.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: They have provided, the number’s right there. 153-ish million euros to project grants that are in these areas. So, they really put their money where their values stand. That’s the message there. As I mentioned, one of the one of the cornerstones of Bosch is our innovation. We’re worldwide but we also have a very strong commitment to innovation. We have a, I don’t have the numbers here, a very large number of associates. Believe it was in 65,000 number range of associates who work in R&D across the company.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Some of those actually work under a separate division called corporate research, which we’ve alluded to in the past and what you see in the background here is our campus that was recently built in Germany specifically for corporate research that services all of the Bosch groups,, fundamentally, almost all of them.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: And, what you really … I would like to highlight this one sentence over here our objective. Our motto is invented for life which is pretty much self-explanatory. So everything we do is about the quality of life, enhancing the quality of life through technology. I would like to say one more thing about this. Recently–I’ll have to … Mind me if I refer to my notes. Only because our CEO recently announced that we Bosch were going to be the first carbon-neutral industrial enterprise from 2020. That is a huge statement, and we’re all committed to delivering on that.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: What we came for, that was the introduction very briefly. I’ll try to go through this pretty fast. IOT at Bosch. This is going to essentially be kicking off a series of tech talks centered around IoT for Bosch. I’m only going to set it up for them. The real speakers will come after me.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: So what does IoT mean for Bosch? As many of you know, IoT is about creating better customer experiences through connectivity. And Bosch plays a very big role in it because we make a variety of products and we’re connecting them to make our customers get a better experience out of it, fundamentally. That’s the simplest way you can think about it.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: In the process, though, what we are noticing is industries are transforming, and we are playing a key role in this transformation at Bosch. So how are we playing in this field? Just giving you a sampling over here. You may have gone outside and you may have seen our car, autonomous car, so I don’t have to speak to our autonomous driving effort, our driver assistance efforts. There’s many of those that are ongoing that are widely shared.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: But on top of our mobility efforts we also work in the smart city area. We have products in all of these areas so connecting them and providing customer experiences goes beyond mobility into smart city, into buildings, industry, industry 4.0. But one of the key things for us, for our connected Bosch systems across these domains is we are creating intelligent user centric solutions without compromising safety or data security. Those are big messages that we carry and we essentially put into all our products.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: What is Bosch’s IoT vision? Again a borrowed slide. You will see big goals here. 2020, the goal is all of our electronic products will be connected. We’re going to continue working across a variety of domains and in 2025 all our products are going to either possess intelligence or AI will have played a key role in their creation. So AI is closely tied to our IoT.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: A few examples, I’ll have to go very quick. She just told me I have five minutes left. Quick examples, home appliances. Series 8 oven. It’s an oven, yes, but it’s also a microwave, it’s also a steamer, and it’s connected. So you can bake a cake–if you have the right app–you can bake a cake in it from your phone, and I’ll leave it there.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: This app is apparently not available everywhere but it is there, the technology is there. Mobility, you already mentioned that powertrains is one of the big areas we contribute in for the automotive business. Electric powertrains is our big area of work now. One thing I’ll show here is we are taking it beyond just electrification of cars, we’re actually moving into other powertrain systems for other vehicles such as two wheelers and trucks.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Another aspect here is beyond just building EV vehicles, we’re also looking at connecting these vehicles. So anybody using an EV vehicle cares about charging them. So we actually have an app. Bosch has an app that’ll let you find up to 20,000 charging stations, which is very convenient, in five countries. I believe that will be increasing as this gets used more.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Last but not least, the example automated valet parking. This came out recently. I had a beautiful video on this. It took too long so I’ll just tell you in two sentences. Automated valet parking. It’s like a mini autonomous vehicle that you can use in a parking garage.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: You bring your car to the garage, you walk out of it, hit the park button on your phone, the car will go park itself. When you are done with your dinner or whatever else, you come back to the garage. Say pick up the car. The car will drive itself to you. You can get in it and go home. That’s the idea and it’s actually real and they already rolled it out. So, that’s an example of some of the innovation we contribute to.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Now I’ll be talking to you about some of the elements of IoT, not for very long. We have tech talks following me, they’ll go into all the details. So here, I’m going to talk briefly about transformation from the things to IoT. I’ve already mentioned that we make a lot of things here at Bosch across many domains. But one of the fundamental things we do is in the hardware. Sensors is a big area for Bosch, we are one of the enablers–sensors are the enablers for the Internet of Things and we’re one of the leaders in building micro sensors. Bosch Sensor Tech, in fact, is the part of Bosch that builds them, and you’ll be hearing a lot more about that from Tara right after me.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Sensors are the data collectors. They are your direct connection to your products, they collect the states of your products, whatever they are. Then, another aspect of it that is kind of hidden, but is very important as batteries. So we need batteries to charge all of our things and our sensors and our phones, everything else. So that’s another aspect that we will be talking about soon. Yelena will be talking about it, I believe.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Bosch has a strong background in the hardware aspect of manufacturing and in sensors products. So we understand that, the cause and effect. That’s our core business. So, what else is there to be done in IoT? It’s all about the connectivity. So once you have the data, you have to connect to it. We have the data collectors.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: So the next thing you need is to analyze the data and to create some–once you acquire the data you want to provide some, I guess models, right, and some plans on essentially understanding the data and to potentially predict what’s going to happen for whatever system you’re working with. So that’s where our AI comes into play right, and LisaMarion will be talking about that. She’s part of our BCA, Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: Then, finally, it all comes down to the user and the user interface. So that portion will be handled. It’s an important portion but that portion will be handled by … Panpan and Shabnam will be talking about that. They’re a part of our human machine interface, we used to call the interactions, human machine interaction group.

Dr. Uma Krishnamoorthy: So fundamentally we are integrating our hardware with AI, our IoT products and our sensors and that’s in a very, very high-level picture of what Bosch does in IoT. I’m going to stop there and hand the microphone on to Tara. So Tara and Seow Yuen Yee will be talking about sensors next and they will introduce the next speakers. So thank you very much.

Seow Yuen Yee and Tara Dowlat

Senior Research Engineer Dr. Seow Yuen Yee and Senior Account Manager Tara Dowlat give a talk on sensors for IoT at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Tara Dowlat: Hi everyone, my name is Tara Dowlat and I’m part of Bosch Sensor Tech. I’m part of the team that focuses on consumer electronic sensors and I’m an Account Manager, part of sales team.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: Hi everyone, my name is Seow Yuen. If it’s hard to pronounce you can call me SY. I’m the senior research engineer here in the corporate research. I’m part of Uma’s team. What I do is I make sensors and these sensors go to your car, your home and your phone. So I’ll tell you more about it later.

Tara Dowlat: So, did you guys know that at least every single one of you in this room in your pockets or in your bags have one sensor and most like the majority of you guys had least one sensor from Bosch on you? It’s a fun fact. Let me tell you that sensors are all around us. We might notice it, we might not, but these tiny, tiny little devices are actually pretty commonly used.

Tara Dowlat: They’re made out of micro electromechanical systems. They go also known as MEMS. These devices are made out of silicon. Silicon is the same exact material we use for semiconductor chips and they are used for really complex circuits or switches that we use in our industry today.

Tara Dowlat: If you look at the picture to the right side over here, this shows the structure of a MEMS and you can see that within a thickness of a hair line how many tiny little springs we’re able to fit in there. That’s a MEMS structure for you and typically these devices are within millimeter square. So we can see that how detailed and small these structures are and I find it personally very impressive.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: How are sensors made? The process starts with the silicon ingot that you can see on the left there and then it is later cut into thin slices that we call the silicon wafers. So this is an example of the silicon wafers. By itself it is not useful until we are able to process on it to make intricate features. We are able to do this thanks to our Bosch colleagues Franz Laermer and Andrea because they invented the deep reactive ion etching in 1996.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: It is now known as the Bosch Process because it has the ability to create a high aspect ratio profile in the silicon wafers. How high is a high aspect ratio and how tiny is tiny? Here’s an example that is the width of these trenches as five micron wide and the height–the deep is 50 micron deep. So you can imagine how small all these features are.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: Accelerometer, we’ll tell you later about it. It’s an example of a type of sensors that we are able to create using this process and Tara will tell you more about the sensors and other sensors, about accelerometers other sensors.

Tara Dowlat: So just as SY mentioned, we have a family of classical sensors known as motion sensors. We have magnetometers, accelerometers, gyroscopes, the combination of two that would be an IMU or you put all of the three together it’s known as nine degree of freedom or absolute orientation.

Tara Dowlat: But why do we care about these sensors in general? What’s the application or how do they improve our lives? Well the most classical approach was the use of sensors and automobiles. You guys might have heard about ABS, ESP or even tire pressure monitoring system on newer cars. These are sensor applications. Without the sensors on your cars, you guys would not have these safety functionalities.

Tara Dowlat: Let me ask you this. If you had the choice between a sports car, a sedan, or SUV for safety of your family which class of car would you guys probably pick?

Audience: SUV.

Tara Dowlat: Okay. Let me tell you. Twenty years ago that was not the concept. SUVs and safety were not two words used in the same sentence. Actually these cars were known to be rolling over on the road and actually not safe at all. So what changed since then? The use of a gyroscope on the car is enabling them to stay stable on the road and not roll over. That makes them safe.

Tara Dowlat: Within 20 years or so the market and perception has changed so much that all of you guys think SUV is the best choice to go with. That’s the use of sensor. But, also the modern applications. Take autonomous driving, everybody in the news is talking about it. Autonomous driving would have not been possible without sensors or even more commonly used applications like Park Assist when you tell your car please park it for me in this tight spot. That’s using your sensors in the car, or when you’re trying to drive on the road and hopefully you guys are paying attention and it’s not dismissing the traffic or texting but more modern cars have this functionality that it actually tells you please slow down there’s an object in front of you. Don’t switch lane there’s an object next to you. These are the functionalities that modern cars have because of use of sensors in them.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: Applications that Tara mentioned there’s one more applications that should be familiar to all of you which is the airbags deployment. From 1987 to 201,8 more than 50,000 lives has been saved by airbags according to the US Transportation–Department of Transportation. Have you ever thought of how does the car know when to deploy this airbags?

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: This is thanks to the airbags control unit in the car and in this control unit it has a tiny little sensors which we call accelerometers. When there’s movement like this impact in your car during the accident this [inaudible 00:29:32] this sudden impact.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: So let me show you the video of how it works. The accelerometer chip here contains of two parts, that’s the circuit chip and the MEMS sensors. In the MEMS sensors you can see the blue part is the movable part and the red part is the stationary part.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: When there’s movement in your car the blue part will move relative to the red part and from there it caused the relative capacitance change between these two parts. This capacitance change can then be sent to the airbag unit here which will deploy the airbags. For that it will protect you.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: The sensing part itself takes around 15 to 30 milliseconds time to sense it and the airbags will deploy from 60 to 80 milliseconds. So that’s how fast it is that can deploy to protect you.

Tara Dowlat: So, a more modern recent application for sensors are consumer electronics, specifically smartphones or tablets. You guys have might noticed over the past few years that actually the cameras have improved quite a bit in terms of picture quality. I hate to take all the credit for the sensors but they did play a part.

Tara Dowlat: You guys have might noticed that when you’re trying to take a picture you’re trying to zoom in and historically I was one of the people that would move the camera back and forth trying to get the best photo and then making sure that my picture’s not blurry. Well today the cameras do that for you and part of it is because of the image stabilization and the sensors that they use with the cameras. That’s one of the applications that uses a sensor.

Tara Dowlat: But another more commonly used one. When you go from horizontal to vertical on your phone when you’re looking at pictures and videos this is something that probably most of us use every day. That’s a use of a sensor on your phone. Or this one I’m a personal huge fan–navigation.

Tara Dowlat: I’m always lost and somehow people trust me to put me in charge of direction. But the reality of it is with my phone, if there is no magnetometer on it I’m looking at the direction and I don’t know if it says right is it really my right or my left.

Tara Dowlat: But a magnetometer on my phone would be able to tell me where is the true north and at what point do I need to truly turn right or left. That’s a really helpful application for most of us that we probably use and don’t commonly notice that it’s a sensor on there.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: One other thing is as you all know that GPS hardly works inside the building. In the case of an emergency, especially in tall buildings, it is very critical for the emergency first responder to know exactly where you are and this includes what floor you are in. The GPS do not give you this kind of information but our Bosch pressure sensor comes to rescue.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: Because of the as you increase the elevation, the altitude the air pressure decreases and this tiny change of pressure can be sensed by our Bosch pressure sensors. So let me show you another video of how the pressure sensor works. Again in the package it has two chip where there’s a circuit chip and the MEMS sensors.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: This time the MEMS sensors consist of a pressure sensitive membrane and on which there is four resistors which are connected in a wisdom bridge formation. As there’s the pressure change the shape of the membrane changes due to the pressure and the resistance is changed due to the change of the membrane.

Dr. Seow Yuen Yee: This resistance change is measured as water changes which ranged from one to five and this water changed correlates to the pressure and this pressure would tell you which elevation you are in. The information from this will be sent to the first responder and they will come to rescue you.

Tara Dowlat: Just as SY mentioned, pressure sensor belongs to another family of sensors that are getting quite commonly adapted nowadays, they belong to environmental sensors. That includes temperature, humidity, gas, or a combination of all those together as one single sensor.

Tara Dowlat: But how did they become so popular nowadays? Well, we are all health aware nowadays. I think most of you guys might be interested, but by show of hands how many of you guys track how many steps you’ve taken or how many stairs have you climbed today? Majority of you. Well, I guess most of us has invested in either a fitness band or a smartwatch or look at it on our phones.

Tara Dowlat: When you go under health application it tells you how many steps you’ve taken. That’s an accelerometer on your phone or on your device. Or if you’re interested in knowing how many climbs of stairs you’ve climbed today. Well, that’s a pressure sensor for you that gives that app information. But it’s not just about humans.

Tara Dowlat: So, I recently heard about a cool application from one of our potential customers that they are trying to put this step tracking option on their chicken. You would wonder why. But, I guess when you go to these stores you notice that there is like advertisement for eggs that are range free and organic, that extra dollar amounts that they are charging is justified because these chickens are taking more steps.

Tara Dowlat: The more steps they take, the healthier your chicken. But today we’re here for IoT and how does the sensor relate to IoT. How does that impact me as an individual? How does it change the quality of my life? I can take the example of a smart home. This belongs to the IoT category. Without the use of all these sensors, smart homes would not be possible. Let’s focus on my case specifically and I think some of you guys might relate.

Tara Dowlat: I’m here with you in the evening or the afternoon today. I will spend some time to drive home and during this drive I would be probably sitting in traffic, it’s hot and I’m thinking I wish when I get home that my Roomba has cleaned the floor. So IoT would be able to enable that.

Tara Dowlat: I wish that the AC has been running for the past 30 minutes because I’m somewhat environmental friendly but not extremely. I still like a cool room. So I’ll take that and I can make sure that a cup of coffee is waiting for me while I watch my last show before I go to bed. That’s a smart home for you.

Tara Dowlat: For IoT to be enabled we need to make sure that all these sensors are effectively and efficiently communicating. But then it becomes a matter of power consumption. That’s why Yelena would introduce battery management, which is a really important topic here at Bosch for us. Thank you.

Yelena Gorlin speaking

Senior Engineer Dr. Yelena Gorlin gives a talk on enabling IoT for batteries at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Hi, my name is Yelena Gorlin and I work in corporate research. As Tara and Seow Yuen just mentioned, we will now switch topics and I will introduce a research topic that we have here at Bosch. It focuses on batteries and specifically battery management systems.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Before going into the details of the topic, I wanted to take a moment and quickly introduce to you my home department in order to give you an idea what type of associates are working on the project and also what is our overarching purpose for the everyday work that we do.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: My home department at Bosch is called energy technologies and we have three areas of research competency and they include electrochemical, modeling, characterization and controls, automatic computation and additive manufacturing. As you can imagine, the associates involved in these areas come from a diverse research background and we actually have research experience from leading academic institutions, both in the US and Germany.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: We’re specifically strong in the areas of chemical engineering, system controls, material science, and electrochemistry. What unites us all is our interest to work on future energy technologies with the goal of reducing the global carbon footprint.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Recently we came up with a new motto for ourselves and it’s putting low-carbon options on the global energy menu. Our department sees the topic of battery management systems, both as a contributor to de-carbonization of our society and also as an enabler to our connected future. But you’re probably now wondering what exactly is a battery management system and how can it be so important to our future.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: So as the name already gives it away and as I mentioned in the beginning, battery management systems have to do with batteries. Probably all of us in this room have been in a situation that seemed quite dire simply because our phone or maybe our smartwatch, our computer or our car has run out of its battery.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: In such a situation, we were probably wishing that we could recharge our battery as quickly as possible to bring the device back to life. Well, it turns out it’s not so difficult to recharge a battery very fast once in its life. But what is difficult is to be able to offer consistent fast charging without introducing any aging effects.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: As you probably have guessed, one of the important functions of the battery management system is to offer precisely this capability at battery management system or as we call it BMS for short controls the operation of the battery. So how fast it charges and discharges and each new generation of a battery management system looks to increase the charging speed of our device without having effect on its lifetime.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: You can imagine that advances in this area can reduce our anxiety about how long our devices can last and as a result contribute to electrification of our society both in IoT and mobility sector and contribute to its de-carbonization. Now I hope I was able to convince you that battery management systems are very important and very significant to our future and I wanted to take a step back again and bring you to my department and our approach to this future product.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: At its core, our approach draws on the expertise available within the department, and we rely on the different areas of background, especially in research. As I mentioned, we have chemical engineers, we have control engineers, we have material scientists and electric chemists and we primarily combine three areas and its electrochemical modeling, experimental characterization, and controls.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Our typical project workflow starts with the development of an electrochemical model and involves a variety of equations and parameters. We then design and execute experiments to measure these specific parameters and combine them together with a model to form what is known as parametrized model.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: This parametrized model serves as the basis for the next generation BMS and is used to generate new control algorithms. These control algorithms are what is going to allow us to charge our devices, so our watches, our phones, our computers, and our cars at faster speeds and therefore increase our confidence in all of these IoT components and contribute to the development of our connected future.

Dr. Yelena Gorlin: Thank you very much for your attention. I will now pass the mic to LisaMarion who will tell you about artificial intelligence.

LisaMarion Garcia speaking

Software Engineer LisaMarion Garcia gives a talk on artificial intelligence at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

LisaMarion Garcia: Hi, everyone. My name is LisaMarion I work at the Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence here in Sunnyvale. So, we have a lot of opportunities for AI at Bosch. As my previous colleagues have mentioned, we cover a wide variety of different sectors from mobility, industrial, building, and consumer goods. Each of these individual sectors provide us different opportunities to incorporate AI, either as a feature of a product that we sell or as part of the process of producing that product.

LisaMarion Garcia: As Uma had mentioned before, that is a major goal for Bosch, to by 2025 have all our products either possess some artificial intelligence as part of their features that we provide to the consumers or as we produce them we are using AI.

LisaMarion Garcia: What we need to introduce AI into our products or our processes is–what gets discussed mostly when people are talking about artificial intelligence tends to be focused on the algorithms more. So that’s basically how you actually train a system to be able to learn by itself, how a car can drive itself, for example.

LisaMarion Garcia: We do work on that in-house as well. The Bosch Center for Artificial Intelligence has a pretty sizable research team that is currently working on state-of-the-art research topics. But additionally to actually get it from an idea, from a theoretical idea, into a product we need both compute resources, which we of course have access to, and most importantly, we need data.

LisaMarion Garcia: So, one of the advantages that being such a large company gives us, especially a company that covers so many different sectors is that we have access to a bunch of different types of data. BCAI overview, I guess. Our general mission is to help reach that goal, obviously, of introducing AI into the different areas.

LisaMarion Garcia: I’ve already covered our research team. We also have an enabling team which are–you can kind of think of them as AI evangelists. They go out to the different business units and kind of teach them about what machine learning is, how it can help in their products, what kind of data they need to be collecting if they want to be able to gain relevant insights from it.

LisaMarion Garcia: Then we have the services team which is where I work. We focus more on applied AI. So what we do is we consult with various business units within Bosch who have use cases or interested in introducing machine learning into their products or processes and we basically help them take that from an idea to a reality.

LisaMarion Garcia: We cover these four different areas. I’m going to briefly describe kind of each one. We have a bunch of different projects ongoing right now. But for an example in the manufacturing domain, something that we do is we work with optical inspection, which is where we put a camera in the production line at Bosch’s many plants and we basically collect images of the parts as they come through and try to perform or try to train a model to do automated part inspection. So basically being able to tell if a part is passing or failing by just looking at an image of it.

LisaMarion Garcia: In the engineering space, we do some work around gaining insights from data that is collected as we develop a new sensor, for example, for a new product or if we are trying to add kind of a smart home type of functionality to an existing appliance that Bosch already makes.

LisaMarion Garcia: For supply chain management and controlling we have a financial forecasting platform that basically looks at all of Bosch’s financial data and can make predictions about future sales. Then intelligence services, which I’m going to go into slightly more detail on since that is more of what I have worked on recently.

LisaMarion Garcia: So AI for mobility is obviously a hot topic. We have two main groups at Bosch that are working on that. We have for my friends that work in the autonomous driving space you may be familiar with the L3 to L5 kind of designations.

LisaMarion Garcia: So we have a driver assistance functions which are going to be your L3 and below. Those are things like automated braking when you detect a hazard on the road or lane keeping. Kind of those functionalities that already exist in your car. We also have autonomous driving group, which is the car outside, which would be the car driving itself.

LisaMarion Garcia: Some collaborations that this group has done with BCAI that I’ve been involved with have been lane keeping. So if you see the top image, we basically take a semantic segmentation map of a scene and basically use that to keep the car on the road. We also do hazard detection.

LisaMarion Garcia: So if you look at these two images in the middle, the one on the left is mostly clear windshield, the one on the right the windshield has been obscured with some droplets of water. A human looking at these two images can clearly tell that they’re the same scene. We basically our brains have a really good way of mentally deleting the information that you don’t need.

LisaMarion Garcia: It’s very difficult for a computer to do the same thing. That’s one of the main challenges when we’re training algorithms to be able to see, for example, for driving a cart. So we’ve done some work around helping either make the model itself more robust to these kinds of disturbances or basically just having some kind of a sense so that the car knows when one or more of the cameras has been had its vision obscured.

LisaMarion Garcia: Then the last topic, which I wanted to cover in slightly more detail, is the data privacy compliance topic. So I’m not sure how many of you are aware of the GDPR regulation. Yes, okay, a lot of nodding. So that’s a really important law that was passed by the EU which basically … The general gist of it is that any company that is collecting personally identifiable information from people without their consent basically needs to delete that data every six months or somehow you scrub the personally identifiable information.

LisaMarion Garcia: For our automotive topics, that mainly covers human faces and license plates. So what we did to help our business units and prevent them from throwing away their data every six months is we developed a tool using deep learning to be able to identify, locate the faces and license plates in the data that was generated by the proprietary Bosch sensors and blur those out of the image.

LisaMarion Garcia: So basically what we are doing is helping them generate training data that they can use long term and also store, which will help them basically consistently validate their work over time. So, yeah, just AI for your AI. That’s kind of the overview of what Bosch is doing in regards to AI. I have kind of mostly talked about how we spread AI internally and now I’m going to bring the user back into the conversation and pass off to my colleagues to talk about human machine collaboration. Thank you.

Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan speaking

Research Scientist Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan gives a talk on human machine collaboration research at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Hi, my name is Shabnam. I’m a research scientist here at Bosch working in human machine interaction group and I’m very excited to be here with my colleague Panpan Xu who is our group too.

Dr. Panpan Xu: Hello everyone. I’m Panpan, I’m also working on the human machine collaboration topic at Bosch Research. So today Shabnam will first give an introduction of what are the topics we have been working on.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: The topic we are really excited to work here at Bosch is human machine collaboration. If you think about everyday life there’s so many tasks that human is so good at but machine usually has so much trouble doing them. Also there are so many tasks, let’s say repetitive tasks, that machine might be so good at doing them very accurately but human would be having so much trouble to perform them in a short amount of time.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: So our idea is asking human and machine to work together to empower their both abilities to make a superhuman with much more perception and knowledge and also to make a better machine to help us in our everyday life. Here at Bosch, we do focus on many core technologies such as robotic manipulation, text mining, audio analytics and visualization. We do apply these technologies to so many different use cases such as IoT industry 4.0, smart home, and smart cars.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: How we do? So here first I’m going to introduce you how AI can help humans. So our goal is empowering human capabilities. What we do in our group is that we take different modalities that we see in the environment such as visual clues, text and audio and speech that we hear around ourselves and we combine this information with domain knowledge, context knowledge and user knowledge and we translate them to some specific applications such as personal assistants, conversational AI, and augmented reality.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: As I mentioned, our goal is empowering human with domain specific AI. Here our focus on one of the use cases we work that I focus on personally, which is intelligent audio analytics. If you think of course the speech is one of the main … No, it’s okay. We can continue hearing that. It’s fine.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Okay, what I wanted to say was that if you think about speech, of course, it’s one of the main input and the way of communicating with outside world as a human, right, but there are so many other sounds that we can hear in the environment such as the sample of sounds you just heard. Right?

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: By these sounds you can guess kind of what kind of environment you were at. Were you at the beach or where you at a restaurant, right, just by listening to the noise in that environment or you can guess what kind of machine are you operating. Is that machine is working in a right mode or is it broken? Right?

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: So here in our group we focus on signal processing and machine learning techniques to discover three kind of sounds. The first one is environmental sounds. As you heard, is it beach, is it in the office, is it in a restaurant? The second one would be machine sounds. Right?

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: We hear, we listen to the different machines in the environment and we try to recognize if they’re malfunctioning or working in the right state. And finally human sound, but non-speech human sound. Imagine you might be coughing or sneezing and that might be a clue that you might have some health issues and you might want to go to a doctor. Right?

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: So the audio analytics field is kind of newer compared to vision or speech technology that already exists so we have so many challenges at this field and the main one would be lack of data as always existing artificial intelligence and also we need to be really robust toward the other different kind of noise and environments that we are at.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Here’s some of the use cases we work on. The first one we can focus on physical security and automation. You think that in most places the physical security systems are based on cameras but there might be so many situations cameras might fail. Let’s say, if it’s dark at night or if it’s foggy so the camera might not see what’s happening in environment. But also there are some events that camera is visual clues are not able to capture them.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Let’s say gunshot. Right? With a camera if the gunshot is not in the visual field you can’t basically [inaudible 00:54:23]. So, our idea is including microphone to a camera to understand more information about our environments. In this case, such as gunshot, glass break, and a smoke alarm can be sounds that can alarm our physical security system.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: The next use case is industry 4.0. As I mentioned, we would like to put microphone in our plants and listen to the machines that working on those plants. For this, this is a very easy step to move toward industry 4.0 since the only thing we need to do is basically we put a MEMS microphone on these devices and just listen to them to see if they are operating correctly or not.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: The third one would be an automotive sensing and diagnosis. Of course, autonomous cars, they are hot topics these days and they are having so many sensor already on them such as radar, camera. But we believe that autonomous cars needs to have the hearing sense as well. One of the important use case would be for example hearing emergency vehicles if there is siren happening for example police car or ambulance so these autonomous cars needs to understand these sounds and act accordingly.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Another use case can be listening to your car parts, for example, your car engine. If you go to repair shop so many of the very experienced repair shops they just listen to your engine and they would guess if you have a problem, so this is our idea to do that automatically.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Finally to give you some idea how we perform these acts. So basically we do use microphones to get this raw audio input from the environment. This information, we do some signal processing to enhance this signal to remove some environmental noise that we don’t want them and we do use domain knowledge, meaning that we do look into what kind of environment we are performing.

Dr. Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan: Are we in a factory? Are we in a house? Are we in a car? Based on that we extract some features and finally we do machine learning and AI to detect what kind of audio events was in the environment. Next my colleague, Panpan, she will explain now how human can help AI.

PanPan Xu speaking

Lead Research Scientist PanPan Xu gives a talk on human machine collaboration research at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Dr. Panpan Xu: So, here comes the other side of story, how can human help make AI more intelligent and more reasonable to the humans. So, our approach is actually very much human in the loop method for big data analysis which we call visual analytics. Visual analytics is actually a technique which combines technologies from many different fields and one of these field is data mining.

Dr. Panpan Xu: With data mining we basically trying to gain insights from data with automatic algorithms and identify the patterns inside it. The other technique is visualization. Basically, we can draw the chart to show different trends and patterns detected by the data mining algorithms and then show or present to the users.

Dr. Panpan Xu: Most important part is user interaction. Actually, in this user centric approach we want to really take in users’ input or users’ knowledge into the data analysis process so it does not appear as a black box choose users. So, one use case that is very much related to this visual analytics topic is expandable AI.

Dr. Panpan Xu: Basically, in most of the cases we use AI as a black box. Basically the machine learning model takes the input and then produce some output to–For example, in autonomous driving we take the video input from the camera and then the steering wheel will take the corresponding directions or in medical diagnostics solutions the AI usually take an image and then tells the doctor or the patient what kind of disease it is.

Dr. Panpan Xu: But this kind of black box approach is usually not much reliable or people do not really want to use the machine learning model as a black box. So, with visual analytics we can present the explanation to the users actually and then the user can provide feedback to the model and continuously improves model until the model becomes transparent or explainable for the users.

Dr. Panpan Xu: Why this is important as I explained, we have these fairness issues because we want to know AI is making its decisions based on some meaningful features instead of other features like gender which can make this model unfair to certain populations and also we want to make this model robust.

Dr. Panpan Xu: On the other hand. There’s also this GDPR regulation which requires every decision made by AI to be explainable to the humans. So the user have the right to assess explanation to the decision made by an algorithm.

Dr. Panpan Xu: So now let’s go in on our deeper technical dive to look at a recent research paper we have published at ACM [inaudible 01:00:04] this year and which is about interpretable and steerable sequence learning. And that has application in many different AI fields like text mining or medical diagnostic sensor.

Voiceover: Recurrent neural networks have shown impressive performance in modeling sequence data. They have been successfully used in a lot of applications, sentiment analysis, machine translation, speech recognition and so on. However, they are considered as black boxes since it is very difficult to explain their predictions. Without explainability it could cause trust and ethics issues.

Voiceover: How can I trust the predictions coming out of a black box? These problems will limit the applications of these deep learning models in various decision-making scenarios. For example, a data scientist has developed a sequence prediction model to predict the risks of future problems of a car based on its historical faults.

Voiceover: However, the mechanics and repair shops may find it difficult to choose the right maintenance strategy with just prediction results. Sometimes they even suspects that the modeling is wrong. The need for explanation is pervasive in such decision-making processes. The predictive model serves as a smart analysis module rather than an automatic end-to-end solution.

Voiceover: Our idea is to explain the predictions by providing similar examples. Such case based reasoning strategy is commonly used in our daily life. For example, why classify a restaurant review, “Pizza is good but service is extremely slow” as negative? This is because it is similar to two prototypical negative sentences, good food but worse service and service is really slow.

Voiceover: We use sequence encoder R which encodes the input sequence into a fixed length embedding vector H. The model learns K prototype vectors that are most representative in the embedding space. We compute these similarities between H and the prototype vectors. The similarity scores are used as a source for prediction. To ensure that the prototypes are readable, we project the prototype vectors to their closest training samples every few epics.

Voiceover: To further improve interpretability, we’ve simplified the prototype sequences using a beam search based algorithm. To utilize expert knowledge, we design an interaction scheme which allows human users to incorporate their domain knowledge into the model. We build interpretable and steerable sequence models for vehicle fault predictions, sentiment analysis, protein classification, and heartbeat classification.

Voiceover: You can get explanations to the accurate predictions on the fly.

Dr. Panpan Xu: I would like to thank [inaudible 01:03:03] for the very nice voiceover of the video. So, if you have any questions about the paper you can search it online. So there’s the title below at the bottom of this slide. So, now let’s move on to the next topic and see how Bosch is enabling a new area of mobility with our presenter Sun-Mi here.

Sun-Mi Choi speaking

Director of Business Development & Strategy Sun-Mi Choi gives a talk on changing mobility with progressive mobility players at Bosch Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Sun-Mi Choi: Hello. Also from my side I guess I’m the last turn. I hope you guys are still with me. That was a little bit too silent. Are you still with me?

Audience: Yes.

Sun-Mi Choi: Okay, good. Thank you. I know it’s late. My name is Sun-Mi Choi. So please just call me Sunny. I’m Sunny from Sunnyvale so it’s easy to remember. I’m responsible for business development strategy within a newly established group. We are probably the youngest group within Bosch. We are eight months old so we were born beginning of this year and probably also the smallest group and we are called progressive mobility players, short PMP.

Sun-Mi Choi: I will tell a little bit more about it later but basically what we do is focus on new mobility startups because we see the mobility world is changing a lot. A lot of new players are entering the market and we are focused on two players which are new electric vehicle manufacturers and at the same time also on mobility service providers.

Sun-Mi Choi: Today we’ve heard a lot about innovative amazing technologies, learning about sensors, learning about battery management solutions, artificial intelligence, and human machine collaboration. I’ve been with Bosch seven years but I didn’t know that we had so much capability in-house. I just moved here beginning of this year so it’s amazing to see how much capabilities we have.

Sun-Mi Choi: I would like to bring in a little bit of a different perspective. Basically bringing a little bit the market perspective customer needs to explain and verify why these capabilities are so important for Bosch and also for the future of mobility.

Sun-Mi Choi: So, before I start, I would like to give a little bit of a bigger picture of why the mobility is changing and what are the driving forces behind.

Voiceover: Our world is changing and this change is visible across the globe. More than 50% of our population now lives in cities. These cities are growing, as is the share of older people in them, while space to live is becoming ever more precious. More and more goods and people need to be transported, pushing the traffic infrastructure to its limits and increasing pollution and noise levels.

Voiceover: But the world is waking up. Regulations are calling for stricter limits and cleaner solutions. A transformation has started, powered by new technologies and services. In a world where everything is connected, mobility is being re-imagined. Solutions like traffic management combined with cleaner and more efficient power trains and the benefits brought by automated driving will make our cities sustainable and livable.

Voiceover: Bosch is driving this change and shaping the future. The future of mobility.

Sun-Mi Choi: Trends they are not new for you. But it’s still very important to understand the fundamental driving forces behind it because this actually has a really big impact on Bosch. Because as we learned from Uma, the mobility part makes 60% of our revenue and all of these changes make a huge change or an impact also our business model if we want to maintain sustainable for the future.

Sun-Mi Choi: So air pollution, congestion, urbanization, and also what we see a changing consumer behavior, all of these factors are really shaping a new focus for us in the mobility area, which we call electrified, automated, connected, and also shared and personalized, which you probably experience and also live every day.

Sun-Mi Choi: At the same time, mobility is also getting more user centric. The consumer is more and more changing from owned to shared. So how many of you are using ride hailing apps to get from A to B on a regular basis? So I see not everyone, but I see a lot of hands raised. So this has become an integral part of how we move from A to B because it brings convenience, especially in congested cities.

Sun-Mi Choi: Also, consumers become more individual and personalized and more importantly, they always want to stay connected. This all relates to mobility and new players, startups see this change and these trends as basically opportunities to come into the mobility market. Because now new capabilities are required and this disrupts the whole mobility value chain also from our Bosch perspective.

Sun-Mi Choi: So what does it mean for us? We also need to understand what these new players are about to develop, what is their thinking. How do they approach innovation? That’s why as mentioned in the beginning we are focusing on new EV based customers.

Sun-Mi Choi: So probably a lot of you know Tesla in this area. So really young companies who are starting vehicles from scratch or the second customer segment is mobility service based customers. So, all companies who provide mobility as a service, the ride hailing apps, car sharing and so on.

Sun-Mi Choi: What we see is that they have quite of a different DNA, they have different requirements. That means also for Bosch, we need to understand the requirements and adjust also the way how we approach customers. Because these young customers, they act differently, they drive innovation differently than the VW or Mercedes driver that we’ve been dealing with for the past hundred years.

Sun-Mi Choi: So it’s time to change and it has also a big transformational impact on us. So, we see in the shared space, for example, the one customer segment we are focusing on is huge change. If you look at an annual number of ride hailing rides you see a tremendous growth over the past four years. It’s been grown more than 60%.

Sun-Mi Choi: From a user perspective, you also see a good reason why they are switching from ownership to shared. One of the reasons is because 96% of the time your asset stands idle. The car is parked, you’re at work, it stands idle for eight, nine, 10 hours while you sleep also. This this is a waste of assets.

Sun-Mi Choi: So people are looking for alternative modes to move, alternative modes how to utilize their assets in a most, more efficient way. So also this is one indication for why people are moving towards shared. Last but not least, from an investor perspective, if you look at how much investments have flown into this area over the past four years only more than 80 billion US dollar have been invested into the ride hailing market.

Sun-Mi Choi: This is humongous. This is likely to grow further. So, this shared mobility will happen. So how do these new customers take, what are the pain points, what are the requirements? These are just some of the requirements or pain points that we identify when speaking to the customer. So operational costs for these ride hailing companies is a sure thing.

Sun-Mi Choi: How can we become profitable? How can I optimize my operations? Second point is how can I ensure safety and security for their passengers, especially when we go towards robo taxis, it will not have a driver anymore being able to control the ride. So we need technology to basically operate and also ensure the safety even without a driver.

Sun-Mi Choi: Third is there are so many players arising, I need to differentiate. If I want to survive in this market I need to have a good differentiation point. So personalization, how to ensure that your ride is individual and a really great experience is one important differentiator that we have identified.

Sun-Mi Choi: For all these pain points, for all these requirements that we see, it kind of makes sense where you bring now the puzzle pieces together of the capabilities that we’ve seen from sensors which connect the cars, can connect the car and the user and a lot of other use cases that we’ve learned today.

Sun-Mi Choi: Battery management solutions is super important because we see a strong push towards electrification pushed by the government. Also end users are looking for environment friendly solutions. Also a lot of these ride hailing companies tend to establish their own EV fleets.

Sun-Mi Choi: So range anxiety and also improving the battery lifetime what we learned today are super, super crucial for the customers in the market. Autonomous driving was something that was mentioned. So a lot of these companies are also going towards robo taxis. So artificial intelligence is also human machine collaboration to really ensure that there is a safe and also unique experience between the human and the machine will be very relevant.

Sun-Mi Choi: When we look at the customer and the market and the customers, we see that these capabilities will be important for the future to come. So I’m very proud to see that we are working on these very future-oriented topics. This is the way how we would like to tackle the new era of mobility.

Sun-Mi Choi: So basically in summary, with these capabilities enable the vision of our mobility customers not only the new ones, of course, also the existing customer base. Second, we want to innovate and co-create with these customers together. Because even though we have the best technology that might be requirements that we may not have seen so we need the customer input to even more improve the technology and also the use case.

Sun-Mi Choi: Last but not least, important point is really to understand and translate what the customers tells it to us into technology. That’s why it’s a good collaboration to have technology and also sales and the market proximity close to each other so that there is always an inter-linkage and a bridge between technology and also market need.

Sun-Mi Choi: So, we’ve talked a lot about AI, about new customers, about innovation, but I think it’s also important to really close with the core, with the tradition to not forget about the core business and also the roots where this company is found on. So two values from Robert Bosch, the founder, since 1886, have been that he says, “I have always acted according to the principle that I would rather lose money than trust.”

Sun-Mi Choi: So the trust to the customers, to the market, providing safety is one really crucial element. Second point for doing business also with our customers is integrity. Integrity of the promises we make to our customers in regards to quality and also in terms of the promises that we make to them. This to the founder and the values still hold today our prioritizing this versus just having a short-term transitory profit.

Sun-Mi Choi: So I would like to remind us all of us when we speak about future topics to think about the core values as well because these are important. This is how I would like to close the presentation. Thank you very much for the one hour attention. So you have been an amazing crowd.

Sun-Mi Choi: I went a little bit over time, so thanks a lot for your patience. I think we had great presentations here today. I would like to thank all of you on behalf of the whole team for coming to our Sunnyvale site, for showing interest in our portfolio, in our technologies. And we would be happy to see you again, also to mingle and network after and to see if we have some collaboration opportunities.

Sun-Mi Choi: Last but not least, of course, I would like to thank all the staff, the presenters, and all the people who have helped to support making this event happen. It was a lot of work. So let’s have a nice evening and please don’t leave too quickly. Thank you very much.

Uma Krishnamoorthy, Hauke Schmidt

Like a Bosch: Tara Dowlat, Seow Yuen Yee, Yelena Gorlin, Panpan Xu, LisaMarion Garcia, Shabnam Ghaffarzadegan, Sun-Mi Choi, Uma Krishnamoorthy and Hauke Schmidt.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

Episode 18: Why Hiring is Broken with Aline Lerner of interviewing.io


Gretchen DeKnikker: Welcome to the Girl Geek X podcast, connecting you with insights from women in tech. This is Gretchen. I’ve been working in tech for over 20 years.

Rachel Jones: This is Rachel, the producer of this podcast. And along with Angie and Sukrutha, who are out this week, we’re the team behind Girl Geek X. This podcast brings you the best of Girl Geek X events, dinners, and conferences where we’ve been elevating women in tech for over ten years.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Today we’ve got a really special episode. We’re doing our first interview on this podcast with Aline Lerner, founder and CEO of interviewing.io. You might remember Aline from our Elevate 2018 Virtual Conference where her presentation on interviewing was the top rated session of the day.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Today we’re going into the data she’s compiled on why diversity quotas suck, imposter syndrome, and the dirty secrets of recruiting departments, and so much more. Welcome, Aline.

Aline Lerner: Hi, that’s a great intro. Thrilled to be here.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Awesome.

Rachel Jones: So you have a lot of expertise in hiring and interviewing as the founder of interviewing.io.

Aline Lerner: Aptly named.

Rachel Jones: Could you tell us a little bit about that?

Aline Lerner: Maybe actually I’ll tell you a bit about my background and then the company. So, I was a software engineer for about five years. I cooked professionally before that, which gave me a bad attitude and a lot of skepticism about things. Which served me both served me well later in life. And then I fell into recruiting kind of by accident, I think, as many people do.

Aline Lerner: One of the things that always frustrated me, both when I was an engineer and then later when I was a recruiter, was that one, there just wasn’t very much hiring data that was being used practically to make hiring decisions. And one very specific instance of that is how much we tend to rely on resumes despite the fact that the data shows that they don’t carry very much predictive signal at all about whether somebody is going to be good at their job.

Aline Lerner: So, I started interviewing.io to help make hiring more fair, and sort of make it more efficient in the process as well. And ultimately try to level the playing field in tech a little bit and give access to, opportunity to, people that are good but might not look so good on paper.

Aline Lerner: And in the process, by virtue of what we do, which I hope I’ll be able to get into a bit more, we collect a ton of data about technical interviewing and hiring. On our platform we regularly conduct technical interviews. I think at this point we have close to 50,000 that have happened. And we have all the audio, and all the feedback, and all the code people write and whether it runs, and stuff people draw.

Aline Lerner: And then of course we see where our candidates end up and how they’re doing there. That allows us to draw some really interesting conclusions both about recruiting and interviewing. And then also ultimately about hiring and outcomes as well.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So, for the people who are like, “Oh my God, that sounds amazing,” so, there’s kind of two parts to the platform, right? The, the folks who can do practice, and then clients of yours that are companies that actually use the platform to conduct their interviews.

Aline Lerner: That’s exactly right. The platform comes in several parts. Ultimately what we do is we’re a marketplace where companies can hire software engineers, but the mechanism for doing that sounds at first a little convoluted and weird, but it’s also our secret sauce. On our platform, if you’re a software engineer you can sign up and once you sign up you can actually book live anonymous mock interviews with engineers from companies like Google, and Facebook, and Microsoft, and Amazon, and Dropbox, and a bunch of other logos that make us really happy.

Aline Lerner: These interviews are completely free. So basically you grab a time slot and then when you show up at go time, there’s a senior engineer on the other end who meets you in a collaborative coding environment and just starts running you through a prototypical technical interview and gives you feedback at the end.

Aline Lerner: Of course we use this feedback. I’ll talk about how we use that feedback in a moment, but it’s really cool because for our candidates, interview practice is now completely de-risked. Rather than having to go and apply at a bunch of companies where you don’t want to work to sort of warm up before you get going [crosstalk 00:04:20]-

Gretchen DeKnikker: For those companies, too, right?

Aline Lerner: I guess sometimes it might be good for them because you might be pleasantly surprised. A lot of hiring is just interpersonal chemistry and you never know going in, but by and large it’s probably not the best use of either party’s time. It’s like dating, you want to go on some shitty dates if you’re just getting back out there to sort of break the seal before you go with the people you actually want to go with. Not to be cynical about dating.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Oh, we can do that. We can do follow up podcast on [crosstalk 00:04:51]-

Aline Lerner: I have a lot to say. So, we tried to give people something they couldn’t get anywhere else, which was this really high fidelity interview practice that’s very realistic. And the nice thing is we can use data from these interviews and how they turn out to surface people that are good in a way that we think is much more reliable and much more fair than how they look on paper. So, once you’re a top performer, you unlock what we call our jobs portal. And there you just see all the companies we work with, and we work with around a hundred, and you can say, “Oh I want an interview with Twitter tomorrow. I want an interview with Snap tomorrow. I want an interview with Microsoft tomorrow.”

Aline Lerner: You just click a button and you book a real technical interview with an engineer who works at that company. You don’t have to apply, you don’t have to talk to recruiters, you don’t have to try to find a friend who works there that’ll slip your resume on top of the pile.

Aline Lerner: You just press a button and then it’s still anonymous is the best part. You interview at one of these top companies, at the end, if things feel good, you can unmask and then they’ll shoot you straight to the onsite. The last thing I’ll say, because I’ve talked for quite awhile now is the really, really cool thing, the thing I’m most proud of is about 40% of the hires that we’ve made in the last three years, that’s how long we’ve been doing hiring, are people that don’t look good on paper at all.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Aline Lerner: So, by that we mean when we think about diversity at interviewing.io, for us it’s bigger than race and gender. Though, of course, those are both very important things. But for us, when we say nontraditional candidates, we mean primarily whether you look good on paper. So, did you go to one of a few schools? Or have you had the opportunity to work at one of the few sort of top companies that recruiters value when they decide whom to spam?

Aline Lerner: On our platform something like, I think we have 25% women, which is a little better than the pool at large, which we’re very happy about. I think 7% people of color, a number we’d to increase, but overall we have 40% of people who maybe dropped out of high school. Went to community college. Were a late stage career changer. Maybe they ended up going to a bootcamp, and then working in industry for a few years and sort of having to go through the school of hard knocks.

Gretchen DeKnikker: We focus on a narrow set of schools. You’ve done posts about this, the top five elite schools, you went to MIT, I went to Berkeley, these top schools.

Aline Lerner: We’re so great.

Gretchen DeKnikker: We’re so amazing.

Aline Lerner: We’re so amazing. These are top, top schools and top programs, and hiring from those same sources, when there’s a complaint about there’s a lack of diversity. It’s like, well maybe if you stopped fishing in the same pond that fishes in the same pond.

Rachel Jones: One thing that I think, Gretchen, you said on the episode that we did about bias and hiring was how companies are kind of off-sourcing the work of deciding who’s good onto these schools, and onto these other companies and just assuming, “Oh, they passed Stanford’s check. So that means they’re a great fit here.” But yeah, I think a lot of the data that you’ve uncovered shows that it’s not always a good fit. Just going by this kind of automatic check.

Aline Lerner: And there have been so many times when a candidate has applied to a company, gone in through the front door, they got rejected before they ever got to interview because of how their resume looks. Then they get on our platform, they crush it in practice. They book with this very same company, do really well in the interview, go on site, get an offer, and then the company looks in their ATS, their applicant tracking system, and they’re like, “Wait, shit. This candidate applied six months ago and we rejected them and now we made them an offer.”

Aline Lerner: We’ve actually had to update our contracts with our customers to say … Normally when you’re a recruiter, there’s this language in the contract that says if you’re already aware of this candidate from a different source, if you hire them, then you don’t pay us anything. We’ve had to update it to say if you’ve already interviewed this person and you rejected them, then you don’t owe us anything. That’s your candidate. If you rejected them based on their resume, and then we surface them, we actually added a lot of value and we hope we’ve forced a bit of an existential crisis in your hiring.

Rachel Jones: And you should definitely still pay us.

Aline Lerner: Please give us money because we think we did something good.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So part of, I think what I understood what you were doing is you almost … Not even almost. You end run the talent acquisition team, right?

Aline Lerner: It’s different at every company. I think that a great recruiter is worth their weight in gold because they can figure out what candidates want, they can shepherd them through the process. They can make sure that people have a great experience, they can help close, they can inform salaries. This is stuff that that is a very sophisticated thing and it takes a very specific set of skills. Right now, recruiting departments are spending a lot of their time and resources sourcing and doing all sorts of top of funnel things that don’t make a lot of sense.

Aline Lerner: Recruiters, in my opinion, should not be vetting candidates because they simply do not have the domain expertise to do it.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, they’re looking for people just like the people you already have.

Aline Lerner: That too.

Gretchen DeKnikker: They don’t take risks.

Aline Lerner: They’re not incentivized to take risks. They’re actually disincentivised to take risks.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Exactly.

Aline Lerner: We believe in sort of this brave new world where we, if you look at a job search, there are parts of it that are additive, there are parts of it that are neutral, and then there are parts of it that are shitty, and unpleasant and useless.

Aline Lerner: And we think that our goal is to amplify the additive stuff, automate away the neutral stuff and take away the shitty stuff. Right now in a hiring process, at the very beginning, once you’re in the process, you’re going to talk to a recruiter. We think that that call isn’t always the best use of either party’s time. Because, one, in a good funnel, maybe 25% of people will make it past the tech screen, but the tech screen comes after the recruiter call.

Aline Lerner: So, you’re selling like crazy to a bunch of people when three out of those four people will never make it through the funnel. Terrible use of recruiting time. And recruiters are not as good at selling. Unless they’re superb, they can not be as good at selling as an engineer, because when you’re talking to a peer you can be like, “Hey, what’s coming up on the roadmap? Why are you here? What projects got you excited? What’s your day to day like?”

Aline Lerner: You can’t do that with a recruiter. What we would love is to have that conversation happen later. And what we would love is to have vetting at the top of the funnel, not be made at the whim of some proxies like where people went to school, but actually based on what people can do and that is not something a recruiter can do either.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And everyone has their own shorthand. When I was a founder and we were hiring, I didn’t want people who had gone to top schools, and I didn’t want people who had worked at big companies with brand names because I felt this wasn’t going to be the perfect environment for them. Is that 100% true? No, but everyone takes their own shortcuts.

Aline Lerner: You have to, yeah. I think that data has the power to sort of free us from having to make decisions based on proxies like that. Although your heuristic is much better than I think most. The crazy thing too … I was going to mention this earlier, just about sort of putting that, that final nail in the university hiring coffin as it were … We were looking to see, speaking to biases and stuff, whether where you went to school could actually predict how you’d perform in interviews.

Aline Lerner: This is pseudoscience. It’s my blog. It’s not an academic paper. That’s the beauty of–

Gretchen DeKnikker: It reads very academically though.

Rachel Jones: [crosstalk 00:12:48]

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, she fronts in the best ways.

Aline Lerner: The best thing about having a blog is there’s no peer review. It’s just your friends and your employees. They’re like, “You’re too long winded,” and whatever. But you can say whatever … Of course the stuff we say we think is true.

Aline Lerner: So, we basically took all our students and we sorted them into one of a few categories. There were people that went to elite schools, the MITs, and the Stanfords and the Cal Techs and so on and so forth. And Berkeleys. Then they were top state schools, and then I think we went by US News and World Report and ended up with basically four tiers.

Aline Lerner: I hope I’m remembering this right. I might be misremembering a tiny bit, but the idea was that there was no difference in interview performance between the first three tiers at all. And the fourth tier, I think it was a tiny bit worse, but it wasn’t even that big of a deal. And now of course one of the big … I posted this on Hacker News, and whenever you post anything on Hacker News, people come out of the woodwork and are kind enough to identify all sorts of shortcomings with your work.

Rachel Jones: So generous.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I would like to donate my time.

Aline Lerner: Yes. They deigned to do that. I’m very grateful. Because this was actually a really valid criticism. It’s like, well, there’s some selection bias here. Because the students that are taking their time to do practice interviews are super motivated. So, they’re the ones that chose to do all this stuff, and are more proactive and they’re more career minded or whatever. And that’s probably true. But even with that, it’s still insane to me that there was no difference in performance between the MITs, and the UC Santa Barbaras, which, I’m not trying to put UCSB on blast, it’s a great school. I just think hiring managers are generally less stoked about it than MIT. But that’s not actually the case in our data.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Okay. So, you have said that diversity quotas suck.

Aline Lerner: Yes. Yes I have.

Gretchen DeKnikker: One the one hand you can make a case that if people aren’t incented, meaning your bonus, your promotion, your whatever is not tied to some sort of metric … Right now diversity quotas to me look like, “Oh oops, we tried. Oh we interviewed, whatever.” But no one’s literally changing the way that they’re looking at hiring, sort of filters then everything that they’re personally bringing to it to change the ratio. So, if you don’t have quotas, then what do you do?

Aline Lerner: It’s a hard question. I don’t know that I’ve necessarily figured it out. I think there should be some metric. I think my biggest qualm with diversity quotas is that it feels like a very sort of lazy kind of low hanging fruit metric. I’ll try to think of a sort of controversial, inflammatory example.

Aline Lerner: Let’s say we have a world … And this is kind of one of those biblical choices, you have to choose one or the other. Like, would you rather. I don’t think it’s morally right for us to be in a would you rather situation where you’re deciding between a white male high school dropout and a white female student from MIT or something. They both actually bring a lot to the table in different ways.

Aline Lerner: If we’re going to talk about lived experience and diversity of thought, then we should mean it. And if we’re going to talk about nontraditional candidates, I would argue, you know, I’m a white female from MIT. I’ve had a much easier life than the guy that dropped out of high school. But I don’t even think it’s our place to make that choice. I want a hiring process where both of those people are welcome, and where they’re judged on their merits. That’s my view.

Aline Lerner: And I think if you create a quota that’s based around race or gender, people like me will always win, at least when it comes to if you’re choosing between two–

Gretchen DeKnikker: Because you’re a woman.

Aline Lerner: Because I’m a woman. And it feels like shit. I can’t tell you how many times people have asked me, “Do you think you got into MIT because you’re a girl?” And the fact is, I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s very possible that I did. I had friends in high school that I thought were much more qualified than me, and then they didn’t get in and I got in. And I’m very grateful I got in. It’s made my life a lot easier.

Aline Lerner: I met my co founder there. But it sucks. Now I’m walking around being like, “Does that …” And that’s not even a real problem. “Oh, I don’t know why I got into the best engineering school,” whatever. But it still feels shit. And this idea of people around me in college wondering, “Is she here because she’s smart, or is she here …” So, that is my view on this. And I just hate this idea that people who deserve good things are going to be questioned. I just don’t want people to have that experience.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. And the cognitive diversity, as people talk about it and they say gender, ethnicity, race are going to bring it, but what they’re always talking about is cognitive diversity. And so if everybody’s gone to the same school, even if there are different races and different genders, especially top tier schools, they are little machines that teach you all to think the same and tell you you’re special.

Rachel Jones: I actually just read an article that was really similar to this. It was a black engineer saying that a lot of the times the black people that you see hired to these top companies, they all still kind of embody this kind of white style of being in the workspace. So, even as you’re filling a quota, you don’t have to challenge your processes or challenge the reasons why you weren’t diverse in the past. You can just have this number [crosstalk 00:18:53]-

Aline Lerner: Well, I think for companies it’s this ideal cop out. It’s like, let’s get all the women and URMs from Harvard. Woo. It’s like, well are you actually doing something meaningful there? I don’t know. It’s probably better than not doing it, but it’s not enough.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right. Yeah. I think maybe in interviewing.io version 7,000 you can have a test for cognitive diversity. Actually there is, we’ve talked about on a previous podcast the Basadur Profile, I feel like … but I don’t know if you could put that in, but it’s how you problem solve, and just sort of figuring out for your team where people fit in. It’s B-A-S-A-D-U-R if anyone ever wants to look it up. But I found that one is great, but I always just use it when the team’s already there. Just to figure out where we’re going to have conflict and things like that.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So, because we have a predominantly female audience, you talked a little bit on your Elevate session about how men and women suffer equally from imposter syndrome. But then you had a blog post where you went on and talked about how women participate in the interview process a little bit differently. Can you give us a little more [crosstalk 00:20:16]-

Aline Lerner: Yeah. So, we did this experiment a few years ago where … we actually have a few patents on a real time voice modulation where we can make women sound like men and men sound like women. And we can make everybody also sound androgynous, which we stopped doing cause it creeped everybody out. This uncanny valley, apparently. Interviewers don’t like it. I don’t know.

Aline Lerner: But we did an experiment where we made women sound like men and men like sound women. And we tried to see what that did to their interview outcomes. One of the things that was really surprising is that making women sound like men did not actually make their scores better, and making men sound like women did not make their scores worse. So, that made us feel good. We’re like, we have a platform where people are not jerks.

Aline Lerner: But I looked at the average scores and median scores for women and men. And women were doing worse in technical interviews. That was just clear. Like, shit, okay, what’s going on here? And what was really surprising is why it happened. I’m like, well, fuck, maybe women are just worse at being engineers. If that is what the math says–

Gretchen DeKnikker: Oh no, James Damore is actually right.

Aline Lerner: If that’s what the math says … I just want to know what the truth is. I’m not tied to any … I want to understand. So, that was a hypothesis that we were entertaining. But I’m like, if I’m going to publish that, I have to be sure.

Gretchen DeKnikker: [crosstalk 00:21:54] be a lot of very helpful people [crosstalk 00:21:56] to give you feedback.

Aline Lerner: Before I published that post I dug into the data a bit more. And what was really interesting is that women were quitting after a bad performance seven times as often as men. They do their first interview on the platform. It wouldn’t go well and then they would never come back. That was skewing the numbers.

Aline Lerner: So, I said, “All right, why don’t we remove the cases where people quit after their first interview in both men and women and see what that does to the averages.” And then of course the difference went away entirely.

Aline Lerner: Both men and women feel they don’t know what they’re doing equally. It’s a source of consternation to both genders, but men just plow forward more often and women go into this ball of self-loathing, I think, and don’t persevere. That’s a blanket statement. Many do, but more often they tend to give up.

Aline Lerner: That’s something that we’ve worked hard to address. There are probably more treatments we can do on the platform. But one thing we’ve started doing is emailing people after their first interview and being, like, “Hey, congrats. You got that out of the way. Something like a third of our top performers mess up their first interview. So, you’re in great company, no big deal. Just go again.”

Aline Lerner: That’s actually helped with with retention quite a bit. And there are other things that we have in the works as well. But that’s just an important thing for people to know. Technical interviews are so arbitrary. People’s performance vary so wildly from one to the other for both genders. It’s just a shame that women peace out after one when that interview may not actually mean anything.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, and then you went in a little bit on the Dunning Kruger effect, and people not being able to evaluate how well they did or didn’t do. Is there a gender difference there?

Aline Lerner: In overestimating performance? That’s a great question. I don’t know. I should look that up.

Gretchen DeKnikker: That’s the quote of, like, “God, give me the confidence of a mediocre white man.” I play that in my head sometimes when I’m like, “If you were just an average white guy, you would totally go do this.” So, just stop doubting. And yeah, what’s the worst that’s going to happen?

Gretchen DeKnikker: So, we have a lot of women in our community that ask questions pretty frequently at Girl Geek dinners about, you know, “I went to a bootcamp,” and sort of the doubts around that, and, “What advice do you have?”

Aline Lerner: Yeah, so what I would say is, one, just accept the fact it’s going to be really, really hard. It’s going to take months and months. And it’s going to be hard work. But if you persevere, it will work out. You just have to sort of make peace with the fact that there’s nothing wrong with you, and it’s hard for everybody, and you just have to hustle.

Aline Lerner: There are two things that I think are valuable. One is don’t apply through traditional channels when you approach companies. Because companies are saturated with bootcamp applicants. Every bootcamp student is on AngelList matching with every company. It’s not in your interest to sort of be a part of this giant pile of resumes.

Aline Lerner: And if this is your first exposure to programming, chances are your resume doesn’t have very much on it. It probably just has a few projects that you did while you were in the bootcamp. So, what you can do instead is approach engineers or hiring managers who work at those companies directly and be like, “Hey, I read this blog post that you wrote,” or, “Hey, I saw this thing that your company just put out. I have questions about it.” And just ask for advice, and establish yourself as somebody that actually cares about the thing. You’re not just trying to network, have some very specific call to action that you want to discuss.

Aline Lerner: You’d be surprised by how willing people are to help. But because you came through a non-traditional channel, the burden is on you to have to hustle, and it sucks. That’s the reality. But if you do it, it’ll be okay. But you can’t just do the same thing that everybody else does and expect that it’s going to work because the odds are just not in your favor.

Gretchen DeKnikker: So, we have a lot of senior candidates and obviously engineering hiring managers. Do you have anything in the data on the interviewer side?

Aline Lerner: Yes we do. On our platform, whenever a technical interview takes place, whether it’s a practice interview, or whether it’s a real interview with a real company, the feedback after the interview is symmetric. So, that means that not only is your interviewer rating your performance as a candidate, like your coding ability, and your communication skills and so on, the candidate is also rating the interviewer on things like, “Would I want to work with this person? How good were the questions? How excited would I be to work with them? How good was this person at sort of shepherding me through the question and giving me the right amount of hints while not taking away my ability to solve the problem by just giving me the answer?”

Aline Lerner: What we’ve seen is that the best interviewers and the best interview questions are collaborative. The best experience that people have is when you take away this pseudo adversarial relationship between interviewer and interviewee and it becomes a, “Hey, can we be smart together and solve a problem?”

Aline Lerner: That takes a lot more effort as an interviewer to set up both that environment and to craft the kinds of questions where collaboration becomes easy. If you just ask somebody to write this function, that’s not very collaborative. But if you start changing up constraints and you’re like, “Hey, now that we wrote this function, we ran into this weird thing at work the other day where under certain conditions this thing didn’t work. Let me tell you about that and what would you do differently? And here’s what we did and here’s what, here’s what I tried.”

Aline Lerner: And then it just becomes fun, right? It also becomes a much better selling vehicle because you can give people some insight into the kind of work you’re doing. If it’s interesting, it’s going to stick in their heads. Then after they leave the interview, they’ll be like, “Huh. What would I have done? What if we tried this? What if we had tried that?” Then you’re in there like a little parasite. That’s really what you want, I think.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Right. You’ve won them over.

Aline Lerner: You’ve won them over.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. No, I love things that. I’ve been off and on looking for a job for three years. I love going in and I get so excited when we can problem solve something together.

Aline Lerner: That’s the best part. It gives you a, “Is this fun for me? Do I want to problem solve with this person for the next 2.7 years of my …” Whatever that average is.

Aline Lerner: The other thing I’ll suggest if you’re an interviewer or a hiring manager, it’s really hard to come up with interview questions. But one weird trick for coming up with those is if you start some shared doc on your team where every time you do something at work that’s interesting or unexpected, you don’t have to write a question about it. But just jot a little note being like, “Hey, I had fun solving this, this was a little a departure from my day-to-day and this is something memorable.”

Aline Lerner: And then you can go back and look at that doc later and turn those moments into questions. And you’ll just have all these seeds for question ideas that you can expand on. And then make it so it’s something that somebody can do in 45 minutes and strip away everything but the essentials. But at least then it’s real.

Rachel Jones: Yeah. So, interviewing.io is specifically for engineering hires.

Aline Lerner: That’s right.

Rachel Jones: And with technical interviews, it’s easy to kind of strip things back and get to an objective space. But how could you apply kind of what you’ve learned from that platform to places that don’t have a more objective measure when they’re doing these interviews?

Aline Lerner: Yeah, it’s tough. It’s really, really tough actually. I think there were two criteria for whether something interviewing.io would work in a given vertical. And one is, is there a huge shortage of labor? Because if there isn’t, then why the hell would companies interview people anonymously? That’s insane. They’re doing it because they’re desperate.

Aline Lerner: But then the second one is can you make a value judgment about whether a person knows what they’re doing based on very limited data and what they’re doing in front of you? In some cases that may not be the right thing. I don’t really know how to interview salespeople. Gretchen, you probably know much better than I do.

Aline Lerner: But, my impression is that one of the best indicators of future performance is past performance. So, did you exceed your quotas? If you didn’t, why not? That may be more effective than, “Sell me this pen.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Salespeople, their environment is everything. You have to really understand the environment that they’re in and how it differs from the environment that you’re going to bring them into. And figuring out how to ask those kinds of questions too, of what motivates this person? Because, salespeople, motivation is everything.

Aline Lerner: It’s everything, right?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. That guy who’s going to get to the end of the day and got 40 nos, and then the guy next to him gets to ring the bell, and they’re like, “I wasn’t going to make any more calls today, but …” Because they’re in that hyper competitive thing, if it’s competitiveness that makes them make that last call, then if you don’t have a big team … You know what I mean? If you’re not structured in a way where they can get that motivation, then you’re going to be really missing … and you’re going to be doing them a disservice if you brought in someone.

Aline Lerner: Yeah. So, I think in some cases having a perfectly objective scenario based in the moment interview is not going to give you a full picture, and may also do the people a disservice because if you’ve accomplished a lot of stuff in your career, that should probably be part of your story.

Aline Lerner: But, I think that there is opportunity to do more of that with … There are a lot of cases where you can just give people scenarios. I mean that’s really what coding interviews are, right? It’s like, “What would you do in this situation?”

Gretchen DeKnikker: It’s like business school with code, just a case study and a case study.

Aline Lerner: So, management consulting, I think also in particular lends itself well to this approach.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Oh, definitely.

Aline Lerner: I don’t know whether there’s a shortage of management consultants, though. Maybe not.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Business schools are minting more every day.

Aline Lerner: More every day. People often ask about product management also, whether that’s a good one. I think scenarios there are good, but again, there is not nearly as much of a shortage of product managers. So, companies don’t have to resort to very bizarre strategies like using interviewing.io.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Unless they would like to diversify.

Aline Lerner: Or, I mean, the best thing about … It’s so much cheaper for companies and so much faster. Because it’s not just about diversity. It’s like, these people are better. So, you have to interview fewer of them, and we take away all this top of funnel stuff so you can get to a higher … We just went live with this huge tech company in LA, they went live two weeks ago. They just made their first offer to a–

Gretchen DeKnikker: Wow.

Aline Lerner: That’s crazy. And that’s what people are doing, and it’s because it’s more efficient. And then you trick people into also doing the right thing.

Gretchen DeKnikker: It’s hard creating a category. But then once people get a little taste of it, then you kind of have this tailwind. I think your tailwind is coming, Aline.

Aline Lerner: Let’s hope.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, this has been amazing. Thank you for being … You made it so easy on us. Our very first interview, we’re like, “Oh, I hope we get …” Especially without Angie and Sukrutha, who we miss very much today. But this was great.

Rachel Jones: Yeah, this was wonderful. Thank you so much.

Aline Lerner: Thank you guys. Thank you for asking some hard questions. I feel like I worked for it. Really, thank you so much for having me. This is the stuff, this is the stuff that makes people use our products, so I’m so grateful to you both.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Girl Geek X podcast. Please rate and review us on your favorite podcasting app. We’ll be back soon with more advice from women in tech.

Rachel Jones: This podcast is produced by me, Rachel Jones, with event recording by Eric Brown and music by Diana Chow. To learn more about Girl Geek X or buy tickets to our next dinner, visit girlgeek.io where you can also find videos and transcripts from all our events.

Global #ClimateStrike Begins Friday Across 150 Countries

16-year old Greta Thunberg inspires youth to protest climate change. She has brought much-needed attention to the critical global climate crisis. Recently, she made headlines sailing across the Atlantic in a zero-emission boat to speak at the UN Climate Summit to push for change.

Making Waves

This fall, the teenage environmentalist will grace the magazine cover of GQ (having wonGame Changer Of The Year” award) and Teen Vogue:

#ClimateStrike Begins This Friday!

Starting this Friday, the Global Climate Strike is planning walk-outs of schools, workplaces and more “to demand an end to the age of fossil fuels.”

You can find the protest nearest to you, and organize one if it doesn’t already exist.

“It’s not just young people joining in. In Sweden, a group of senior citizens called Gretas Gamilingar (Greta’s oldies) is participating. Indigenous activists, labor groups, faith leaders, humanitarian groups, and environmental organizations like Greenpeace and 350.org will be there, too. Outdoor equipment company Patagonia said it will close its stores on Friday in solidarity with the strike. So is snowboard brand Burton. More than 1,000 employees at Amazon have pledged to join the strike.”

Vox reports “Greta Thunberg is leading kids and adults from 150 countries in a massive Friday climate strike”

New York public schools will excuse 1.1 million children on Friday from attending school to participate in the strike, requesting parents to follow normal protocol for excusing children from school by phone, writing, etc.

Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: “New York City stands with our young people. They’re our conscience.”

Corporate Conscience

Teen Vogue reports companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Dr. Bronner’s, Eileen Fisher, Opening Ceremony, Outdoor Voices, and Seventh Generation are participating in the strike. Internet companies like Tumblr and Imgur are planning are participating, too.

Episode 17: Emotional Vulnerability


Angie Chang: Welcome to Girl Geek X Podcast connecting you with insights from women in tech. This is Angie, founder of Girl Geek X and Women 2.0.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: This is Sukrutha. By day I’m an engineering manager.

Gretchen DeKnikker: This is Gretchen and I’ve been working in tech for over 20 years.

Rachel Jones: This is Rachel, the producer of this podcast, and we’re the team behind Girl Geek X. This podcast brings you the best of Girl Geek X events, dinners, and conferences, where we’ve been elevating women in tech for over 10 years.

Angie Chang: And today, we’ll be discussing vulnerability.

Rachel Jones: For our last episode, we discussed vulnerability related to software security, but now we’re taking it back to our normal general career advice type of episodes and talking about emotional vulnerability. So what does this mean to you all?

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think it’s something you learn over time. I think you spend the beginning of your career trying to figure out how to pretend like you know what you’re doing when you don’t and worrying about a lot of what other people think. And then I think you move into managerial roles, and you start thinking about, “How do I get these humans to do what I want them to do?” And then at some point, you start thinking about, “Rather than just manage people, how do I lead them, how do I pull them to me?” And then I think you start really realizing how important vulnerability is.

Angie Chang: I think Gretchen’s absolutely right. It’s something that you don’t arrive to until you are a more experienced person. Often when you begin your career, you are doing the fake it ‘til you make it kind of approach of bluffing and doing things. And then oftentimes a vulnerability part comes into play when you maybe hit roadblocks when you become a new manager, or you go to therapy or some kind of group therapy for the first time, and then you realize that this is something that you can be working on.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I definitely have changed how transparent I am at work. For example, when I first graduated and I started work, we were a whole bunch of new grads who joined the company, and we all did everything together. So, sort of like that same environment you create in college. You think you can replicate it at work, and so you hang out at lunch, and then you work together, and then you go home, and then on the weekend you hang out again. And I realize the dangers of something like that and the benefits.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Obviously with the benefits, you make friends for life. It’s great. You are happy at work because you’re working with friends. But then the dangers of that is that at the end of the day, people are your colleagues and coworkers first before they are friends. It’s what I come to realize. Everyone has a different opinion on this, but this is how I feel like, if for some reason, one of you grows faster in the company or one of you becomes the other person’s manager, then it becomes very complicated and difficult. So, I’ve started to scale back how much of myself I shared at work.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, Sukrutha, it sounds like you’re sort of equating vulnerability with sharing personal details.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Not only personal details, but just sharing anything beyond–there’s a line. You don’t want to share too much beyond your work persona, sometimes, because then you’re viewed differently. Whether you want to be viewed differently… What that means in terms of being viewed differently. It’s what I’ve struggled with.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I mean, I guess I define vulnerability just a little different. And that’s probably something that’ll be really interesting that’ll come out of this podcast as we all look at it in a slightly different way. I don’t necessarily look at it as being transparent in my personal life or, but I did… and I mean, I came to vulnerability in the worst way possible, kicking and screaming. But I think what I realized was I didn’t have to know all the right answers. And actually, when I got to a point where I was so exhausted that I had to turn to other people for the answers or for the help that I thought that they shouldn’t have to give me was when I really learned that I had a team that really was behind me. They liked being needed, and they wanted to step up, and that was really cool.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: How you show your weak moments at work is very dependent on your working relationship with the people around you and how comfortable you are. Right? If you are more than just a work relationship but a little bit more of a personal connection, then you show it differently. And so, I think that’s where it’s been really tricky for me where when I’ve been stressed at work or I’ve been unsure about the decisions that I’ve needed to take that impacts the team, how comfortable I am to show what’s going on in my mind or what emotions I’m going through or when I need to take help, and when I don’t know the answer. That’s where, you know, the difference is.

Angie Chang: Yeah. When Sukrutha was talking earlier about appearing stronger, it seems like there’s this trend now with social media to have as, the rumor was that Cheryl Sandberg’s conference room at Facebook was called “only good news,” and you’re really allowed to only share good news on social media and with others, let’s say for example at work or some kind of, I don’t know, sanitized environment. So there’s definitely, I think, a trend toward maybe needing to have someone with some vulnerability and maybe articulating it in a different way. I think that’s what Sukrutha might’ve been getting at.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Recently at our dinner with HomeLight, Tina Sellards shared her own thoughts on the importance of vulnerability.

Tina Sellards: It was really important to me as I started to move into a more people role in organizations that I was doing. How do we as a group, as a community, really build that interaction and not silo ourselves into these easy data groups or easy breakup groups that we can put ourselves in? I think one thing that really just kind of zoomed in for me was fear. Fear is really kind of a driving factor, right, and why we allow ourselves to be siloed into some of these groups: fear of maybe that big tech company to break up your industry, or a fear of the unknown of a different group of people or community than you. Unfortunately, fear really can kind of drive some of these things, and I think that’s kind of where we’ve come with some of the data in technology. How do we get away from that, right, is the next question.

Tina Sellards: I very much subscribe to Brené Brown. I don’t know if any of you listen to Brené Brown or any of that, but vulnerability is how we do that. And leadership with vulnerability is a really key point in the human connection. I think we can really hurt ourselves and break ourselves up by just kind of communicating with the groups that we know and doing the things that we always know. Being vulnerable and letting ourselves be open to that information and being open to other people’s experiences is really how we build these communities.

Tina Sellards: Something here that I really appreciate about HomeLight and just kind of bringing it together is a core value for us. And it’s not only a core value, it’s something we really live is being a part of our family and really being that open, unique kind of environment I think is super important because I don’t think we’re going to conquer these fears and these issues that we have as a larger society if we don’t start opening up to that and really starting to have those conversations as a group.

Tina Sellards: So, I just wanted to share a little bit about my experience on that and data and the human connect and hope you all stay vulnerable, open, and communicate as a whole community together because that’s important in building communities like HomeLight, and Girl Geek, and things of that nature. Keep those communities open. Be vulnerable.

Rachel Jones: I think that this quote is interesting because, just like Gretchen said, there are a lot of different ways to understand and think about vulnerability. In our discussion so far, we’ve been talking about vulnerability as in, “I’m going to share something personal about myself.” Or “Yeah, I’m going to reveal that I don’t feel competent,” or something like that, but also thinking about vulnerability as even opening ourselves up to those kinds of situations. So vulnerability as in, “I’m going to take on this project that scares me, and I don’t feel completely secure in,” or vulnerability as in, “I’m going to work with these people that I haven’t worked with yet and see how that can stretch me.” So, even getting outside of just like vulnerability that’s revealing something personal about yourself. It’s also a way to open yourself up to challenge and new experiences and have that space where you don’t know everything, but even take that step into that environment.

Gretchen DeKnikker: That’s a really valid point. You actually have me thinking just sort of the backstory on how I kind of figured out how to be vulnerable and then eventually came to embrace it, at least on some level, was being a founder and having so much pressure. You’ve taken money from VCs, you’ve hired people and they could have a job somewhere else, but they’re coming there every day to build your dream. But as a founder you’re wearing so many different hats but no matter what you think you’ve done to prepare for it, you’re never really ready. Most of what you’re doing, early stage is, like, just a crapshoot, like you’re literally could flip a coin for a lot of the decisions that you make.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And me just being at the end of my rope and not having answers and feeling like I was letting everybody down is sort of what led me to just, I just didn’t have the strength to pretend like I knew what I was doing anymore. And that’s really when the employees and my co-founders really came through and shined was they thought I had it and once they realized, like, “Oh she doesn’t have it, that’s cool. We can come and help her.” And that was huge. Because then I realized this kind of changes everything about how I manage people and a whole bunch of other things. I was pushed so far out of my comfort zone that I had no choice left but to be vulnerable, right?

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah. When I had been… You know, I have been a manager now for a few years. I think over the last year, the position I’m trying to take is that when someone gives me feedback, I don’t respond to it right away where I would sound defensive. And so, I try to respond in a way where I sound more open and I ask questions, and so someone says, “You know, I don’t like the way blah, blah, blah happened.” And I’m like, “Okay, can you help me understand how that made you feel and what I could have done differently or tell me more?”

Sukrutha Bhadouria: And I think that has helped people feel like I’m more open to listening, and that makes them feel like there’re in a comfortable situation. And so, that has been so difficult for me to get to that point because my natural instinct is to try to assure the person that there was no harm meant, and in essence sound defensive, but that quickly shuts down the conversation.

Rachel Jones: I think even just asking for feedback is such a vulnerable thing to do because you’re literally opening yourself up to scrutiny. But as much as you can model that and even show you’re kind of making changes based on that feedback, that just makes everyone’s work stronger, and it makes your team more able to trust you.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And you do really–I mean, it’s such an important thing because if you’re the type of manager who’s like, “Why do I never find out something’s broken until it’s come off the rails?” It’s like, well how do you take that information? Right? How does someone get treated when they come to you early with a problem? You know, do they feel safe doing that? Because that’s a really good way to get information early and a really good way to not get information early depending on how you treat them. So, I think, you know, what Sukrutha’s saying is also she’s taking the feedback, but she’s also creating this open line of bi-directional communication and building that trust also.

Rachel Jones: Tina references Brené Brown in her quote. She’s done a lot of talking about leadership with vulnerability. Is this a conversation that you have heard in the tech world recently?

Gretchen DeKnikker: You know, I think you’re hearing a lot about Brené Brown also because she just… her Ted Talk was pretty famous. But I think now that she has got the Netflix special, she’s really come on to more people’s radar, which is awesome to sort of create this courageous, and yet, vulnerable culture.

Angie Chang: I was made to watch the Brené Brown Ted Talk at a group support offsite thing where we were all apparently high-performing people that were starting to see some struggles. And I noticed in the group, they’re all very Type A early stage startup founders or high-performers who were at early stage companies.

Angie Chang: There was this point in the day where people were just getting really stressed out and then breaking down emotionally because they had built up a lot of themselves to be so strong, and they realized they weren’t. And they were admitting their vulnerability of, “Maybe I could be a better CEO,” or “Maybe I could have been a better manager,” and then having some tears shed and come to Jesus moment. And we were instructed to watch Brené Brown.

Angie Chang: Recently, there was the Amy Poehler Wine Country special where Brené Brown has the entire cameo where everyone in that birthday party is like, “Oh my God, Brené Brown!” and was talking to her – and she’s being very nice. I think we should maybe go watch this Netflix special that Gretchen mentioned, The Call to Courage, and check it out.

Angie Chang: Sandhya Hedge and Samantha Pluth responded to a question about the potential risks of being vulnerable during our dinner with Amplitude.

Sandhya Hegde: Being vulnerable is hard, and people who struggle to do that, for them it’s like you’ve taken over the agenda for the conversation by being vulnerable. It can be a very powerful thing to do if you lean into it and do it very confidently. The bad way to do it would be, “I don’t know if this is the right thing to do right now, but I kind of have something to say.” Don’t do that. All right? Just lean into what you’re doing, which is to say, “Hey, I have something to share. I can’t really read how you’re feeling about my work, and I would like to know more just so that I have a good understanding of whether I’m on track to keep up with what you would expect from someone like me.” You can make it very professional and very direct, and that’s a power move. That’s not going to detract from anything.

Samantha Pluth: I want to add another note. When you’re vulnerable, you’re inviting people to care for you, and if there’s anything I’ve seen, like our CEO is constantly vulnerable in a really powerful way. He recently led a fireside chat and second question he chose to answer was, do you think you’re the right CEO for the company at this time? That was like, an, “Oh, you’re going to take that question?” and he answered it gracefully. He was honest. There are things that he’s still learning, but he truly believes that he can lead us, and he’s doing everything he can, and he’s constantly getting feedback. Vulnerability and feedback tie into each other, and I think that’s garnered a lot more respect because he’s doing that.

Rachel Jones: I love this idea of vulnerability as a power move because I think, yeah, when people think about vulnerability, it is very much like this, “Oh, here’s how I’m feeling. I’m sorry, don’t hurt me.” But it actually really is powerful and direct to say, like, “Hey, here’s how I’m feeling. Here’s what I need. Let’s be clear about this and move forward.” I think that’s a really empowering way to frame this conversation.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah. I like how they both have like different ways to talk about vulnerability, especially when Samantha’s talking about how her CEO is vulnerable, but in such a powerful way. I think that’s really, really interesting to me. You know, when you’re tying the word powerful with vulnerability, to me, I think if you can strike that balance, that when it doesn’t put you in a situation where it may work against you. So I wonder what it’s taken for the CEO to get to that point where, you know, they can actually be strong and powerful while being vulnerable at the same time. What did you think, Gretchen?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, I mean I think what is attractive to Samantha about that and many, many, I’m sure other people at the company, is that it shows a level of humbleness and you can be humble and admit like “I’m not the best at this and I’m not the best at that. But we’re kind of working on here as a company, the direction that we’re going. And here’s why I think I do have some skills to be leading right now.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: But to just talk about the ways that… I mean there’s no perfect CEO for any company, but I think the fact that he’s humble enough to even take the question, I think is what really builds that trust and definitely loyalty to you as a leader.

Angie Chang: When I first heard that quote, I was like, of course the CEO’s going to be vulnerable. And then I realized that not all CEOs are vulnerable. So maybe it is setting the tone from the top, where if you are a CEO that is vulnerable, you are giving permission and creating a safe space for other people in your company to be vulnerable as well.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I mean, I think if you have a blustery wind bag CEO, then you’re going to have a blustery wind bag management team, right? And that’s going to be your marketing style and whatever. And if you have a very transparent leader, you’re going to see that within the organization also.

Angie Chang: I was just trying to imagine, like the girl geek who was in the first decade of her career trying to come to a place where, like she can be, feel comfortable saying things and being vulnerable as opposed to the CEO.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I don’t know. I didn’t figure it out until I was 40, and then only because I was just at such a point that I had no other choice than to.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: That’s usually how it happens. You know? Because, you aren’t taught to be… You’re not born with the ideal leadership and management style, right? You pick it up based on what you think is effective and which is why you suck when you start.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah. Because you manage everyone the way that you would want to be managed, which is not the way other people want to be managed, generally.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah. Or you are trying to control the situation when you know you can do things faster, right? There’s that other problem, too.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: And so just like giving up control and letting people fail and then being open to improvement yourself, all of that only happens when you literally have no choice.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, so what I would say, to answer your question, Angie, is what I realized when I finally gave in or gave up or whatever it was that happened, was they were just waiting to help. The team was right there, just waiting for me to say, “Come on in. Let’s all work on this together.” Right?

Rachel Jones: Also coming back to your question, Angie, a lot of an early career person being able to be vulnerable depends on having CEOs model this behavior and having managers create these kind of environments that allow for people to be vulnerable.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Colleen Bashar spoke about the importance of creating an atmosphere for vulnerability during our 2019 Elevate virtual conference.

Colleen Bashar: So, I think everybody has career aspirations, and sometimes they’re hesitant to tell you what they are because they may not be on your team. It might be an aspiration outside in a different organization. And creating an environment where people can feel comfortable being vulnerable and telling you that can change the game. Because now they feel like there is a special relationship between them and their manager where they can be honest upfront, and their manager can help them develop skills that will get them to that next step.

Colleen Bashar: And in that skill development, they might find that the relationship they have with their manager has made them grow so much that they no longer want to leave the organization. They want to stay within. But it was the willingness to have that conversation of I don’t care if you want to go to a different org within Guidewire, please, let’s just talk about what makes you challenged and happy and inspired.

Rachel Jones: So, I think here Colleen introduces yet another way of understanding and thinking about vulnerability. Here, it’s kind of being vulnerable about what you want in your career and what your goals are. I think, yeah, she’s right. Sometimes people don’t feel comfortable sharing that with managers because they don’t want to offend if it’s not what you think your manager might want for you. But as a manager, building the space for people to be able to share those things so that you can partner with them and help them in those career goals is definitely a valuable thing. So how do you create that environment for vulnerability?

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think I’d try to do it from the outset in the sense of like what Colleen is talking about, of you start having those conversations during the interviewing phase of tell me where you want to go with this, and not tell me your five-year plan, but tell me what you like about this. Tell me what you want to learn. Right? And you’re having these conversations all the time, and you’re explicitly saying, you’re here to like grow, and I’m here to help you grow. Whether that means that you move on from this company, or you move to a different department, or I can create a path for you, or whatever it is, I’m on your side, and I’m here to help you as a human. And I think you have to be explicit with that from the outset.

Angie Chang: It’s an interesting approach of creating it from the interview.

Rachel Jones: I think this also shows the benefits of vulnerability even just outside of for you as a person. This quote came from a talk about building high performance teams, and it was actually a response to a question about losing high performers and creating a vulnerable space, really being a tool to encourage people to stay. So, I think, thinking about just what’s the benefit of creating a vulnerable environment. It’s not just so people feel like open about their feelings and we all get along. It’s also how you can make your work and your team the strongest it can be.

Angie Chang: To play devil’s advocate, I think of companies that are older and more established, I think Guidewire has been around for two decades where they have a big enough infrastructure, and they know what they’re doing at this point. So they can be vulnerable, and they can take their time and invest in people. Whereas a lot of the more, you know, VC-backed companies that are growing, growing, growing may have less of a tolerance for this type of attitude, unfortunately. And that’s kind of what we’ve been hearing in the news. I think we’ve seen a lot of poor management and abuses in workplaces when there is too much emphasis on growth.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: I think generally why we need to figure out how you can create an environment where it’s safe to be vulnerable. The best thing that comes out of it is people showing that they want to improve, they want to make the workplace better for their teammates and for their team. And so, maybe if you’re struggling to put yourself in a situation where you feel vulnerable or you’re exposed that you’re vulnerable, come at it from that angle so you’re focusing on the good that’s going to come out of it. That’ll make it easier then for it to trickle beyond just your team where more and more people are comfortable in asking how they can improve and do better. Like the example where Colleen talks about, the manager helping grow people while also not trapping them and helping them. They’re helping that feedback that he or she would get to then make the team a better place, or the org a better place, within Guidewire.

Angie Chang: I just realized that when I was looking at this vulnerability topic, it seems like something that’s “feminine or feminized,” like it’s something that is more equated to women than it is for men.

Rachel Jones: I think that’s definitely true how vulnerability is kind of a gendered idea. I wanted to ask even with the, going back to the last quote from Samantha, do you think if it was a female CEO who answered that question that it would’ve gotten the same response that it did from this male CEO thing? Like, “Yeah I can mostly do this job, but not all.”

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, I question whether it’s related to also sometimes women being more susceptible to imposter syndrome where then that makes it even more difficult to show that you don’t know something, or that you are struggling with something, or you are open to hearing feedback. Because sometimes you, that moment are too afraid to hear anything negative.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well, I think men and women actually suffer from imposter syndrome the same. I think they just process it differently. But I think it also comes from being in the right environment. You know, we’re talking about it sort of coming from the top and creating that environment and definitely if you’re someone who’s able to create that environment for other people. But there is that double bind. Right?

Angie Chang: I think you touched on an interesting point about the double bind that women face, and as much as we want all leaders to be vulnerable and still perceived as powerful and smart and able to command, there is always the risk that, you know, it’s not just you, it’s you and your imposter syndrome with the world at large, that’s going to be assessing your competence when it’s not necessarily about the competence, it’s about the bias in people’s minds as they assess their competence.

Angie Chang: I was listening to a podcast with the StitchFix CEO and founder, Katrina Lake, and I was listening to her speak about how she says the word like in interviews and someone called her out. I think it was [inaudible 00:30:30] that called her out and then said, “Did you know that people can take you less seriously because you said, like,” and she said, “I want to lead with my authentic self. I say words like, ‘like,’ and that’s fine, and I may have had a harder run.”

Angie Chang: I think she mentioned that their road to IPO was not easy, but as a result of that longer road, she was able to do things like “I’m just going to hold my son while I’m up there.” And I didn’t realize that that photo op wound up with a ton of response from women coming up in many industries saying, “I’m really proud of you for standing up there, ringing the bell at the first day of trading with your infant son and being the CEO and founder of this company, and this kind of having a balanced that and being okay with that.”

Gretchen DeKnikker: I mean I think it does. I will tell you if you’re in your 20s or 30s and listening, it does get easier. You just start caring less what other people think. I don’t think you ever feel like more competent, but you have life experience wisdom that seems to be helpful. But you also just stop caring as much. And I’ve been told by women in their 50s and 60s and 70s that it gets even better, and so, I can’t wait for that.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And if you’re in an environment where you really don’t feel supported by the people around you, then think about that too, of, is this the best place for me? Is it temporary? Would I thrive more if I had people around me that I didn’t feel like I had to put up a front as much?

Rachel Jones: Do I need to go to a Girl Geek Dinner and surround myself with people who feel like I feel?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Please.

Gretchen DeKnikker: You do.

Gretchen DeKnikker: At the very least you can just come and listen to other women and be like, “I’m not crazy. This is a thing.” And you can feel better.

Angie Chang: Yes, Girl Geek Dinners, where you realize you’re maybe or maybe not being gaslit.

Angie Chang: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Girl Geek X Podcast. Please rate and review us on your favorite podcasting app, and we’ll be back soon with more advice from women in tech.

Rachel Jones: This podcast is produced by me, Rachel Jones, with event recording by Eric Brown, and music by Diana Chow. To learn more about Girl Geek X or buy tickets to our next dinner, visit girlgeek.io, where you can also find videos and transcripts from all our events.

Angie Chang: This podcast is sponsored by HomeLight, a Google-backed startup with a line of data driven real estate products that empower people to make smarter decisions during one of life’s most important moments, buying or selling their home. This podcast is also sponsored by Amplitude, a Series D funded leader in product analytics. Amplitude provides digital product intelligence that helps companies ship great customer experiences. Last but not least, this podcast is sponsored by Guidewire. Guidewire Software provides core backend services software to the global property, casual and workers compensation insurance industry.

Girl Geek X Clover Lighting Talks & Panel (Video + Transcript)

Like what you see here? Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!

Mary Uslander, Ellen Linardi, Rachel Ramsay, Meghana Randad and Bao Chau Nguyen speaking

Clover girl geeks: Mary Uslander, Ellen Linardi, Rachel Ramsay, Meghana Randad and Bao Chau Nguyen speak on a panel at Clover Girl Geek Dinner in Sunnyvale, California.   Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Transcript of Clover Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks & Panel:

Gretchen DeKnikker: Hi, I’m Gretchen, I’m with Girl Geek X. Welcome. How many of you guys, this is your first event? Oh wow, that’s so many. We’ve been doing these for about 11 years. We’ve done over 200 of them. We do them almost every week, up and down the peninsula, so hopefully you should be on our … That’s all right, I can definitely talk over that. We do them every week and you should come because you get to see amazing women, you get to meet amazing women, and you get to feel inspired so that you can go back and fight the good fight every single day, right? Yes.

Gretchen DeKnikker: We do a podcast also, if you want to check it out. We take like little clips from these events, and then we chitchat around them. So, there’s like finding a mentor, and what’s the right way to use the word intersectionality, and all sorts of really important life skill things. Definitely find it, rate it, keep it, and tell us if it’s any good, because we’ve never done a podcast before so we’re still figuring it out. Then finally, we just launched a store on Zazzle with all of our cute little Pixie things. You guys haven’t seen a lot of them because they weren’t on the branding for this, but it’s super cute.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Can I borrow you because I love your hair? Can you hold this for a second? I love her. We have this cute fanny packs and a little bag that you could put cosmetics, but you could also put Sharpies or something less female in, and water bottles. All sorts of stuff, and they have our little Pixie characters, they say, “Lift as you climb.” That’s it, we’re good. That’s all the things that are in my bag. You were an awesome assistant, everyone give her a hand.

Gretchen DeKnikker: This space is awesome. I’m so excited for the content because everything that we’ve experienced thus far has been really amazing, right? Yes, you ate, you had your… They’re not quite awake yet, but we’re going to get them there. I am not a good warm up for this, apparently. Without further ado, please welcome Jennifer Oswald from Clover, who’s the head of People Operations.

Jennifer Oswald

Head of People Jennifer Oswald welcomes the sold-out crowd at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Jennifer Oswald: Hi, everyone, I’m going to try and navigate a lot of different technology while I’m up here. I’m Jen Oswald, and it’s my pleasure to have you all here to kick off our collaboration with Girl Geek X. This is an event on unconscious bias. I’d like to thank you for attending and I can’t wait to hear what takeaways you have from this event. We know that events like these can impact your lives and have a lasting effect on not only your professional life, but also your personal life.

Jennifer Oswald: Our agenda this evening is as follows. First, me, I’m your introduction and welcome. Then we’re going to look at what we do. We’re proud to showcase a bit on what we do here at Clover. You’ll also be meeting our CEO, who will talk you through that. We’ll have lightning talks as well that will show you a little bit more about our product. Next we’ll be featuring our panel discussion on unconscious bias, and then lastly, we want to make sure you still have time to network, and don’t forget your swag.

Jennifer Oswald: Maybe a silly question, but who is confused by me being up here today introducing unconscious bias? You don’t have to raise your hand, you can just think it if you want. Would it surprise you to know that I grew up identifying as two races, Native American and Caucasian? That was before a DNA test. More to come about that later. When biases come to mind, what did you think when you saw my picture before this event? What did you think when I came up here? That is unconscious bias, it’s bias happening in our brains making incredibly quick judgments and assessments of people and situations without us even realizing.

Jennifer Oswald: They can be influenced by our background, our cultural environment and personal experiences, and resolving feelings and attitudes towards others based on race, ethnicity, age, appearance, accent, et cetera. Also termed as implicit social cognition, this includes both favorable and unfavorable responses and assessments activated without an individual’s awareness, or intentional control.

Jennifer Oswald: How did I get here? That’s little baby Jen and that’s my mom. As you can probably see, she was a very, very young mom. She had me at a young age, she worked the night shift and we lived in the projects aka, subsidized housing. That’s a picture of Iowa City, Iowa. We were on food stamps and we struggled to get by. Even at a young age, I knew what it was like to struggle. Then the classic story, mom meets dad, he adopted me at about age six and life was a little more middle class and a little more in the middle of nowhere.

Jennifer Oswald: I grew up in Palmer, Iowa. This is a picture of our downtown. That is the one gas station, right next to it was the grocery store/where everybody went to have coffee in the morning. I was in a town of 256 people, so how diverse do you think that was? Here I am, I’m the only adopted person in the whole town, mixed, left-handed, and female. How many do you think were college grads? I was supposed to get married, raise three to five kids, maybe have a job after I took care of the kids and at the very least, I should be a great cook and make sure that everyone is well fed. So, what do I have? I have a college degree, an almost masters, zero kids except for my fur babies, zero husband, and I just moved from the Silicon Hills, Austin, Texas, to Silicon Valley.

Jennifer Oswald: My unconscious biases tell me that men should have a career, women should stay home and raise a family. Being adopted means you don’t really have a family like others. Men should make the money, women should tend to the family. Once poor, always poor. You should write with your right hand because everyone else does. Men are better at math and science. Yet here we are at a tech company with a panel of amazing females to tell you about their experiences and biases they’ve encountered, and how they proved many of my own unconscious biases wrong.

Jennifer Oswald: We all have unconscious biases. It comes from our culture, it comes from our families, it comes from our family’s families, yet once recognized, we can overcome them. So here I am, a place I shouldn’t even tried to get to, kicking off an event for an amazing company that says FU bias, and we’re working to overcome and support diversity and inclusion. No matter what the package looks like on the outside. We hire the book, not the cover. On that note, I want to introduce the person responsible for creating such a great place for like-minded people to come together. In fact, in 2019 he was nominated for two awards, Best CEO for Women, and Best CEO for Diversity, and we just think he’s the best. I’d like to welcome John Beatty, our Clover CEO.

John Beatty speaking at Clover Girl Geek Dinner

CEO John Beatty talks about the change that needs to happen in the world at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

John Beatty: Thanks, Jen. Welcome everyone to Girl Geek X. You know, I get the opportunity, of course I have to promote my own company. There could be no better promotion of Clover than what you just saw with Jen. She’s our new Head of People, and I think she’s absolutely amazing. Really excited to grow our people function here, so thank you very much, Jen.

John Beatty: First I’m going to just tell you a little bit about what we do here. You’ve probably encountered a device that looks very much like this. We are all across America, we’re also in a number of other countries. Thank you. We build absolutely beautiful cloud based point of sale hardware and software and systems. I’ll tell you the reason why we did this, this is going back, we started Clover about eight years ago. What we saw was a bunch of really ugly, really insecure, really closed systems and there was … on the counter at all these restaurants and retailers and services companies. We were trying to bring some innovations into that market and just ran into a bunch of brick walls.

John Beatty: We started talking to business owners and we realized they absolutely hate their systems, they keep having data breaches, the systems really don’t help them run or grow their businesses very efficiently. We thought that was a very interesting problem to solve. We love small businesses and recognize that a lot of small business owners are just trying to do what they love and they need technology to support them. We have many, many … We’ve manufactured over 1 million devices. The US is our largest market, so you have almost certainly encountered one of our devices.

John Beatty: On the consumer side, we have a very engaging consumer experience. First, the consumer journey starts off typically signing up for a loyalty program. You’ve probably seen one of these as well, you just type in your phone number and then we extend that consumer journey–if we could could go to the next slide, all all the way to the mobile phone. We have a very highly rated mobile app as well. It starts off with loyalty, but of course we also have Bluetooth beacon enabled payments. You can walk into a store, you don’t even take it out of your pocket. They know you’re there, they know what you like. You don’t even have to pay. You just say, “I’d like to pay with Clover,” and you walk out. It’s a very magical experience.

John Beatty: On the other side of the counter, they have a Clover device. Your profile picture will show up there, a little bit about your history, how often you’ve been there and what you like. We’re really building an absolutely fantastic end-to-end experience both for the merchant and the consumer.

John Beatty: Now, we also have an app marketplace that helps businesses run and grow their businesses. We take a lot of the … We make a lot of the mundane, very simple. We have a number of partners in categories like payroll. If you want to make your life very easy as a business owner and get all the employee information and get it into your payroll system, we make that very seamless. We work with best-of-breed other companies and we partner with many of them here in the market.

John Beatty: That is enough about Clover. I know I get a few minutes here of corporate shilling, so thanks for bearing with me. First, I want to talk a little bit about, what does it take to win one of these awards? Let me just tell you, when I first saw the news that I’d won these awards, I had two thoughts. The first is, “Well, that’s really cool. I’m very proud of that.” Then the second is like, “How did that happen?” To be completely honest. So first, to talk just a little bit about the pride that I felt. These middle meant a lot to me, both personally and professionally.

John Beatty: Personally, I have a–I have a wife. My wife is right here in the front row. She’s a scientist who’s now in business development. Very accomplished in her field. I also have a six year old daughter, and I also have two boys, four and two. I’m not going to go into any details. Let’s say, my wife has run into some professional situations that are absolutely outrageously unacceptable. I think the world has made a tremendous amount of progress in being more fair and just over the last 50 years, but there’s a lot of work left to do. And with all of my kids, both my girl and my boys, I’m very … When they grow up and they see that I’ve done things like this, I’m very proud that I can say I helped make the world more fair and just. That means a lot to me personally.

John Beatty: I asked the question, what does it take to win one of those awards? Honestly the answer is, not enough. The bar is actually just too low. I will say we try very hard at Clover on diversity and inclusion, but we are a small company. Just a short number of years ago, we were a very small startup just trying to survive. Most of your thoughts on, how do I not die, not, how do I create the world’s best culture?

John Beatty: Now that we’ve grown up a little bit, now we are very focused on building out those programs. We’re out of the almost dying category and into the very successful category. I’m very proud that we’re doing events like this tonight. But, this is very recent for us to actually build these institutions. We have a Women in Tech Group here at Clover, and that’s a very grassroots effort. It’s building and it’s building, and we’re really getting a lot of great programs here.

John Beatty: I could win this award with honestly not doing that much proactively, just avoiding the unforced errors and making sure we squash any bad behavior that we see, it means the bar’s probably too low. That’s the Clover story. If you could just jump of course, I’m going to show one more time. We have recruiters standing by. Alicia, John, they are waving at you right there. They would love to talk to you and of course, Clover.com/careers.

John Beatty: I’m going to introduce Rachel. Rachel, why don’t you come on up? Rachel is on our software engineering team on our Payment Terminal API and she will tell you a little bit more about what she does in a lightning talk.

Rachel Antion speaking

Software Engineer Rachel Antion gives a talk on semi-integrations and how it fits into the business at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X  

Rachel Antion: Hi, my name is Rachel Antion and I’m a software engineer here at Clover on the semi-integrations team, which is our internal name for the Payment Terminal API so if I use them interchangeably, that’s why. Overall, we make about 2 billion card transactions every year, which amounts to be about $100 billion on over 1 million devices sold in seven countries, and we are approaching 5% of Visa and MasterCard volume worldwide, which I think is pretty impressive considering we’re only in seven countries right now. Of that, 2.5% of those transactions are processed via the Payment Terminal API, which might not sound like a lot until you think that it’s about $2.5 billion, and it’s growing every year.

Rachel Antion: Can you click it? Some of those transactions are coming from integrators that you probably recognize like Amazon, the Las Vegas Convention Center, the stadiums of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Seattle Seahawks, and the New York Mets. All of these integrators created their own solution customized to their individual business needs. Here is a specific example of a solution built with the Payments Terminal API. This is a beautiful point of sale created by Hy-Vee that’s totally customized to their individual business needs. But in order to appreciate just how awesome this is, you might need to know a little bit more about the Payment Terminal API, where it came from, and how it works.

Rachel Antion: People have been taking payments for pretty much as long as people have been around and as we progress, the way that we take payments also has to progress. When credit cards were first introduced, there was not a lot of security, but as the age of the internet progressed, so did the need for that security. Older point of sales basically consisted of some kind of UI attached to a magstripe reader that would send unencrypted data to the point of sale, which might make all of you uncomfortable because it led to things like the data breaches that started in 2010.

Rachel Antion: Clover knew that there had to be a better way to take secured payments without making companies throw away all the hard work they put into developing their point of sale systems. That solution was the Payments Terminal API, which allows you to use a Clover device as an external payment device. Your point of sale gets a Clover payments API, and Clover provides the PCI compliance. Basically, you make the point of sale and Clover takes care of the rest. All the point of sale needs to worry about is creating the order and making sure the right amount gets sent to the Clover device.

Rachel Antion: We have two different flavors, if you will, of the Payments Terminal API. We have Native or takeover that lets you create your own app that runs directly on the Clover device, and we have Remote that lets you run it on pretty much any device. We have SDKs and Android, iOS, Windows, and JavaScript so the possibilities are pretty endless. That beautiful point of sale I showed you earlier is actually an example of a takeover model. You can see it here running on our Clover station.

Rachel Antion: Who exactly is the Payment Terminal API for? Its for someone who has an existing point of sale. Maybe everybody’s already trained, they know how to use it and it works just fine, but they want to use a Clover device to take payments because it’s faster. It’s someone with a specific business case, a hotel, a restaurant, a mom and pop shop. They’re all going to have different payment needs and it makes sense that they might want different apps. It’s for someone who wants more control over the process. It’s possible that you need different payment flows, even within the same business.

Rachel Antion: For example, at salon, how you pay for a service and just a product might be different. You probably don’t need a tip and signature if you’re just buying a bottle of shampoo, but you do when you’re buying your snazzy new haircut. Or, it’s someone who just wants to build their own app. If you think this might be you or you have any other questions, I’d be happy to chat with you after. I’m going to turn this over to Wako who’s going to talk to you about empathy here at Clover.

Wako Takayama speaking

User Research Lead Wako Takayama gives a talk on fostering customer empathy at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Wako Takayama: Hi everyone, my name is Wako Takayama and I lead the user research group here at Clover. John and Rachel introduced you to our product and the technology, so I am going to focus on the people who use our products and services here. Business owners like Thomas, who runs Poorboy’s Cajun Kitchen, which is just a few miles from here. You may have been there, very good food. And, Olivia from Theory Salon, which is in Woodstock, Georgia.

Wako Takayama: As with a lot of companies, we at Clover, we face the challenge that we build products for people who do jobs that we don’t do. These small business owners like Thomas and Olivia, they have a lot of things on their plate, they’re juggling a lot of things. They make all the decisions about their business, where are they going to open their store? What’s their product? What’s the price they’re going to sell things at? They have to hire, they have to fire.

Wako Takayama: Here we have one of our local businessmen. He needs to set up his own Clover system. He takes orders, he delivers food, he’s checking inventory, and then he has to call the vendor to make sure that he has stuff to sell, so a lot of stuff. This is just what we call front of house. Then there’s back of house. It’s all the office management stuff, lots of stuff that these business owners have to do.

Wako Takayama: For us to do our jobs as designers, engineers, marketers, we really need to know a lot about what these people do. We need to know that because that’s what we base our work on, the building, the designing that we do. The user research team, my colleagues and I, we help by doing formal research studies and, we work on fostering company empathy across the whole company.

Wako Takayama: But first, what is empathy? I’m going to read this to you, the ability to step into the shoes of another person aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions. The key here is that empathy allows us to get beyond our biases. One way we’re doing this, I’ll tell you quickly, is that we foster empathy at Clover starting on day one at the company. If you were to join Clover, you’d join the Merchant Empathy Program. This is a way to step into the shoes of a new Clover merchant. During the first week, you would work with your fellow new hires to dream up a business, set up a Clover system. You can see one of our designers really went over the top and he created this beautiful menu, and then take orders and payments.

Wako Takayama: I’m a researcher, so of course I send out surveys after things. I found out that this program has had a really great impact. One engineer said, “There were a couple of issues I worked on as I joined the team and due to my knowledge of the system from the session I was able to figure out a couple of issues easily.” That’s fantastic, right? Another engineer said, “It has helped me feel more connected to the customer and the company, and has helped me feel a little closer to the customer.” That’s really the key. We want to all feel closer to the customer, that we understand them, that we are serving them.

Wako Takayama: Imagine what stepping into the shoes of the user of your product or service could look like. How can you foster empathy for the person who’s using the product that you’re working so hard to build? If you’d like to brainstorm with … If you’d like me to brainstorm with you about some ideas, I’d be happy to do that, just come find me afterward. And, if you haven’t already had a chance to touch and step into the shoes of our Clover merchants, you can do that over there to get your schwag, and also just to play around with our product. Thank you.

Wako Takayama: Now I’d like to introduce Kejun Xu.

Kejun Xu speaking

Product Design Manager Kejun Xu gives a talk on thinking like a designer at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Kejun Xu: Thank you, Wako. Let me see if I can make this magical work somehow. Let me give it a try. Nope, doesn’t like me. All right, hi, everyone. My name is Kejun Xu. I’m a Product Design Manager here in Clover. I want to talk about how we design at Clover today, and you don’t have to be a designer to think design. You may ask, well … Next please. What is design thinking?

Kejun Xu: Actually, first of all, let me start with some numbers. It’s quite interesting. A few years ago, a team of researchers looked at how design impacted the organizations across S&P 500 companies. What they found was that of the top 20 companies, including Apple and Coca-Cola, who made it to the list, who are considered as design-centric, their stocks performed 211% over S&P 500 Index. This is compelling data.

Kejun Xu: You may ask, well, what is design thinking? Fortunately, we didn’t invent the term. You can search tons of information and technology out there. But basically, it’s a framework to foster innovation and collaboration. It starts from empathizing with your target audiences all the way to testing and evaluation. Wako talked a lot about merchant empathy. A lot of us joined at Clover without any knowledge about restaurant or SMBs, including myself, so we would go out for day trips and we’d go talk to the restaurant owners and managers. We’ll learn about their lives and their challenges. We also would go and shadow them and see how they would ring up an order on the Clover station, or how they would take payments …

Kejun Xu: Oh, it works? Can I have it? I’ll try it. This was a trip that my product manager, my researcher, and I went out and shadowed the merchants and see how they would take payments at the table. Still doesn’t like me. Sometimes when things are disconnected, we’ll go out and talk to them and see how much the pain point was. There are also other insights and data that we just couldn’t get by sitting here at our cubicles or in the office. By looking at this sheet of paper, the restaurant owner would know exactly what’s going on with this restaurant. It’s actually a pizza restaurant out there in Sunnyvale called Tasty Pizza.

Kejun Xu: That owner would know exactly what their customers ordered, where’s the order coming from, is Uber Eats or is it from DoorDash, was it paid or not? With all that forward data … I’m going to just do it myself, we’ll come back to the office and sit down as a team and really scope the problem. I’m really proud to say that every sticky note out there that you see our team put up, it connects to a real world problem. Then we’ll also sit down with the team to sketch the ideas all together. Like I said, you don’t have to be a designer in order to design. One of the sketches that got the most [inaudible] vote on is actually from one of our engineers.

Kejun Xu: This is where the design team will come into play. We would turn the ideas and all the concepts and sketches into clickable prototypes. We would then present the prototypes and we’ll do usability testing around it. Some of the testing that we’ve done are in house. We will invite merchants to our office and give them a tour and in the meantime, help us usability test or prototype. Sometimes we’ll go back to the restaurant, and we’ll go back and talk to them and test the prototype in their natural environment. A lot of times, we also do our usability testing remotely in remote sessions through GoToMeeting or Google Meet because we know that we live in this place called a bubble of Silicon Valley.

Kejun Xu: Well, design apparently doesn’t stop here. We shepherd through the entire development process. What this really enables us is that design get to sit at the forefront of the conversation and everyone get to sit at the forefront of the conversation. It allows product managers, engineers, marketers, researchers, designers, and everyone on the team and cross functionally align our goals, and that’s a recipe for high performing teams. You have to add a very special flavor to how we make design here at Clover, and it’s really that we make this a fun process to work on and if you haven’t noticed, we have an open bar at that corner. What’s more fun than sipping on a glass of Mimosa, then sketching your next product idea? Thank you.

Kejun Xu: Next up, I want to introduce our lovely panel for tonight with a topic of navigating conscious and unconscious bias and I want to introduce our moderator for tonight, our engineering director Bao Chau Nguyen. Welcome.

Bao Chau Nguyen speaking

Director of Engineering Bao Chau Nguyen introduces the panel of Clover leaders at Clover Girl Geek Dinner.  Erica Kawamoto Hsu / Girl Geek X

Bao Chau Nguyen: Good evening everyone. My name is Bao Chau Nguyen and I lead several engineering teams here at Clover, the Clover mobile apps point of sale and the app market web apps. The topic of conscious and unconscious bias had never been more prevalent than right now. From the current political landscape to the social movements, we are immersed in this topic, sometimes not by choice. We’ve come a long way in identifying biases, but we’re not close to eliminating or overcoming them consistently.

Bao Chau Nguyen: I want to show you a research study that I ran across on this topic. Imagine a fake company having a 1% performance bias towards gender. The impact of this 1%, they’re starting out with 50:50 men-women distribution across all career levels and this company rates women from one to 100, and men from one to 101. Over 20 simulations, the company is now skewed with fewer women at top levels. Now imagine running more simulations, the number is going to be a bigger gap.

Bao Chau Nguyen: We know this is a fake company, but we also know 1% bias is not realistic. Having been a young immigrant to America, I faced many biases over the years in all aspects, from classrooms, to just vacationing outside of California, to workplaces. I wanted to make sure that tonight’s panel will have a heart to heart conversation with you and whether you have experienced a bias or not, you can walk away with more awareness and some learnings on how we can become allies to one another. You want to speak up when you see these microaggressions and stand up for each other, because together we are stronger.

Bao Chau Nguyen: With that, I’d like to introduce our panelists, Mary Uslander, Ellen Linardi, Rachel Ramsay, and Meghana Randad. Let’s start ladies, welcome. Would you talk a little bit about your role here and, what was your initial reaction when you were invited on this talk?

Mary Uslander: Yes. Hi, everyone. My name is Mary Uslander. I’m actually from our New York office and I lead commercialization, client experience and work closely with the Clover team. I’m actually part of Fiserv, the parent company. For me, the topic was really around inclusivity and how you use it to an advantage, to really build diverse teams for success. I’m really excited to talk more about that.

Ellen Linardi: Hi, Ellen Linardi. I head the product team here at Clover. When Bao Chau approached me about being in the panel, it was interesting. I think I’ve always had a very interesting relationship with bias, both having seen a lot of it and we’ll chat more about that a little bit later, but also how it made me feel, then how I reacted to it and how I find what you do with the bias that is ultimately always going to be there leads a lot to the outcome. Hopefully we get to chat a little bit about that and we find it valuable. Excited to be here.

Rachel Ramsay: Hi, my name is Rachel Ramsay. I’m a developer advocate here at Clover. I also work very closely with our data analytics team. When you invited me to be on this panel, I was excited because up until I was 25, I thought I was going to be a sociologist, so I feel that I bring a more structural perspective than a lot of people have.

Meghana Randad: Hi, I’m Meghana Randad and I am a software engineer on the payments team here. When I was first invited to talk about this topic by Bao Chau, I was really excited and very happy because this is one of the topics which is very close to my heart. I have always been an advocate for women against inequality, against bias, and a lot of things we are going to talk here. Just coming from a very different background of being an immigrant and a woman and just an engineer, I face it every day, so thank you for having me. Honored to be here.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Great. Where can I start? This is a question for all of you. Would you share a time or a setting where you experienced a gender or an affiliation bias? How did that make you feel and how did you overcome that? We can start with you.

Meghana Randad: When I was growing up, the part of the world that I grew up in, in India, it was a norm and it was also common that women should get a college degree to find a better husband, not to find a better job, and then run the home. People often ask me, “Why do you want to work so hard? Why do you want to have a career when all you can do is support your husband, be home so he can really focus on his work?” A very fundamental assumption that women cannot, are not really so capable to work outside home and can’t have a career was very upsetting.

Meghana Randad: I had to overcome that many times in my life. To me, the key really is to believe in yourself. Sometimes you have to do what you have to do. If you want to get something, if you have a goal that you need to achieve, you have to be persistent and sometimes it could mean challenging the status quo. I was the first woman engineer in my family, and the first one to travel abroad, come to a new country all alone to pursue my career. It’s very easy when you have a defined path, but it’s really hard when you know where you want to be, but nobody to guide you or mentor you, so really all you can do is to believe in yourself.

Bao Chau Nguyen: I really can relate to that. My parents came here and had to start their career all over. They were teachers and then they came here, they had to go to back to school for a different degree and different occupations, so I applaud you, Meghana. Rachel?

Rachel Ramsay: Yeah. I’m an older millennial. I say that because I feel like a lot of women my age, when we were in middle school and when we were in high school, we were learning HTML, we were learning CSS, we were learning JavaScript because we were making our own websites back in the web 1.0 days, yet of all my friends and I who did that, no one was like, “That’s front end web design. You can make a lot of money doing that.” No one else was like, “There are other programming languages that you might enjoy.”

Rachel Ramsay: Out of my friends, none of us ended up pursuing it in college or as a career. I sort of backed into tech by going to a boot camp. But even once you get your foot in the door, once you’re the diversity in D&I, it can be hard to stay technical. Because people say, “You have such great people skills, maybe you want to go into management,” or “You’re a great communicator, have you thought about technical writing?” So, it can be very hard to say, “My North Star is,” whatever it is for you. I want to be a principal engineer and stay on that, stay in technical working with your manager to say, “I want to get the promotion, what do I have to do? Where are the opportunities?” You really do have to run your own career sometimes.

Ellen Linardi: I think from my perspective, a lot of the stuff that Meghana and Rachel both talked about are certainly true. I grew up in Indonesia, in a town not very different than what Jen showed. We had seven, about 7-Eleven looking thing and if I get in trouble at school, by the time I get home my mom knows about it. I don’t know how, but it’s a very small town. It was similar expectation with Meghana was saying, grow up, get married, make sure the man takes care of you.

Ellen Linardi: While I have a lot of stories I think on on biases that I’ve seen, what I wanted to share was probably an experience I had early in my career when I was in Intuit. I started out as an engineer there and loved coding. I was a keyboard hogger. When someone’s coding or trying to solve a problem too long, I get anxious and it’s like, “Let me try, let me try.” I knew I was very comfortable, I enjoyed that a lot.

Ellen Linardi: The other thing that was quite interesting, and I think this is something a lot of females can identify with, I was a good communicator, I like to organize, I pay a lot of attention on how everybody else feels so I kind of try to make it a team decision, make sure everyone’s included. So, one day one of my colleague came to me and told me, it was like, “You know, you’re an okay developer, but it’s all because you’re a good talker.”

Ellen Linardi: It was meant as a dig and I think the thing that I really wanted to share here is, at that point you have a decision. You could take it as a dig, or you could take it as a compliment. I chose to take it as a compliment at the time and I said, “Thank you very much. It is a skill so if you ever need help, I’ll be happy to help you in that area.” The thing I wanted to share there is that we are all going to run into bias, especially unconscious bias, and it’s called unconscious for that reason.

Ellen Linardi: It is going to be there, and I think we’re going to have a lot of opportunity to decide what you do with it. You either let it drive you and change the decision you have, to the point of focusing on where you want to go. Take it how you want it, and the bias folks have are not always bad. If someone say, “You’re Asian, you must be good in math,” maybe you are, you’re like, “Yes I am, thank you.” I just think that one of the way that I’ve approached some of the biases is not always negative, it’s simply a perception people have had going to that interaction with you and their experience of how they thought you should be.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Did you remember some of the responses after your-

Ellen Linardi: I never heard that line again after and I could tell you, certainly being a good communicator has gotten me to where I am. It hasn’t held me back, so I suggest that if you guys have felt biases or people saying things that you know, you’re female, you must be good in this, just say, “Thank you, that’s awesome. I’m good in that and this.”

Mary Uslander: I wanted to share more … First of all, having conversations like this is critically important and I’m just thrilled that everybody’s here. I think this is a conversation that we have to keep having. From my perspective, what I try to do is constantly make people aware that maybe they’re thinking about things a certain way, because of some unconscious bias. Whether it’s working with my male colleagues if we’re in the middle of merging with a new company, and people are making their decisions or judgments about individuals. It’s always interesting about how they talk about the women versus how they talk about the men.

Mary Uslander: When they’re senior women who are very strong, and very powerful, and very opinionated, and very inquisitive and are asking hard questions, there’s always a different value judgment on that individual versus if John was sitting down and really asked all those hard questions, “Why did you think about it this way? Why are you doing that?” That’s part of what you do. It’s really important to–in a right way, but just say, did you think about … Are you judging this person differently because they are a woman?

Mary Uslander: It’s really being aware of that and personally, I try very hard within my own team and I can see it as well. I have two young analysts, there’s a male and a female and they’re both incredibly smart and very talented. She works her butt off and puts her head down quietly and just gets things done. The young gentleman, he’s great too but he’s constantly putting time on the calendar and just showing me what he’s done. Not in a bad way, but I encourage her to do the same. I think it’s just being aware each other as well, and really trying to keep the conversation going, and how do you use it in a positive way?

Bao Chau Nguyen: Thank you Mary, just hold on to that. I wanted to ask you a follow up question. Having so much experience and leading big teams, in your … What have you noticed in your observations on diversity and how it impacts business outcomes?

Mary Uslander: I would say it’s really important to have different people on your team that do different things, but also come with a different perspective. You want someone like Kejun who’d have a design perspective, somebody who’s going to have a different perspective on, let’s say the merchant or empathy, analytical skills, detail oriented, big picture, creative. But, it’s really the power of that diversity of thought that really helps you get better outcomes.

Mary Uslander: What you also want to have is the commonality of you want people to have similar core values, to be ethical, to be honest, to work hard, to be smart and talented, so you really want to … You want to build your team based on skills and based on talent, but you want that talent to have a very diverse perspective. That really helps you achieve much better goals, because people are challenging you in different ways and arriving in problem solving in unique ways to get a much better result.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Thank you, I love that. Ellen, going back to what you were saying, coming from Indonesia and having that cultural bias of certain things that women have to do, and I know you have two daughters. Are they here?

Ellen Linardi: Wondering around here somewhere.

Bao Chau Nguyen: They’re just being great kids. I wanted to ask you, knowing that cultural bias exists and having daughters, does that impact how you raise them?

Ellen Linardi: I think what actually impact how I raise my kids has a lot to do with how I was raised actually. The interesting thing is while I grew up in a very traditional Asian town, I would say my parents were probably pretty progressive, not very conventional. Partly, my sister and I always … I have one sibling, so we are two sisters as well. My dad never had a son. I think he poured it all into us. He basically told us, “Whatever you want to do, pursue it. If you don’t like something, question it.”

Ellen Linardi: I think it drove my mother crazy somehow because when she told us, “Because I told you so,” we were like, “That’s not a reason.” We were brought up to really question the assumption and I think that was unusual. I think that was unusual in my town, that might be unusual for some of you, but I think questioning the bias and assumption and take it as an opinion at face value, and then deciding for yourself. It’s really a matter of choice. Running a home is not a bad choice.

Ellen Linardi: I think that’s one of the tricky thing, is that a lot of times you could see, your mom’s giving you the value she knew, and she knew how to run a home. That’s the life she could envision for you. To be able to understand the intent behind it and realize the impact that it has but not take it as face value, and be able to insert your own thoughts and your own desire to it, I think that is what I was taught.

Ellen Linardi: For me, I told my parents all the time I grew up to become who I am because of what I think the upbringing that I had and I try to do the same with my kids. I hope to be half as good of a parent as my parents was, but it’s the same thing and I think part of it is that it’s slightly uncomfortable. You tell them to question things, I tell them, “Because mommy told you so,” and before I say it I’m like, “They’re going to tell me it’s not a reason.” But, it’s ensuring that you understand why you’re doing things, and it is for a reason that you accept and you’re aligned with.

Ellen Linardi: It’s not because someone told you, it’s not because you’re scared, it’s not because society expect you to do so, it’s because you want to. I think having that as a compass is what I try to instill in my kids. That’s helped me, hopefully it helps others as well.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Certainly I grew up and my mom expected me to help her in the kitchen, and I always ran off and go do something else. Having two kids, a boy and a girl, I try to be as equal, whether by chores, it’s like, “Both of you clean up your rooms, both of you fold away your own laundry, both of you wash your own dishes.” So, not guiding them towards anything that is specific to their gender that they have to do. Just growing up here and seeing that world, it really helped me raise my kids to.

Ellen Linardi: It was actually what the interesting thing when I first came to the States, and I came after high school, actually. I always thought I was different when I was back home, but my parents kept telling me it was okay to be different. I was also a sick kid, so there was a lot of reason to be different. But when I came here, I realized I was different, but everyone felt a lot more different and being different was okay. I’m like, “That’s awesome, I’m never going back.” Here I am like 20 years later.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Now Rachel, being a lesbian you have twice the potential for bias from gender to sexual orientation. What changes or suggestions would you like to see in an organization to combat these biases?

Rachel Ramsay: Well, it’s easier to be a lesbian in the Bay Area than it was in North Carolina. I do want to call out the ways in which I am privileged, which allowed me to come here. I’m a white woman, I come from an upper middle class background, I’m a cis woman. When I decided like, “The Bay Area is really expensive, I need to get one of those tech jobs,” I was able to say, “I can get a loan to go to the boot camp, but dad, I’m going to be out of work for three months. Can you give me a loan from bank of dad?” Which he did. The question is…

Bao Chau Nguyen: Thank your dad for us.

Rachel Ramsay: Yes, I’ll tell him that. So, how do we create a world where everyone is safe is a really big question, bigger than the question you asked me, so I will limit myself. But, I’m really excited by what Jen is planning, our new head of people ops to include more of a diversity and inclusion training as part of our onboarding, similar to the program that we established for merchant empathy. But it’s not just about new hires, it’s across the company. Every year I get to sit through some trainings that are like, don’t bribe people, don’t sexually harass people.

Rachel Ramsay: I would love to also have a mandatory training like, don’t misgender your colleagues. It’s not just about education, it’s also the policies and the material support that we can provide to our colleagues. Whether that’s little simple steps like normalizing doing your pronouns when you get introduced, whether that’s having a gender neutral bathroom that’s just like a place for non-binary folks. And of course, making trans healthcare accessible. It has to be part of your health coverage and you also have to pair it with a supportive medical leave policy.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Hear that, Jen? She’s working on it. Meghana, you have two little kids. Describe to me balancing work and life, and not having the choices to stay late to work on a project or going out to a team dinner for team bonding. How did that impact you, or how do you feel like it impact you or your career?

Meghana Randad: Most of us feel that 24 hours in the day is not enough. I feel when you have young kids, even 48 hours are not enough. It’s just a lot of physically, emotionally sleepless nights, and being present at work and to be productive at what you do. When my team goes out for happy hours, and happy hours I feel are staying, working late together as a team are ways to bond, are ways to network. Sometimes you talk about things which are not related to work. You talk about your passions, we are in this space together and we are all motivated towards similar goals. You form a sense of community, you feel you belong here.

Meghana Randad: I felt when that happens, the team that I worked in was much more productive. Then being a young mom, being a young mom is incredibly hard. It’s very hard to create that harmonious balance between work and family. I do have to put definitely much more effort for working or even sometimes to just bond with my colleagues. For example, there has been times I had a four year old boy, a five month old baby, I’m on call for production, there’s a fire and I have to deal with it, I have to debug the issue.

Meghana Randad: My sick kid is now refusing to eat, some I’m sitting at the table, trying to get him to eat, a laptop in front of me Slacking and trying to look at all the graphs and debugging our code to figure out what’s wrong, to make sure we don’t fall apart as Clover. At the same time, holding my five month old in another hand and breastfeeding her. She was happy sucking away.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Multitasking to the next level.

Meghana Randad: And all moms have it. It’s not just me. But, I feel very grateful. I have an incredible partner who supports me when you have to stay late at work. For example, today he’s babysitting. I feel equally happy to work for a company, which supports its employees through various life phases. It’s just not flexible hours or maternity perks, it’s more than that. It’s a thinking that’s ingrained in culture here at Clover.

Meghana Randad: In my first week actually, we had happy hour on a Thursday and John Beatty, our CEO, he came up to me and he told me, “Hey, I know you’ve been a new mom and I know how hard it can be because I’m a new parent myself. I understand it’s hard, and I’m here to support you, so let me know if you need anything.” That itself is, that comes back to me every time I feel I’m struggling, and it’s very reassuring to have that support, just not at home, but also at work. I feel happy and cared for.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Wow, that’s a great story. Thank you, John. One last question before we open up to Q&A for everyone. How would you challenge stereotypes, provide some advice to your audience and promote sensitivity and inclusion?

Meghana Randad: As Jen said, we all have unconscious bias. We have amazing unconscious mind, which helps us navigate through a lot of decisions that we make every day. But unfortunately, this unconscious bias that we have against people could lead to make some wrong assumptions about people. Every time I make assumptions about someone, I try to ask myself, why? Why have I made that … Why do I think that way? Do I have enough data to support that? Has that person, does he have skills to do what he needs to do or she needs to do?

Meghana Randad: For me to challenge stereotypes, the keys to keep asking yourself and be really mindful, and be conscious about your biases. Once you’re aware, I think that’s the very first step towards tackling those and to create a very diverse and inclusive environment. It’s very important to have a diverse team, because most people learn from their experiences. To me personally, experiences are most powerful, that’s how I learn.

Meghana Randad: When you create those diverse teams, it can be gender, it can be number of experience, your background, many other things, right? Then people when they interact with each other, their assumptions are challenged a lot of times and they understand perspective of other people. That helps improve the whole culture of inclusion. I feel when you’re creating such diverse teams in workplace, the most important thing is to create a safe place where people can really share their differences and don’t feel that they have to conform to a norm. Really getting that richness in workplace would be the key I guess.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Well said. Rachel?

Rachel Ramsay: I think getting people in the door is not enough, hiring is not enough. You have to be bringing them into an environment that is truly inclusive, truly safe, where they can show up with their whole self and do good work, and come home feeling only the normal amount of exhaustion that you feel. How do you do that? I do think it requires a C suite level buy-in, it requires a buy-in from managers. I’m not a manager, I’m an individual contributor. As an IC, one thing that we can do for each other is we can look out for each other, we can have each other’s backs.

Rachel Ramsay: One time I was in a meeting and whenever I notice like, who gets cut off, who gets assigned the note taking, who gets chosen. You don’t want to white knight for people because it’s their career, but it’s easy to stand up for someone else, probably easier than standing up for yourself. So, there’s always an opportunity to call in a co-worker, to call in a manager.

Ellen Linardi: Let’s see, where do we start here? I think that ultimately, the interesting thing for me, at least from my experience on unconscious bias, is that we all have it. In some ways I say we have unconscious bias to the people that we think have unconscious bias. When certain people approach you in a particular way, you react to them. One of my biggest learning over the years professionally and personally really … I’m a divorced mom as well, so I’ve gone through various life experiences.

Ellen Linardi: Well, in that area is to decouple the impact and intent. The minute you couple the two because of the way someone makes you feel and you start reacting to that personally, emotionally, the conversation really isn’t going to go anywhere. The biggest thing that I really try to do is, I’m like, “Take the impact,” like, “Ouch, that hurt,” and then decouple it and say, “I know you didn’t mean to do that because when you say at the intent it sounds completely bad,” and then even if they mean to so it they’ll be like, “No, no, that was not what I meant to do.”

Ellen Linardi: Everyone take the higher road, but give people a chance to take the higher road. Because, when you tell someone, “I know you’re bad,” they’ll be bad, but when you say, “I know you’re actually good, but what you did was bad,” it gives them a chance to make different choices. I think that’s the first thing, is be aware of how you’re reacting to the unconscious bias. If you react to the unconscious bias by providing your own unconscious bias, it’s like regurgitating the same cycle and it doesn’t really get anywhere.

Ellen Linardi: I think the second thing is when it comes down to bias, the best thing I’ve ever find throughout my career of changing that is by changing the experience that the individual or the people or group in front of you have with whoever you represent. Sometimes I represent an epileptic person, sometimes I represent a divorced mom, sometimes I’m an immigrant, sometimes I’m a female leader, but in whatever context, you have an opportunity to recreate what it meant to interact with who you represent.

Ellen Linardi: When you change that experience, that change perception, that change bias because it is very hard to tell someone, “Change your unconscious bias.” It starts from the experience because that’s where it comes from. I think we all have an opportunity to slowly change that up, both by, I think, providing programs, having structures, and policies and everything that encourages it and making sure people are more aware, but each of us individually also have a chance, I think, on every interaction, to, I think, not continue that bias cycle and try to break it as well.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Yeah, I think we can all be allies. We can always find something that we can ally for each other.

Mary Uslander: A couple of things. One, I try and it’s very hard to do, is listen more. So much with unconscious bias, your brain is going, you’re looking at someone, you’re making a snap judgment. But then if you stop and you actually listen to what they’re saying, it’s overwhelming like, “Oh my God, this person’s amazing and what they’re saying is incredible.” I think for all of us to just stop and really listen, hear, and just try to incorporate that skill into everything you do. That would be one thing I work on every day.

Mary Uslander: I think the other is if you’re either managing people, be aware of always going to the same person. It’s easier said than done because a lot of times you have deadlines, and you need to get things done, and Ellen is the one who can always deliver like that or whomever. But you have to really give other people a chance, and also coach and help them right. Mentoring is another thing we haven’t talked about as much here, but we all know how important mentoring is, and mentoring is everywhere. It’s tonight, right? It’s listening to these amazing women and hearing about John and others, you look around you.

Mary Uslander: Every day, you should look forward and see, what could I take from someone? Whether it’s the person at the front desk or whether it’s the person who’s bringing the coffee, there’s always something to learn. Then if there’s someone who you really admire or respect and you want to spend some time with them, seek them out, ask them if they’d be willing to have a cup of coffee with you. It’s listening, it’s being aware, it’s trying to spread the love around and really help each other out. We as women here have to really continue to help each other and help the men, because sometimes they need a little help and understanding, probably more so than most, but I think it’s our job and responsibility to keep doing and keep advocating.

Bao Chau Nguyen: I know that you are part of many women organizations as well, you’re a big advocate for women. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Mary Uslander: Wnet is another women’s organization. Girl Geek X is amazing, but Wnet is another organization for women in the payment industry. Audrey Blackmon is in the back and she’s one of my fellow board members at Wnet. We really try to do all kinds of advocacy, education, training, webinars. I encourage you to take a look at wnet.org if you’re interested in joining. What we’re going to do is more … We’ll probably do an event here as well, but, any women’s organization or have a lunch and learn in your company. Get people together, have conversations. I think that’s really what we are trying to do here.

Mary Uslander: I just personally want to say about Jen and all of you, thank you. I feel like I’m an honorary Clover member because I’m part of the other side of the company, but I am so honored personally just to be here and to be part of this amazing group. Thank you for having me.

Bao Chau Nguyen: At this time, we’ve wrapped up the panel questionnaire and open up for Q&A.

Natalia: Thank you. I actually thought of not using maybe a microphone because it was so far away. Well, thank you for this. My name is Natalia, and thank you for sharing all the stories and feedback. Unfortunately, unconscious bias is something that affects many people, whoever brings any kind of diversity. I’m really curious about the feedback that you might actually hear from male colleagues, maybe your partners, maybe your husbands, maybe your brothers or fathers. Do they also see that unconscious bias impact them and most importantly, how they deal with it?

Ellen Linardi: I can get that started, I think. I actually am in a lot of rooms where I’m the only female. John knows this and we’ve talked about it. Recently we had a senior leader session with someone of the top product leader in the organization and I walked into a room, I opened the door, I was a little bit late. I opened the door and the room gasped. There was about 50 men in the room, and I was the only female. The guy who set up the meeting looked in the room, he looked at me, we all looked at each other and he’s like … And nobody noticed until I walked in, but–

Mary Uslander: They were all guys.

Ellen Linardi: Yeah, but they were all guys. Then he looked at me and he’s like, “That’s not good.” I think sometimes people don’t realize it’s happening, so I think being there representing it is one thing. A lot of situation, those interactions, I think, once it happens, allows you to highlight and have the discussion about how being present and having different personality from various points where I actually can deliver different values. I do think just the general climate and awareness is helping bring those conversation to the surface, so at least on the …

Ellen Linardi: Even if people don’t notice it all the time, the desire and willingness to have more inclusivity, I feel the tide is changing and it’s there. And the ability for us to actually engage in those conversation in an open way, in a non-biased way on our own and say, “I know we didn’t mean it, but this is just how it looks like right now. What do we do about it?” I think the ability to be inclusive of the solution and to not pass judgment on how we got to where we are today, I think allows everybody to take the high road and look forward on what it needs to look like in the future.

Ellen Linardi: The biggest suggestion I would say in, how do you engage in a discussion about somebody’s bias is to be very, very kind about what their intent is. Even if you’ve felt it multiple times, even if you’re like, “God, that’s so unfair,” the minute you put them in an area where they don’t have a chance to say, “I didn’t mean to do that,” you get a very different reaction and that’s true, like I said, from a personal basis, whether it’s international with your partners or your friends or different community member, all the way to in a professional environment.

Bao Chau Nguyen: I’d like to add on since you mentioned whether our male partners or husband experience bias as well. I think everyone experience it in some form, like it’s a segment that you belong to, that you’re different. Men experience it with race, as well as if men have kids, there’s unconscious bias with men who have kids versus single men. Everyone, everyone experience it and we need to have that open conversation and be receptive to that, that they do feel it to. Anyone else?

Audience Member: You spoke a little bit about being the only, help me understand your perspective on oftentimes being the only person in the room, in my case, the only person of color, sometimes the youngest person in the room, sometimes the person with the highest EQ in the room.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Good for you.

Audience Member: Help me understand your thoughts on being the only and representing all of those people. You spoke about representing all the different aspects, representing all those people while still trying to be yourself and bring your 100% self in that situation or in that room.

Ellen Linardi: I think two things. I’m going to say the first is, it’s important to know who you are, what you are and what you’re not. The best way you can represent whoever you present, whether that’s color, ethnicity, age, or what, it’s still a version of you. It doesn’t make everybody else who’s Asian or female be like me, but it allows people to understand that no matter your color, your gender or your age, the individuality and the differences and the diversity is where it matters.

Ellen Linardi: Really a lot of the things that we talked about on biases, it’s not about, it can’t be all men, or it can’t be all white or anything, it’s that the lack of diversity impact outcome. I think being able to demonstrate how that diverse opinion and approach can change the outcome is important one. That’s number one.

Ellen Linardi: The second thing I would say is, it does come down to choice. Just because sometimes it worked, doesn’t mean it always works. You’ll find yourself sometimes in an environment where you bring your true self, and they don’t want you. That’s not what they want, and that’s a call to action. If you’re being you, and you’re not acting or behaving because you’re afraid of what people’s expectations are, or perceptions or because someone told you so, and you’re just being truthfully your value, your belief, and your talent and your skill and they’re not interested, I guarantee you someone else is. You’re wasting their time and they’re wasting your time.

Ellen Linardi: I would say if you run into a situation where you’re being your true self and that’s not being valued, there’s a better place for you out there. I’ve made multiple choices, both personally and professionally where I was being myself and that, it wasn’t right. It doesn’t make them bad, but it wasn’t right. I think at that point, you have to make the choice of whether you continue in that environment, which is your choice to stay there.

Ellen Linardi: It’s hard to make that choice and say, “Well, they’re not accepting me.” Well, you know that so what are you going to do about it? I think making the choice when you’ve tried and it’s not working is another important one I would say. When you find yourself being the only one who’s represent in whatever group it is, sometimes it’s welcomed, sometime it’s not.

Mary Uslander: I would just add to that. This is a great conversation to. I also think you just … A lot of it is competence and confidence. I can imagine you in a room with all these men even if they’re all white, but just smart, articulate, talented, and once you start talking, I think instead of looking at your exterior, they’re going to start thinking about what you have to say and say, “Oh my God, that’s really great.” I would encourage all of us, right, to say you have to be confident, you have to know your stuff, you have to be prepared. Sometimes we have to be more prepared than others and so do your homework, but just be yourself and try not to get tripped up about that. Just go in with the objective at hand and be yourself.

Meghana Randad: And as Ellen said earlier, sometimes even if you are all of that, all of your authentic self, you’re still not accepted. There will be times. You have to go back and think, how does it affect you? What is your goal here? Does it affect you so negatively that it’s not taking you to your goal, or is there something that you can overcome this resistant by doing something differently and it still be you?

Meghana Randad: If it’s actually hurting your goal and hurting what you want to do, then I would say definitely, as she said, there is a better place for you. Maybe this is not the right place. You just have to sit back and think, is that right for me and does that align with who I am and where I want to be? You can be at a certain place, there can be various paths, so this might not be it.

Audience Member: Hi, I’m [inaudible]. I’ve been in the tech industry almost 20 years now. Started in engineering, went to business school. After that, worked overseas and back here and I find like and back in ’98 sometimes, that it’s been over 20 years and the progress hasn’t happened personally for me. I look at myself as a fresh engineer arriving here in Silicon Valley. The thing that I have realized, and so it’s a comment and I agree with 100% everything that you guys have said, because it’s not just here in Silicon Valley. I’ve seen it in APAC, Singapore, Malaysia, name it which country, I’ve seen it. There’s multiple layers of biases when you work abroad. Switzerland, yes. I left a business school because I didn’t like how they treated women, and this is Switzerland. Right, so it’s all over.

Audience Member: My thing that I have come to a conclusion and I don’t know, I’m opening it up here, is that fundamentally the way–I’m trying to understand neuroscience also here–if fundamentally we were designed with unconscious bias, that’s not fundamentally going to change because it’s like 1,000 years of how the brain was wired to protect us from … To keep us safe. That’s where fundamentally, some of these reactions are. I think what we as women need to learn and some of it, I think Ellen beautifully put it there is, how do we communicate much more effectively as individuals?

Audience Member: Understanding that as the other person has bias, we carry our own biases as well on how we perceive and judge other people and it comes from that fundamental sense of safety and security. That’s my add on I wanted to contribute, is to fundamentally learn ourselves and also most importantly, teach our kids. I have a five year old girl and I want at least in the next 20 years, things to be different for her, what I didn’t have. I want to make sure that we also talk about how we raise the next generation on effective communications because the bias is not going to disappear.

Bao Chau Nguyen: Right, and I think when you catch yourself doing that bias, you can always correct and apologize. That’s the best way, “I didn’t mean that,” or, “I phrased it wrong, let me rephrase that.”

Mary Uslander: And to that point. I do think though, part of what the action has to be is there needs to be more women at the top of the house because if you have more executive and C suite women, they’re going to be more inclined to have less of those unconscious biases and have more women like themselves be part of it. We saw the stats of the 1%, but if you look at the Fortune 500 companies, maybe there’s one or two women CEO. The unconsciousness is, I’m just going to go, we’re going to go to play golf or, I’m going to go down to so and so’s office.

Mary Uslander: It’s just, people are more comfortable with people like themselves, and therefore have the tendency to then promote people like themselves. What we have to do is start changing that, and it’s up to us in our companies to really push leadership to have the training, people like Jen, to make sure our CEOs are aware of this phenomena. We have to start getting more women in leadership positions, we have to get them more on boards. I mean, there’s a whole ‘nother conversation we can have and should have.

Ellen Linardi: I was going to say the other thing that I feel like if you guys are, whether you’re manager or in leadership, is model behavior. Those of my colleague at Clover and Fiserv [inaudible] would know, I’m like unbashfully mommy. I think a lot of times to the point of being the only person in the room, you try to look like everybody else. Whether it’s if everyone go drinking, you go drinking or everyone go golfing, you go golfing or if everyone shows up at seven, you shows at seven, that actually doesn’t help the diversity. Because what it does, it creates a perception that in order to be there, you wake up at seven, you leave at six.

Ellen Linardi: I made a rule that between seven and eight, my kids at home and like I said, I’m co-parenting, there’s time where … I don’t have my parents here. They’re in Indonesia, so I’m on my own. I got to drop off, I get them ready to go to school and if we have a Thursday night and it’s my turn with the kids, they’re right there. So, I think the … Be authentically you, because then you can actually represent the diversity. It’s a little bit unsettling and people will look at you funny, but someone looking at you funny doesn’t actually hurt you.

Ellen Linardi: I think being able to actually represent the diversity and not try to be in the room and try to look like everybody else, is the responsibility that all of us have here. Because I think historically, everybody says the female get to the leadership level and they try to look like everybody else. That doesn’t help. That’s what I would say, I guess.

Audience Member: Hi, thank you very much for sharing your personal stories. My question is about change management. I was wondering if you could give an example at Clover of things within the system that was broken that you got to fix. So, a system that accidentally had unconscious bias embedded in it and affected people of color, women, other marginalized groups, and you were able to address it, because I believe that it is the system we got to fix and not the women because we’re not broken.

Meghana Randad: It’s not my story, it’s a story of my colleague. Last year when I had my baby, another colleague of mine did too. I was lucky to have a manager who was understanding and could support me to that, but she was not as fortunate, so often, she used to get interrupted during her mommy duty times and she was scared, she did not want to bring it up. She was not a leadership level, she was not a manager, she was an individual contributor at a very early stage in her career.

Meghana Randad: But then, we talked about it often. We talked about it in mother’s room and she gathered the courage. I’m very, very, very proud of her to do that and she brought it up to the management. She brought it up to John, I guess. John took action in one day and it was corrected for her. The leadership which created all that discomfort, did not value her as a mother, as a female, and did not support her was corrected right then. This is a story I know very personally for someone.

Bao Chau Nguyen: That concludes our panel for tonight. We still have plenty of networking and swag left to pick up, so enjoy the rest of your evening. Thank you for coming to Clover.

Our mission-aligned Girl Geek X partners are hiring!