Fall essentials: Whether you want to support women-owned companies, or are looking for a gift for a woman in tech/business to conquer her career goals, this gift guide supports women and women-owned companies!
From tools for job-seekers and productivity, to mentorship, you’ll be sure to find a handy gift to elevate or move forward one’s career.
Disclosure: Girl Geek X has partnered with some of the organizations below and may receive a commission on your purchase, at no extra cost to you. We only partner with and share organizations that we believe in and are proud to share with our audience.
The Best Gift for Women in Tech Girl Geek X connects, inspires & elevates women in tech. – $20$16 for mug with 20% savings!
Girl Geek X has developed a dynamic community of over 40,000 women in tech, business, and entrepreneurship, partnering on over 250 Girl Geek Dinners and provided speaking opportunities for over 1,000 women. Founder Angie Chang hosts the popular event series, with free virtual ELEVATE conferences quarterly. The community-favorite theme – “lift as you climb” – is on a mug you can proudly place at your work desk or home office!
The Best Gift for Self-Care Palestinian Soap Coop – $36$32.40 for a box of 6 soaps with 10% savings!
Palestinian Soap Coop distributes Palestinian olive oil soaps hand-made in the occupied West Bank, preserving the oldest soap making traditions in the world. We especially love “الأرض (The Land)” made by Women’s Soap Co-operative of Beita, just south of Nablus in Palestine. Founder Dina Omar enjoys working with the factories in Nablus and building new relationships here in the U.S.
Save 10% with “GIRLGEEKX” on any Palestinian soap order!
The Best Gift For Job-Seekers ApplyAll for Job-Seekers Lands Them Interviews – $69$64 for 100 applications, or $89$84 for 200 applications
ApplyAll has intelligent bots auto-applying you to 250+ relevant jobs. FounderTal Flanchraych believes that with the 1-5% industry response rate, applying to jobs manually means unnecessarily restricting your options. Her product ApplyAll helps jobseekers quit wasting time with cover lettersand start winning at the numbers game.
Save $5 with “GIRLGEEK” on any ApplyAll package – There’s a gift option to send ApplyAll credit to a jobseeker. If the recipient doesn’t get at least 1 relevant interview, you’ll get a 100% refund.
The Best Productivity Software for Engineering Multitudes for Engineering Teams with 10% Savings
Want to ship quality code, faster? And want to do it in a human-centric way?
Multitudessupports happier, higher-performing engineering teams. Founded byLauren Peate, the AI coach product spots delivery risks including what work is blocked, who’s at risk of burnout, and more; they then guide teams to take action with recommendations and nudges in Slack.
Save 10% with “GIRLGEEKX10” for your first 6 months after the free one-month trialof Multitudes when you list Girl Geek X as the referrer to get early access!
The Best Training Software for Engineers Formation Engineering Fellows for Interview Prep – $2,500 for a Month of Training
Formation is the world’s first patented AI-powered technical interview prep platform. Get unlimited skill benchmarking that powers your hyper-personalized roadmap, 2+ mock interviews with FAANG-level engineers (and more as needed), 8+ technical mentor sessions (with 5 people or less), and more with Formation interview prep.
Founded bySophie Novati, Formation provides engineers actionable feedback to hone your skills in a safe and inclusive environment, and ace your technical interviews. She is offering Formation at $2,500 for one month when you apply for Formation here as Girl Geek X!
The Best Mentorship Programfor Women in Tech Career Accelerator for Women–$1,245.00$1,182.75 at WEST
If you have wanted to gift a mentorship experience for a professional woman, here’s your chance!
WESTsupports ambitious women technologists through 1:1 and group mentorship. Get hands-on support as you explore your career options, learn to grow your influence, improve your communication, and more through the Career Accelerator.
WEST Diversity & Inclusion offers girl geeks 5% off the Career Accelerator mentorship program with discount code “GIRLGEEKX”. WEST is a mentoring community founded by serial engineering leader Heidi Williams along with managing director Karen Ko.
Table #1 – Eng Growth as Individual Contributor – Mentors:
8AM-9AM Pacific – Table Topics: Interviewing, Negotiation Leadership, Career Changers, Promotions, Growth, Breaking Barriers as a Woman in Engineering, Breaking Into Tech, Bringing Your Authentic Self to Work, Startups, Women in Engineering, Backend Development, Full Stack Development, Product Development, Angular / React, Typescript, Java
8AM-9AM Pacific – Table Topics: Getting Into Product Management, Transitioning from Systems Engineering to Product Management, Searching For PM Job in the US Without Work Experience / Degree in Country, SaaS or B2C Product Management, Career Transition to Product, Transition to Fintech, Assimilating to a Tech Culture from Growing Up in a Blue Collar Life, Working on H1-B, Cross Functional Collaboration, Communicating for Impact
Table #3 – Program Mgmt & Engineering Mgmt – Mentors:
8AM-9AM Pacific – Table Topics: Career Journey Support, Navigating Challenging Situations, Salary Negotiation, LinkedIn Branding, Networking Skills, How to Build Your Elevator Pitch, Career, Burnout, Communication, Leadership, Self Worth, Early Career Advice, Transitioning from IC to Management
Program Mgmt & Engineering Mgmt Mentors:Dana Stodgel (Principal Technical Program Manager, Amazon), Hana Rasheed (Senior Engineering Program Manager, Virtualization, Data Analytics & Office of CIO, Adobe), Joya Joseph (Engineering Manager, Big Health), Richa Gandhi (Software Development Manager, GoDaddy)
Table #4 – Non-Coding Roles in Tech – Mentors:
8AM-9AM Pacific – Table Topics: Project Management, Transition to Tech, Career Transition, ADHD / Neurodiversity, Non-Traditional Backgrounds, Mental Health Advocacy, Customer Success, Personal Growth, Speaking Up, CareerJourneys, Teaching Non-Technical People Technical Ideas
Table #5 – Career Development / Promotion – Mentors:
8AM – 9AM Table Topics: Career Advancement, Bringing Your Authentic Self to Work, Mastering Technical Depth versus Breadth, Mind Mapping Your Career, Art of Authentic Networking, Mentorship versus Sponsorship, Supply Chain / Operations, Manufacturing, Product Development, Leading Teams, Managing Distributed Workforce, Career Ladders, Hiring / Recruiting, Project Management, Performance Management, Mentoring Resources, Money Management, Women in STEM, Career Transition from Journalism to Tech, Building a Team, Digital Project Management, First-Gen American
In fact, many of the world’s biggest brands and companies are helmed by female CTOs you should know — at tech giants (Autodesk, Intuit, Microsoft, Twitch, and VMware), you can find technical women at the top of the executive chain.
You will also find technical women leading teams at your favorite consumer brands like Etsy, Expedia, Johnson & Johnson, Lululemon, Redfin, and Sweetgreen.
This year, we welcome Autodesk CTO Raji Arasu, Etsy CTO Rachana Kumar, Opendoor CTO Raji Subramanian, and Slalom CTO Michelle Grover to the top technical brass!
Here are 60 leading female Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) to watch in 2023:
Raji Arasu is Chief Technology Officer at Autodesk in California. Autodesk (NASDAQ: ADSK) makes leading software for architecture, design, construction, engineering, and manufacturing. Prior to Autodesk, she was Senior Vice President of Platform at Intuit for 4 years, Chief Technology Officer at StubHub for 4 years, and spent over a decade at eBay, where she began as a senior manager and worked her way up to Vice President of Technology. She earned her bachelor’s in engineering at Savitribai Phule Pune University.
Emily Castles is Chief Technology Officer at Boundless in Ireland. Boundless is an employment platform for compliance and human resources. Prior to starting Boundless, she was head of engineering at Bizimply for 3 years. She has worked as a software engineer at Red Hills Software, Grontmij, and RPS Consulting Engineers. She earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University College Dublin.
Patricia Hubbard is Chief Technology Officer at Cabot in Massachusetts. Cabot (NYSE: CBT) is a leading global specialty chemical and performance materials company. Before Cabot, she was Vice President of R&D at Avery Dennison, Vice President of Corporate Technology at Avient (formerly PolyOne), and CVD Technology Manager at GE, where she worked for over a decade. She earned her Ph.D. in Polymer Science at The University of Akron and her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Case Western Reserve University.
Medha Parlikar is Chief Technology Officer at Casper Labs in California. Casper is the first blockchain built specifically for business adoption. Before starting Casper, she was Program Manager at Pyrofex, a Senior Director of Product and Engineering at Avalara for 5 years, Director of Product at Temboo, Senior Manager of Quality at Omniture (acquired by Adobe), Manager of Quality Assurance (QA) at Visual Sciences, QA Engineer at DivX, Managing Director at Cactus, and Director of QA at MP3. She began her career as a Software Engineer at Compass Learning. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Western University and her bachelor’s degree in Programming at Coleman College.
Elaine Zhou is Chief Technology Officer at Change.org in California. Change.org is the world’s largest nonprofit-owned platform for social change. Prior to Change.org, she was Chief Technology Officer at Vidado for 5 years, Chief Technology Officer at Vidado (formerly Captricity) for 4 years, Senior Vice President of Product Development at Clean Power Finance, Senior Director of Engineering at Ask, Vice President of Product Development and Technology at PlanetOut for 4 years, Director of Engineering at Classified Ventures for 2 years, Senior Consultant at Resources for 2 years, Chief Architect at Homestore for a year, Tech Lead at MedChannel.com for 2 years, Senior Application Engineer at PeopleSoft for 3 years, and a Web Developer at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center for a year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering / Operations Research at UC Berkeley.
Kelly Kinetic is Chief Technology Officer at Charm Industrial in California. Charm Industrial makes bio-oil from plants and puts it back underground to remove carbon from the atmosphere. Before she started Charm Industrial over 5 years ago, she was a Mechanical Design Engineer at Astra for a year, Spacecraft Engineer at Planet for 2 years, Shop Manager at Brown Design Workshop and Makerspace for 2 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering Systems Design at Brown University.
Simone May is Chief Technology Officer at Clutch in Texas. Clutch gives next-generation creators access to digital work opportunities so both creators and businesses thrive. Prior to starting Clutch, she was a Consultant at Accenture for 3 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Purdue University.
Annabel Liu is Chief Technology Officer at Curated in California. Curated provides a collaborative shopping experience brought to life with a community of passionate experts for outdoor sporting goods / gear. Before starting Curated, she was Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn for 7 years, Senior Engineering Manager at Ariba for 9 years, Software Design Engineer at Escalate for a year, and Software Engineer at Netfish for 2 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Columbia University and her master’s degree in Computer Science at Stanford University.
Barbara McCarthy is Chief Technology Officer at Dingin Ireland. Ding is a leading international mobile top-up platform. Prior to Ding, she was Director of Engineering at HubSpot for 3 years, Vice President of Software Development at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for 7 years, Software Development Director at Inspired Gaming Group for 7 years, and began her career as a Project Manager. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics and Applied Maths and her master’s degree in Information Technology, both at University of Galway.
Julia Song is Chief Technology Officer at ESSin Oregon. ESS (NYSE: GWH) accelerates global decarbonization by providing safe, sustainable, long-duration energy storage to power people, communities, and businesses with clean, renewable energy. Before starting ESS over a decade ago, she was Vice President of Research and Development at ClearEdge Power for 7 years, Industrial Research Chemist at Milliken & Co for a year, and Research Assistant at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for 5 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at Peking University.
Rachana Kumar is Chief Technology Officer at Etsy in New York. Etsy (NYSE: ETSY) is a global marketplace for unique and creative goods. She was promoted from Vice President of Engineering in 2021, and has been at Etsy for 8 years, when she joined as an Engineering Manager. Prior to Etsy, she co-founded ShaadiKarma for 2 years, was a Graduate Consultant at Columbia University for 2 years, interned at United Nations Population Fund, worked as Lead Software Architect at Brighter India Foundation for 2 years, managed Web Development at BET Networks for 3 years, consulted at Ernst & Young for a year, and began her career as a Programmer Analyst at Cognizant for a year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication at RV College of Engineering and a master’s degree in Public Administration at Columbia University.
Rathi Murthy is Chief Technology Officer at Expedia in California. Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE) is a leading platform for travel. Prior to Expedia, she was Chief Technology Officer at Verizon Media for a year, Chief Technology Officer at Gap for 3 years, Senior Vice President at American Express for 3 years, Senior Director of Engineering at eBay for 2 years, Senior Director of Engineering at Yahoo for 5 years, Director of Engineering at Metreo for 5 years, Senior Engineering Manager at WebMD for 4 years, Senior Software Engineer at Sun Microsystems for 3 years, QA Manager at Sun for 1 year, and began her career as a QA Lead at Informix. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Bangalore University and her master’s degree in Computer Engineering at Santa Clara University.
Erin DeCesare is Chief Technology Officer at ezCater in Massachusetts. ezCater is the leading marketplace for corporate catering. Before ezCater, she was Vice President of Data and Analytics at Bottomline Technologies for a year, Vice President of Data and Analytics at Vistaprint for 8 years, Director of Program Management at Fidelity Investments for 3 years, Project Manager at Sovereign Bank for 5 years, Project Manager at Woodman Design Group for a year, and began her career as an Information Technology Account Manager at Signature for a year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Boston University and her MBA at Northeastern University.
Meital Segev-Bar is Chief Technology Officer at FeelIT in Israel. Feelit Technologies provides sensing solutions for real-time insights for manufacturers. Before starting FeelIT over 6 years ago, she was a Development Engineer at Alfred Mann Institute in the Technion for a year, and held a Research and Development position at Tower Semiconductor for a year. She earned her Ph.D. in Nanotechnology and her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Material Engineering, both at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Danielle Merfeld is Chief Technology Officer at GE Renewable Energy in North Carolina. GE (NYSE: GE) Renewable Energy provides solutions for customers demanding reliable and affordable green power. Prior to GE Renewable Energy, she was Vice President and General Manager of GE Global Research US for 5 years, Solar Business Leader at GE Energy for a year, Solar Platform Leader at GE Global Research for over a decade, and began her career as a Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Researcher at GE. She earned her Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at Northwestern University and her bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at University of Notre Dame.
Claire Hough is Chief Technology Officer at Getlabs in California. Prior to Getlabs, she was Chief Technology Officer at Carbon Health, a tech-enabled healthcare company providing primary and urgent care. Prior to Carbon Health, she was Chief Technology Officer at Lyte, Vice President of Engineering at ApolloQL, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Udemy, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Nextag, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Napster, and Vice President at Netscape. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Engineering and master’s degree in Operations Research, both at UC Berkeley.
Hannah Wolfe is Chief Technology Officer at Ghost Foundation in England. Ghost is an open source publishing platform for new-media creators to share and grow a business around their content. Before co-founding Ghost Foundation 9 years ago, she worked as a Senior Developer at Moo.com for 2 years and began her career as an Interactive Developer at Engine Creative for 2 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at University of Nottingham, and her MBA at Nottingham University Business School.
Catherine Michel is Chief Technology Officer at Halma in England. Halma (LON:HLMA)is a global group of life-saving technology companies, from safety to environmental and medical. Before joining Halma over 3 years ago, she was Chief Technology Officer at Sigma Systems for 6 years, Executive Committee Member at TM Forum for 11 years, Trustee at Skylarks Charity for 6 years, Founder and Chief Technology Officer at Tribold for a decade. She began her career at Accenture as a Senior Manager for 9 years. She earned her bachelor’s in Finance at University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
Charity Majors is Chief Technology Officer at Honeycomb.io in California. Honeycomb provides full-stack observability designed for high cardinality data and collaborative problem solving for engineers to understand and debug production software. Prior to co-founding Honeycomb over 7 years ago, she was a Production Engineering Manager at Facebook for 2 years, Infrastructure Tech Lead at Parse for a year, Cloud Systems Engineer at Cloudmark for a year, Systems Engineer at Shopkick for a year, and began her career as a Systems Engineer and Systems Engineering Manager at Linden Lab for 5 years. She attended University of Idaho. She has published books on database reliability engineering, igniting your purpose, and observability engineering.
Marianna Tessel is Chief Technology Officer at Intuit in California. Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) is a global financial technology platform with TurboTax, QuickBooks, Credit Karma and Mailchimp. Before joining Intuit 4 years ago, she was Senior Vice President of Engineering at Docker for 2 years, Vice President of Engineering at VMware for 6 years, Vice President of Engineering at Intacct for a year, Vice President of Engineering at Ariba for 6 years, Vice President of Engineering at General Magic for 6 years, and began her career as Captain at IDF for 4 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.
Rowena Yeo is Chief Technology Officer at Johnson & Johnson in Singapore. Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is the largest and most broadly based healthcare company in the world. Before joining Johnson & Johnson 4 years ago, she was Vice President and Chief Information Officer for Asia Pacific at Janssen Pharmaceutical for 6 years, and Global Group Chief Information Officer at Cargill for 11 years, and her early career began as a Systems Engineer at IBM for 3 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Engineering at National University of Singapore.
Alex Cesar is Chief Technology Officer at Kantar in England. Kantar is the world’s leading marketing data and analytics company. Prior to Kantar, she was Chief Information Officer at London Stock Exchange Group, Chief Technology Officer at Refinitive for 4 years, Chief Technology Officer at World in Banking and Finance – UK for a year, Global Head of Risk Technology at Thomson Reuters for 2 years, Governance and Legal Technology Head at Deutsche Bank for 2 years, Head of Compliance Technology Strategy at JP Morgan for a year, Head of Compliance and Assurance Technology at Standard Chartered Bank for 4 years, Head of Enterprise Shared Services Technology at Barclays Capital for 2 years, Senior Engineering Manager at First Data Utilities for 2 years, Project Manager at Morgan Stanley for 5 years, and she began her early career as a Technical Analyst at HSBC for 2 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at Faculdade de Engenharia de Sao Paulo and her MBA at Cass Business School.
Ketaki Shriram is Chief Technology Officer at Krikey in California. Krikey is an artificial intelligence (AI) tools company whose products include text to-animation, custom 3D avatar tool, augmented reality gaming toolkit and more. Before co-founding Krikey with her sister 6 years ago, she was a PhD Researcher at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab for 5 years, a PhD Researcher at Oculus, and User Experience Researcher at Google Glass. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication, master’s degree in Virtual Human Interaction, and Ph.D. in Virtual Human Interaction Lab, all at Stanford University.
Lili Gangas is Chief Technology Community Officer at Kapor Center in California. The Kapor Center is leveling the playing field and building a future where the tech industry makes a positive impact on culture, society and the economy. Prior to joining Kapor Center 7 years ago, she was Lead Associate at Booz Allen Hamilton for 2 years, NYU Entrepreneurial Institute Programs MBA Intern for a year, and a Senior Multi-Disciplined Engineer at Raytheon for 7 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering at USC and her MBA at NYU Stern School of Business.
Carlonda Reilly is Chief Technology Officer at Kennametal in Pennsylvania. Kennametal (NYSE: KMT) is a global industrial technology leader delivering productivity to customers through materials science, tooling and wear-resistant solutions. Before joining Kennametal 4 years ago, she was at DuPont for over two decades, most recently as Global Technology Director of Nylon, Polyester and Filaments. In her early carer, she joined DuPont as a Senior Research Engineer for Crop Protection and Central Research and Development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at MIT, and an MS, Chemical Engineering and PhD, Chemical Engineering at University of Delaware.
Helga Alvarez is Chief Technology Officer at Leaf in England. Leaf combines years of full-funnel marketing expertise with proprietary growth-engine technology to deliver revenue and sustainable growth for clients. Prior to joining Leaf over a decade ago, she was Co-Founder and Creative Technologist at Cometoide for a year, Software Developer at Possible Worldwide for a year, Visiting Research Scientist at Korea Institute of Science and Technology for a year, and Product Management and Marketing at FMWebschool for a year. She earned her bachelor’s in Software Engineering at Universidad Latina de Costa Rica.
Chantal Emmanuel is Chief Technology Officer at LimeLoop in New York. LimeLoop’s smart shipping platform combines reusable packaging and a simple sensor for a real-time lens into the e-commerce experience. Retailers have a powerful platform to effectively understand and communicate with their customers, while providing the insights necessary to inform ESG and supply chain decisions. Before co-founding LimeLoop 5 years ago, she was a Software Engineer at SYPartners for a year, Lead Software Engineer at Red Clay for 3 years, Community Program Officer at New York Cares for 3 years, and began her early career in AmeriCorps VISTA. She earned her bachelor’s degree at Binghamton University and studied entrepreneurship at Cornell University.
Julie Averill is Chief Technology Officer at Lululemon in Washington. Lululemon (NASDAQ:LULU) is an athletic apparel company for yoga, running, training, and most other sweaty pursuits, creating transformational products and experiences which enable people to live a life they love. Prior to joining Lululemon 6 years ago, she was Chief Information Officer at REI for 2 years, Vice President of Selling and Marketing Systems at Nordstrom for 11 years, and an Adjunct Professor at Seattle University for 3 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Seattle Pacific University and her MBA at University of Washington – Michael G. Foster School of Business.
Jenny Gonsalves is Chief Technology Officer at Lyra Health in California. Lyra Health is a leading provider of mental health benefits for over 2.5 million global employees and dependents and is transforming mental health care by creating a frictionless experience for members, providers, and employers. Before joining Lyra Health over 6 years ago, she was Vice President of Engineering at SugarCRM for a decade, Senior Software Engineer at Epiphany for 6 years, and began her early career as Programmer Analyst at RBC Dominion Securities for a year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at University of Toronto.
Laila Abudahi is Chief Technology Officer and co-founder at Manara in California. Meaning “lighthouse” in Arabic, Manara is on a mission to untap the full human potential in MENA and diversify the global tech sector. Before Manara, she was a Senior Software Engineer at Nvidia for 2 years. a Dataplane Software Engineer at Palo Alto Networks for 2 years, and founded MOTION in Gaza to develop Kinect-based interactive educational solutions for kids. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at Al-Azhar University in Gaza, and her master’s degree in Electrical, Electronics, and Communications Engineering at University of Washington, where she was a Fulbright Scholar.
Nancy Avila is Chief Technology Officer at McKesson in Texas. McKesson (NYSE: MCK) is a global healthcare organization dedicated to advancing health outcomes for all. Prior to joining McKesson 3 years ago, she was Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Johnson Controls for 2 years, and worked at Abbot for over two decades, most recently as Vice President of Business and Technology Services. She began her career at Abbott as an IT Manager in Quality and Research and Development. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science at Regis University and her master’s degree in Mathematics at Colorado School of Mines.
Lakecia Gunter is Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Global Partner Solutions in Oregon. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is the largest computer software company in the world. Prior to Microsoft, she was at Intel Corporate for over a decade, most recently as Vice President of Programmable Solutions. She serves on the board of directors for IDEX Corporation. She earned her bachelor’s in computer engineering at University of South Florida, and her master’s in electrical engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology.
Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk is Chief Technology Officer at Microsoft Security in Israel. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Security provides comprehensive security solutions. Prior to joining Microsoft a decade ago, she worked as General Manager at RSA (the security division of EMC) for 7 years, Chief Operating Officer at Cyota (acquired by RSA) for 3 years, and Vice President of Product Development at RadView for 7 years. She earned her master’s in Computer Science at Columbia University.
Robin Ducot is Chief Technology Officer at Momentive in California. Momentive (NASDAQ: MNTV) provides enterprise solutions for agile experience management and insights from Momentive, GetFeedback, and SurveyMonkey. Before joining Momentive 5 years ago, she was Senior Vice President of Product Engineering at DocuSign for 6 years, Vice President of Engineering at Eventbrite for a year, Vice President of Web Development at Linden Lab, Vice President of Web, User Experience and Engineering Group at Adobe Systems for 7 years, Vice President of Professional Services at Avolent for 4 years, Senior Manager of Internet Development for a year, Lead Software Engineer at AT&T for 2 years, and began her early career as Senior Software Engineer at BGS Systems for 6 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Art History at UMass Boston.
Niki Trigoni is Chief Technology Officer at Navenio in England. Navenio develops infrastructure-free, highly scalable, accurate and robust indoor location solutions built on award-winning and world-leading research from the University of Oxford, utilizing existing smartphone devices to localize people within a broad range of contexts and markets. Prior to starting Navenio, she was Professor of Computer Science and Head of Cyber Physical Systems Group at University of Oxford for 15 years, Lecturer in Computer Science at University of London Birkbeck, and Postdoc Researcher at Cornell University. She earned her Ph.D. in Computer Science at University of Cambridge and her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Athens University of Economics and Business.
Farnaz Ronaghi is Chief Technology Officer at NovoEd in California. NovoEd provides a collaborative learning platform to empower organizations to design and deliver experiential learning. Before co-founding NovoEd over a decade ago, she was working on a PhD at Stanford University with a dissertation on collaborative learning at scale. The company spun out of Stanford University’s social algorithm laboratory in 2012. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering at Sharif University of Technology and her master’s in Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University.
Christine Spang is Chief Technology Officer at Nylas in California. Nylas allows developers to access communications channels such as email, calendar, and contacts using rich application programming interfaces (APIs). Prior to co-founding Nylas almost a decade ago, she was working as a Principal Developer at Oracle for 2 years, Software Engineer at KSplice for 2 years, Perl Hacker at Best Practical Solutions for 2 years, and Residential Computing Consultant / Lab Assistant at MIT for 2 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at MIT.
Mira Murati is Chief Technology Officer at OpenAI in California. Developer of ChatGPT, OpenAI is an AI research and deployment company dedicated to ensuring that general-purpose AI benefits all of humanity. Before joining OpenAI 4 years ago, she was Vice President of Product and Engineering at Leap Motion for 2 years, Senior Product Manager for Model X at Tesla for 3 years, Advanced Concepts Engineer at Zodiac Aerospace for a year, and began her early career as a Summer Analyst at Goldman Sachs. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at Dartmouth College.
Raji Subramanian is Chief Technology Officer at Opendoor in Washington. Opendoor (NASDAQ: OPEN) is an online company that buys and sells residential real estate. Prior to joining Opendoor 2 years ago, she was Chief Technology Officer at Pro.com for 8 years, Head of Kindle Content Management at Amazon for a year, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Radien Software for 3 years, Finance Engineering Leader at Yahoo for a year, held multiple leadership roles including Principal Engineer at Amazon for 6 years, Manager of Software Development and Lead Engineer at Microland for 2 years, and began her early career as a Research Engineer at Indian Institute of Science.
Jen Carlile is Chief Technology Officer at Outer Labs in California. Outer Labs makes technology for real estate developers to design, build, and operate space. Prior to co-founding Outer Labs 5 years ago, she was Vice President of Engineering and Co-Founder at Flux Data for 5 years, Software Engineer at Google[X] for 2 years, Senior Software Engineer at Avid Technology for a year, Software Engineer at Sennheiser GmbH for a year, Software Engineer at Euphonix for 2 years, and began her early career as an Audio and Acoustics Engineer at AuSIM. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Computer Science at Wellesley College and her master’s degree in Digital Audio / Music at Stanford University.
Jessica McKellar is Chief Technology Officer at Pilot in California. Pilot provides the most reliable accounting, CFO, and tax services for startups and small businesses. Before co-founding Pilot 6 years ago, she was Director of Engineering at Dropox for 3 years, Vice President of Engineering and Founder at Zulip for 2 years, Engineering Manager at Oracle for a year, and Software Engineer at Ksplice (acquired by Oracle) for a year. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and master’s degree in Computer Science, both at MIT.
Meri Williams is Chief Technology Officer at Pleo in England. Pleo offers smart company cards that enable employees to buy the things they need for work, all while keeping a company’s finance team in control of spending. Prior to joining Pleo, she was Chief Technology Officer at Healx for 2 years, Chief Technology Officer at Monzo Bank for 2 years, Chief Technology Officer at Moo.com for 2 years, Chief Technology Officer at M&S.com for a year, Chief Technology Officer and Founder at Balloon Studios for 2 years, Head of Operations for North Europe Site Services at Procter & Gamble for a decade. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at University of Bath.
Theresa Vu is Chief Technology Officer at Praxis Labs in New York. Praxis Labs is making society more equitable by advancing workplace inclusion and belonging. Before joining Praxis Labs, she was Senior Vice President of Engineering at Xandr, where she worked for 12 years – starting as a Senior C Developer. She began her early career as an Analyst at Yahoo! and Right Media. She earned her bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley and her master’s degree in Computer Science at Brown University.
Tendü Yoğurtçu is Chief Technology Officer at Precisely in Massachusetts. Precisely is the global leader in data integrity, providing accuracy, consistency, and context in data for 12,000 customers in more than 100 countries, including 99 of the Fortune 100. Prior to joining Precisely 4 years ago, she worked at Syncsort for 12 years, most recently as Chief Technology Officer. She began her early career as an Adjunct Professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in the Computer Science Department. She earned her PhD in Computer Science at Stevens Institute of Technology, her master’s degree in Industrial Engineering, and her bachelor’s degree in Computer Engineering, both at Boğaziçi University in Turkey.
Bridget Frey is Chief Technology Officer at Redfin in Washington. Redfin (NASDAQ: RDFN) is the modern way to buy or sell a home. Redfin serves 100+ major metros in the U.S. and has saved customers more than $1B in commissions. Before joining Redfin 12 years ago, she was Director of Engineering at Lithium Technologies for 3 years, Vice President of Development at IntrisiQ for 2 years, Senior Program Manager at IMlogic for a year, and began her early career as Software Engineering Manager at Plumtree for 4 years. She earned her bachelor’s in Computer Science at Harvard University.
Katie Nykanen is Chief Technology Officer at QA in England. QA is the UK’s leading tech training and talent services provider, helping businesses and individuals win in the digital revolution by upskilling FTSE100 and government clients. Prior to QA, she was Chief Technology Officer at Adstream for almost a decade, Marketing Solutions Development Manager at Nokia for 6 years, IT Project Leader at B&Q for a decade.
Urvashi Tyagi is Chief Technology Officer at ResMed in California. ResMed (NYSE: RMD, ASX: RMD) provides cloud-connected medical devices for patients. Before joining ResMed, she was Chief Technology Officer at ADP for 2 years, Vice President of Commercial Data Engineering at American Express for 2 years, Director of Engineering at Amazon for 3 years, Engineering Manager at iCIMS for a year, Senior Engineering Manager at Microsoft for 5 years, Team Lead and Architect at IBM for 5 years, and began her early career as a Software Engineer at NuGenesis Technologies (acquired by Waters) for 2 years and Senior Design Engineer at Batliboi for 5 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering at Birla Vishvakarma Mahavidyalaya, MBA at Veer Narmad South Gujarat University, and her master’s degree in Science at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Kasia Gora is Chief Technology Officer at SCiFI Foods in California. SCiFi Foods is on a mission to make meat the world can depend on, using bioengineering to create the next generation of meat products. Prior to co-founding SCiFI Foods, she was Head of Portfolio Management at Zymergen for 6 years, and began her early career as Scientist at Pronutria for 2 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Biology at MIT and her bachelor’s degree in Biology at Caltech.
Michelle Grover is Chief Technology Officer at Slalom in California. Slalom is a global business and technology consulting company that is purpose-led. Before joining Slalom, she was Chief Information Officer at Twilio for a year, Consulting CTO at Softcom for a year, and Vice President of Research and Development at Tripit for 7 years.
Ivneet Kaur is Chief Technology Officer at Sterling in Florida. Sterling (NASDAQ: STER) is a leading provider of background and identity services with background and identity verification to help over 50,000 clients create people-first cultures built on a foundation of trust and safety. Prior to joining Sterling, she was Chief Technology Officer at Silicon Valley Bank for 3 years, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer at Equifax for 4 years, Technology Leader at Equifax for 6 years, Product Development Manager at Claritas for 6 years, and she began her early career as Software Engineer at Microsoft for 2 years. She earned her master’s degree in Engineering Management at University of Maryland.
Wouleta Ayele is Chief Technology Officer at Sweetgreen. Sweetgreen (NYSE: SG) believes that real food should be convenient and accessible to everyone, making salads from scratch at scale. Before joining Sweetgreen, she was Senior Vice President of Technology at Starbucks for 15 years, Senior Director of Information Systems and Business Intelligence at Attachmate for 11 years, IT Leader of Corporate Technology at The Coca-Cola Company for 4 years, Engineering Manager at Hyundai Motor America for 4 years, and she began her early career as Enterprise Architect and Engineer at CIBA Vision. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Cumberland University and her master’s degree in International Finance at Mercer University.
Sue Li is Chief Technology Officer at SwipeGuide in Amsterdam. SwipeGuide empowers frontline teams to boost operational performance with crowdsourced knowledge. Improve productivity, safety, and quality across operations with collaborative work instructions. Prior to joining SwipeGuide 3 years ago, she was Product Owner at Albelli for 2 years, Interaction Designer at Poki for a year, and Chief Product Officer at Bomberbot for a year. She earned a bachelor’s degree at Duke University and a master’s degree in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Tacita Morway is Chief Technology Officer at Textio in Massachusetts. Textio has developed the world’s most advanced workplace language guidance, so you can see where social bias is hiding—and know exactly how to fix it. Our solutions help organizations attract, develop, and retain diverse, inclusive, and equitable teams—at scale. Before joining Textio, she was Executive Vice President of Engineering and Product at ActBlue for 3 years, Director of Engineering at Salsify for 2 years, Vice President of Engineering and Product at Ditto Labs for 2 years, Director of Technology at WGBH for 2 years, Founder at Tacita Gardens for 3 years, Founder at Tacita Designs for 6 years, Software Engineer at Context Integration for a year, IT Consultant at Wellesley College Information Services for a year, and began her early career as an Apprentice Mechanic at Chicago Auto for 2 years. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at Wellesley College, and a bachelor’s degree in Painting and Drawing at School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Pawan Uppuluri is Chief Technology Officer at Thrasio in Massachusetts. Thrasio is a next-gen consumer packaged goods company using a data-driven approach to analyze Amazon rankings, ratings, and reviews to identify and acquire breakout brands. Prior to joining Thrasio, she was Chief Technology Officer at Glossier for 2 years, and Director of Product and Technology for Alexa at Amazon for 14 years. She began her early career at i2 Technologies for 8 years, most recently as Engineering & Product Director. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, and her master’s degree in Computer Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin.
Rebecca Parsons is Chief Technology Officer at ThoughtWorks in Washington. Thoughtworks (NASDAQ: TWKS) is a global technology consultancy that integrates strategy, design and engineering to drive digital innovation. She has been at ThoughtWorks for over two decades. She earned her Ph.D. in Computer Science at Rice University.
Ekaterina Kuznetsova is Chief Technology Officer at TokenTransit in California. Token Transit is a shared mobility marketplace for over 60 cities across the United States, including Santa Monica CA, Tallahassee FL, Lincoln NE, Reno NV and more. Before co-founding TokenTransit, she was Core Developer at Meteor Development Group for 2 years, Software Engineer at Google for 1 year, and began her early career as Software Engineer at Akamai Technologies for 3 years. She earned her bachelor’s in Computer Science at MIT.
Tina Huang is Chief Technology Officer at Transposit in California. Transposit keeps track of everything that happens during daily operations and incidents, while streamlining communication, augmenting your team with interactive runbooks, and accelerating actions between systems with the context you need. Prior to founding Transposit, she was Founding Engineer at Sigma Computing for a year, Staff Software Engineer at Twitter for 5 years, Senior Software Engineer at Google for 4 years, and began her early career as Software Engineer at Apple for 3 years. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT.
Kendra Kuhl is Chief Technology Officer at Twelve in California. Twelve is a chemical company built for the climate era providing technology that eliminates emissions by turning CO2 into essential products by way of carbon transformation. Before co-founding Twelve (formerly named Opus 12), she was Cyclotron Road Project Lead for a year, Postdoc at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for a year, and Graduate Researcher at Stanford University’s Jaramillo Lab for 5 years. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemistry at Stanford University and her bachelor’s degree in Chemistry at University of Montana.
Christine Weber is Chief Technology Officer at Twitch in Colorado. Acquired by Amazon, Twitch is where thousands of communities come together for whatever, every day. Prior to joining Twitch, she was Interim Chief Technology Officer at Liberty Latin America, Senior Vice President of OTT Engineering at Sling TV for 3 years, and was at EchoStar for 18 years, most recently as Vice President of OTT Engineering. She also spent 7 years at Coastal, most recently as Manager of Worldwide DBA Services. She began her early career as a Software Engineer at In-Situ for 5 years. She earned her degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at University of Wyoming.
Amanda Blevins is Chief Technology Officer at VMware Americas in Colorado. VMware is a leading provider of multi-cloud services for enterprise. Before joining VMware over 12 years ago, she was Principal Architect at IHS for 2 years, Senior Consultant for Electronic Data Systems for a year, Technical Lead for ITD Server Solutions at Johns Manville for 3 years, Network Engineer at DCS for a year, Senior Network Administrator at FrontRange Solutions for 2 years, and she began her early career as Network Administrator, Lab Administrator, and Helpdesk Technician. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Computer Science at American Sentinel University.
We love seeing where women’s careers take them over the years! Technical women leaders of large and small organizations have demonstrated different pathways to moving up. Sometimes they move up over a decade. Sometimes they are recruited and hired to the top. Some of our favorite technical women are entrepreneurial and spend time outside of the corporate race to the top and instead build their own company, or join an early-stage startup. And there are many more women coming up in the corporate and startup ranks.
Get your FREE ELEVATE Conference & Career Fair virtual pass to join us on December 6th, 2023 with thousands of women & allies online – Hear from 45+ women speakers sharing their expertise on leadership, engineering, career paths, technical resume building, neurodiversity, future of tech, & more! [Agenda + FREE ticket]
On Wednesday, October 4, 2023, Girl Geek X community members volunteered to share career advice with the senior class at CCPA in East Oakland, California.
An Nguyen (Lead Product Designer at Medallia), Molly Dubow (Customer Success Leader most recently at Webex),Bryanna Valdivia (Software Engineer at Flexport), andElizabeth Orpina (Security Awareness & Education Manager at GitHub) spoke on a career panel to share their path from high school to successful careers in the tech sector. They offered valuable advice to students.
Below are key takeaways from the college and career panel discussion:
Girl Geek X CCPA Career Panel moderated by Vanessa Magaña with An Nguyen, Molly Dubow, Bryanna Valdivia, and Elizabeth Orpina speaking as first-generation students now working in the technology industry.
#1 – Diverse Backgrounds and Successful Paths to Tech
Panelists highlighted their diverse backgrounds and unconventional routes into the tech industry. The first-gen students shared their experiences with navigating financial aid and the school-to-tech-job trajectory!
An Nguyen shared her background of being a self-funded college student who pursued education while working multiple jobs. She emphasized the need to communicate and gain trust from family when pursuing non-traditional careers like design (specifically, UX design and now product design. She encouraged students to study what interests them, and believes “education is there for you to study to be as good as that ‘naturally good’ person.”
Molly Dubow wishes she knew about paid tech internships during her high school days, stressing the significance of early awareness about opportunities. She encouraged students to take advantage of the college opportunity to leave home for a new experience, and pondered if junior college could have been a better step for her.
Bryanna Valdivia, the first in her family to attend college, described how a coding bootcamp propelled her into a tech role at a startup, emphasizing the effectiveness of networking through alumni at her bootcamp Hack Reactor that landed her first job in tech one month after completing the coding bootcamp. She has since paid off her student loans. Sstartups are a good way to break into the tech industry.
Elizabeth Orpina, whose entry into tech was facilitated by a volunteer opportunity while working at a foundation, revealed the importance of seizing unexpected pathways to success. She started working in tech at Autodesk, first as a contractor and then in a full-time capacity, before joining GitHub (a Microsoft company) where she is working now. in
#2 –Overcoming Financial Challenges and Scholarships
Addressing financial challenges, the panelists shared their experiences with loans and scholarships. Bryanna Valdivia explained that FAFSA gave a lot, and she took out loans to complete her education. She expressed the wish to have applied for more scholarships in high school and in every year of college.
Elizabeth Orpina advised students to opt for federally-funded loans over private ones, and highlighted the opportunity for additional grants for first-generation college students. Her loans covered books and housing, and her jobs “paid for the fun stuff” in college.
An Nguyen encouraged students to apply for all available scholarships, emphasizing the potential for unexpected opportunities.
Molly Dubow stressed the importance of seeking help and utilizing the myriad resources available to alleviate financial burdens. She underlined that students are welcome to connect with panelists on LinkedIn, the professional social network, so they can better ask questions and seek referrals in the future.
#3 – Studentsto Chart Unique Paths with Guidance, Pursue Interests
During the panel, the speakers offered advice to students navigating their paths. Molly Dubow encouraged students to consider junior colleges as an affordable and valuable starting point in higher education.
An Nguyen emphasized the importance of courage in pursuing one’s passion and interests from an early age. She underlined that education is just studying your interests, so pursue your interests! Her career in product design came after she initially pursuing a computer science degree; it was then she realized that she loved the design side of engineering, not the coding side.
Bryanna Valdivia advised against excessive stress during the transition from high school to college and emphasized focusing on long-term goals.
Elizabeth Orpina encouraged students to make decisions based on what’s best for them, urging them to listen to respected individuals rather than conforming to immediate circles.
#4 –Balancing Family and Career, Finding a Community
An Nguyen, currently on her maternity leave, highlighted the challenges faced by caregivers in the tech industry. She stressed the significance of support groups and employee resource groups for caretakers. Addressing ageism as well, she stressed the importance of finding allies and coworkers who understand and support one’s journey.
Both Molly Dubow and Bryanna Valdivia expressed feelings of isolation as first-generation college students and women. Molly Dubow underscored the importance of not allowing one’s voice to be silenced and encouraged finding ways to communicate effectively, even when faced with gender bias. Bryanna Valdivia advocated for joining employee resource groups (ERGs) and seeking connections beyond one’s immediate team to foster a sense of community and support.
Elizabeth Orpina emphasized the role of team and company diversity in creating an inclusive work environment, urging students to seek companies that value and promote diversity and inclusion.
In conclusion, the CCPA Career Panel offered invaluable insights into the unique journeys of successful tech professionals. The advice and experiences shared by the panelists will undoubtedly serve as a beacon of guidance for students and volunteers navigating their career paths in the tech industry.
Girl Geek X CCPA Career Panel (from left): Molly Dubow, Vanessa Magana, Bryanna Valdivia, Elizabeth Orpina, and An Nguyen.
Call for sponsors for Elevate Conference & Career Fair on Dec 6TH, 2023!
This year will be bigger and better than ever! We’ve added:
More sponsorship tiers for deeper partnership with companies. We’ve been asked about how to be an ANNUAL sponsor, so please check out our new DIAMOND and ANNUAL tiers in addition to the standard GOLD and new STARTUP pricing.
Virtual career fair with booths, networking tables, 1:1 speed networking, 1:1 meetings and 1:group meetings – so many fun ways to connect!
Mentorship lounge hosted by participating sponsoring companies and invited special guests.
Girl Geek X brings together thousands of women technologists, innovators and tech leaders from around the world to share the latest in tech and leadership with fellow mid-and-senior level professional women.
These virtual conferences and career fairs are FREE for attendees – last year, over 3,000 women signed up to attend – tuning in from 42 countries around the world – to be inspired by speakers on the latest in tech trends and leadership.
Sessions content typically covers the following topics:
Lightning Talks – Dive deep into an area that’s unique / critical to your business or role, from engineer to product, from strategy to a lightning tech talk.
Technical Skills & Tactics – Tutorials, walkthroughs, or deep dives into a skillset (e.g. technical interviewing) or tactical approach to how you solved a real-world challenge.
Learning & Development – Topics include negotiation, mid-career job searches, interviewing tips, managing up, self-awareness, ageism / return to work bias, mental health, etc.
We are currently seeking speaker proposals for virtual ELEVATE Conference & Career Fair held quarterly!
Girl Geek X invites women technologists, innovators and tech leaders from around the world to apply to speak and share the latest in tech and leadership with fellow mid-and-senior level women in technology!
Work on a unique technical project or have interesting insights you’d love to share? We want to hear from you! Both first-time and experienced speakers are welcome to apply.
Don’t see your team / department represented? That’s OK – Tell us about your expertise, from TPM to customer success, operations to lab research, etc. Please do submit a talk about your unique domain expertise!
How to write a speaker submission, from our friends at Autodesk:
Speaker Bio Template:
[name] is [job title] at [company]. In this role, she is responsible for [key activities]. Previously, she was [role] at [company] -OR- She has worked in this industry for [number of years]. She is passionate about [what motivates you]. She volunteers / leads [organizations and/or employee resource groups]. She studied [focus area] at [school].
Talk Title / Abstract Tips:
There are three parts to writing a talk title and abstract. Structure your thoughts around them to tell a short and complete story.
Talk Title – Keep it simple and straightforward. Use terms that others might use to search for it.
Problem Statement – Explain briefly the challenge you will help others address and the different perspective or experience that you can share with them.
Benefits / Takeaways – Tell others clearly how they will benefit by spending time with you (e.g. the insights or skills they will learn). This can be a simple list of takeaways for conference attendees.
Girl Geek X’s highly-anticipated ELEVATE Conference and Career Fair on September 6, 2023 hosted over 1.5k mid-to-senior women in tech around the world online for inspiration, connection, and learning.
Thank you to our inspiring speakers & sponsors for helping make ELEVATE conference an incredible experience. Check out our sponsor’s remote/flexible jobs – they are actively hiring! Please spread the word and help a girl geek find her next role in tech!
Here are the most popular talks from September 6th’s ELEVATE 2023! You can watch (or re-watch) them at the links below:
Mentors joined from companies like Google, Airbnb, Amazon, Autodesk, Twilio, Fastly, Okta, Bayer, Alphawave Semi, Anthropic, Kohl’s, Riot Games and more. Mentors ranged from CTO to engineering managers, VPs to product managers and engineers.
BENTLEY SYSTEMS (Nasdaq: BSY) is the infrastructure engineering software company. We provide innovative software to advance the world’s infrastructure – sustaining both the global economy and environment. Our industry-leading software solutions are used by professionals, and organizations of every size, for the design, construction, and operations of roads and bridges, rail and transit, water and wastewater, public works and utilities, buildings and campuses, mining, and industrial facilities.
GRAMMARLY is trusted by more than 30 million people and 50,000 professional teams worldwide every day to help them ideate, compose, revise, and comprehend communications. Combining advanced machine learning with human expertise, break new ground in natural language processing (NLP) and AI to offer unmatched communication assistance to individuals and enterprises.
VANNEVAR LABS combines top software engineering talent with decades of mission experience to get state of the art technology to the people that keep us safe. Vannevar Decrypt is a foreign text workflow platform built for national security.
We’re an independent, not-for-profit, locally governed health plan company – meaning we live and work alongside our Tennessee business customers and plan members. Our 6,000 employees have built our strong reputation for integrity, excellent service and community leadership. We are part of the BlueCross BlueShield Association, a nationwide association of health care plans, so plan members have access to the same quality health benefits while traveling or living out of state that they have while in Tennessee.
UCLA Information Technology Services is largest provider of technology services to the university. We partner with many academic research and administrative units throughout UCLA to enable their mission, enhance their effectiveness and allow them to leverage cost effective IT infrastructure, serving more than 60,000 students, faculty and staff through enterprise applications, information management, collaboration solutions, computing platforms, storage, data center facilities and the campus-wide voice and data networks.
Autodesk makes technology that millions of people use to design and make the world around us. Our solutions are used to create all kinds of amazing things—from the greenest buildings to the cleanest cars, from the smartest factories to the biggest blockbusters. And our platform helps our customers combine technologies to solve their challenges, whatever their industry. Together, we help our customers turn their ideas into new realities that shape a better future for everyone.
Cadence is a pivotal leader in electronic systems design, building upon more than 30 years of computational software expertise. The company applies its underlying Intelligent System Design strategy to deliver software, hardware, and IP that turn design concepts into reality. Cadence customers are the world’s most innovative companies, delivering extraordinary electronic products from chips to boards to complete systems for the most dynamic market applications, including hyperscale computing, 5G communications, automotive, mobile, aerospace, consumer, industrial, and healthcare. For eight years in a row, Fortune magazine has named Cadence one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.
At USDS, we are mission-driven professionals who are passionate about applying our work and lived experiences to public service. We come from a range of cultural, geographical, and ethnic backgrounds, and we represent a myriad of intersecting identities, just like the people we serve. USDS operates on a tour-of-service model with a maximum term of four years. While most people serve for one or two years, we’ll consider some shorter tours as well. Time commitments are not binding.
To learn about the developer, product, design, data science, and acquisition skills we’re hiring for, see “How we work”. We are always hiring for a number of different roles, so if you are an expert in your field and are interested in working at USDS, you should apply here: www.usds.gov/apply
Like GPS for your code, CodeSee is on a mission to help you build the applications you love without the guesswork. Instantly visualize a map of your app’s services, directories, and file dependencies. CodeSee ensures your team stays code synced.
Don’t miss CodeSee CEO and Co-Founder Shanea Leven speaking at ELEVATE 2023 Conference & Career Fair online – it’s FREE to register & attend!
Dematic is transforming global supply chains through software to embrace trends in digitalization and e-commerce. We design, build, and support intelligent, automated solutions for a wide variety of industries – general merchandise, grocery, food and beverage, healthcare, apparel, and many more. With engineering centers, manufacturing facilities, and service centers located in more than 35 countries, the Dematic global network of over 11,000 employees has helped achieve nearly 8,000 worldwide customer installations for many of the world’s leading brands.
Over 100 girl geeks joined networking and lightning talks from women working in engineering, product, and design at the sold-out Grammarly Girl Geek Dinnerat Grammarly’s office in downtown San Francisco, California on August 29, 2023.
Grammarly women shared lightning talks about building GrammarlyGO, Grammarly’s new contextually aware generative AI communication assistant that allows you to instantly compose, rewrite, ideate, and reply. Grammarly is hiring!
Transcript of Grammarly Girl Geek Dinner – Lightning Talks:
Angie Chang: Is [this] your first Girl Geek Dinner? Wow, that’s a lot. How many of you have been to more than five Girl Geek Dinners? Yay! So good to see everyone. My name’s Angie Chang, in case you didn’t know, and you could tell by the t-shirt, I am the Girl Geek X Founder, and started Girl Geek Dinners in the Bay Area 15 years ago, so we’ve been doing events like this at hot tech startups up and down from San Francisco to San Jose, and I’m in the East Bay, so I wish there was more events over there as well. Tell your employers they need to have one of these showing off their amazing women in tech and product.
Girl Geek X founder Angie Chang welcomes the sold-out crowd to Grammarly Girl Geek Dinner on August 29, 2023 in San Francsico! (Watch on YouTube)
Angie Chang: I want to say thank you so much to everyone at Grammarly for helping put this event together. They have been so amazing and supportive and they’re definitely hiring, so please talk to someone here that has Grammarly on their shirt. They’re very friendly, so I’m going to say thank you for coming and hopefully you’ve made a lot of good connections. I know I’ve seen a lot of people talking to each other and I hope you have LinkedIn with each other or Facebook or whatever people are using these days, and continue to stay in touch.
Angie Chang: A lot of us are in this industry working to keep women in tech and I think that involves all of us together, so thank you. Keep coming back to events! Keep giving each other job leads! Keep poking other girl geek to get in the car ride together to get to that event after work when we’re all tired! Thank you for coming! I hope you learn something, make a new friend, and have a good night!
Charlandra Rachal: Thanks, Angie. I’m super excited to kick things off and host this fireside chat with director Heidi Williams, who’s been very involved in building our generative AI features for enterprise. Heidi, welcome!
Heidi Williams: Hi. Thanks for having me! Great to see you all here. It’s awesome. Full crowd!
Charlandra Rachal: Yeah. For those who aren’t super familiar with Grammarly, can you give us a quick overview of our company and our product?
Heidi Williams: Sure. I like to make a joke that either people have never heard of Grammarly or they love it! I know I talked to a few folks already that love it, but for folks who aren’t familiar, we are an AI-enabled writing assistance that helps with your communication wherever you write, and I do mean everywhere. Our mission is to improve lives by improving communication. Earlier this year, we also launched our first generative AI product to help you with even more writing and communication assistance beyond just revision, but also getting into ideation and brainstorming and composition and comprehension. It’s been really fun to see the product evolve in the time that I’ve been here.
Charlandra Rachal: I hear that you just celebrated three years here, so woo woo! Three years! Can you tell us what brought you here and what really keeps you here?
Grammarly Technical Sourcer Charlandra Rachal and Director of Engineering Heidi Williams welcome the audience at Grammarly Girl Geek Dinner. (Watch on YouTube)
Heidi Williams: When I was speaking about the mission, improving lives by improving communication, I do feel like I got to a point in my career, I’m a little farther along maybe than some of you, that I really wanted to work on something impactful and I feel like Grammarly more than any other place, it resonated with me that improving lives by improving communication is so real. It’s not a fake slogan because communication is what makes us uniquely human.
Heidi Williams: I was excited about the idea that we’re not just a platform to help you communicate more effectively, but also to help educate you along the way, especially thinking about things, like insensitive language or bias, there’s an opportunity to help educate people about the possible impact of their words that they may not even know is having a negative impact on someone, and so I got really inspired about the mission.
Heidi Williams: I’m also a word nerd, so that part was really fun as well. I think what keeps me here, is that everyone is so excited about the mission and the people. I think our values are amazing. We really live by our values, we hire and fire by them.
Heidi Williams: The last thing I’ll say is, we’re an amazing size company, where there’s still interesting problems to solve, but we’re small enough that people can really take the initiative if they see a problem that needs to be solved, or they want to advocate for something to change in some way, they’re really empowered to do that. I love being at that size company and our values really help us be successful doing that as well.
Charlandra Rachal: Nice. I like you mentioned initiative and impact. Do you have any sharing stories that you can share that where you seeing either yourself or someone else really make impact?
Heidi Williams: I have three examples if you’ll bear with me for a minute, but I see it all over the place, and it’s not just in the product. It’s about our organization, our culture. There’s an engineer on my team, her name is Lena, and she recognized on the product side that engineers were struggling with a certain pattern of ‘how do I reliably save settings about the individual, about their team and their organization about specific features. Then if I have all of these settings, how do I combine them and know which setting to apply at any time?’
Heidi Williams: She interviewed a bunch of engineers, realized it really was a problem for folks, and then proposed a new project called the Settings Registry, and advocated for it to be on our roadmap. It’s been exciting that she could spot an opportunity and a challenge for our developers and really advocate for that. That’s exciting!
Heidi Williams: The second one, I actually led an initiative where I noticed that I love our hiring process, but I noticed that we had one particular gap, which was that we didn’t necessarily have an interview where we asked people about their experiences. We ask about their knowledge, but we don’t ask, ‘what is the proudest thing that you ever built and tell me how it was designed and what did you learn?’
Heidi Williams: I noticed similarly that we weren’t necessarily getting the accept rates from underrepresented groups that I thought we should be getting, and advocated that this might give people an opportunity to talk about themselves, and for folks who aren’t used to bragging about themselves, that might not come out in a normal interview, but if you give them an opportunity to talk about themselves, then they can actually show off how good they are at stuff, which is exciting.
Heidi Williams: That pilot was successful, showed that we greatly increase the accept rates for folks from underrepresented groups to a really high degree, and now we’ve rolled that out as an interview across the engineering organization, so really proud of that.
Heidi Williams: The last one I’ll mention related to culture, Bhavana, who you’ll hear from later, identified an opportunity that folks were looking for mentorship inside of our women in tech group, and so she started a pilot with a few other folks to introduce an internal mentorship program for women in tech and we’re kicking that off in September.
Charlandra Rachal: I love that. Yes. I feel like the last two really spoke to me, especially being in recruiting so I love that a lot. Now, Grammarly continues to expand in its enterprise space. How do you drive value for Grammarly business with generative AI?
Heidi Williams: It was very exciting to see our generative AI product come out. A little bit of context: the part of the product that I’ve worked on is Grammarly Business, which is our B2B product for teams and organizations.
Heidi Williams: As we all know, communication is not a one person sport. There’s a team dynamic, there are team norms, there’s organizational knowledge that are part of the communication that you have at work. We looked at opportunities for how to incorporate organizational knowledge.
Heidi Williams: We have a feature called Knowledge Share that helps you define terms, definitions related links, key people, and then we can use that as part of the generative AI output to help you have something that knows something about your organization instead of maybe a more generic response.
Heidi Williams: We did things like that and then incorporated some of our Grammarly business features like style guides and brand tones, which help you speak with a consistent voice, and brand tones in particular, you can have a response from our generative AI product, and then choose ‘make it sound on brand to my company’.
Heidi Williams: That was a way that we could really make the information, both the information and the tone be tailored to your organization.
Charlandra Rachal: Nice. Well, I heard that there was some quick turnaround times. Can you tell us more about that?
Heidi Williams: It was definitely felt like this huge opportunity, this huge moment where a lot of folks are talking about generative AI and it’s an area (LLMs) we’ve been investigating for a long time and understanding what their capabilities and limitations were and whatnot, and so I think we really rallied as an engineering organization, and I think the way that we were able to turn things around quickly really came from our leadership approach, which is the idea that we really want to empower teams to make the best possible decisions on the ground.
Heidi Williams: The way to do that is to help with transparency and sharing context around ‘what are the business needs, what are the product needs, what are our customer needs, what problem are we solving for the user?’ Let me give you all of that information, all of that context. At the end of the day, if you need to choose, should this be a radio button or a dropdown or this should work this way or connect with that system, you can make that decision because you have all of that information. Really trying to be transparent and share context so that people are empowered to make decisions on the ground and not feel like they’re stuck with somebody else making decisions and kind of blocking them from things.
Charlandra Rachal: I hear you that you mentioned customer feedback. Do you have any feedback that you’re able to share with us?
Heidi Williams: Sure. You’ll hear more about it in one of the talks today. We did run a survey after launching GrammarlyGO and wanted to know how are people using the product and what’s working and what’s not working. Through that feedback, one of the themes that we heard was that ‘it didn’t sound like me’.
Heidi Williams: We started investigating – ‘how do you tailor the output to sound authentic to you?’ And it sounds, I see a lot of head nods, that resonates and what not. We invested in an area called My Voice and figuring out how to have your own voice profile and use that for all of the responses that are generated, so it’s more likely to sound like you than not and saves you an extra step for trying to even interpret what your own voice is. We can actually help you with that, so you’ll hear more about that when Jen talks about it.
Charlandra Rachal: Great. Well, I know this is one question that I know a lot of people probably want to ask but probably wouldn’t ask, but what would you say really sets us apart from our competitors?
Heidi Williams: Yeah, I was talking to someone ahead of time who asked this question, I’m like, oh, you’ll have to wait. <laughs> Great question. There’s one thing. First of all, I mentioned earlier, we work everywhere and that is one difference from some of the other products that are out there. We work in every writing surface, desktop web, and so we can be right in line for where you’re already doing your thinking, your writing your communication, so that’s certainly one.
Heidi Williams: The two I wanted to really call out, which I think are kind of reinforced by our engineering culture, is our important focus on security, trust and privacy, and also responsible AI. Because at the foundation of everything we do, we really want our customers and users to trust us with their writing and to feel like we can do things to make personalized experiences and what not, and so, what’s interesting to me, I feel like more than any engineering organization I’ve ever been at, because we are so mission-aligned, we recognize we have this huge responsibility to our users to be thoughtful about their data and their privacy, their security.
Heidi Williams: I feel like we care a lot about security maybe earlier than most engineering teams where at the very end before you ship security goes, ‘oh, not yet!’ And you’re like, ‘oh, I can’t’. The whole idea that engineers will advocate for, am I doing this right from the beginning, and wanting to make sure that’s so they’re proactive about asking for feedback about security and privacy. Or even there was a scenario where we had an idea about a feature and people are like, ‘That feels like it might invade privacy. Can we talk about that before we launch it?’
Heidi Williams: I really loved that people could bring that up and that we’re all trying to achieve the same thing, and so it’s a very fair question and let’s make sure we’re holding that to high regard.
Heidi Williams: Then on the responsible AI side, I think we’re so lucky to have an incredible team of linguists who can help us beyond what other competitors can do who don’t have a team of linguists where we can help sort of filter things like the inputs to generative AI to make sure that people are not asking for something harmful, but also that whatever they type in, they’re not getting harmful responses, which are either insensitive or inflammatory or traumatizing in some way.
Heidi Williams: I love the fact that we have the capabilities of being able to create these filters and create a safe environment for people to use these large language models, which have who-knows-what in them. Love that we are actually able to do that. We’ve also been able to build that not just through humans, but figuring out how to build automation and testing and all through the development process help you understand that you’re not going to create a feature that unintentionally create some sort of biased output or something like that, and so just tremendous examples over our long history in this of finding ways to make sure that we are building a product that is responsible and then also keeps everybody safe, secure, and all their information private as well.
Charlandra Rachal: Nice. Well that was fascinating, right, everybody? Alright, so we are going to dive deeper now to exactly how our generative AI features were built. As a heads up, we are going to ask for questions at the end and I’ll bring up all of the speakers including Heidi herself. For now, welcome Jennifer van Dam, who’s a senior product manager here!
Jennifer van Dam: Hey everyone. I’m Jennifer van Dam, product manager here at Grammarly. I’ve been here for three years and I worked on our features like emotional intelligence, tone detection, tone rewrites, inclusive language, and most recently I helped build out our generative AI product, GrammarlyGO, which I’ll be talking about today, so super excited to take you all through the journey.
Grammarly Senior Product Manager Jennifer van Dam talks about building the generative AI product GrammarlyGO from zero to one. (Watch on YouTube)
Jennifer van Dam: First off, I want to give a huge shout out to my fellow girl geek PMs that helped build GrammarlyGO together with me. We were a team of three PMs leading multiple product efforts. Specifically, my product focus was on the UX and also on the zero to one stage, so figuring out the UX framework and the zero to one building process. That’s what I’ll dive in deeper today. First off, I wanted to start with a refresh of Grammarly before GrammarlyGO.
Jennifer van Dam: What Grammarly has been focused on for many, many years is helping make your communication more effective by proof writing and proof reading and editing your writing. Anywhere you write, let’s say you’re writing an email, a message, a Google doc, Grammarly will read the text that you have written already and make sure it’s correct and clear and delivered in a way that you want to come across. But, we have a big mission of improving lives by improving communication, so we fully were aware that this is a small part of communication that we want to help with, and we’ve had many dreams beyond proof writing and editing.
Jennifer van Dam: One big user problem we always heard, for example, was the ‘blank page problem’. For years, we’ve heard that our users really struggle with the inception stage of communication – the writing, getting those initial ideas on paper – and it was a huge productivity blocker. That’s just an example from user problems we’ve been hearing for years, and we always dreamt about solving it, and we were super excited with this recent technological leap that with generative AI – now we have the technology to solve all those user problems we always dreamt about.
Jennifer van Dam: That’s how we built GrammarlyGO. We went from proofreading and editing towards helping solve composition, brainstorming, and all these new use cases, which was really, really complex, because we went from a decade of in-depth expertise of rewriting, towards composition and brainstorming, and we had a pretty aggressive timeline as well. This was super, super challenging.
Jennifer van Dam: What made it really challenging? First of all, it was zero to one. We had no prior experience how this would land with our users and there was no data we could rely on, so we had to make a really risky decisions because we went from a proven product concept with product-market-fit towards a huge uncertainty and risk area, which it was really exciting, but super, super challenging. How can we predict how it will be received with the absence of data?
Jennifer van Dam: Essentially we really had to take on a beginner’s mindset to solve these new use cases and almost operate like a startup again to build this new product from scratch, but we’re also an established company – pretty big – and we have millions of users, 30 million daily active users that have a super high bar of our product. We were building zero to one moving fast, but also had a very high bar we wanted to meet for our users in terms of quality, responsible AI, and security that we wanted to deliver.
Jennifer van Dam: How do you solve such a huge, huge problem? What we did was, let’s just start with the earliest draft possible, and get it out – get it out to users. What we did is we created this really highly-engaged alpha community, and we built very early prototype, and we shifted and we asked for continuous feedback, and it was really, really engaged community that would give us feedback super fast and inform next iterations. We really focused on the core experience before we wanted to invest in any type of polish or any type of design polish, we made a commitment – let’s not focus on that. Let’s figure out the UX framework.
Jennifer van Dam: We had a big challenge. How do we create a UX where someone can brainstorm and compose something from scratch? What is intuitive? What will land with our users? To give you an example of the fidelity of prototypes, what we did is we started in grayscale, because we made a commitment to figure out the framework, before deeply investing into building something out, because we weren’t sure if this is the version to commit to.
Jennifer van Dam: This turned out to be a great idea because we did end up throwing away a couple of prototypes, and the third prototype was the one that we felt landed the most and that we committed to building out and refining, which was of course a huge process as well and took us a lot of time. Sarah will actually be giving a fascinating talk later about all the design and brand work that went into polishing this prototype, so I won’t go too deep into that.
Jennifer van Dam: What was really cool about this prototyping stage is, the user empathy led to innovation. We came up with things that we didn’t necessarily plan from the start. One thing we kept on hearing when we were asking for feedback on the UX and was it intuitive to compose and brainstorm?
Jennifer van Dam: A lot of the feedback we were getting was ‘it just doesn’t really sound like me’. And that made people drop off. They would compose an email or a document, but it didn’t sound like something they would write or want to use, so this was a huge risk of people dropping off and also, it wasn’t of the quality we wanted to meet. This led us to come up with the voice feature that Heidi talked about with before.
Jennifer van Dam: This is a classic example – it wasn’t on our roadmap from the start, but it really, being in tune with the user made us come up with this feature. I remember when we launched our first basic version of it, how excited everyone was, and that made us realize how important voices in generative AI – and it led us to much deeply invest in this area, so we’re keeping investing in this and also it helped actually become an important competitive differentiation.
Jennifer van Dam: To take it even further, we would also hear from users, okay, now it sounds like me, but in this situation it doesn’t sound how I want to sound, which was also a really hard problem. We heard this a lot in the email reply use case, and what we came up with is harmonizing your voice preference with your audience as well. Let’s say, I prefer to sound casual maybe 80% of the time, but I got this super formal email, it would be a little bit awkward if I replied casually there.
Jennifer van Dam: We also created a model that looks at the context of your communication and your audience, and harmonize that with your voice preference so it doesn’t diverge too much, but lands somewhere in the middle. This was an awesome, awesome project and Bhava is going to do a much deeper dive into replies after this.
Jennifer van Dam: Looking back, this was a huge product, and when I reflect back on what were the things that made it successful, I think first of all the team was really, really important when we started this project because building in a zero to one, very high ambiguity, it’s not for everyone. It can be quite chaotic.
Jennifer van Dam: We started with a very small team that was comfortable with iterations and ambiguity and okay throwing away work for the sake of learning. We intentionally kept this team very, very small until we resolved the main ambiguities, we started to scale up the team a little bit or slowly.
Jennifer van Dam: We were very intentional about the initial zero to one stage, and then scaling the team, and we had a lot of high alignment and energy because of this, because the people on the team were excited about these problems.
Jennifer van Dam: We also learned that prototypes are huge to align leadership, because it’s easy to get stuck in discussions, discussing strategy or design flows, but there’s nothing like proving it with real concepts and real user feedback and real prototypes. And then also our transparency principle really helped. We had a ton of cross-functional collaborators and of course it’s inevitable zero to one, there’s going to be all these changes and all these teams are relying on you.
Jennifer van Dam: We were super, super transparent with changes and reasoning and this really helped us creatively problem solve. In the case when there were changes, we would come together and this basically set up a place for innovation with cross-functional collaboration as well.
Jennifer van Dam: What’s next for Grammarly? At Grammarly, we believe that AI is here to augment your intelligence. That is really our product philosophy. We believe that AI is not here to take over your life or dictate you, but it’s here as a superpower, to help you communicate more effectively.
Jennifer van Dam: This is the product philosophy we’ve taken building GrammarlyGO, and this is our philosophy with all our next products and features that we’ll be launching. I can’t share too much about it, but I can share that this is the philosophy we take in building the next features that we’ll be releasing. Thank you. Alright, next up is Bhavana who’s going to be talking about the fascinating project called Quick Replies.
Grammarly Machine Learning Engineer Bhavana Ramachandra talks about engineering the generative AI product GrammarlyGO at Grammarly Girl Geek Dinner. (Watch on YouTube)
Bhavana Ramachandra: Thanks Jen for that awesome overview. Jen spoke about how Grammarly expanded into the user’s writing journey, and we’re going to take a small detour into one of the features that we built, which was Quick Reply, or replying quickly to emails. My name is Bhavana, I’m an ML engineer at Grammarly. I’ve been here for about three years. I was one of the many engineering geeks on this project. There are a couple of folks here in the audience today – Jenny’s here, Yichen is here, yeah, wanted to give a shout out to the team.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Today, I’ll be really talking about foundations in motion and with respect to the quick reply feature. Jen touched upon this previously. We have invested quite a bit in understanding what our users want in terms of their writing, and we were looking at expanding into this user journey, so really we built a lot of fundamental understanding over the years that helped us accelerate into the new product areas that we wanted to go into.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Another shout out is that, the team that worked on Quick Reply, all the point people, all the cross-functional people, were women. We have an analytical linguist, computational linguist, ML engineer, senior PM, and interestingly this has not been my first project when we were all women but yeah. Four foundations deriving from two projects that I have worked on coming into this one. One was Tone. Jen mentioned she has been working on Tone as well.
Bhavana Ramachandra: I’ve been here for three years. She’s been here for three years. Tone was our first project together, so Tone was one of them as well as Recap, which is our investment in 2022 to really go beyond the writing phase and to also to the reading phase to help users read faster so that we can help them write better. With the respect to tone, this was the first version of this. We also have tone rewrites, but this one helps users identify the top three tones in their text so that they can reflect on if that’s exactly how they want to sound.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Zooming into what was the fundamental understanding we built in each of these projects. The first one I’ll cover is Tone, and the three areas we invested is product definition, quality and our AI. For product definition, some of you might be thinking like, ‘Hey, this sounds like sentiment analysis and that is a pretty well solved problem’ but really our product team tries to think about what is the user value of sentiment. If you look at user text, honestly, eight out of 10 times users sound positive. That is not helpful to know.
Bhavana Ramachandra: What the product team did was actually define 50 tones over different aspects of your writing that’s actually helpful for you to know. Do you sound optimistic? Do you sound direct? Do you sound confident? Do you sound worried? Do you sound concerned? The product team really came up with a wide range of tones. In terms of quality, we iterated quite a bit over it and during this phase we actually came up with three levels of hierarchy.
Bhavana Ramachandra: When you have 50 tones, especially if you’re building models for 50 tones, it’s a bit hard – one to get data and to make sure you’re iterating over quality of all of ’em. The way we tackle this is, we define three levels. We have the tone at the really granular level, we have the sentiment at the highest level, but we also came up with tone groups that was maybe around, eight tone groups, and that helped us identify quality at different levels. Then, we really try to nail quality in terms of what is the user values.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Now as an ML engineer, I like to see quality always improving, but is it really worth it to invest in taking one tone from 90 to 92% or is it better for us to improve on a certain tone group that is really valuable to our users?
Bhavana Ramachandra: That’s the kind of trade-off that we had to make and then we really derive over time. I also want to mention our AI is one of our biggest tenants as Heidi mentioned. In this case, this feature was one of the first few pieces to pilot our sensitivity process. The REI manager today was during this process shaping up our formal sensitivity process. We’ve always done it and I think she was making that a very formal process.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Apart from that, we also wanted to make sure that any tone suggestions we make – because we have a varying level of quality, we did want to understand – what are the sensitive cases, and what is our risk of quality with respect to sensitivity. That’s something that we understood during this project as well.
Bhavana Ramachandra: The second one is Recap, which was our comprehension project that we worked on in 2022. Here we were going beyond the writing journey into the reading journey of the user. We invested a lot in understanding the user problem. We had many, many discussions about certain areas that surprised me that I’ll get into. There were also technical challenges because now we needed to again look at the context outside of the text that you’re writing. Where is it? Where are we getting this context from? And then we had a whole new set of ML problems, which is exciting for me.
Bhavana Ramachandra: For the user problem, I wanted to touch on two things. Delight versus value. We wanted to provide summaries and so we identified emails and we wanted to provide summaries as well as to to-do items. But does it really make sense in all use cases? For example, if you have a one line email, it doesn’t make sense to summarize that.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Or, if you have a social promotional email that says, sign up now, that sounds like a task, but all of us know that’s not really a to-do item for any of us. These are the kind of gotchas that we were like, ‘oh, we have a model, but is it actually useful in all cases’ or ‘how long should a summary for a really long email be’ versus ‘a one paragraph email’ be? These are the kind of things that we iterated over quite a bit. And also understanding the context and intent of the user.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Imagine you have an email, an announcement to your entire organization. If you’re a manager versus if you are an engineer versus if you are in design, you might have different takeaways from that email. Trying to understand a bit more of what is that context and what is the intent of the user.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Coming down to the ML problems itself, like I said, there were two things that we were trying to provide – summarization – as well as – task extraction – or to-do list, but because we were talking about delight versus value, context and intent, we also invested in a couple of different areas, including signature detection, intent understanding, and email taxonomy. Trying to understand what is the context of the user – that was more of email taxonomy and intent understanding, and signature detection really helped us. When you look at emails sometimes especially short emails, if the signature is longer than the email, then the model sometimes gets tripped up.
Bhavana Ramachandra: This is true for generative AI as well because yeah, for many different reasons, sometimes models are not perfect, so it helps to help them along the way, and signature detection was one of those areas.
Bhavana Ramachandra: In all of these areas, we spend time annotating our own data sets because email is a space where data sets are not as public, so this was one where we had to understand what data sets existed, what were the things that we were trying to build. As Heidi said, we have a big internal team of analytical linguists, and they help us identify the data, identify what our guidelines are, and go get us annotations that we can build models with, and these were all the areas that we collaborated with them on.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Putting all of that together, from the Tone project, we knew tone was something that our users cared about that we wanted to bring into this feature. You’ll see it says, ‘Jason sounds caring’, but that’s not like models don’t know to think about that. That’s something we have to prompt them to think about.
Bhavana Ramachandra: All of the tone taxonomy that I spoke about, the 50 tones, that made it into the prompt as well. In terms of the recap project, we really built a reply user – like, who are the users? You might get a hundred emails, but you probably reply to 10. What are these reply use cases is something that we had built an understanding that came into this project as well. That really helped us understand quality for launch.
Bhavana Ramachandra: As Jen said, we were not trying to polish, but we were trying to aim for user value. That meant, are we comfortable with the quality for launch? We know that we’re going to iterate over it, but for launch, does this look good? It’s something we try to understand.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Then, on the client side, a lot of the logic, that we built for the earlier project, got repackaged and reused for this one as well. We were using a new protocol, we were using, so it wasn’t just copy paste, but repackage. And then our AI as always, because it’s a generative AI output, we want to be sure that any output that we’re sharing with our users does not have bias, and some high risk scenarios. That’s something as well that we made sure this feature and the output of this feature goes through.
Bhavana Ramachandra: This was one of the few features we built for launch, but it did get a couple of different shoutouts. I know WSJ called out, we had a lot of users sending us, this was awesome. I specifically wanted to, we had a segment on NBC where Courtney Naples, who is our director of language research, spoke about this and the host in fact called out the feature and mentioned how the output of GrammarlyGO sounds like him, versus OpenAI does not. And yeah, that was a really nice moment for us to see. That’s it. Next off, we have Sarah who will be talking to us through all the explorations that the brand design team did for launch as well as our product.
Grammarly Brand Designer Sarah Jacczak talks about designing the generative AI product GrammarlyGO at Grammarly Girl Geek Dinner. (Watch on YouTube)
Sarah Jacczak: Thanks so much, Bhavana. Hi everyone, my name is Sarah and I’m a brand designer at Grammarly. I’ve also worked here for three years and I’m so excited to share the brand design team’s work and show some of the behind the scenes process of the GrammarlyGO launch.
Sarah Jacczak: To start off, I want to intro the go-to-market design team. The team consisted of product brand designers, motion designers, content designers, brand writers, design researchers, and design operations. This was a complex launch and we were designing something completely new, and there were a lot of moving pieces and constant changes. On top of that, we needed to move fast. Having a team with a wide range of expertise, it allowed us to work quickly and collaboratively, and we were able to impact areas across product, brand, and marketing for this launch.
Sarah Jacczak: I want to give a special shout out to the brand and content designers and brand writers. I’ll be sharing some of their incredible work on the GrammarlyGO identity and campaign later on. To give a quick overview of the scope of work, the brand design team worked on in-product systems, a new brand identity that included a new logo and color palette, and a go-to-market campaign toolkit, which included guidance on how to design and write about Grammarly’s generative AI features.
Sarah Jacczak: To do this work, we had to consider how users will interact with this new experience and how we would differentiate Grammarly go from competitors. This required close collaboration with product and engineering teams as well.
Sarah Jacczak: When designing GrammarlyGO, one problem we identified early on was, we needed a way for users to access this new experience. We knew that users were familiar with clicking on the Grammarly icon to open the Assistant Panel and accept writing suggestions, but integrating GrammarlyGO features with this existing UI was not an option for the launch and it was something we would have to address in the future.
Sarah Jacczak: For the launch, we needed to keep these two experiences separate. and we decided to add a second entry point into the Grammarly widget, which would open the GrammarlyGO experience.
Sarah Jacczak: Here are some early explorations of the GrammarlyGO entry point. So on the left we tried two different button designs for the desktop app and browser extension, and we consider it a badge treatment on the desktop app, which has floating widget. The benefit here is that on desktop, the widget wouldn’t be much larger, so it wouldn’t interfere more with text fields.
Sarah Jacczak: However, the visual treatment, it felt kind of like a notification and because of its small size, we were worried it wouldn’t attract much attention. And so we moved on to another exploration. On the right is another exploration where we considered having multiple inline buttons with different icons, so there would be a new unique icon for composed reply and rewrite features, but when prototyping this design, we found that it was a little too cumbersome, and so we decided to simplify it down to one icon for all GrammarlyGO features. And this is what we launched with a single light bulb icon to open the GrammarlyGO assistant window.
Sarah Jacczak: Having one icon as the entry point gave us room to surface prompts that have unique icons. You can see on the example on the right, we have the improve it icon with the pencil, and this prompt appears when a user highlights their text and it gives them a quick and easy way to generate another version of their writing.
Sarah Jacczak: While we were designing how users would access GrammarlyGO, we’re also designing icons. We started exploring icons before we had a name, but we knew it needed to be unique and it would live next to the G icon. We explored a wide variety of approaches. Some were more literal and represented generative AI, like writing and pencils and sparkles and magic, and other explorations were more focused on abstract representations of speed and ideation. But yeah, we could have kept going and going, and this is not even all the explorations, but because of the tight timeline, we had to make a decision.
Sarah Jacczak: We went with the light bulb because we felt it was effective in conveying the new ideation capabilities of GrammarlyGO. We also saw an opportunity to design new product iconography for prompts. These icons would accompany the suggested prompts that appear based on a user’s writing.
Sarah Jacczak: Early testing showed that prompt writing is challenging, and so we prioritize these suggested prompts that are based on a user’s context, and we wanted to make this experience more visual and more delightful. Again, icon explorations range from abstract to literal, but we saw that these icons needed to convey meaning, and also support the prompt compi so we move forward with the literal direction.
Sarah Jacczak: Another discovery was that operating within the new limited color palette was challenging and it didn’t quite feel unified with the existing UI, so we looked to Grammarly’s tone detector iconography, and these emojis, they would appear in the same UI as the prompt icons, so it made sense to create a cohesive experience here.
Sarah Jacczak: We referenced the colors and styling of these emoji to create the foundation for the new prompt icons and here the prompt icons that we designed for launch. You can see they’re literal in that they depict the meaning of the prompt in a simple way, and keeping them simple also ensured that they could scale and be legible at small sizes. We also selected colors and subtle gradients that felt cohesive with the existing emoji icons. This resulted in an icon set that feels warm, friendly, and is hopefully fun to interact with.
Sarah Jacczak: We also needed to consider scalability. There would be hundreds of prompts and we wouldn’t be able to design an icon for each prompt, so we grouped them into categories. Each category has an icon, and within that category are prompts that share that icon. For example, any prompts about writing or composition, we’ll use the pen and paper icon and any prompts about ideation, we’ll use the light bulb and so on. We also identified which prompts we feel would be used frequently and created unique icons for those to add variety and more delight.
Sarah Jacczak: While some of the team was working on iconography and content design in the product, others were working on the identity and go-to-market campaign. Here are some of those explorations – a variety of logos were explored and taglines, as well as graphics for the campaign, and some visual explorations use gradient orbs while others focused on movement and transformation by using over layers of shapes and lines. And for the go-to-market campaign, we created a new tagline as well – ‘go beyond words’. It’s active and it conveys Grammarly’s ability to assist users beyond their writing.
Sarah Jacczak: We also designed a new logo that incorporates a bolder G with a circle forming the O as a nod to the classic Grammarly button. For the GrammarlyGO identity and campaign, the brand design team landed on a concept that uses overlapping shapes to convey transformation and the iterative process where one idea is built on the next. The softness of the gradients also speak to the human qualities, and they’re juxtaposed with hard edges to represent technology, and these overlapping shapes were further brought to life with animation.
Sarah Jacczak: The team also worked on a design toolkit, and this toolkit was shared across the company. The toolkit included logo, color palette, illustrations, photography, motion guidelines, and a library of product examples to be used across the campaign. A style and verbal direction guide was also created to ensure how we speak about GrammarlyGO is consistent. The brand writers provided headline examples based on themes. There was headlines about creativity, such as let your ideas take shape, headlines about productivity, such as ‘discover new ways to get things done’, and headlines about trust like ‘AI innovation with integrity at its center’.
Sarah Jacczak: This campaign was pretty large. We had a lot of requests and a lot of marketing channels to design for, but because the brand and brand writers and brand designers collaborated and built these systems and guidelines, we were able to move quickly and create consistency despite many people working on the campaign production.
Sarah Jacczak: Here are just a few examples of the work created for the campaign. The team created a series of demo videos and animated gifs that show product functionality, and these were used across marketing and PR. The team also worked on onboarding emails, landing pages, in product onboarding, blog posts, ads, and social assets,
Sarah Jacczak: To get a further sense of the scope of work, here’s some numbers from the naming and identity work. Over 500 names were considered, 188 Jira tickets were completed, over 105 taglines were explored, 45 videos explored, 39 product examples designed and animated, and over 230 logos were explored. And so, while these numbers don’t tell the full story, and we had challenges along the way, the team was able to overcome this and collaboratively design a new experience and produce a successful launch in a short amount of time. Thank you.
Charlandra Rachal: Thanks Sarah. To all the speakers that put together this incredible presentation, I learned a lot and I work here, so I hope you guys really enjoyed all of that. Let’s welcome back all of our speakers for Q&A. There is someone who is going to be in the audience with a mic, and I see it first hand already, so we will get a mic right over to you.
Audience Member: As mentioned, it was uncharted territory. I was curious how you went about ideating the first project. Was it based on existing user information you had? Was it academic papers? How’d you go about it?
Jennifer van Dam: That’s referencing my talk, so happy to talk more about it. What I mean with uncharted territory is the solution. We knew it was a problem – we’ve been hearing for years that since we started, we hear from our users, they struggle with these communication problems. What was the uncharted territory is the solution and delivering the product in a way that lends and resonate with our users.
Jennifer van Dam: The approach we decided to take is directly into the prototyping stage because we felt it was really important to connect the text and the product to the user. Let’s say, you want to compose an email, we can design and show you concepts, but we need that moment of you writing your text and seeing the output. That’s why we jumped right into the prototyping stage as our way to research the solutions and the design approach.
Charlandra Rachal: There was another hand right here…
Audience Member: Hello, my name is Kate, and probably question also to Jennifer because it was on one of your slides. When talking about prototyping, you were speaking about more empathy and I took a screenshot. Let me see how it looked like there.
Audience Member: ‘Deeper user empathy.’ Can you please elaborate a little bit more on that, how it worked? How did you do it while you were still prototyping, please?
Jennifer van Dam: Yeah, deep user empathy. What I really meant with that was to understand and dive into the types of things our users are trying to achieve. What are the types of use cases that, here’s a prototype, did you use it for rewrites? Did you use it for emails? What were those things?
Jennifer van Dam: We did so many sessions talking to people and getting their feedback to get empathy and then of course we had questions, but then the feedback we got was, ‘oh, but it didn’t sound like me’. This is what I mean by deep user empathy is really getting into the mindset of empathizing what is working and what is missing. That really helped us inform iterations and changes and new features or scrapping features.
Audience Member: Thank you. I would assume that the launch of ChatGPT definitely affected Grammarly. What would be the key learnings? What were the key learnings for you as product leaders from getting the LLMS viral and thanks for the presentations. My name is Maria.
Heidi Williams: One of the things which I think was interesting – we’ve been doing AI for a long time, we’ve used a lot of different technologies, whether it’s rule-based or machine learning, or all sorts of different technologies, exploring LLMs on our own.
Heidi Williams: The biggest thing about ChatGPT that ended up, was actually the discussion in the world about how to use AI as an augmentation tool. Before, you would have to convince people AI was okay and trusted and then all of a sudden overnight everyone’s like, ‘of course you trust it. Look at this’.
Heidi Williams: Now all of a sudden we don’t have to waste time talking about should you use AI? Now it’s about how can we be a trusted partner on how best to use AI and help you be more effective and help you succeed in your job or in your life. It has changed the conversation of ‘should I’ to ‘how should I’, and that’s been interesting and amazing that we can now focus on just solving real problems as opposed to convincing people they have a problem that AI can help with.
Audience Member: Thank you so much. First of all, want to say huge shout out for Girls Geek and Grammarly for putting together. Thank you. That’s a great event. I’m a huge fan of Grammarly. Go now. It finally sounds like Shakespeare in my emails and not like a broken machine. I want to ask you this question. I think Heidi and Bhavana, that’s questions for you. You said that one of the feedback was, ‘it doesn’t sound like me’.
Audience Member: Are you using LLMs to train data which your users are input? And if so, how do you also prevent some data security in terms of, for example, I’m putting something in my email as a product manager about revenue or about some specific of the product, which haven’t been on the market, and I’m always a little bit worried where this data is coming from. Yeah, I think it’s a good question. One is LLMS for make me sounds like it’s me. And the second one is the data privacy. Thank you.
Heidi Williams: I can talk about at least part of it and then if you have things to add as well. Because Grammarly has been around for so long, and that we are a trusted source, we were able to negotiate a really amazing contract with our LLM provider, which means that they don’t train on any data that we send to them. Not everybody could negotiate that, but because we’re Grammarly and we’ve been around so long and have such a big user base, we were able to do that.
Heidi Williams: I feel like that was a huge thing that is very differentiated from just using whatever’s on the market is that they’re not training on any of the data that we send. From that perspective of the data privacy, but if you want to talk more about the my voice and about how we do that and how do we then, if either of you want to add…
Bhavana Ramachandra: I’m going to pass to Jen.
Jennifer van Dam: Could you repeat the question?
Audience Member: Sure. How you make, if we’re not sending data to any LLMs, how you make it sound more like me, for example, GrammarlyGO, always suggesting me to be more assertive, which I think I’m already too much and then I’m like, no, no, no, let’s make it more positive. Yeah, how this happened, how it sounds more like me is like data being trained.
Jennifer van Dam: We look at context and communication patterns, so it doesn’t necessarily train on your data per se, but on the patterns of your communication and the context. That’s how we understand your voice profile across.
Bhavana Ramachandra: To add to that – we understand what your tones you prefer or you use are, but we don’t actually pass that on to LLMs. We had our tone detectors since 2019. We’ve been telling users how they sound for a bit now. We use that information to really update the writing rather than train the LLMs itself with your data.
Charlandra Rachal: I feel like I’ve been neglecting this side over here, so right here in the front.
Audience Member: More of a quick technical question. Do you list all of the tones that you detect for and measure somewhere publicly, or is that behind closed doors?
Jennifer van Dam: We have a homepage that lists a lot, but not all, of our tones. We feel it’s too competitive to reveal 50 plus. But yeah, you definitely can find information about a lot of our tones that we support with tone detection.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Maybe this is a challenge. Can you write enough with Grammarly to find all of them?
Audience Member: The tables have turned. I wanted to direct a question to the second speaker after Jennifer van Dam. Yes, you, um, why does my voice sound like this? Ah ha ha I see what you did there. The question I have more specifically was, when tone is being cited as a suggestion, when you write a sentence and it connotes that, ‘oh, your tone is serious and neutral’, and when you add a word or two and it changes the tone entirely, I’m curious, what quantitative scales do you use behind the scenes to make those on the spot judgements? You mentioned your team had a lot of linguists on it, and I was hoping you could expand on that because that has been an object of curiosity of mine for a while, possibly. Thank you.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Yeah, I’m just going to Jen about… Yeah, I think for, in terms of how do we decide, in fact, when we started looking at rewriting for tone, I think our initial exploration had just neutral and new tone versus in certain cases we were actually able to provide three levels, friend, friendlier, friendliest, but really depended on how much data we’d have. If you can actually, you can be neutral, but you can’t be more neutral. It really depended on the tone and how much data we have.
Bhavana Ramachandra: I think this is a part where our linguist really helped us really dive deep into this and look into each of the tone that we have, get data for each one of these tones. I think for our tone retype explorations, we started with the tones where we had most understanding and first started with two levels and then moved on to three.
Audience Member: Thank you. Hi, my name is Leanne and big fan of Grammarly. My question for whoever thinks that they’re best equipped to answer this is, could you tell us a bit more about how Grammarly is fighting bias, and what are some of those solutions that are currently in place? And maybe thinking about, in the future roadmap?
Bhavana Ramachandra: Yeah. Our AI is one of our biggest tenants, as Heidi said, and we’ve always invested in this area. The couple of things that we have done are actually very, very public. We have blog posts about how we look at pronouns or bias in gender bias in data, and how do we make sure our generative AI suggestions, how do we measure that and how do we prevent that as something that we do? And as Heidi said, this is part of the process.
Bhavana Ramachandra: This is not something that you think about at the end of the day, you plan for this. You plan to have a sensitivity analysis right from the get-go. The other part of this, we’ve published a couple of different papers this year. In fact, in the REI space in, I want to say ACL. Okay, thank you Dana. You’ll actually find a lot of public information. I don’t want to pretend that I know more than I do in this area. I am getting onboarded though. Definitely, we have blogs and papers out there that talk about what are the solutions we have implemented.
Heidi Williams: Maybe just one thing to add to that is part of it is actually cultivating a good data set because you could imagine that you just take, I think we’ve seen this with LLMs as well, you just take the words out there and you might see a bias of a gender bias around when you’re referring to a male, they might be more associated with certain words in the general public than a female. Then you would imagine that percentage wise, it might suggest like, oh, if you’re talking about a man, you must be referring to this, et cetera.
Heidi Williams: We’ve done a good job of cultivating our data sets to help ensure that the data sets themselves are not biased, and that’s a huge aspect of it is just making sure that we’re not having any gender weighting as one example, or it could be racial, whatever it is. There’s just making sure that you have a data set that’s representative and it’s not going to sort of skew things in one direction or another.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Do you want to add to that?
Jennifer van Dam: I wanted to add to that a little bit about how much we care about this investment. We also, besides of course all the deep investments in the modeling, we also have inclusive language suggestions for end users that help basically eliminate gender bias in your language while writing or talking to your coworkers or your team.
Jennifer van Dam:This is an area I also worked on and it’s a really great part of our product. For example, maybe you’re writing, ‘the businessmen are wearing suits’, we’ll underline ‘businessmen’ and we’ll ask if you’re writing to an audience that you want to be inclusive of everyone, maybe replace it with ‘business people’ rather than ‘businessmen’. We also tackled this from the end user standpoint and helping them communicate more inclusively and eliminate bias where they’d like.
Audience Member: <inaudible>
Charlandra Rachal: For those who didn’t hear, the question was, how much do we focus on educating, when people continue to make mistakes in their writing?
Jennifer van Dam: The inclusive language product, I encourage you all to check out because education was a huge part of the product UI and the way we wanted to position it. We always want to be educational rather than forcing you because at the end of the day, the user is in control. You have agency. That’s what we always believe in. We also realized we have to explain why are we saying ‘consider replacing businessmen with business people?’ How do we explain? Because some people don’t realize that it’s so ingrained, you just type it, you don’t really stand still.
Jennifer van Dam: Another example, like whitelist, blacklist, that suggestion, a lot of users didn’t understand why we were suggesting to replace blacklist with blocklist, so we actually focused our UI around education. Why is blacklist/whitelist is perpetuating certain stereotypes, so consider replacing it – and that was a real aha moment because when you say that in a training, it’s different than when in real life you’re writing a text and seeing it and applying it, so it’s actually been really powerful in educating people
Audience Member: To Jennifer and Bhavana. Earlier you mentioned deploying LLM models, initially, were you were skeptical how receptive the users would be and how they would perform.
Audience Member:Can you talk about your A/B testing strategies? Did you roll out to a part of your audience, I mean part of the user base first, and then started gradually increasing, rolling out the new features too, especially the generative AI features? Could you talk about your A/B testing strategy and how did you scale it to the whole user base? And after you employed gen-AI features and these new features that you earlier talked about, how did it impact the revenue subscription revenue and the user base?
Heidi Williams: Start?
Bhavana Ramachandra: I think Jen covered maybe some of the A/B tests. I’ll let her, I can maybe speak to the launch plans, the alpha testing. I can cover that a bit. Especially for projects like Tone where we did iterate over quality quite a bit, we would try to identify one. We had internal annotations. Every time we improve our quality, we do more internal annotations to understand how much of a bump is it? And once we have a fair understanding, we run experiments with Gen AI, we had to take a slightly different process.
Bhavana Ramachandra:As Jen said, we had more alpha testing with users, really deep conversations in terms of understanding what is a useful generative AI LLM feature because we’ve had rewrite features in terms of generative AI for the longest time, but what’s a useful composed feature? What’s a useful quick reply feature? All of that was not really A/B testing. We were building understanding in this case. That was a lot more alpha testing.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Then for the launch plan itself, we have 30 million users, we have five different surfaces, we have extension, we have desktop app, we have an editor, we have our website, and we’re in many different countries, so this to me firstly was the most impressive one, because we had to do a geo launch across many different clients that all have different release cycles, so all of them had to be in sync because we wanted feature parity. We started with certain countries to make sure, one, we can handle the traffic. Two, all the features are looking or performing as they should.
Jennifer van Dam: The difference with how we approach modeling quality, it depends on the maturity of the track. In the zero to one stage we do a lot of offline quality evaluations and make sure it meets our quality bar and the metrics. We don’t necessarily test out multiple models yet, but in the iteration stage we do. One example where we’ve A/B tested our improve it rewrite, which in one click will improve your text, and there was a lot of experimentation we did there with tone behind it and conciseness and what lands the best with improving my text with one click. Typically, we focus a lot on offline quality evaluation of our models, and then in the iteration stages we do a lot of A/B modeling.
Audience Member: After new features, did you see any bump in the overall user base?
Heidi Williams: I can’t talk about specific numbers, but I think obviously there was a lot of excitement and interest in this area. I think we did see that there was new interest, and then also just seeing interest and engagement from our existing users using the product maybe in a different pattern than they had been before as well. It definitely feels like there have been changes, but I can’t speak about specific numbers.
Audience Member: What’s your tech stack typically for the whole GrammarlyGO is hosted on?
Heidi Williams: The tech stack? A lot of different parts of it… it’s hard to answer with a really quick answer. Our particular LLMM provider is Azure OpenAI. And then there’s a variety of tech stacks above that – different things that we’re using for the linguistic side of things, and then there’s Java, there’s Closure, there’s all sorts of different technology stacks and then we run on AWS otherwise.
Charlandra Rachal: Thank you. Then I only have time. Oh, oh, oh. I was coming for you. I know you had your hand out. If you still wanted to answer, we would definitely break the mic over your way. The last I have one time for one more question. Alright, Nancy
Audience Member: Oh hi. Alright. I’ve used Grammarly for a really long time and this may be more of a product manager question because I’m also, I can write circles around everybody, so I don’t really need GrammarlyGO. I’m actually wondering, I’m thinking about, the roadmap further down for advanced writers, people like me who write. What’s coming?
Audience Member: Because I will say now, I use Claude a lot just to be like, Hey Claude, this is what I wrote. What do you think? And then Claude will say, that’s really good or not or whatever. I’m just wondering it’s GrammarlyGO moving in that direction for people who don’t really need help getting stuff on paper or on screen.
Bhavana Ramachandra: These are the comprehension projects that I was talking about. They’re all about trying to understand what the user is reading or what the user has written. For example, tone is something, even if it’s not correction, if it’s not editorial, you still might want to understand how your tone is coming across, especially in cross-cultural communication.
Bhavana Ramachandra: That’s something that’s helpful and in general as well, especially for long writing, we’ve gotten a lot of feedback about, I think this is one area that we were investing in – how we, so we show top three tones and let’s say people use Grammarly to write books or their fictional books, and does it make sense to show top three tones? Then they want a different – so this is the kind of evolution of the features that we see.
Bhavana Ramachandra: Comprehension is one area. In our generative AI in GrammarlyGO, if you actually open it up in a document, we provide a lot of prompts around understanding the gaps in your document, identifying what are your main points. All of these are just comprehension. This is just not how to improve your writing. Rather like this is what’s there in your document. You can review it based on a couple of different dimensions.
Audience Member: I should use Claude and Grammarly. Yes.
Bhavana Ramachandra: That’s the answer.
Charlandra Rachal: Yes. Alright, I wanted to say thank you so much to all of the speakers here and all you wonderful guests. I’m going to give a shameless plug if you didn’t already see, I’m in recruiting and we are hiring! Definitely talk to us, talk to me. I know we’re going to send a link out as well.
Charlandra Rachal: I believe there are more refreshments in the back and everyone is welcome to kind of hang out, chat, network. If you have more questions, I feel like we got through a lot of them without telling all of our secrets, but feel free to pull them aside and ask more questions. I hope you have a great night. Thanks again for coming out.
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Table Topics: Engineering Leadership, Negotiation, Transitioning to a Manager Role, 1:1s, Career Management, Career Transitions, Management & Leadership, Promotion, Breadth vs Depth,Networking, Managing One’s Career
Table #2 – Eng Growth As Individual Contributor (IC) – Mentors:
Table Topics: Making Technology Platform Switches, Mobile Platform, Growing On IC Career Track, A/B Testing & Experimentation, Front End Engineering (Angular / React), How To Tech Lead Efficiently, Handling Conflict, How To Work Cross Functionally, Backend, Web Development, Neurodivergence, Self Care
Table Topics: Product Leadership, Transition to Product Management, Time Management, Stakeholder Management, Product Management, Career Strategy, Career Planning, Interview Preparation, Positioning for Success, Executive Presence, Career Transitions, Layoffs
Table Topics: Legal & Tech, Returning To Higher Education, Mental Health, DEI, Ops, Emotional Regulation, Communication Skills, Startups, Product Design, Design Careers With Non-Design Background, Latinas in Tech, Sales, Marketing, Community, Customer
Non-Coding Roles in Tech Mentors: Jenny Jennings (Commercial Counsel, Twilio), Lucy Chen (Head of Education & Fulfillment, Curious Cardinals), Olivia Ouyang (Product Designer, Finix), Paola Johnson (Director, Community & Customer Advocacy, ThoughtSpot)
Table #5 – Career Development / Promotion – Mentors:
Table Topics: Navigating Workplace Environments, Asking For Promotions, Technical Topics, Career Pivots, Negotiation, Building Your Brand, Elevating The Narrative, Storytelling, Career Trajectory, Negotiating Salary / Promotions, Career Progression, Startup Growth / Sales
Table #6 – Leadership / Building Good Networks – Mentors:
Table Topics: Project / Program / Portfolio Management, Building Good Networks, Glass Ceilings / Cliffs, Building Trust With Your Manager, Career Planning, Promotion, Networking, Career Transitions, Leadership, Executive Presence, Office Politics, Continuous Education, Supporting Teammates, Inclusivity, Embracing Technology
Leadership / Building Good Networks Mentors: Gayathri Kamath (Staff Program Manager, Fastly), Karen Ko (Managing Director, WEST Diversity & Inclusion),Madhavi Basin (VP, Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging, Okta), Nahla El Helbawi(Asst. Director Web Academic Content Management, American University in Cairo)
Table #7 – Managing Your Career – Mentors:
Table Topics: Communications, Early Career Exploration, Taking Chances, Decision Making, E-Commerce, Digital Media, Networking / Growing Your Career, Identifying Mentors & Sponsors, Tips & Traits For a Good Leader / Manager, Career Development, Building Skills, Management & Leadership, How To Overcome Blockers.
Table Topics: Career Pivots, Cybersecurity, Career Paths, Management, Owning & Using Your Diversity, How To Toot Your Own Horn, Networking, Landing a Dream Job, Troubleshooting, Startup Life, Stepping Into Leadership Roles
Table #10 – Career Search / Interviewing – Mentors:
Table Topics: Career Development, Technical Interviewing, Resume & Job Application, Web Services & Backend Engineering, Game Development, Individual Contributor vs. Management Track, Finding a Mentor, Career Switching, Career Transitions, Interviewing, Edtech, Tech, UX, UX Research, Career Search Tips (AI Tools)
The virtual Mentorship Lounge will be open for one hour during ELEVATE, 8AM – 9AM PDT, on September 6th, 2023. The 10 tables will each be open to up to 30 participants. Attendees can hop between tables freely throughout the hour, so you’ll have the opportunity to meet as many of our 40 Mentors as you’d like! (Camera on or off, your call!)
Plus network with fellow attendees, meet with recruiters & hiring managers in the virtual recruiting booths, attend over a dozen tech & career-focused lightning talks from girl geeks working at companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Guild, Google, Lighthouse Labs, and more! Get your FREE pass today!
Our goal began with supporting students at Coliseum College Prep Academy in Oakland, California teaching grades 6-12 with a computer science pathway. We providing access to volunteers and role models from the professional community for students in partnership with the nonprofit Oakland Education Fund, which coordinates volunteer activities with public schools in Oakland and clears volunteers for entry into the schools.
Girl Geek X Community volunteers helped teachers with classroom projects to prepare their rooms and hallways for students return to campus for the new school year.
LATINE/X READ-IN AT THORNHILL ELEMENTARY IN OAKLAND
The nonprofit Oakland Education Fund expanded access to students in Oakland elementary schools, starting with volunteering with Latine/x Read-in (Monday, October 2, 2023, 1pm – 2:30pm). Volunteers read books by Latine/x and Hispanic authors to students at Thornhill Elementary.
Volunteers read aloud books to 2-3 elementary school classes that celebrate Latine/x culture in the 90-minute volunteer shift. Books and sample questions to guide conversations were provided by the Oakland Education Fund.
FIRST-GEN COLLEGE & CAREER PANELAT CCPAIN OAKLAND
TheGirl Geek X CCPA career panel (Wednesday, October 4, 2pm-4pm), moderated by Vanessa Magaña with An Nguyen, Molly Dubow, Bryanna Valdivia, and Elizabeth Orpina shared advice from first-generation students now working in the technology industry.Read about the takeaways from the panel.
YOU CAN SIGN UP TO VOLUNTEER WITH STUDENTSIN OAKLANDTHIS NOVEMBER 3 AND / OR NOVEMBER 17
Volunteers supported seniors’s college applications, providing crucial feedback on grammar, flow, and clarity of writing during “College Crunch Days” – these are dedicated school days for high school seniors to work on their UC admissions applications.
Note: a writing/comms background is NOT required to participate! Any experience writing in an academic/professional setting will be sufficient to participate in this event.