3+ Things I Learned at Girl Geek 2022

April 7, 2022 — Written by Griselle Ong

Women make up just 28.8% of the tech workforce, and it’s more critical than ever for companies to spotlight female leaders in STEM. When I started my career journey as a software engineer almost nine years ago, I never thought I’d become a manager and oversee a team. However, throughout my career, I worked with inspiring leaders who believed in me and supported me as I continued to grow.

That’s why I was excited to tune into the 2022 Girl Geek Conference—fittingly timed to International Women’s Day—which featured a conversation between two of Opendoor’s exceptional technical leaders: Heather Natour, Head of Engineering, Seller & Consumer Growth and Raji Subramanian, VP of Engineering. I’m grateful to work with female leaders such as Heather and Raji, who inspire me as a manager and engineer on a daily basis and encourage me to pay it forward.

As I think about my own career growth, and ways to help my team grow and create impact, here are four things I learned from Raji and Heather’s conversation:

Tip #1: Use a framework when goal setting, like Raji’s “3P Framework”.

Thinking about career growth for ourselves and our direct reports can be overwhelming. Having a set of questions we ask ourselves to evaluate our careers brings structure to the process. I recommend the goal setting dimensions that Raji uses—she calls it the “3P Framework” for Purpose, Passion, and People. To apply this framework, consider the following:

• Passion: What drives you? What do you care deeply about? Where do you want to make the most impact?
• Purpose: Are you aligning your passion to something that matters? Why do you do what you do? 
People: As an individual contributor, are you surrounding yourself with people who inspire you? As a manager, are you taking the time to help your team excel and provide opportunities that align with their passion? 

Ask yourself these questions to ensure you’re following a framework that will generate career growth for you and for others.

Tip #2: Lead from the front.

This has been a struggle for me, especially at times when I’ve faced impostor syndrome, or feelings of inadequacy of work. It can be intimidating, but I found that it’s empowering to “hold the mic”, as Raji put it, and push for something you truly believe in. 

As managers, how do we give opportunities to our direct reports to lead from the front? Whether it’s leading a project, presenting at meetings or having face time with senior leaders, how are we providing those we manage opportunities for growth and recognition? And how are we providing the coaching and support to help them gain the confidence to grab those opportunities?  

Tip #3: Be intentional. 

A lot of the advice given boils down to one thing: Be intentional when thinking about career growth. We should constantly ask ourselves why we do what we do and how we can best create value given our individual passions and expertise. It’s a conversation I regularly have with my direct reports. 

As a manager, sharing my purpose helps keep me accountable but also inspires my team to do the same for themselves. It’s also something I’ve observed in both Heather and Raji, especially as leaders who show up for their teams everyday at Opendoor. So how can you be intentional?

• Focus on creating value: Adding value to everything you do is a career driver. Think about your work, goals and process in terms of what that value is for you, your team and the company. 
• Track your impact: Is what you are doing impacting the business, your team or a particular project? As you move forward in your career, are you having more influence on larger scale initiatives?
Strive for multi-dimensional growth: Are you growing in different ways? For software engineers, it could mean developing not just your technical skills, but also your product understanding and communication skills.

Tip #4: Think about your network.

As Raji mentioned, being “in the know” matters. Building the right relationships can expose you to new opportunities and enriching ideas that challenge your thinking. This can be challenging in our remote workplace and something I’m intentionally working on everyday. And as managers, we should also ask who is in our own inner circle. Are we including different perspectives and giving our team opportunities to expand their own network?

Check out Raji and Heather’s conversation at Girl Geek 2022 for yourself, here.

Interested in working with Raji, Heather and myself? Check out our open roles.

Griselle Astrid Ong is an Engineering Manager at Opendoor.