“Mentorship, Sponsorship & Impact”: Dimah Zaidalkilani with GitHub and Iliana Montauk with Manara (Video + Transcript)

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Angie Chang: Now, it’s time for our next session. Thank you, Ashley. We’re going to have Iliana Montauk join us. She is the CEO of Manara and she will be speaking today in a Fireside Chat. I’ll let her introduce herself.

Iliana Montauk: Hi, everyone. My name is Iliana and I’m the founder of Manara. I’m going to be sharing with you guys what it’s like to be a woman engineer in places like Gaza and how important it is to receive mentorship during that journey from Gaza to Google. I am joined by Dimah. Dimah, would you like to introduce yourself?

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Hi everyone. My name is Dimah Zaidalkilani. I’m a Director of Product Management at GitHub. I’m excited to be joining Iliana to talk about my experience and how we started my career and throughout and how I’ve been a mentor and a mentee and how it’s impacted my career.

Iliana Montauk: Do you want to go first maybe Dimah, by sharing your own personal experience as a mentee?

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Sure. I started as a Product Manager at Microsoft and it was straight out of college or university in my home country, in Palestine. The first stage I got to be a mentee was at the time it was my boyfriend then, my husband now, who helped mentor me through the experience of getting the right resources, to knowing how to navigate, how to train for interviews and what resources I needed. He was studying Computer Science at University of Washington.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: I was studying at a local university in Palestine. So, I did not have as many resources. I did not have access to career fairs that he got access to. So, when I passed the initial interview with Microsoft, he shared all the links with me and guided me through what it’s going to be like for interviewing. Spoiler alert. I got accepted at Microsoft and have been working as a PM at Microsoft and now GitHub. So, that was the first step.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: The second step of being a mentee was when I joined, it was just like a shell shock. Everything was different. It was a new culture, new acronyms and corporate related concepts and all. I was fortunate to have a peer mentor who was on the same team assigned to me. He helped me throughout understanding all of the difficulties. I felt like I always had an ally in the room, talking about what we were going through.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Of course, the imposter syndrome was kicking in hard in the first few months and it never goes away, but it was really aggressive in the first few months, like what am I doing here? Am I equal to the other people in the room? But, he was always there as an ally, keeping me grounded, rooted, to understand I do belong there. I have a lot to offer.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: It was just the lingo that I needed to get the agile practices that we needed to understand. So, from both those experiences, I felt like… I made a promise to myself. Whatever experience I had six months into the job, doesn’t matter, I’m going to give back to either people around me, newcomers to the company, interns or even cross borders in different parts.

Iliana Montauk: How often did you need mentorship at that beginning stage when Imposter Syndrome was especially strong, when you had just arrived from Palestine to Microsoft?

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Always. Every day. I used to write a list of the questions. My manager at the time was great also at mentoring where between him and my mentor, I would have many, many questions and I would go… It’s only 30 minutes from a mentee’s perspective, from a mentor’s perspective. But, those 30 minutes, be the fact that they were there, they answered my questions, made me excited to bring more. I didn’t take that for granted. I appreciated their time. I wanted to make sure that I’ve used it, but it helped a lot because you feel like once we’re on the same level, we understand the lingo and now your creativity gets to kick in as a mentee. Then you feel like, Oh, I have a lot to offer to the table just like everyone else. It was just great in helping with that.

Iliana Montauk: I know we’re going to talk later. I would like to talk later about your experience now that you’re a leader in the product team, mentoring people. But, just before we go to that, what you were saying resonated with me so much. I went to Harvard and became a PM later and of all people, with that background, I feel like I should have been confident. I grew up in Silicon Valley and still I felt Imposter Syndrome the whole first year or two that I was a PM. I needed someone to almost daily tell me how much they believed in me.

Iliana Montauk: One of the reasons that I started Manara is because Palestine is just full of people like you, who are so, so talented, but there’s that last little gap sometimes of getting that first job or then being confident during your first six months in that job.

Iliana Montauk: Just a little bit of background in Manara and how we engage mentors with Manara. Manara is a program that helps the top engineers in the Arab region, starting with Palestine, get their dream jobs at global tech companies. It came out of an experience where I was running a startup accelerator in Gaza, which was funded by Google.

Iliana Montauk: Google had done a developer outreach event in Tel Aviv and then they got invited to do one in the West Bank and then in Gaza. When they were there, they were just overwhelmed with the amount of talent, how smart people were, how much they were interested in tech, studying technology, spoke fluent English, but just not connected to jobs and unemployment, it’s like 70% for recent college grads in Gaza, right? It’s crazy.

Iliana Montauk: They launched this program in Gaza, which then I started to run and I had that same experience of meeting tons of people like Dimah, people like my co-founder now, Layla, who were super sharp, but didn’t necessarily have jobs locally. So, at Manara, we’ve been helping both women and men, but with a really strong focus on women, first, just even dream of getting a job at a place like Google because that part is a really important step.

Iliana Montauk: People don’t realize that they could get a job at a company like Google. They think that that’s only for people who are brilliant and they don’t realize that they are.

Iliana Montauk: The way that we tackle that imposter syndrome, which at the time, I didn’t even know the term imposter syndrome and I didn’t even realize that’s what we were tackling, is by bringing people like Dimah or like my co-founder Layla who became a senior software engineer at Nvidia, to them just doing even calls like this over Zoom or even better, people who are not even from the Arab world, working at these companies and just meeting with them one-on-one or in groups. They realize coming out of those, whether it’s a training session or a mentorship session or whatever, they go, “Oh, this person is actually not that different from me. I guess I could work here.”

Iliana Montauk: And from there, Manara involves volunteers from tech companies around the world to teach these participants how to interview, because interviewing is a specific skill. Dimah, I don’t know how you did it, but I know that for our participants, they have all the talent and tech background that they need for the job. They’re graduating with computer science degrees. They’re already engaged in competitive programming competitions globally. But, what they don’t have is how to interview and especially at companies like Google, Facebook.

Iliana Montauk: There’s that very specific data structures and algorithms interview, which they’re totally unprepared for and so we teach them how to do that. We engage people from the tech sector globally to do mock interviews with them. It’s by doing these mock interviews that they then are ready and by the time they end up at Google, we recently had actually a 71% referral to hire rate at Google thanks to that.

Iliana Montauk: One of our participants, Dahlia, she’s a 19 year old from Gaza. She now has an internship at Google lined up for the summer. We were just talking to her last week and she was like, “Look, there’s no way I could have done this without these mentors,” because not only were the mentors doing mock interviews with her, I think the women mentors took a special interest in her because she’s a woman and gave her extra consistency of meeting with the same person every week and getting tips. Often, what I’ve noticed is that the women mentors in our network have a different approach than the men. They think more like our women participants. So, they’ll be like, “Oh, this is how I do it.”, “Oh, yes, don’t worry. It’s normal to feel nervous talking out loud in an interview. So, just write on a piece of paper for one minute first and then start talking.”

Iliana Montauk: Those kinds of tips end up really helping our participants be successful. So, that’s what we’re up to and why it’s important for us to have a network of mentors. I’m curious, Dimah, now that you’ve had a chance of being on the other side, what is that experience like?

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Yeah, it’s been great. Thank you so much for sharing such an inspiring story about how you and Layla have been working on Manara and it’s been great watching the journey. For me, I’ve been trying to, as I said, seeing how much it impacted me, starting with mentoring me through the interview, getting the job, to actually being in the company and then seeing how mentorship really impacted me and my confidence in the first six months. I wanted to give back, not just in the company and or locally, but also in different countries. So, I signed up to be a mentor with TechWomen and funny enough, I learned about TechWomen when I was still senior student in the university. I saw how it actually, Oh, let me tell you what TechWomen is. TechWomen is a program that brings women from different countries like in the middle East and Africa, Southeast Asia, sorry, South Asia to go and experience being in tech companies in the Bay area for five to six weeks.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: They get a chance to have an internship in some of the companies in the Silicon Valley. I saw as a participant that went there and came back were creating programs to engage more girls to get into coding and back in Palestine, also other opportunities to give back to local community. So, what TechWomen focuses on is to empower women to be leaders in STEM opportunities in their communities. So, I wanted to be a part of it, but at the time it required industry experience.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: And then fast forward, I was a PM at Microsoft and I really wanted to give back and mentor in TechWomen. I’ve been doing that for three years and it’s been such an amazing experience to learn from these amazing women who are sometimes Product Managers in companies in Palestine, Lebanon or different countries. But, also you learn a lot how common the challenges we’re facing at work. It’s been really great, the opportunity to mentor these women and knowing that they will go back to their home countries and give back to the communities and then they can inspire more women to be in tech and start the cycle all over again. I’ve been mentoring there for three years now and it’s been a great, great opportunity to meet women from different countries I haven’t gotten a chance to learn about.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: But, locally within the industry, I’ve also been trying as much as I can to ensure I’m spending at least an hour or 30 minutes, even, every week to mentor other Product Managers, other interns within the industry and if anybody is on the fence about mentorship, I feel like there are a few things I wanted to mention. I understand that if the experience is different for different folks. Time for maybe women in the industry could be different. Having different… We already know that this is already a challenge, but this is my own experience. I encourage people or the audience to kind of tailor it to how it suits them depending on the time they have and depending on the opportunities they have.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Ffirst of all, as I’ve been working in tech for a while, I’ve been thinking of what is the sense of purpose there. We get too stuck in the different releases, different sprints, having this to build this feature or this product. Just, at the end of the day, I feel sometimes I did not have the sense of purpose of what am I doing and at some point at the beginning, I actually debated leaving tech into some other industry because I wasn’t feeling that fulfillment, until I started mentoring.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: It just makes me happier that whatever goes wrong, whatever happened that week, I know at least within this 30 minutes, I was able to do something and impact someone’s day, even just that for an hour, feel listened and trying to coach them. So, definitely I feel like mentorship is giving the sense of purpose that a lot of us in tech lack. The other one is, it helped me pave my path to management.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: The more I was mentoring, the more it becomes natural to you to be a leader, to be a coach, rather than an instructor. It comes when you were mentoring, you can not just tell people like, Oh, this is the situation you’re going into. Here’s how I would fix it. It’s more of let’s talk through it. Let’s understand the challenges. Here’s how I would think about it and get to the resolution at the same time. So, it’s helped a lot in growing this muscle of coaching and leadership that helped me get to management, probably sooner than it would have if I were not a mentor.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Finally, self-confidence. We talked a lot about Imposter Syndrome, but it gives you that sense of validation that when your mentee or the person you’re chatting with, talking about a problem, in that it comes natural to you. Like, “Oh, I know how to fix this.”, “Oh, look. This is how far I’ve become. Two years ago, this was like the dilemma of my week.” So, just chatting with them about it gives you a sense that I’ve come so far and it can ease down the Imposter Syndrome that because it reminds you of the things you’ve accomplished. The fact that maybe in the first six months or one year getting interrupted at a meeting was the worst thing that could have happened, that shook your confidence and now when you hear it, it’s like, “Oh, I understand. I empathize. Here’s how I think about it and here’s what we could do about it.”

Dimah Zaidalkilani: So, all through all this, just have been rewarding and makes you just whatever goes wrong that week or that month you know, at least, you got a chance to impact someone and help them, regardless at what level in the career it is. Whether it’s an intern, whether it’s a new industry hire or a new college, this 30 minutes for you, it could seem like I have to squeeze it in between this executive briefing and this conversation with our CTO or whatever, but it’s really important because it has impact. Like you said, Iliana, it has impact not just for the person it’s like that person will one day want to give back and then could trickle down to a lot of great things that we can have in the community.

Iliana Montauk: Yeah. It’s definitely creating a flywheel effect. We already see that the Manara candidates who have gone to Google are coming back and mentoring the next candidates on how to get in and how to be successful there. I know we only have a few minutes left. I don’t see anything in the Q & A, so I did just want to respond to some comments in the chat. One is, “So glad to hear you guys are helping people around the world,” and I just want to be clear like, yes, this is helping them and that’s so, so important.

Iliana Montauk: And it’s also helping these tech companies, right? When you’re making the case at your company to make time for this, don’t just position it as a social impact initiative. Tell them, we need the best talent at our company and the Manara volunteers who are interviewing or mentoring women from Gaza or other parts of the Middle East are spotting the best talent early and then they’re recruiting them into their companies and companies are more successful when they’re diverse and women have the most powerful soft skills that are going to rule the world and the tech skills, as well, right?

Iliana Montauk: That’s one important thing and then also mentorship doesn’t have to take a long time. So like, yes, if you’re in a company 30 minutes a week, or 30 minutes a day, is really valuable if you can do that. But, you can find other opportunities. In Manara, you can show up and just do one mock interview per month and that already is making a difference and you’ll find out later if that person got into the company or not.

Iliana Montauk: I do see a few quick questions. So, I’ll go ahead and start answering them. Some of the top tech universities in Gaza, there’s Islamic University, there’s UCAS, there’s University of Palestine. There’s at least six universities in Gaza and the West Bank, which is also, Palestinian is two pieces. There’s Birzeit, there’s An-Naja, et cetera.

Iliana Montauk: Then how do you go about mentorship relationships? Is it formal or informal? I’ll let Dimah speak to TechWomen, but I think it’s basically formal in both cases.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Yeah, I think it’s-

Iliana Montauk: Go ahead.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: It depends definitely on where it is. I would say if it was within the same team, I would try to make it a bit formal, talk to the manager, if you share the same manager, to make sure that whatever guidance you’re giving is aligned with the management. So, it can be informal, of course. It could be over coffee or Zoom or tea every once in a while. It depends how it is. Is it a long-term? You’ve been mentoring someone or you want to mentor someone over two years or short-term over a project.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: Definitely, my advice is if you want it to be formal or you’re closer to them working on the same project, definitely discuss it with the manager, just so that we make sure that it’s kind of like you’re giving the same direction. If it’s informal, there’s no need to discuss it, but making sure that you have conversation about career goals or challenges.

Iliana Montauk: I saw you were responding to the question on the chat about how to get involved as a mentor, if you’re brand new in a company organization. One thing to do is to join external organizations that need your mentorship. Mentor someone from a different country that might really benefit from your perspective of recently getting in. Mentor people who were recently at your college, university, about how to make the leap that you just made. Those are just a few ideas.

Iliana Montauk: I know we’re at time, but maybe Dimah has one more thought to add.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: I just type my answer, so hopefully.

Iliana Montauk: Okay.

Dimah Zaidalkilani: But, definitely interns is the biggest source and it’s reaching out sometimes to HR to know if there’s any internal ERGs that you can join within the company to know what connections you could have. But, it’s amazing that you’re already new at the company and reaching out to nail this, so kudos to you, for sure.

Iliana Montauk: Yeah. How are we on time, Angie? I have to run. Sukrutha, go ahead.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much, Iliana and Dimah. This was amazing. We saw some great comments in the chat, appreciating all the information they learned from you.

Girl Geek X Elevate 2021 Virtual Conference

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“Investing in Others”: Erica Lockheimer + Shalini Agarwal with LinkedIn (Video + Transcript)

Transcript of Elevate 2020 Session

Sukrutha Bhadouria: All right, so the next session, I’m super excited about. We have Erica and Shalini joining us. In terms of quick introductions, Erica is the Vice President of Engineering at LinkedIn, leading LinkedIn Learning, which is super cool. She will be in conversation with Shalini, who is the Director of Engineering at LinkedIn. What Shalini does is she builds the core experience of sales solutions enterprise product. So thank you so much, Erica and Shalini, for making time for this.

Erica Lockheimer: Thank you for having us.

Shalini Agarwal: Thank you so much. So I’m Shalini, and I’m going to be having a chat with Erica. Thank you so much for the introduction. So given the topic, investing in others, Erica, what do you think?

Erica Lockheimer: The way I look at investing in others is really a moment where you think about investing in others, that sometimes they don’t see it themselves. So I’ll give you a perfect example. About five years ago, I was leading a team, and as you’re leading a team, you need to reorganize the team at moments. And I remember whiteboarding my whole entire org. And when you think about leaders that need to go in those positions, you could look within the team or you can hire. And in that moment, I’m like, I don’t think I have someone that’s quite ready to fit that role. I have two options, like I mentioned, that I could take. And in that moment I looked around my team and I thought, you know, I have this woman on my team. The potential is amazing, execution, craftsmanship, so great. But she’s just not quite ready. What if I was to invest in her, give her that opportunity?

Erica Lockheimer: I thought about it. Wasn’t quite sure, but I wanted to take a bet. So I thought about it, and I decided to invite her into the meeting, gave her my whole whiteboard presentation on the org, and I said, “Guess what? I would love for you to do this.” And I thought she was going to be so excited. She looked at me, and she’s like, “I’m not quite sure I can do that.” And I was like, my stomach sank. And I was like, here I am betting on her, and she doesn’t see it herself. And so I said, “Look, I will help you. I will invest in you. I know you have it. I know you have the potential. I will be right at your side, and I will mentor you through it.”

Erica Lockheimer: And that is when she said, “Okay, let me think about it.” And I said, “Go home, think about it, and come back.” She came back the next day and she said, “You know what, I’m going to do it. I’m excited, but I’m scared.” And I was like, “Wow, fantastic.” So fast forward five years, I can tell you two success stories of her so far. She got promoted to Senior Manager and Director at LinkedIn. And then I moved over from leading the growth team at LinkedIn for seven and a half years, I’ve been at LinkedIn for a long time, almost 10 years. And I’m now VP of Engineering to the LinkedIn Learning team, and she raised her hand to wanting to join the team. And so now she’s on my team. It’s about–not even a month in, and she’s already crushing it.

Erica Lockheimer: And so I couldn’t imagine if I didn’t take that bet, that one moment that we probably both had doubts, right? But you take that moment. You invest in someone, and then the outcome can just be amazing. So I just would encourage people to sometimes think at the situation a little bit differently and make different decisions.

Shalini Agarwal: Totally. Thank you, Erica, for sharing the story. I just want to share with our audience here, it’s not just one person that Erica spends time with. I’m another example of the same investment and mentorship. There was an opportunity in front of me, where I was asked to lead a program, where I was just volunteering my time. And I had a lot of self doubt, like it was working with [inaudible] in addition to my day job. How will I do it? How will I figure out how to do it? And Erica was right there, helping me just piece it together and say, “You can do it. You have the potential,” and really helped me also with not just giving that courage, but also [inaudible] to say how you can create your team, your core team of people working with you, something that she does really well.

Shalini Agarwal: As we talk about Women in Tech at LinkedIn, like Erica said, she’s been here 10 years. And during that time, she has made a huge impact on the women at LinkedIn and beyond, as well. So Erica, could you please share some anecdotes?

Erica Lockheimer: Yes, I’d love to, but, Shalini, I think we all just need to understand it’s a two way thing, right? We have conversations on the way home, where it’s like you just need that 10 minute, that 15 minute conversation, be like, “Oh, this is how I’m feeling. Can you give me some advice?” And I will have moments where I’m in, I have self doubt all the time, and you’ll ask, “Can I have a phone call?” And I say yes. And then it’s like we both lift each other up at the end of that call. So it really is a two way street. And I think that allyship and partnership of a couple of people that you can lean into is really, really key.

Erica Lockheimer: And so you asked about the Women in Tech program at LinkedIn, we’ve been running it for about seven years, and organically, because I’ve been in the industry for 20 plus years, I just started helping people, because I realized the same struggles myself. But our company really got serious about it, and they said, hey, we’d love this to be a full fledged program. Would you lead it? And of course I got excited, because I felt like I was kind of doing some of the work anyways, but I also realized I want to treat this like any other project that we deliver from an engineering standpoint. We have structure, we have deliverables, OKRs, we have money, we have people. And so it’s 20% of my job. And it’s something that, when I first realized that we wanted to do this, I reached out to people like you, and male allies, female allies, and said, okay, can you be leaders, and let’s structure this.

Erica Lockheimer: And it really is about the funnel that we all talk about, that we invest in high school training programs. We invest in college students, we invest in the women at LinkedIn, and then we invest in the community, which is why we’re here today. And so I think it’s just so important to make that effort. And I know, Shalini, I think it would be great. This is about sharing with the community, community over competition. If you could share what we are doing on the Reach program, because I think that’s a really good example of how we invest in others, and I hope other people will try it out, as well.

Shalini Agarwal: Definitely. I mean, it’s the program that I mentioned earlier, that I’m leading now for the last three years. Thanks to Erica for all the help and support. But it’s very near and dear to me, as well. Because when I first came to this country, I could not work. And it was mainly because I didn’t checkbox everything that a recruiter was looking for, and Reach, as an apprenticeship program that we launched at LinkedIn, is really about giving that opportunity funnel, or opening that opportunity funnel, for anyone that has grit, has passion to become a software engineer, has shown the potential to learn, regardless of their background and their training.

Shalini Agarwal: So whether you took a break from your job and you’re returning to work, you’re a veteran, or just a career switcher, the program is open to everyone. And as part of the apprenticeship program, you get a manager who is invested in your growth and an engineering mentor that helps you learn your technical skills on the job. So you learn the skills and you also learn how to work in a team environment. So there’s an investment that is happening as part of the program.

Shalini Agarwal: And not only that, we have seen apprentices that now become software engineers that want to pay it forward for the new apprentices that are coming in. And it’s as small as just doing a lunch interview with them, and giving them hope and helping them feel that they can belong to this place, and they can do it, too.

Erica Lockheimer: Yeah. I love the Reach program. I have some of the apprentices in my team, and seeing them get promoted through the ranks, and like you said, it’s a multiplier, really, of how it has an impact across everyone in the organization, for us to think about talent in a very different way and how you invest in everyone. It’s not a simple check box.

Erica Lockheimer: But we talk about these programs. I mean, these could be heavy lifting. They can be quite big, but I also want to remind people, because there’s different people that are just starting out or in smaller companies, it doesn’t have to be these big programs. You can have small acts of investing in others in your everyday life. And so one of the quotes that one of my colleagues, Renee Reid, we talk about is “Empowered women empower women.” And I want to feel, you know, narrow in on the empowered, because I think sometimes when people think about empowered, they think, oh, it has to be someone in a high rank position. It does not. It can happen at an individual contributor level, entry level. Think about, you just started your career. Well, then help out your peer, or help out a high school student. We are all empowered in our current roles. So I think that’s a really important thing to remember, that we all can be change agents and really pay it forward.

Erica Lockheimer: And I was listening to one of the earlier speakers, and she gave a really great example of meetings. You think about a meeting that you’re in. We do this all the time. And I do a very big conscious effort of this, where I see everyone in the room, and obviously the person that speaks the loudest, they’re going to be heard, or the person that interrupts, but we want to be able to call people into the conversation. So I often know that that person that’s not basically speaking up, they know the material more than the people that are talking. So I will call on them. Like for instance, Shalini, I would love to hear more on, you know, [inaudible], and she will, obviously, I called on you. So now you’re going to have to speak. I put you in that spot. But those are the small acts of investments that I think we need to think about every single time in our daily lives. And they can be small. It doesn’t have to be big.

Shalini Agarwal: Totally agree, Erica. If I there’s one thing I need to tell my 12 year old self is, there is no time to start. You can start any time. If you’re in college, you have your first job. There’s so many people looking up to you every day. That 20 minute, 30 minute investment in just giving them coaching, what courses to choose, how to think about their first job. All of that information and guidance is helping that person make a huge difference in their life. And you don’t have to start when you’re a manager or a director or a VP to do that. And the fact that when people invest in you and you invest in others, it creates this flywheel of multiplication. It’s like people are helping people, and they’re not only helping and giving. They’re also receiving, as well.

Shalini Agarwal: Now when people come to me for asking anything, like help, advice, career advice, and I am obligated, not just because I want to, but because people like Erica invested in me, even though they are so busy schedule and all the time that they put with me to discuss and figure out what the next step in my career or life could be, I feel I have to do it just to pay it forward. So think about small changes and small impact.

Shalini Agarwal: So there’s one thing that I want all of you guys listening here to take away as action item, is find that one person, or more, that you can help with not a lot of time, but small baby steps, things that you can do in meetings, things that you can do for people looking up to you, find those opportunities. Raise your hand to help others and invest in them.

Shalini Agarwal: At this point, if there are questions, we are open to take more questions. I know we talked a little bit of stories here, but I’m sure there are things that are top of your mind that you would like to ask.

Erica Lockheimer: Yeah, we’re always big on dialogue.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: So I see some questions. So I have a question, as a mentor, what is the most that you think you get out of it, because we talk about mentees getting out of the mentor, mentee relationship, but as a mentor, what is it that you get out of it?

Erica Lockheimer: I think … Shalini, I’ll go first. And then if you want to answer, as well. I mentor quite a few people. I also wouldn’t call it formal mentorships. It’s more of like these 15 minute things. I have a board of people that I work with, and sometimes people need something all the time, and sometimes, not always, but what I personally get out of it, it helps me be a better leader. I’m having these mentor moments, and they’re facing a challenge, and then I have to kind of reflect back and say, hmm, am I handling those types of people in my team with the right compassion, the right empathy, the right opportunity? It really makes me reflect on how I could be a better leader to other individuals. So that’s what I get out of it.

Erica Lockheimer: And I always feel really great that someone trusts me, that they can be vulnerable with me and tell me exactly how they’re feeling, because I get so much out of that. And then at the end, I get to help them. And also, helping people also feels great. And then I always put a task on them. If I give them any advice, I go, “Now I helped you, and we spent time with each other. There’s accountability here. You have to give me an update. Within the next week, I want to hear how things went.” So that’s a big thing that I’m also a big fan of.

Shalini Agarwal: Yeah, I can vouch for the accountability. I will just add one more thing. It also gives you courage. When somebody is coming to you and being vulnerable, asking those questions, and you feel totally fine helping them. It’s not a moment of shame. It’s a moment of courage, and gives you the courage to go and talk to your mentors or people that you look up to, have that same conversation for yourself. So it actually uplifts you to do the same, too.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: What I find, actually, when I am mentoring people, is that I’m giving all this advice that actually I need. So what is that one thing that you wish your mentees would do, or any advice? Because I find when people approach me to be their mentors, they sometimes don’t know how to go about it, and they sometimes don’t know how to make the most out of that relationship. So what are some tips you might have for people to either make sure they get the best out of the mentorship, mentor, mentee relationship, or at least go about establishing that relationship the right way?

Shalini Agarwal: So I can maybe start, and Erica, please add more to it. One thing I always ask people when they’re seeking for a mentorship relationship is what are their goals? And the goals doesn’t have to be five-year goals. It could be six month goals, could be year long goals, but what is it that you’re seeking? Just having that dialogue in your first meeting about what are the goals and what are the kinds of things that you’re looking to improve or work on? Several times, what I’ve found is once you have that explicitly written out or discussed as a person, you can actually have a better frame of mind to help this person. A few times, what I’ve also found is I can actually redirect that person to a better person or another person that could help this person, because the goals are so crisp.

Shalini Agarwal: If somebody is a first time manager, I’m happy to help, but I started my management career a decade ago or more. So some of those challenges that they’re facing are not something that are fresh in my memory, but if I can find somebody else that I mentored a few years ago, who is actually in a better mindset and is closer to those issues, might be a better mentor for them.

Erica Lockheimer: I think that’s great advice. Two things that I would add is, I usually have two different people that come to me. One is like, they have an exact problem that they want to solve, and that’s really, really helpful. And so we’ll just go through that exact problem and I’ll give advice. Then there’s the other camp, like you said, that they don’t really know, that you can just tell they’re kind of lost. And so I actually got a really good framework from Pat Wadors. She used to be our HR VP. Because I was going through that personally. And she gave me a really good framework, and I shared it with, I think, many people at LinkedIn. It’s been helpful, is, you know, you think about literally writing it down, to Shalini’s point. It’s literally four columns. Like values, what are your values? Your values kind of don’t change. They’re very solid. For instance, my value is work life balance. I have two kids. I’m not going to commute to work. There’s some values that like, that is where I’m going to be.

Erica Lockheimer: And so make sure that you’re super clear on your values. I think your motivators are very important. That’s the next column. So think about what motivates you. Sometimes you’re in a different space. Sometimes it’s money. You need money. That’s your motivation. My point of life right now, I am very motivated to, as cheesy as it sounds, to make a dent in this world. And so impact is important to me, and that’s the biggest thing, the biggest bit.

Erica Lockheimer: The third column I would say is skills that you’re good at, skills that people tell you you’re good at, not the skills that you think you’re good at, but skills that you’re great at. And then the fourth column would be, the last one is skills you want to obtain. So though you could be in a different spot of your career. So for me, I remember when I made my transition over to LinkedIn Learning, I really wanted to learn how to run a business. I was able to articulate my motivations, my values, my skills, and what skills I was looking for to the executive leadership to basically say, “Hey, this is where I’m at.” And they were able to give me an opportunity and invest in me. It’s either the company invests in you, or you go somewhere else. That’s really what it comes down to. But I think most of the time it’s clearer that you can be about what you want.

Erica Lockheimer: And sometimes, trust me, I didn’t figure that out overnight. It took me several months to figure out what those things are. And a lot of mentor conversations, Shalini included. But it takes time. And so I think just having a framework is really, really helpful to gather those thoughts, and more than happy, I’m seeing some questions in chat, I can share the framework as well. Feel to ping me. It’s been helpful.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Thank you so much, Shalini and Erica. This was just wonderful. We can see through the comments that it really resonated with everyone. Thank you.

Shalini Agarwal: Thank you so much for having us.

Erica Lockheimer: Thank you.

Episode 15: Managing Up


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

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

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

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

Angie Chang: And today we’ll be discussing working with your manager.

Rachel Jones: So I think this topic of working with managers comes up a lot regardless of the topic that we’re thinking about. Just ways to work with your manager kind of weave into the conversation. So, what do you think it is about this relationship that can be so hard to navigate at times?

Sukrutha Bhadouria: I think managing up is so hard that no one really taught me or it didn’t even come to my attention that I needed to focus on it until, I don’t know, maybe at least five or six years into my career. It’s really hard to know what’s expected of you, how you’re being evaluated if you just don’t know how to manage up. And the best way, I think, is to get on the same page and understand a bit more about what your manager… Or how your manager thinks, what your manager wants to see, what their goals are and how you can help them reach their goals. But it’s not the easiest process to get onto the same page as your manager, for sure. What do you think, Gretchen?

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think what may make it hard is that if you’re very early in your career and you’re figuring out your way in the world and how you work and how you work with other people and how you work with a manager and then your manager might be only a year or two into managing. And so they haven’t really figured out how to be a manager rather than an individual contributor to help you learn how to manage up, right? So there’s this sort of… Everyone’s sort of figuring it out as they go along and I think that might create a lot of frustration and confusion.

Angie Chang: Just generally speaking, it’s one of the very popular topics of conversation from a career advancement perspective. But when you’re in the trenches, it feels very differently, right? You’re like, as Gretchen said, you’re doing the things and your manager’s probably also building the plan on the way down. There is oftentimes just too many things going on to really consider the management side.

Angie Chang: But that’s because we come from startups where people are often just kind of learning about the rules as they’re in it. I think definitely having a lot of conversations around what the expectations are and making sure that you have regular meetings that more people will show up to, to discuss how your goals are going to align.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think it’s super important, like Angie said, but to be really direct with this stuff, there’s sort of two ways to think about it, right? Like if you want to just kind of be a better employee thinking about what is my manager measured on, what would make them look good to their boss? What are the metrics, what are the things that they really care about? And when you’re sort of prioritizing your time, definitely prioritize and think about your decisions in the context of like, “How can I get my manager promoted?”

Gretchen DeKnikker: Because you can get your manager promoted, you can make everybody look good, right? Not that you have the ability to do that directly, but just sort of as a way of looking at it. But the other thing is, have direct conversations. Do not guess. Do not try to guess. My example is, I was hired for a job and two weeks in, my boss was fired. My brand new boss was fired and he’s really, him and a few other people who were brand new to the company and brand new to the team – we were opening a San Francisco office – they were all I had to turn to.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And so we had a trip planned to go to New York and my colleague who’d only been there a few months longer, he’s like, “Well, I don’t know if we should go.” And I was like, “I’m going, and I’m going to sit down with the CEO while I’m in New York and I’m going to ask him, ‘what were your expectations for my role? What were the goals? What are the things I could do in the first 90 days?’ Because I don’t have a manager anymore and I need to know.” It was a brand new role. And if I hadn’t asked those questions, I would have worked on the wrong things. I wouldn’t have prioritized my time in a way that my substitute manager for the time being, what his expectations were going to be.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And my colleague’s first response was this idea that you shouldn’t go meet and you shouldn’t go ask and that you should just sort of like sit back and wait to see what happens. And I’m so glad that that wasn’t my first instinct and that I went in and I had the conversation.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, that’s a good example. I think for me, I have asked questions like, “What is–” to my manager, I’ve asked questions like, “What is the thing that’s worrying you the most, work-wise? Or what is your biggest goal? What do you want your org to be known for?” And through that I get a sense of where I can insert myself and make my manager successful because that is the main thing. When you’re managing up, you want to make your manager a success in their job by basically managing them. And if I take myself and how I’m doing out of the conversation to start with and focus on what their needs are, then I put myself in that and say, “Okay, which of these align with what my goals are and how can I step in and take ownership of this particular area that’s going to make my manager successful as well as me successful and excited?” Then I’m starting to align our goals together.

Gretchen DeKnikker: Our first quote is from Sandhya Hegde who is the VP of Marketing at Amplitude and she shares her own advice on building relationships with your manager.

Sandhya Hegde: One of the challenges that I had to figure out was this idea of what builds a relationship with your manager and depending on your manager, it can be very different. So like over-simplifying, I would say there are two types. People who find it really easy to build relationships so that you don’t have to do the work. And then there are people who are just like less open, more private people that you can’t tell, “What’s this person thinking? Does she like me? Does she like the work I’m doing? She’s not, I can’t really tell what’s going on.” And so I’ve been in that situation often where I am the over-sharer – I can talk about my feelings for like three days – but I’m working for someone who does considers like, “hi” a conversation. So now, I’m like, “I don’t really know what’s happening here.”

Sandhya Hegde: And that was kind… I think the first time I had a job with a manager, it was like that. Like I really couldn’t tell what was going on. And at first I was just frustrated for a while and then actually just started talking about feeling confused. So I said, “Hey, you’re kind of hard to read and you don’t really talk about like what’s going on in your head, how you’re thinking. And I’m not really looking for like affirmation for like, ‘oh good job, Sandhya.’ Like that’s not the point. It’s not about the work. I can tell when my work is good or bad, like that’s very obvious. But I want to know do you feel like I’m making the right kind of progress?”

Sandhya Hegde: These are the things I would like to know and it wasn’t easy to do this because you have to be vulnerable. You have to say stuff like, “Hey, I care about how you feel about me,” which is a vulnerable place to be. But when I worked up the courage to say it, it made a huge difference. Because you are vulnerable, the other person starts being more vulnerable. So yeah, if you feel like you’re with someone who’s not opening up, honestly the best thing to do is just be vulnerable with them and create that space for them to reciprocate.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: I like how she is… when she gave an example of being pretty direct about trying to get on the same page as her manager. How you do that is really up to you and your personality and how you feel comfortable. But just, I think, the essence of it is trying to understand, what about your manager? Do they like going for walks in their one-on-ones or do they prefer it to be a coffee? Or do they prefer it to be in a conference room? Trying to understand more about what their working style is will help you get on the same page for sure. It will break the ice initially and then you can get to the real stuff. Like what is important to them.

Rachel Jones: I think that comes back to even episodes that we’ve had about personality and communication and just knowing how to relate to individuals specifically. Because if you’re writing your manager these emails that are like, “How’s your weekend?” And all this extra stuff and they are only really reading it for that one bit of information. Knowing that is important. So yeah, just how this person relates. How do they like to show up in the office and how can that kind of inform the way that I’m building a relationship with them and aligning with them on the goals that we’re working towards? I think, yeah, getting to know them and their personality as a manager is really important.

Angie Chang: We’re hearing about this, as Sukrutha said, the personalities definitely shine through and being someone who’s always told that it’s hard to read my expression. I was like, “Oh yes.” So like having a person who is able to tell you, “Hey, you’re a little hard to read. Can you give me a little more? Or like how are you feeling?” And someone who like works with it instead of just getting offended and not asking the hard questions.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I really love that she brings up the concept of vulnerability. That’s in any relationship, right? The willingness to be vulnerable generally is going to bring out a different side in the person that you’re willing to sort of show that softer side to.

Angie Chang: It’s also like the willingness to do a little bit of work and ask more questions instead of just being like, “Well, my manager is not giving me what I want and I’m just going to be resentful.” And just actually like asking more questions to figure out what’s the working relationship going to be with this type of person. I’m sure there’s like professional tests that will then name this personality and give you hints on how to best interact with this type of person that you can investigate.

Gretchen DeKnikker: It’s also making me think about there’s this piece of software if you’re using Gmail for work – I think it’s called Crystal Knows – but you can go in and it’ll tell you actually how to communicate with that person through email. Like if you read mine it would be like, “Use short concise sentences, make your point quickly, don’t use a bunch of flowery language.” That sort of thing. And I thought it was pretty accurate, but it’s super interesting, and I think you can get it like an initial thing for free and then you have to pay, but it’s pretty amazing. Even if you just run it on your own inbox to see, “Oh yeah, that is like how I like to get emails.”

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, it looks really good. I just Googled it, and I think I’d use it. One more thing that I’ve done, actually, is when I’ve gotten a new manager or I’ve been assigned to someone new or moved to a new org, I talk to people who reported to them for a long time to get a sense of what it’s like to report to them, what their managing style is. Just so that I’m better prepared. And that’s helped me so much to know what kind of things do they focus on from someone else’s perspective instead of just relying on how they represent to me.

Rachel Jones: So it’s nice having ideas for ways that you can build a relationship with your manager, but what do you do if you’re having a little more trouble navigating that relationship? Like how do you tell your manager that you need more from them?

Angie Chang: That’s a hard one because sometimes you realize that your manager has technically done it before but is not necessarily a good manager. So I am actually really interested to hear what Gretchen and Sukrutha have to say about working with your manager.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: I personally don’t think anyone is a perfect manager, so you know, how good that person is as a manager to you, I feel a lot of that is in your control. I also have had some good managers in the recent past, but I’ve also seen other people struggle to report to them. So just taking into my own hands and really, really focusing on the relationship and managing up. Like I said, doing my homework to get a sense of what it’s like from other people to report to them, what they like and what they don’t like. And whatever they don’t like, if that resonates with something I wouldn’t like, then I would figure out how I would work around it or improve that scenario. I haven’t had a situation in a really long time where things just aren’t working because I invest a lot very early on into the relationship. So, Gretchen, have you had a situation where despite investing energy and time into the relationship, it’s still wasn’t working?

Gretchen DeKnikker: Yeah, I think, I mean, my advice on that is don’t try to read somebody’s mind, but also when you’re trying to have this conversation of going in and if they’re like, “Yeah, that’s fine,” or whatever, and it feels like there’s something else going on, saying like, “I feel like this isn’t quite what you were looking for.” Or saying, okay–Or they’re like, “Yeah, that’s good.” But you don’t feel like they mean it. You know? It’s like, “Oh well, for next time, how could this be better?”

Gretchen DeKnikker: And really opening those things because sometimes your manager isn’t going to take the time, but you can obviously tell that they’re not happy with what you’re doing. I definitely had managers where I can just tell it’s time to over-communicate and to keep them updated on every step of the way that there’s something going on that maybe they don’t even know how to articulate themselves.

Gretchen DeKnikker: But then there are people that are just not people that you enjoy working with and that’s managers or colleagues or subordinates and at some point, there’s only so much you can do to kind of try to smooth that over and then you just either take that person at face value and accept that there are just times where things aren’t gonna work, or you, particularly if it’s a manager, going somewhere else where you just feel like… If you have a manager and you know that they are never going to lift you up. They are never going to put you center stage. They are always going to keep you in their shadow, and I’ve had those, and you have to move on. You absolutely have to move on. You cannot let someone steal your spotlight. Not on your career path.

Angie Chang: I think there’s things people could do if they’re in a bigger company to find a new manager or team or project to work on, hopefully. Being on a smaller startup, it’s nice to imagine, like what Sukrutha mentioned, finding other people that this person has like managed before. I was like thinking back on my tiny startups and like there was nobody that I can ask those questions to, so…

Gretchen DeKnikker: Well maybe not in that company, but definitely people… It’s not like they’ve never worked with anyone before. Right? So you definitely can go back. I’ve done that with a new person at a small company, and seeing if there was someone I could reach out to that they’d worked with before that could give me advice. You just have to approach it from a really positive angle of like, “Hey, I’m just trying to do really great. Like if you could give me three pieces of advice on how to be successful, what would you say?”

Sukrutha Bhadouria: That’s an interesting way of asking for constructive feedback about the person.

Angie Chang: So Sandy Lao, Head of Talent, Culture, and People Operations gave some tips on working with your manager during our dinner with HomeLight.

Sandy Liao: For us as a company, we started doing performance review on an annual basis and then we also do a year-end check-in. We want to understand, hey, even if it’s not a measurable bullet point percentage that we’re looking at, at least on a regular quarterly basis that you are speaking with your manager to talk about like, “Hey, I want to be able to achieve these five goals for the for the quarter. And are you able to do that?” At the end of the quarter, you guys should be sitting down, looking back at all the goals that you have set in this initially. And if you find out that hey, I’ve been able to achieve three out of those five goals, what can the company provide you? With what type of training or what are some of the resources for you to be able to hit the two bullet points in order for you to fulfill all of the achievement and goals that you had set initially.

Sandy Liao: So incorporating performance data is just crucial to the business, as well as yourself. So for any of you guys sitting here, if your manager has not spoken with you for the past quarter or past six months about how you’re doing from a performance standpoint, it’s just super, super important to like hold that in your hands and make that calendar invite and make them have that conversation. Right? Because especially working in a startup, these things kind of get out of hand when we’re trying to do like 100 things at once. But before any of us sitting here analyzing whether or not we’re excited to look for new opportunity or whatnot, it is just necessary to take that step to have that conversation with people that is mentoring you and that are working with you directly.

Angie Chang: I think she [inaudible 00:20:11] put that onus on people to come and tell their company what they need to succeed on the things they could improve on.

Rachel Jones: And using the data as the way to ask for it. Yeah. It’s like, “Okay, we set these goals and I didn’t meet two of them, so like, here’s what I need to meet the rest.” It’s an easier… If you’re able to kind of frame these conversations with your manager objectively, then that’s the way to navigate… If you just have a manager who has a troubling personality or communication style or other people have had difficulty working with them, really taking it back to this objective place of like, “We’re here to do this job. These are the goals along those lines and can you just tell me the extent to whether or not I’m fulfilling that”? I think being able to bring the conversation back to that is a way to navigate a more challenging relationship.

Angie Chang: It’s a good point. So, yeah, finding those, in this case she named five points every quarter, but whatever the companies set up is for those metrics that they’re trying to ask people to indicate in their performance reviews, of the self-performance reviews and using that as a way to advocate for things that you can get from your employer. Like more education, a conference ticket to go learn this thing or maybe you want to go to some kind of training group. There was some excellent t-groups for startups that I went to. Session where you can be with other startup leaders and talking through some of your management or other professional difficulties in a safer setting than your tiny startup.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think that probably the hardest part of this bit of advice if you’re earlier in your career is you just may not know exactly what you need to hit those. And being able to articulate to your manager, this is exactly why. “If I had XYZ, then I feel like ABC would…” Right? Because I think the danger is you’re like, “Oh well if I had this one piece of software, right, that I could do this better. Or if I had an extra person I could do this better.” And those are hard cases to make to your manager, particularly if there’s an impression that you’re not hitting your goals already. And so you do want to be very specific on what it is that you’re asking for and what you think the ROI will be. Because a fuzzy ROI is a hard argument to make to a manager to get additional resources. Sukrutha, does this come up in a larger company context?

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Out of what Sandy said, I think the aspect about making sure that if your boss doesn’t bring up how you’re doing, it’s just as important… It’s equally your job to bring up how you’re doing. And Gretchen, like you said, all in your career, maybe you just don’t know how to identify what these goals are and where your goals can align with the larger organization goals. But I think that’s when you need to seek out people who are a year or two ahead of you in their career and talk to them. Try to build your resource group that way.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: And definitely I don’t think that your career growth is just fully your manager’s responsibility. It is just as much yours. And so if you don’t see those conversations coming up, you need to be bringing it up because I’m… As a manager, I can say I’m super excited and motivated to help people who seem like they want to be helped and who are motivated as well. It’s really difficult to grow someone’s career when they’re just not as motivated to do it. And that’s fine too. Sometimes people want to just stay at their level. That’s totally cool. But if you really want to grow, you want to be bringing it up a lot with your manager.

Gretchen DeKnikker: You know, I think what struck me in her comment was also if you haven’t talked to your manager in X number of months and you definitely want to be having more time with someone and making sure that you have those meetings. And like for me, advice I give to managers is that those one-on-ones are sacred and don’t move them and let the other person set the agenda. And not every manager shares that same philosophy. And you may have a manager that doesn’t look at it that way. But I always felt like I had a lot less fires and a lot less just random unexpected things happen if I kept my one-on-ones. And that also whoever knew that they had this time, my undivided attention, no one was allowed to interrupt and that I wasn’t going to move that meeting unless there was literally no other option.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And that they always had that time with me. And a lot of managers don’t do it that way. And if you have a manager like that, but if you can never get their time… This person has control of your career. And on some level, right? At least your advancement and of your visibility within the company. And if this person, if it seems like they’re investing in other people and not investing in you, rather than just being a manager who doesn’t really invest in anyone in their team, definitely think about, “Is this the right place for me? Is this the right path for me?” Because a manager can have a huge impact on your career and you don’t want to be begging for attention from someone who’s just really never going to give it to you.

Rachel Jones: Yeah. So Gretchen, you mentioned just how important that manager relationship can be for your career. How does that change as you progress in your career?

Gretchen DeKnikker: I think it changes because you start, you know, managing up and managing down as you progress in your career and you have to… I think you become a much better employee. I think someone said this on one of the dinners, you just become a much better employee once you become a manager because you realize like, “Oh, this is what a manager actually needs from me. And you become your manager’s best employee after you kind of figure that part out.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Vidya Setlur is a staff research scientist at Tableau Software. She spoke about this during an elevate conference last year.

Vidya Setlur: I have found personally that some of the best mentors that I’ve come across have been people who were my managers in the past, maybe at a different company or in a different line whom I have respected and trusted, but because they are not my manager anymore there is a different type of relationship where it can be more mentoring as opposed to managing. There’s a lovely inflection there that happens. So kind of seeking out into your network and finding those canonical examples of people that you’ve worked closely with or that managed you maybe directly or indirectly. And seeing if they can help mentor you in your next path or next effort.

Rachel Jones: Have any of you seen this happen during your career? Managers becoming mentors?

Angie Chang: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve definitely seen former, previous managers serving in mentorship capabilities. Our favorite, I feel like in Girl Geek’s dinners we hear about micro-mentorship quite often and getting really great pieces of actionable feedback or suggestions for future projects or career paths and potential career paths from former managers.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: Yeah, most of my former managers have turned into mentors. I reach out to them for various… With various questions about my career or just like… I’m sure, Gretchen, you have as well.

Gretchen DeKnikker: I keep really strong relationships with managers and they kind of do go on to be my mentor, as in they’re people that I go back to when I’m looking for a new job because… Not necessarily for them to hire me, but they know me so well and when I’m kind of trying to figure out what am I good at and what do I like doing and what direction might I go in. It’s someone who knows you really well to be able to kind of give their two cents, even if they haven’t been working with you recently. I mean, not all of your managers are like people that you want to necessarily keep taking advice from, but I think I’ve been really fortunate that most of my previous managers are people that I would want to, that I still do go back and be like, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, help me.” And they do.

Angie Chang: That’s great.

Sukrutha Bhadouria: That’s really awesome.

Angie Chang: This is a great reminder of the importance of continuing to always try to find ways to do more. Like the woman from Amplitude said in figuring out the way to work with your manager, regardless of whether your personality is completely different, which is often the case in the world. Finding ways to ask more questions and figure out how to make your relationship work and benefit your career in the long run because it is your career that you need to own.

Gretchen DeKnikker: And I think it’s like any other relationship where you need to invest. You need to have candid conversations and to not think that somehow this relationship, because of the dynamic, isn’t something that should be managed like your others. With communication and understanding and clarifying questions. And that it’s not, like Sukrutha said, the manager’s responsibility solely. And that you definitely are half of the equation of the relationship.

Rachel Jones: Just knowing how awkward that transition into management can be for people. That’s definitely something to keep in mind when you’re working with your manager. Like a lot of people are put into this role without getting any kind of specific training or support on what it means to be a manager. And so keeping that in mind when you’re interacting with your managers or setting expectations for what that relationship should look like. I think, yeah. Definitely just focusing on the work that you have to do to maintain that relationship and drive your career forward and involve your manager in that.

Angie Chang: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Girl Geek X podcast. We’ll be back soon with more advice from women in tech. Be sure to like and review us on your podcasting service of choice, whether it’s iTunes or Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify.

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

Gretchen DeKnikker: This podcast was sponsored by Amplitude, a leader in product analytics, Amplitude provides digital product intelligence that helps companies ship great customer experiences for business growth.

Angie Chang: This podcast was sponsored by HomeLight, a Google-backed startup with a line of data-driven real estate products that empower people to make smarter decisions during one of life’s most important moments, buying or selling their home.