Our experience at Grace Hopper Celebration 2019

Our experience at Grace Hopper Celebration 2019

Laura: Since joining DoorDash about 1 year ago, I have been involved in a number of initiatives related to empowering women in tech, including being part of the leadership committee for Women@, and a board member for our female new employee buddy program, which aims to support new women engineers during on-boarding by pairing them up with another woman engineer in the company. When I learned I was selected to attend GHC 2019 and represent DoorDash, I was thrilled by the opportunity to meet and learn from amazing and inspiring women in tech. I was also super excited to be able to share my story and all the new and ongoing initiatives we have to support women at DoorDash.

It was my second time attending the annual Grace Hopper Celebration, and even though it had only been a couple of years since I last attended, the celebration has really grown exponentially. With an estimated 30,000 attendees, the Orange County Conference Center in Orlando was flowing with tech talent from multiple parts of academia and industry. I was thoroughly impressed by the number of tech talks, presentations, panels and workshops available that catered to multiple career stages. 

Nikita: The Grace Hopper Celebration has always been on the top of my professional bucket list and the day I learned that I’d been selected to attend, I was exulting with joy. As a first-timer at the Grace Hopper Conference, it was a memorable and fruitful experience with a lot of learnings to  share with all my friends at DoorDash! 

Attending the Grace Hopper Conference as a junior engineer helped me gain insights to the magnificent world of technology. The experience gave me an opportunity to learn more about my leadership potential. I was equipped with the tools to lead even without a leadership title.  Lastly, the experience provided me with the opportunity to spend some time with my colleagues that I do not get to partner with regularly, socializing at events and talking to aspiring software engineers, while talking to people of all genders who were eager to join the DoorDash family.

The Booth. DoorDash’s booth at the expo hall and career fair was the largest in our history, and even though it looked roomy, the space was overflowing for all of the 3 days with top tech talent.

It was such a delight to meet so many young and beautiful minds, full of energy and passion for technology. We had the unique opportunity to share more about DoorDash’s culture and values and our passion for diversity and inclusion at all levels of the industry. Our very own VP of Engineering, Ryan Sokol, spent a lot of his time at the booth talking to many candidates who were interested in interviewing with us. One team, one fight.

The Interviews. While at the conference, we also had the chance to interview some amazing prospective candidates for summer internships and full-time software engineering roles. As part of our core value of getting 1% better every day, we made sure our hiring bar was equitable by having shadow interviewers and debriefs at the end of each day. We were very humbled by the enthusiasm, talent, and ambition of every one of our candidates, and we are so happy to share that we were able to make 2 hires from this process.

ATC Fun. After-the-conference, the DoorDash troupe celebrated Laura’s birthday with a well-deserved team dinner accompanied by delicious cake!

Post-conference, we also made it a point each day to spend time together over dinner!

The sessions (Laura). While at GHC, I was very fortunate to attend a number of sessions on being a woman leader in tech, but the one that resonated the most was an interactive workshop by Jo Miller: “5 Ways to Lead When You’re Not in Charge”. It’s important to acknowledge that different sets of skills are needed depending on your career stage, especially when making the leap from individual contributors to lead. Jo focused on the following shifts in mindset to succeed as a leader:

  1. From being a tactician to being a strategist: focus on the big picture
  2. From doing to delegating: don’t try to do it all. Learn to delegate and assign tasks to elevate people around you as well
  3. From optimizer to transformer: look for groundbreaking changes
  4. From order taker to rule breaker: some rules were made for breaking, be smart about risk-taking
  5. From me to we: seek people whose skills are the opposite of yours and learn from diversity.

The sessions (Nikita). A lot of the panels I attended were about being an owner. Listing out a few of my favorite phrases from the panels that I attended : 

  • Think like a leader and lead like an owner
  • As humans, we are who we are and who we are not yet (yet to explore)
  • Leaders should build ensembles anytime they get an opportunity to do so.
  • Hear offers. Build with them.

While attending these sessions, I also came across a bunch of best-practices, suggested by various women leaders in tech which could be put to use by our teams, especially if you’re leading.

  • Lead by listening.
  • Slow down and look.
  • Begin staff meetings/stand-ups with shoutouts and applause.
  • Put the relationship first – I’m leading, we’re a team. Not about me, but us.

Lastly, would love to talk about this particular session, hosted by Nadia Rivero and Maureen Kelly on ‘Improvise! The Art of Leadership’. This one was my favorite because of the way these two speakers made us believe in what they were talking about rather than just stating them as facts, through some engaging activities! One of the activities they made us do was to alternate between leading and following, the leader would make gestures and the follower would have to follow the leader to come up with something like a mirror. As we had to switch between being the leader and the follower, when prompted to by the speakers, at one point we realized that it’s difficult to find out who’s leading and who’s following because by then, both of us had aligned and adapted to working with each other!

The other activity was on – Hear offers. Build with them.

We were made to synthesize a conversation firstly by replying with “Yes, but . .” every time and the second set of conversation, we were asked to reply with “Yes, and . . “. The difference in the way the conversation proceeded was so obvious! Conversations with “Yes, but . .” always sounded pessimistic. On the other hand, conversations with “Yes, and . .” sounded very promising!

Grace Hopper Celebration 2019 was an amazing conference that far exceeded our expectations! We were so humbled to represent DoorDash at the biggest gathering of women technologists in the world. If you would like to learn more about our culture, values and available opportunities, please visit www.doordash.com/careers

Laura is an iOS engineer in the Logistics Execution team at DoorDash where she has been for over a year, improving the dasher experience in the mobile clients and solving complex logistics challenges in our delivery space. Nikita is a Software Engineer on the Payments Team and enjoys helping onboard our new Engineering hires, every week. Outside of work, she loves to paint, go on hikes and play badminton/ cricket. She also loves to dash!
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