What has been your journey in tech so far?
I programmed for the first time as a freshman in college as part of an elective. Prior to the class, I had never programmed, nor had I ever considered Computer Science as a major for myself. In many of my other classes that semester, I spent the majority of my time memorizing. In my programming class, I spent my time doing and I loved the thrill of problem solving. At the end of that semester, I switched my major to CS from Bioengineering and felt optimistic about a future career in tech.
I was a backend engineer for many years before becoming an Engineering Manager on Team Trailhead at Salesforce. Since moving to management, all of my teams have been UI-focused on mobile or web. It’s brought me closer to our users and I’ve enjoyed the new-to-me focus on design and usability that I hadn’t experienced in my day-to-day previously.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced moving into your current role?
My biggest challenge is leading with vulnerability. As someone who’s reserved, I find myself naturally keeping a comfortable professional distance. The distance often prevented me from quickly developing deep relationships built on trust, courage and authenticity with my directs and peers.
And how you’re working to overcome the challenge.
It’s been a journey to lessen the professional distance, first with a couple peers whom I was already comfortable with and slowly adopting the discomfort more widely in the majority of my interactions. I’ve found that as I became more open with my thoughts, others were more open with theirs, improving trust, efficiency, engagement, and overall effectiveness.
Briefly describe your stack and workflow (e.g. the technologies and frameworks you use, how often you ship updates etc.)
At Trailhead, our tech stack on the back-end is Ruby on Rails and a mix of React and Salesforce’s own Lightning Web Components on the front-end, deployed on Heroku. In addition, we have an Android app built using Kotlin and an iOS app using Swift.
Over the past year, Trailhead has been on a journey to maximize efficiency and team productivity partly through architecture. We’ve moved to a
service oriented architecture, adopted the back-end for front-end pattern with GraphQL APIs, and we’re looking forward to moving more and more toward the micro front-end model. Exciting times ahead!
What does your typical day look like? (e.g. Ways you interact with your team, Tools or processes you use to organise yourself)
My sunrise alarm clock goes off at 5:30 am. I start the day by making myself an oat latte before a 60-minute workout to get my mind and body going for the day. The predictability of the routine helps ground me.
I like to start my day early, before the rush of meetings. I’m usually online by 8 am. I start by looking over my calendar for the day, catching up on Slack, my Quip Updates feed, and emails, and preparing for the day’s meetings. In an average week, my time is split pretty evenly into three categories: weekly 1:1s with my directs, facilitating scrum meetings and keeping things orderly as scrum master, and meeting with my peers (whether that be in cross-functional project or strategy meetings, recurring 1:1s, or staff meetings.).
During the day, Slack and email usually occupy half of my screen so I can passively keep tabs on “all” things while focusing on my own day. My ideal state is 0 unread on Slack, email and Quip. Easier said than done! Nonetheless, I try. During the day, I’ll read my Slack message and emails as they arrive. If there’s an action required from me that would take me less than 3 minutes (e.g. answer a question, create a user story, approve an expense), I’ll do it right then. If the action requires my full attention or more time than I have at the moment, I’ll mark the message as unread. At the end of the day, after my meetings, I’ll go back and address all my unreads to get to 0 inbox, 0 unreads in Slack, and 0 DMs open in the Slack sidebar (as I dismiss DMs once I feel the conversation is over for the time being) before signing off.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part is our mission at Trailhead to empower everyone to learn in-demand skills for free and connect to in-demand jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem. And the cherry on top is that I get to work alongside wonderful, talented people.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?
“Alone I can go fast, together we can go far.”
What is your most useful resource (book, blog, newsletter)?
At Grace Hopper 2019, I went to a session led by Jo Miller called “5 Ways to Lead When You’re Not in Charge.” Her views on leadership and professional development transformed my perspective on my own role and responsibilities as a leader. Soon after, I read her book Woman of Influence: 9 Steps to Build Your Brand, Establish Your Legacy, and Thrive, which I recommend.
Recently, I’ve also been interested in how the methods of highly effective sports coaches can be applied to building a strong team in tech. I started thinking about this after watching a couple docuseries on Netflix: The Last Dance, which follows the Michael Jordan era of the Chicago Bulls and The Playbook, which spotlights 5 successful coaches and their methodologies.
What’s one thing you’d like to learn, develop or work on in 2021?
At Salesforce, we have a framework to help communicate one’s vision, values and goals for life (both professional and personal) called the V2Me, a riff off of the V2MOM (which we use for planning and prioritizing on the company side). The V2Me helps someone set intention and helps build human connection between colleagues. I’ve really enjoyed reading the V2Mes of my directs, my manager, and my skip level. It’s helped me be a better colleague to them.
Admittedly, I’ve been working on my V2Me for far too long, mostly avoiding it because it’s felt tedious to dig deep into my own self-awareness. I’m hopeful that 2021 is the year I complete my V2Me.
Joyce is an engineering manager at Salesforce. She’s been at Salesforce for 5 years, working on the Salesforce platform for her first 3 years and Trailhead the last 2. When not immersed in tech, she enjoys true crime podcasts and participating in reading challenges on Goodreads.