1. How long have you been at Optimizely?
I began here as a Former Episerver employee in October of 2017, so four years and four months.
2. What does your role entail? Can you take us through a day in the life at Optimizely?
Engineering Operations is all about working directly with our CTO and Engineering leadership to help ensure communication is flowing and everyone is in alignment on strategic priorities and programs important to the evolution of our products. This in turn, helps drive value of the delivery to our customers. The engineering world is a fast-paced realm to reside in, so it goes without saying that no two days are the same. Today, I worked on some requirements for additional new hire resources, a rollout plan for centralization of our collaboration tools and communication around our Engineering Mentoring Program.
3. Where did you grow up and where are you located now?
I grew up in a small town in North Carolina. We had zero stoplights and a lot of tobacco fields. The majority of my childhood was spent outdoors running barefoot with my cousins, playing with our animals or helping my grandparents in the field. They grew small crops of mostly veggies like corn, potatoes, beans, and tomatoes. I believe my experience growing up in the country fed into my love for nature and being outdoors.
I’ve lived in the Triangle area of North Carolina, but have settled in the Piedmont Triad area for now.
4. Why did you join Optimizely and what has kept you here?
I joined the company because I love technology and wanted to work somewhere on the cutting edge. It was important that the company culture was conducive to the overall health and well-being of employees. I’ve always felt valued as a remote worker and everyone I have reported to has helped me maintain that balance.
With Alex at the helm, I will say that sentiment goes all the way to the top. He has shown tremendous support for everyone throughout the pandemic. Alex has also been a very vocal proponent of Optimizely’s DE&I initiatives and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
So, I came for the innovation and flexibility, and stayed for growth and opportunity. I’ve also built some very pivotal relationships throughout my time here and look forward to making more connections.
5. What is your favorite thing about your role?
My favorite thing about my role is the level of collaboration I have with Engineering leadership here at Optimizely. I have a front row seat into the innerworkings of the org and am able to gain valuable insights into the product roadmap and overall focus. We work closely with the Product org as well, so being a part of that alignment and execution is exciting.
6. Tell us about your favorite Optimizely behavior.
I would have to say it would be a combination of “Get it Done Together” and “Embrace Inclusion”. The two go hand in hand as inclusion is integral to working together as a team to accomplish whichever goals are set out. Having a strong company culture around bringing together various outlooks and perspectives helps ensure longevity and success as the world isn’t a homogeneous mixture. Just as the composition of our customers and the users they target are varied, so should be the teams that drive to deliver their optimal outcomes. We miss the mark when we allow status quo to dictate how we evolve. Just as technology can quickly become obsolete, so can organizations if there is more stagnation than opportunity for change.
7. What are you excited about in the future at Optimizely?
I’m most excited about the accelerated growth of our Opti family and the potential to fold in so many experiences and skills under one umbrella. Our products may be digital but people are our primary resource. When our various teams are on the same page and working as one, we have so much to offer in terms of the output to our customers and partners. At the same time, it is fulfilling knowing that we were each a cog in the wheel that rolled across the finish line. That teamwork and camaraderie are the most integral foundational pieces of what will drive our continued success.
8. Where’s your favorite travel spot?
This is a tough one! I don’t think I can choose between Italy and Barbados. Both are really beautiful countries with a rich history and delectable cuisine. I love being near the sea, so any opportunity I have to relax on somebody’s beach is a day well spent.
9. What advice would you give to new Optimizers?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one expects you to walk through the door an expert. There are some great resources available to help navigate your way, so dive in but remember to pace yourself. You can drink from the firehose, but don’t forget to come up for air.
10. Tell us about a historical event that inspired you in some way?
In honor of Black History Month, I would look to highlight the “Greensboro Four” and their courageous decision to sit down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter where they were refused service simply because they were not white. To you or I today, the idea of that type of discrimination is appalling. However, in the “Jim Crow” era, the South was both an unwelcoming and unsafe place to be black.
Imagine not having the ability to sit down and enjoy a meal because there were people that believed you to be less than or undeserving of respect. In 1960, these young men from my Alma mater risked their lives by staging this non-violent sit-in protest. They didn’t give up when they were yelled at, spat at or even when they had food and drink poured on their heads. Their courageousness inspired other students to join in the movement and before long, the sit-in movement spread nationwide.
The National Sit-In Movement helped to spark the change that paved the way to the Civil Rights Act and desegregation. Without these acts of valor, the world as we know it would not be nearly as full of the varied experiences and connections that abound because we are able to co-exist as people.
11. Tell us something about yourself that we would find surprising.
I don’t know if you would find it surprising, but I love to cosplay. It is sort of like adult dress up, but as characters from comics or tv shows/movies. Some notable favorites were Storm (from X-Men), Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Catwoman and Poison Ivy (both from Batman).
12. What do you like to do outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy being outdoors either soaking up some sunshine or doing something more active like playing basketball or hiking. I also derive great joy in cuddles and playtime with my cats and taking my kids on mini-adventures. Any opportunity to take in some art or live music is an ideal time for me. Oftentimes, I feel inspired to express creativity through writing, photography, painting or dance. I also dedicate a spare moment or two to catch up on some of my favorite series or the latest action movie or thriller.