Over 100 girl geeks met at GroundTruth for a Girl Geek Dinner on October 18, 2018 in Mountain View. GroundTruth speakers include: Sarah Ohle (VP, Marketing Insights), Carol Chen (Senior Director, Software Engineering), Lauren Stephenson (Director, HR Business Partner), Shanshan Tuo (Senior Data Scientist) and Alicia Huang (Senior Product Manager).
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Transcript from GroundTruth Girl Geek X Dinner:
Sarah Ohle: GroundTruth are the leaders in location. We’re a global location platform. We leverage location data to drive business performance. We also own WeatherBug. I’m not going to spend too much time talking about this because, Harshal who’s over there, works on WeatherBug and she is the expert. But WeatherBug is our consumer facing app that we have about 14 million monthly visitors. People are spending about three minutes per day of engagement in the app. More than two out of three of the user base are really, really loyal users. And we have about a 4.5 plus star rating in Apple and Google Play App Stores. So, really strong app. We’ve spent a lot of time since we acquired it about two years ago. Really investing in that app, growing in it, and really excited about where we stand with it today.
So, that’s the quick overview of GroundTruth. I’m happy to stick around and answer any more questions about who we are as a company, but I think you guys are probably a little bit more interested in hearing about location in general. So, making sense of location, determining a visit. So again, everything we do is kind of based on that idea of visit. And it comes down to three things. It comes down to accurate lat-long for location, blueprinted places, and I’m going to get into each of these, and what they mean a little bit more, and then putting those two things together to determine a visit to a place. So, it’s a location and a place together, equals a visit.
When it comes to location data, all mobile location data is essentially collected through Android and iOS location services and passed down through apps. But it is what you do with that location that matters. I always say, “Not all location players are created equal.” Because location does come in a lot of shapes and sizes.
The three main sources for location data, GPS. GPS is considered the most accurate, but there are some limitations if you’re in like a really heavy metropolitan area, or somewhere with bad weather conditions, where it can get a little bit hazy. Wi-Fi is the second. Devices do not need to be connected to a hotspot to be picked up on Wi-Fi. And then, the third is cell towers. So, devices sending location of near by cell towers triangulate the phone’s position. So GPS, Wi-Fi, cell towers. Those are the three main sources of location.
And then, what we do, companies like GroundTruth, when we get these locations signals passed down to us, we take a little bit of effort to weed out, sort of, what we call or what I’m going to call the junk of location. So, there’s certain things, centroids, for example, this is one of my favorite fun facts to throw out, one of the most popular lat longs that gets passed down to companies like ours, is for Potwin, Kansas. Does anybody have an idea what Potwin, Kansas might be? It’s the exact center of the United States. So, there’s these things called centroids, which are literally like the center of a city, or a state, or the United States, that get passed down. So, there’s a couple of checks, looking for fraudulent signals, randomized lat longs, carrier IP detection, anything that might just look like it’s not actually an accurate location signal. That we take the time to go through and scrub.
The second piece of this is place determination. So, providing context for where somebody is. We map boundaries around the location so its not just a point on a map. We look for a store, we can say, “Here’s a store in one location.” We’re actually going to draw a geo-boundary around that store, and determine it as a place in our system. We call this blueprints.
And what’s interesting about blueprints, is there is a level of, sort of, human that needs to go into this. So, everything has a boundary around it, made up of lat longs. It takes that sort of second level of looking at a map and actually drawing the location around that business to determine that that is actually a place. And why that’s important is because there are a bunch of different ways that you can do place mapping. And why what we do? We take the time to actually draw around these businesses is so important.
So, I’m going to go through just a couple of these common ways of defining places. The first one being a store address. So, a lot of times people will say, “Okay, we’re going to call this store address a location and then just put a geo fence around it.” So what happens, you can see in this example, is you’re actually missing a lot of the actual store. You’re just doing a radius around whatever that pinpoint is on the street, and up in that corner, that’s not actually even… most of its not even hitting the business.
The second way that is pretty common to use is what’s called parcel data. So, parcel data is more like when you think about what the postal service uses. So, this is great. It does actually capture some of the store, but it also, in that picture captures Verizon, GameStop, Rent-a-Center, Subway, Dollar Tree. Its just not that precise. …
So then, store based radio. If you say the same sort of idea around an address, but you drop a pin in the middle of a business and then draw a radius around it. Again, you can see all of the wasted impressions that you go if you define a place based on just that.
And then, finally, polygons, which is a common method for defining locations based on a store center. And then, blueprints, the way that we define places, is taking that one step further and taking those polygons, using that human element to actually identify the boundaries of a store based on the lat longs, and being very precise about where you are in the store on the different levels.
Then, at the end of the day, putting these two together. Essentially taking matching location verified lat longs to approve blueprints. We then do a couple of quality checks. So, for example, if we see a location signal in a business at a time where the business isn’t closed, we might then not say, “Okay, that’s probably not a visit. That’s probably something else that’s getting picked up.”
So, running a couple of quality checks like that on that, is the third step to actually determining what a visit is. Or employee status is another great example. If we see somebody in a store 10 times a day, five days a week, you can probably assume that’s not a shopper actually going to buy something.
And then, essentially how we use all of this information. Again, we collect this visit, we can do this, we can serve media. At the same time, we do a lot of insights around this, where we can say, “We know that these are the peak hours for shopping”, and therefore, advise some of our clients on this is how you should plan your media strategy.
There’s a couple of other use cases I want to point out because in the time that I’ve been in location, we’ve really evolved past that whole idea of, here’s a radius. And I remember five years ago it was a saying, “Oh, somebody walks by a coffee shop, and you send them an ad and say ‘Hey come in and use this coupon for a cup of coffee'”, and its really so much more than that right now.
The first use case, additionally, I wanted to point out, that we do with it is audiences. So audiences, there’s a couple different kinds. There’s location audiences, where you can say somebody is a visitor to a brand. Where you say, we see this person in this brand very frequently, so you can say that they are shopper there. And then, you don’t necessarily need to be reaching these people in real time. You can take that information and use it for any sort of purpose you want.
Behavioral audiences, somebody who does something, goes to high-end retail stores. You might actually call them a fashionista, I think is the example we have called out there. Or really, the possibilities are endless. Taking these locations signals and grouping them into any type of audience behavior you want. The other one I say a lot is, “If we see somebody at stadiums and sports bars, you can assume that they’re a sports fanatic.” So, those types of things you can do with it.
The next one I want to call out is cost per visit. So, this is the industry’s first pay for performance model of driving offline visits. So, a lot of the times in the media world you’ll say, “We’re charging on impression.” Its great, but how do you know you’re actually driving anything with those impressions? So, at GroundTruth, we came out with a cost per visit model, where we actually will only charge our clients based on the visits that we are able to drive to the locations that they’re trying to drive.
And then, the last, sort of outside of the box, use case we use is what we call ‘neighborhood’. So, this is areas that identify visitation affinity with a specific store audience. So, instead of even just saying, “This radius,” or, “this precise around this location,” we can actually see where people are coming from frequently, that are going to these locations, and create almost like a trade area around a business. That you imagine all the possibilities for that type of data.
So, whole point of this… there’s a lot that going on with location right now at GroundTruth and in a lot of places in the industry. So, super exciting space. Lots going on, and these women right here are going to tell you some amazing things that they’re doing. Get a lot more into the technical details. But again, if anybody is interested in this space, happy to talk more about it. So, with that, I’m going to hand it over to Alicia, who is our Senior Product Manager, to talk a little bit about what she does here, and how she got here.
Alicia Huang: Hi, everyone. Welcome to GroundTruth. So, I am a Product Manager here, and I work as a Product Manger in Baidu, and Tencent, which is Chinese search engine, and searcher networking site. And also, I been to Berkeley, Haas MBA… to get my MBA, and also interning at McKenzie. So, I started my career as a Product Manager by accident. So, I apply for a business strategy role, and I got the role, but at the end of day, I got assigned to be a PM.
So when I started my career, I was the only product manager in my team who doesn’t have a strong background. So, it’s quite tough for me to learn all those, kind of front end, back end, as serving system, which is the very complex system. So, I get a chance to actually connect with a lot of my colleagues, no matter they are engineers, or PMs, so I learn a lot from them, how they work on their products, and also, how the tech actually work at the back end and front end.
After that, I realized that I need to find my differentiation as a product manager in my team, and I figured out that actually brand display ads is my niche, because a lot of my PM colleagues back then, they always have mathematics or engineering background, and that they extremely good at building algorithm, or dealing with front end engineers. But, they like the sense of what they brand advertisers want, and how they could talk as brand advertisers talk, as our sales talk. And that’s actually my niche.
I actually asked my boss to give me projects specifically in brand display ads, and I became an expert in brand display ads in Baidu. And after three years in Baidu, I grew from a product specialist, which is the lower end as a product manager, to Product Manager. At the time, like I got a lot of invitations from other companies to interview with them, cause a lot of company want to build their brand display ads arm. So, I became the expert in that market, so that I have more leverage to choose what kind of companies I want to work for, and what kind of title, or what kind of resources I want.
So, after that, that I worked for Tencent for a year, to work on… also in brand display segmentation. After a year, I decided that I’m not gaining the career development support from my boss, so I decided to go for business school, to get my MBA. So, I realized that a lot of people here in the audience would love to get into product management, or transition their career, and I think business school is a very good way for you to transition your career. As I talk with some of you, it’s always very important to prepare even before your business school, because when you get to your business school the first year, and that you started to look for your summer internship.
In the summer internship, all the recruiters, actually they’re looking at candidates with relevant experiences to the job. If you are looking to be a Product Manager, or a Senior Product Manager role, then you need to show some relevance in your previous working experiences to product management. For example, you might need to take some courses in product management, or even coding, or do some kind of side project to work with your friends in an app, to show that you could actually bring value to the team. Or maybe you have extremely strong analytical skill, business skill set, so that you could work as a business PM.
So, after the first year, and I joined McKinsey as a summer associate at the time, because I always kind of have to the fantasy to work in business strategy and I wanted kind of work as a person who could formulate the business strategy for a firm. So I learned a ton inMcKinsey, especially in communication skill, and also analytical skill. And all those things bring back home, for me, to come back as a product manager. Cause as a product manager, its always… analytical skill is always the most important skill set you have. No matter it’s data analytics, or analyze other people’s product, like summarize client needs, and how do you actually see your product from now, to three years later, and the analytical skill is extremely important.
And the second thing is about the communications skill. You always need to talk to executives or your teammates, and also engineers, to share with them why you want to build this product, why it’s important. What kind of impact you want to achieve. How do you prioritize them? Why you prioritize in this way? Then, communication skill is something I learn a lot in consulting firm. I used to be very shy, and I don’t love talking in public at all, and not to even… like sometimes in the meeting room, if I need to like present something, and I get very nervous, but in the consulting firm, I forced myself to actually talk, because the only value as a consultant is your talk. (laughs)
You need to share your ideas, so that you could show that you add value to other people. So, right after that, like I’m very comfortable in speaking in classroom, or in the meeting room, and in public. So, I trained myself in that way.
So, moving forward, I think, so for me, coming from China to be in Silicon Valley, for me to formulate my career, and it’s very important to actually think through what I want to be in the long term. I’m always interested in the technology field cause I want to help people to be more productive and happier in their workplace, which take up so much of our time.
So, for me to be a tech person, then, do I want to be a PM, or business strategy team? And where I could actually make the most impact? And I realized that, actually, PM is a position for me to make the most impact. Then I think about like what kind of PM I want to be. Do I need to be a front end user interface PM? Or I want to be system API PM? Or I want to be machine learning PM? And what is the PMs in the market, in the technology field, and what are their expertise, and how can I differentiate myself in that field? And the machine learning, actually, is the differentiator for me.
And here in GroundTruth, actually, I have a lot of chances to work on machine learning related projects, which helps me a lot. And also, actually, Silicon Valley is like Hollywood. So, all the times, like it’s all about what kind of people you know, could get you to the next place, which is true. So, going to business school helps me a lot cause we have very strong alumni network in Berkeley. And also, I actually reach out to a lot of people to set up coffee chat with them, to understand what kind of problem they are solving. How they solve them, and also get to know them personally. And I encourage you guys set up some time to invest in your career long term, by learning, by actually meeting the people in the field that you want to transition into, and also, think through where you want to be, and where are you at right now, and what is your biggest leverage for you to get to where you want to be. And then, where are the gaps?
So, right now, I spend a lot of time to learning stuff that I need to learn, for example, I take classes in deep learning, and also in system design, which as PM in machine learning field, I think I have to know that, so I would take some personal time to really learn those things. So, unfortunately, I need to go earlier, but if you have any question, feel free to reach out to me at LinkedOn, cause I take a lot of my time to actually volunteer to help my classmate, and other woman in their career transition. I’m happy to have phone call with you, or have coffee chat with you guys. Thank you.
Sarah Ohle: And we are going to do a panel afterwards and open it up for everybody to ask questions, but since Alicia does need to leave, because she’s a very hard worker, and has an important meeting tomorrow, if anybody has any burning questions right now, we can do those too, if anybody really wants to ask anything for Alicia, before she goes. Or you can just reach out to her on LinkedIn, get coffee. That works too. Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so much. Oh, we do have a question. Oh, I’m so sorry. We’ll bring you this mic.
Audience Member: I’m wondering, do you have like some suggestive top list of questions to ask when you have these coffee shops? Like what are the good questions to ask, instead of kind of seeming that you’re desperate?
Alicia Huang: I actually spend a lot of time, like I think about what kind of question I would ask people in the coffee chats. So usually, I will look at their LinkedIn, and I’ll look at what kind of companies they work for before, and what kind of projects they have done. And then I would specifically ask them the questions related to the projects they have done, and that their career experiences. For example, I would ask a person, he is very Senior Product Leader, in a very prominent tech companies, I would ask him like:
“How do you find yourself those opportunities? And how do you prepare yourself for those opportunities?” And as a product director, you have such significant department, how do you actually balance the depth and the width of your projects that you are doing? And how do you actually identify your gap of – of the gap you need fill as a product leader? And how do you kind of choose which one you want to fulfill first? So, really, actually, have very tailor-made personalized question, cause everyone is different and they want to feel special when they spend 30 minutes with you.
Sarah Ohle: Got one more.
Audience Member: And so, thank you. That was really interesting to listen to. I just wanted to know, so you said you reached out to people who were in the area that you’re interested in. How do you convince them to come have coffee with you? I mean, nobody in Silicon Valley… I mean the first thing that’s – we have no time. Thank you. Very nice. Interesting, but –
Alicia Huang: Yeah. I actually, I was scared of that very much.
Like during my first year of my business school, I’m like, “Why people would spend time with me?” Like, they’re so busy, and I also forced myself to do that. So, at first, I would reach out to alumni, cause we have connections in that way, like a outreach email, that’s very important. Keep it short and also tell them why you are interested in talking with him. What kind of value, what kind of help you need from that person. Make it very specific, and then the person will make a judgment.
Of course, like when you reach out to 10 people, not 10 people will respond to you, but even though you have 10%, or 20% success rate, it’s a lot of value to you. So, don’t be afraid, and also I would like to say that we are all equal. Like you have value to bring to them, as well. Not just they offer value to you. So, thinking as a equal conversation then it will help.
And also, I would like to say that when you talk with a person, you always look to talk with a person who have insights and also who are fun to talk with. So, before you talk to your person, like [do a read 00:22:47] and a think, so that when you talk to a person, you always have good insights to bring to the table, and then when you have so much insights, so much value, then your personality, your fun part, will bring out anyway.
Sarah Ohle: Lauren Stephenson, who is our Associate Director of Human Resources Business Partner, is going to talk a little bit about managing performance. So, yeah. Lauren.
Lauren Stephenson: A big shift from everything that we’ve – is it? No? Can you hear me? All right. If not, I talk loud. A big kind of a shift, but something that I think is increasingly becoming at the top mind for HR professionals, for people who are individual contributors, for managers. So with that, let me just – you’re telling me to speak up, so I’ll speak up.
Little bit about myself, I, as Sarah said, am Associate Director of HR. Also, the Human Resources Business Partner for the company, so a big part of that is focusing on not only running the operations department, but partnering to figure out how we can further drive performance management. How we can further the talent management strategy, and that equipping managers with the tools that actually think about how do we start treating people like people. Right?
So, very simple. I found out yesterday I had all of 10 minutes to condense what I would speak about in a few hours. So, I’m going to try. So, a few key things I’m going to talk about.
First thing is thinking about how do you kind of define your playbook as a manager. Right? And so, the first thing that I want to do a quick poll. How many of you in here are people managers? Managing? A few of you. Okay. How many of you are aspirating people managers? We have some future leaders. It’s okay, you can raise them high.
So I say that because I think one of the first things you need to do when you’re talking about defining your strategy as a manager, is to step back and check yourself, and say, “Why do i want to assume this responsibility?” Right? A lot of times people end up getting into managerial positions simply because it’s the next step on the career progression ladder. And to me, assuming a managerial responsibility is a great kind of privilege. To be responsible for talent, and people’s growth and development. And being tasked to actually carry out the business objectives.
So, check yourself. And with that, you’re going to hear me say that a few times, is take a step back and say, “What is it that I’m trying to accomplish as being a leader?” And be intentional about that. Right? When you’re thinking about, “I am responsible for building a team. I am responsible for leading a team. I am being tasked with this. So, what do I need to do? Why am I actually signing up to be a manager?” And one key take-away, if you remember nothing else for my managers, is being a manager and being a leader – two completely different things. Please, never confuse the two with that.
And so, kind of when you’ve figured out – excuse me. My mouth is very dry. And so I’m going to take a sip of water. And this is the part where you see the part of me where I’m very human, in which I want to stop and clear my mouth. See? We realize that we’re all human. Right?
So, moving away from after you step back and you’re like, “Okay. This is why I want to manage,” you start to think about more of the strategic side of actually defining your managerial playbook. And that’s thinking about, “How do I start to assess the landscape of the company?” And you’re going to start thinking about, “I need to talk to my C suite. I need to understand what our business objectives are.” That’s going to help you determine the type of team that you need to build.
So, the whole point of performance management if you want to make it strategic, is to say, “How do I find the right talent, align them in the right roles, continue to drive and push the company’s vision so that we can ensure we’re carrying our business objectives, and building sustained growth?” Its like the simplified version of what we’re trying to do. And in my opinion, you can’t separate the talent experience from the business experience. It goes hand in hand. Right?
So, you’re stepping back, and you’re like, “What are we actually trying to accomplish?” Assess the landscape. And then, from there you’re like, “Okay. What is the objective?” You understand you have your business objective, we’re trying to whatever it is, be the first company to have all organic food. Something like that, right? What type of talent do I need to bring in the door to actually drive that objective?
And notice when I said talent, I said the right talent. What does that mean? I didn’t say I need talent from top university. I need talent that looks like me. Right? You need the right talent, and when you’re thinking about furthering your agenda as a company, connecting to your consumer base. If you look out, most of the consumers don’t all look the same, they don’t talk the same, they don’t come from the same walk of life.
So, you got to step back and you got to say – you got to address that unconscious bias from the gate. That’s one of the things that you need to do, is you need to be intentional about the way that you’re hiring. You need to think about fostering a diverse workplace, fostering diverse thought, bringing in people who come from different experiences, because that’s how you’re going to build a well-rounded team. That’s how you’re going to be able to connect to with your consumer base, and actually be able to create an experience that people are actually going to want to gravitate towards.
So, that’s like the second thing. And then once you have that, you started thinking about the type of talent that you need, you’re going to then move into thinking about what type of resources do we need? What type of tools do we need? What type of processes do we need? What teams are we going to be working with? It goes back to communication. That’s the common thread in everything that I’m going to talk about, is you need to be talking. Right? You’re defining your strategy, I know the talent, I know my objective. What resources do I actually need to put in place to carry this out?
And then, from there, what is the targeted objective or outcome? How do I assess if all of this was successful, once I’ve sat back and kind of defined what that strategy is. And one thing that I also encourage you to think about, is, managers, is the talent management piece. Right? Performance management, talent management. Once you have the right talent, how do you continue to empower them and ensure that they’re engaged? That they feel valued, that they feel like they have growth and potential. That’s a big key in making sure you’re going to foster an environment in which this diverse talent that you have brought in, actually can feel included in what you’re doing.
And I speak on that, because it’s really important. I think a lot of times, we as HR professionals, we get a lot of flack. And I get it, cause once upon a time, I was not in HR. And I used to always say, “Oh, HR doesn’t care about the betterment of people. It’s all about the company.” And I understood that for a very long time, and so I think it’s time for managers, and for leaders, and for organizations to step back, and to really get real about understanding that our people are our biggest asset. Without the people, we can’t drive business and company agenda. Right?
So, thinking about that. So let’s be intentional around why we’re actually managing and how we’re actually going to drive that strategy, and remembering that the talent strategy goes hand in hand with the business strategy.
And another thing that I kind of want to talk on from a managerial standpoint, I’m going to try to be quick, is thinking about how do you continue to build an environment where you’re managing your talent, that they actually feel that they’re safe? Right? Are any of you familiar with Brene Brown? She’s like fantastic author, big – yes, yes. I got some yeses. She just released a new book called Dare to Lead. And it’s fantastic. She references Amy Edmondson, who speaks about psychological safety. And it’s a really, really, kind of, simple concept. But if you think about it at the end of the day, we all have a job. Right? And we have these fancy titles and all this, but when we come to work, and as people we want to feel safe. We want to feel like, “I can make a mistake, I can be human. And I’m not in fear of losing my job because I said or did something wrong.”
Because what happens when you make a mistake, you try to cover it up, and then you have to lie, and you got to cover that lie. And you keep lying, right? And that’s what happens is your operating from fear. And so, we have to think about this as managers, we have to – are we creating and fostering an environment in which our employees feel like they can actually have an active dialogue and say, “I made a mistake.” And you’re like, “It’s all good. Let’s talk about it. And let’s figure out how to not continuously keep making mistakes.” But let’s foster an environment in which people can feel like it’s okay to be human and make a mistake, and we can work towards course correcting, and having a more open and active discussion to ensure that they always know how they’re doing. And then we course correct. And then we keep going from there.
It’s a pretty simple concept, but I think we lose sight of that because we’re always thinking about the big picture, and company, company, company. Come back to the basics. And then, just to switch, right? Cause I want to talk to the people who aren’t in managerial positions, cause a lot of times, people come and they’re like, “Oh, well you only work with the managers. What about me as someone whose not interested in managing? Or how do I come to my manager, when my manager is not actually putting time into me?”
So, the one thing that I encourage everyone else to do, as well, and all of us – right? We’re still people – is step back and check yourself. And realize that what do you want for yourself? Right? 50% of the onus is on the manager, 50% of the onus is on you. It’s a partnership. So, you need to really step back and say, “What do I enjoy doing? What motivates me? What am I passionate about.”
And when you start to have those conversations with yourself and you start to think about like what drives you, you can start to arrive at, “Okay, these are the things that I’m interested in.” Then start doing the research to figure out this is what I want to do. This is what I want I want to do.
And then be proactive in coming to your manager and saying, “Hey. This is what I’m passionate about, these are my interests.” Do those actually align with your role? Maybe you have skills that you can bring into your role. Maybe it does not. And then, that’s a time for you to say, “Maybe this is not the group or the company for me to grow within.” Right?
Lauren Stephenson: But you have to – you can’t always wait for someone to show you the way. The most valuable thing that I ever learned in my career, a quick story, I remember when I first started. I, as someone who is just an athlete, very competitive, just always like, “I did that, I did that. What’s next? Give me more.” And I would sit there and be like, “No one cares about me. Woe is me.”
I had to get really, really clear very quickly that no one was going to drive my career the way that I was going to drive my career. So, yes, it is up to managers to absolutely be pulling out of your talent what it is that they want to be doing. What are they good at? It is absolutely up to managers to do that. But it is also up to everyone else who is not in that role to kind of step up and say, “These are my interests,” and be vocal.
But then flip it back to the managers. Just because someone isn’t vocal, doesn’t mean you still don’t have to engage them. Right? We got to think about the people who are naturally more introverted. How do we foster an environment in which they feel safe? And encourage them to speak up and go for what they like.
And then, at the end of that, the common thread into everything is this communication. Right? We have to be communicating through the entire process when we’re thinking about how we’re actually building our performance management strategy. How we’re fostering an environment in which people feel safe, to actively be having a dialogue with each other. And then once you have that, you start to build and put a process in place in which you have an ongoing performance strategy of continuous conversation.
Like no one does annual reviews anymore. And if people are still doing that, please stop. It is not the way to do it. It’s not effective. Right? You wait till the end of the year, and they’re like, “Oh, here’s your review.” And you’re like, “How do you know what I did for 11 months?” Right? What about – how did you correct any mistakes I made? So, those are done. Those are a thing of the past, we don’t do those anymore. At least, we don’t do those here, within GroundTruth. Or I’m not trying to foster an environment like that, or encourage that.
So, why I say that is start thinking about how to have ongoing conversations around performance. If someone makes a mistake, catch it in the moment, talk about it. But make a safe zone so that they can feel like they can make a mistake. Cause that’s going to help them grow.
I think I did… that’s about 10 minutes?
Sarah Ohle: More or less.
Lauren Stephenson: I could keep going, but I’ll stop.
Sarah Ohle: (laughs)
Lauren Stephenson: I’ll stop there.
Sarah Ohle: I’m impressed. Thank you.
Lauren Stephenson: Sorry. Thank you so much for listening. I really appreciate it.
Sarah Ohle: All right. We have our final lightening round presentation for tonight, is Carol Chen, Senior Director of Software Engineering. I’ll just let her take it away.
Carol Chen: Welcome, everyone. Four years ago, I went to my first Girl Geek Dinner which was at Intuit, Mountain View. So, at that time, I was thinking, “This is a great event, and I was hoping one day my own company can host one of this event.” So here we are, finally. So, I would like to start talk about my journey. How I got here.
So, I was born and raised in China. I got all my education, all the ways through college in China, and I graduate and start working. And I was thinking, “I want to see the world outside.” So, that led me to Singapore, where I met my husband, got married. So, he got a job offer from United States, and we were talking and decide, “Oh, maybe we can make United States our new home.” So, 2001 we land at Bay Area. So, I can talk this topic.
So, I have my Bachelor in Architecture. And when I get here, I started to check out a few architecture firm. I talk to the architect in those firm, and find out what they were doing mostly on residential expansions. So, to me, that doesn’t sounds very exciting. So I was thinking, “What should I do?” 2001, I think, some people may remember, and some people may be too young, so you don’t know. At that time, is the dot com bubble just burst. So, internet companies, a lot of them laying off, and some of the companies disappeared. But, to me, internet and computer science, that’s a exciting industry. So, I think that’s the future. And another thing is I like math, and I like using algorithms, data structure, to solve problems. So, I was thinking computer science is the area I want to try. I went back to school and got my Master in Computer Science.
I was talking with some ladies during the dinner, and one of the ladies was talking about she was thinking about making a career move. So I want to talk about a few point, here. I think there’s a study shows only 27% of the college graduate work in area that directly related to their college degrees. I want to ask, how many people here are working in the area that is not directly related to your degree? Wow. Looks like the number definitely sounds true.
So, what are the thing that you want to consider before you jump into a different area? I think there are two questions you want to ask yourself. What is your strengths? And what is your interest? Ideally, you can find a area where your interest is, and use your strengths. That’s ideally. But what if it’s not really something you’re really interested in? What can you do?
I think, you know, there is a lot of online courses. You can learn some of the courses. You might be interested, and see if that’s something you want to do. Carol Chen: And another thing is there’s a lot of meetups if you want to get into data science. So you can probably go to some of the data science meet-up. And talk to those people who work in those area. What are the things they like about their job? And what are the things they don’t like about their jobs? And see if that’s the area you want to get into.
Yeah. I think another thing is, you want to imagine yourself in that role and see is that something you want to do for the next 10, 15 years? And does that sounds like something you’re really enjoy doing? If its not, probably that’s not the area you want to get into.
So, I can talk about the next thing. Before we go to what we are working on here, is after I graduate from the Master of Computer Science, I start working Software Engineering. I work in different industries, start from eCommerce, and then digital companies. And then I work in gaming a couple of years, and then land in this company where we do media and mobile advertising.
So, I like software development. Then, how did I step into management? That’s probably the next question, right? I actually step into the role naturally. So, I work in one of my previous company, and my manager left. So they had been looking for outside manager to come in. During that time there’s a lot work needed to be done. So, I kind of start to take on a lot of those responsibilities. I start working with marketing, sales, and get the product requirement, and work with engineers on scheduling. And start taking on mentoring junior members, help them step up more.
So, after a year, they promoted me as a manager. So during that process, I find I kind of like that role. So I liked to work with people, and I liked to get understanding of what they really want from the product. Another thing is, I like to work with engineers. I was a engineer, myself, so I know what is their frustration, and what are the thing that can help to make their work easier. And I like to talk to people and understand what is their frustration, and what can help.
So I start to step into a lot of – learn a lot of the management skill and see this is something that I really enjoy to do. And looks like it is an area and I’m still learning.
So, here at GroundTruth, I want to talk about a few things that we work here. So, we’re working on some really exciting technologies here. So we have a auto blueprinting tool, I think we’re using image processing to automatically find out the polygon for the store, that’s one of the things that Sarah was talking about for blueprinting the POIs. And we also had used machine learnings to find out, like users’ visitation pattern, so we can forecast if there is going to be fewer visitations to a store.
We also use machine learnings to optimize the bid price so we can improve our winning rate. And here are the few applications my team work on. Ads Manager is a tool that we use to set up advertising campaigns. We have location managers, which help user to group and make use of those POIs, they can use for targeting, and drive visitation, too.
We allow users to create audience, so we can find out who are the audience that going to McDonald’s. Who are the audience that go into Macy’s, so Macy’s can target those people to do their advertising. And I think we have the demo over there in one of my team members demoed the discovery, which help brand like McDonald, Macy’s, to find out their visitation pattern. So, that’s one of the project we work on, as well. We also have blueprinting tool, as well as mobile SDK, so for publishers to help understand their audience, where they’re visiting.
So, I want to do a little bit advertising for my team, so take on the opportunity. I have a great engineering team. I can’t say too much good things about that – there’s some of them over there. And [inaudible 00:44:05], and Morgan. So, I really like my team. I have talented engineer, and they’re very passionate about the product we have. I have two front end engineers. Did I mention they are girls? They’re so passionate about the product. So, one day they come talk to me, saying, “You know, we think we need to improve our front end code, and we did it already.” And so, what can you ask for better than this kind of engineers?
And I can’t say enough about these. I have some other engineers during the weekend, whenever people have questions, to jump in and answer the questions, they’re watching out the product. That’s how passionate we are working on a project. So, yeah. That’s the place you’d really want to work at. So, that’s my presentation here. If you have any questions, I’m happy to answer. Thank you.
Sarah Ohle: So, one thing I want to add, cause Carol started by talking about how she went to her first Girl Geek dinner four years ago, and really hoped that it was something a company she worked at would have one day. It didn’t just happen, that we had one. Carol made this happen. She – yeah, so – she approached us with the Girl Geek, said it was an excellent thing. We looked into it, and she really drove this forward, so you know, thank you for bringing this to GroundTruth, Carol. That’s all.
Carol Chen: Thank you, everybody.
Sarah Ohle: We’re going to hang out a little bit, if you guys want to talk to us, ask anything else, and I also want to encourage everybody, if you’re interested in learning more about careers at GroundTruth. Obviously, we’d love to get to know you guys better, too. So, yeah. Thank you all for coming out. Thank you Girl Geek. Thank you to these women. And talk to you soon.
- Director of Business Development (Mountain View or NYC)
- Senior Software Engineer – Big Data (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Senior Software Engineer in Test (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Senior Software Engineer – Mobile (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Machine Learning Engineer (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Backend Software Engineer (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Frontend Software Engineer (Mountain View or Vancouver)
- Data & Insights Consultant (NYC)
- Marketing Manager (NYC)
- Platform Specialist – Account Manager (NYC)
- Vertical Sales Director – QSR/Retail (NYC)
- Account Coordinator (Chicago)