We asked our women leaders about their career paths, challenges they faced, advice they’d share with other women in tech, and what makes Algolia a great place to work. Make sure to check out part I of this series!
Lyline is engineering program manager, working to improve efficiency and collaboration through programs and processes for a team of 100+ engineers. She’s been with Algolia since March 2019.
On being a woman in engineering. I spent twelve years as a software engineer in a variety of companies. Since school, jokes around women, sex or race have been run-of-the-mill I got used to. At the beginning of my career, being a woman felt like an advantage. Companies were trying to correct the macho workplace atmosphere. But over time, I learned that a lot of the behaviours were too entrenched. I realized two things: first, that I couldn’t reach my full potential in a company where I could have any doubts about discrimination; second, that having a female mentor during difficult times became a key enabler in my career.
Why Algolia? With that much experience, I was looking for an environment where being a woman and a mother was accepted and ideally welcomed. From the interviewing process to this day, the team is wonderful. I observe no subjective behaviour or judgment. My manager is open to my ideas and gives me a lot of trust and autonomy. I am able to get involved with diversity initiatives.
The one piece of advice she would give to women following her path. Join a company where you feel comfortable being who you are. In times of doubt, find someone you trust and share your concerns early on.
Why hire more women in engineering? The more women you have, the less sexist or discriminatory the environment will be. Sometimes we see hiring very “locally”: e.g., this team needs this exact role. We forget the larger impact of diversity in terms of ideas and ways of doing things. Veering away from those exact requirements brings a mix of experience that will nurture collective intelligence, and therefore surface a competitive edge to the group.
Who is your favorite woman leader? Vero, our VP of customer care. We started two weeks apart, and I can relate to her in terms of mindset and values. I admire greatly her strategic thinking and the way she influences effectively. Being a woman in revenue is complicated; getting to where she is at while leading with heart is inspiring.
Veronique is Algolia’s VP of customer success. She joined the company in March 2019.
On her path to VP in a revenue organization. I started as a developer in software for transportation logistics. My interest in product improvement, development, and, most of all, helping customers, led me through a variety of roles in project management, technical support and technical account management. I discovered customer success at Salesforce, and have not looked back since. However, all those career “diversions” contributed to my accomplishments in customer success.
On the Algolia difference. In my career, there were times I was told I was too emphatic, that I should simply issue orders in a military style. This is not my kind of leadership. At Algolia, humanity comes from the top. You can ask anyone questions, and anyone can — and will — ask you questions. My personal and life mission is to transfer knowledge to others, and Algolia is the perfect environment for that. Working so closely with everyone, especially people in the field, is an incredible gift, not just from the human perspective, but because it enables me to adjust strategy and act fast.
What not to do if you want to advance your career. It’s such a classic mistake, but still worth mentioning: don’t wait on that promotion based on how obvious your accomplishments and qualifications are. Always be the owner of your career discussion. If you show your manager that you can lead your career, you show that you can lead strategy. And, trust your intuition: if that job is calling you, go for it. Be persistent, regardless of your formal qualifications.
On female leadership. As women, we frequently have to demonstrate more than our male counterparts to get that role, but we are also very resilient, strong and capable. Once in leadership, we are often better at active listening and communication, which is critical. We know how to be straightforward, direct and clear, but also to make sure that our teams understand our mission and where we are going with a lot of kindness.
Zaviear is head of Algolia’s Diversity and Inclusion program and a senior recruiting manager. She’s been with Algolia since 2018.
Her advice to women building careers in tech. Don’t be afraid to apply: roles, titles, and company reputation can be intimidating, but there is no need to worry about not having the right experience. Research shows that women only apply for a role when they feel they meet 100% of the qualifications, whereas men apply when they feel they meet 60%. Reach out to recruiters directly, show interest in areas of potential alignment, and you’ll be surprised with how many doors will start opening for you.
On obstacles for underrepresented groups, including women in tech. Performance bias, whether conscious or unconscious, is a significant issue for women and other underrepresented groups. Although it may be tough, have candid conversations and express when you or your work are not being acknowledged. If the company environment is not open and receptive to it, it’s probably not the right environment for you.
A career mistake she sees women making over and over. Accepting wrong job leveling. We can have a mindset where being grateful for being employed causes us to undervalue our experience when negotiating for the right title and compensation. Understanding the skillsets you bring, the impact you want to have, and building a good story on how you plan to execute this at your new company is far more important than meeting the exact job bullet points.
How she drives D&I at Algolia. Our program started in April 2018 with aims of building diverse teams more strategically and intentionally, and to ensure our culture was inclusive. Early on we invested in embedding diversity & inclusion into building teams and our assessment process. I use the framework of: attract, hire, engage, retain, and then work across functions to build equality, equity and belonging across the candidate and employee experience. The work ranges from designing a fair structured interview process with clear core competencies, to connecting with underrepresented talents communities so they’re aware of the opportunities, to creating employee resources groups — and building an environment where people want to come and will thrive. Intentional tactics bring progress: we’ve seen gender diversity in engineering grow 8x and revenue nearly 2x in a matter of a year and a half.
On unique qualities of women leadership. I don’t believe in or encourage generalizations, but whether by choice or happenstance, the complexity of being a woman means that we often take on a lot of roles both in our professional and personal lives — which means we’re constantly attuned to different pulls. As a result, we have the ability to see problems and challenges from different vantage points. And the ability to compartmentalize, to take a step back, to see things holistically, and to think more broadly about the impact of each decision. Studies say women are better at switching between tasks, and that ability can be a benefit in fast-paced organizations. All of those qualities make for fantastic leaders.
If you love what you read, please consider joining us. Algolia is hiring for a variety of roles on our teams around the world.