Diversity & Inclusion in Tech with Christine Awad

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Christine AwadWhat are the challenges that accompany being a woman leader in technology? How can you be an ally for women in your workplace? How do you overcome imposter syndrome? These are just a few of the questions Christine Awad—the Director of Engineering at Facebook—so kindly answers in this episode of Simple Leadership.

Christine Joined Facebook 6.5 years ago as a software engineer on the Facebook Video team and then transitioned to be an engineering manager supporting Video Creator Tools. She led the engineering team for Facebook Watch from its initial launch to being used by more than 1.25 billion users monthly around the world. She is currently supporting the engineering team building Video Chat and Rooms across Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook. Originally from Egypt, she went to school there and did an internship at Facebook in 2014 before joining full-time.

In this episode of Simple Leadership, Christine Awad and I cover an important topic: Diversity & Inclusion in Tech. Don’t miss it! #Leadership #Leaders #Tech #Inclusion #Diversity #WomenInLeadership #Culture #Community #DiversityMattersClick To Tweet

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:37] Get to know Christine Awad
  • [3:25] The transition to management
  • [6:46] Mistakes that Christine’s learned from
  • [9:38] Statistics about women in tech
  • [14:37] Christine’s negative experiences
  • [19:40] The topic of imposter syndrome
  • [25:30] Covid-19’s impact on women in the workplace
  • [30:13] Two Facebook programs to highlight
  • [31:04] The importance of support systems
  • [35:10] How to navigate the interview process
  • [39:39] How to connect with Christine Awad

Christine’s transition to management

Christine specifically remembers not wanting to be in any sort of leadership position. She loved coding and didn’t want to be stuck in meetings 24/7. But her manager at the time said she had great leadership capabilities and would make a great manager. When her manager went on parental leave, she was asked to do one-on-ones with her team while he was out. She discovered that people were having crucial conversations with their managers.

She had a new grad come in and wanted to learn the path from E3 to E4. This person took her recommendations and made changes and moved up the ladder. Another female colleague pointed out that people talked over her in meetings. Christine had a similar experience but had an ally who helped her voice become heard. Christine was able to be that for her. She began to feel a sense of fulfillment that she hadn’t before. She felt that her greatest accomplishments were working with her colleagues, not the products she completed.

What are some of the mistakes Christine made in the beginning that she learned from? Keep listening to hear her experience!

Diversity & inclusion in tech

According to Peer Research, women make up 46% of the workforce but only 14% are in software in engineering. 3% of computer-related jobs are held by African American women, 6% by Asian women, and 2% by Hispanic women. 50% have experienced gender discrimination at work. In 2016, women-led businesses only made up 4.9% of VC-backed deals.

Many companies implement courses about discrimination, managing bias, managing inclusion, and classes about being an ally. All of these things are good—but are they enough? Christine points out that it’s also helpful to see people in the room that look like you.

Often being the only woman in the room made Christine more ambitious. When Christine was young, she was also the first person to show up to her math class. Boys thought she was different because she liked math. So she saw it as a challenge to become better. She wants to be a reason for people to believe that women can thrive in these jobs. But other women in leadership positions feel like it’s a large burden.

Christine is in rooms where she’s the only woman. She’s in rooms where there are conversations about who to hire or who to promote to leadership positions. She tries to sponsor other women whenever possible. She notes a lot more work can be done to get more women to apply for these jobs. She believes that more women will apply when they see themselves represented in the workforce.

We cover the topic of imposter syndrome—and much more—in this episode of Simple Leadership. Don’t miss it! #Leadership #Leaders #Tech #Inclusion #Diversity #WomenInLeadership #Culture #Community #DiversityMattersClick To Tweet

The topic of imposter syndrome

Christine has seen examples where someone doesn’t feel confident enough to apply for a job. Christine believes overcoming this comes from having people around you who lift you up. Over time, you won’t need people to push you. Christine pushes women to sponsor other people, that you can’t wait for people to come to you. Who might be qualified that isn’t coming forward?

When Christine had just joined Facebook, she had just come out of school in Egypt. She didn’t know if she was good enough. In every one-on-one, her manager seemed to only point out what she was missing. She was struggling so much that she lost it and felt horrible at her job. But her manager explained that she was really good at her job and that he pointed out what she missed so she could learn and grow.

She points out that you must remember that the fact that you work at these companies in the first place means you’re qualified to be there.

The impact of COVID on women in the workplace

Christine points out that all of the policies that were enforced before COVID no longer applied in a pandemic. She emphasizes that being flexible and realizing that people need that is key. Christine had had many parents able to take COVID leave—anywhere from weeks to months—to take care of their kids. Christine also implemented flexible hours while trying to make sure her teams weren’t overworked or burned out.

Women in computer science are there because they push themselves. Christine’s job is to tell them that we are in unexpected times. The fact that you’re struggling to cope with this doesn’t mean you’re failing—it means you’re human. Women tend to place unrealistic expectations on themselves and need to be told that it’s okay to focus on their family over their career.

Facebook has implemented a special program during COVID where you can work with your manager to decide what you’re capable of achieving for a Half and you’re evaluated on that versus the normal expectations of your level. All workplaces need to adopt these types of policies so a workforce is ready to innovate at 100% after things get back to normal.

How important are support systems? What are some of the resources available at Facebook? Listen to the whole episode to learn more!

What impact did COVID have on women in the workplace? Christine Awad shares her experience in this episode of Simple Leadership. Check it out! #Leadership #Leaders #Tech #Inclusion #Diversity #WomenInLeadership #Culture #Community #DiversityMattersClick To Tweet

Resources & People Mentioned

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We cover the topic of imposter syndrome—and much more—in this episode of Simple Leadership. Don’t miss it! #Leadership #Leaders #Tech #Inclusion #Diversity #WomenInLeadership #Culture #Community #DiversityMatters Click To Tweet

Read Full Transcript

This is simple leadership. Welcome.

Were you here to learn from new and seasoned technology leaders who all share a passion for improving the craft of technology management? Let’s take a deep dive into management, leadership challenges, and best practices specific to software engineering and technology teams. Do you want more engineering management, leadership, tactics, and information.

subscribe@simpleleadership.io to receive the latest updates from this podcast. Hi, I’m your host Christian McCarrick. This is the simple leadership podcast. Welcome back. Today’s guest is Christine Awad. Christine is the director of engineering at Facebook. She joined Facebook six and a half years ago as a software engineer on the Facebook video team, and then transitioned to be an engineering manager, supporting video creator tools.

She led the engineering team for Facebook watch from initial launch to being used by more than 1.2, 5 billion users monthly around the world. She’s currently supporting the engineering team, building video chat in rooms, across messenger, Instagram and Facebook. Originally from Egypt. She went to school there and did an internship at Facebook in 2014 before joining full time. On today’s episode, we discuss the challenges of being a woman leader in technology and how to better support DNI initiatives on your teams. Good morning, Christine. Welcome to the show.

Christine Awad: [00:01:18] Good morning. Thank you for having me.

Christian McCarrick: [00:01:20] Absolutely. How are you doing today?

Christine Awad: [00:01:22] I’m good. How are you doing?

Christian McCarrick: [00:01:23] I’m doing well. It’s Friday. I’m looking forward to the weekend. Where are you calling in from today?

Christine Awad: [00:01:27] New York, California. So I am from my house then.

Christian McCarrick: [00:01:32] Excellent. I think that’s pretty much where we’ve all been for about the last year. Working from home. So as I do with all my guests, Christine, I’d love to have my listeners get to know you a little bit better. If you could just take a minute or two and give me kind of a brief background, sort of how you got to be where you are today.

Christine Awad: [00:01:46] Yeah. So originally I come from, I actually spent first 21 years of my life. There went to school there, studied computer science. Got there. Since I was pretty young, like, I was just like obsessed with like computers.

My dad got me into courses where they like were teaching DUS very when I was really young actually. And then school, they were, it was a new thing in Egypt. Egypt is not like very advanced in computer science, at least at the time. But my school was chosen for like something called like smart school initiative.

So they were actually teaching programming and picking up classes. So I learned. Visual basic C-sharp then C plus, and went into informatics like Olympics, informatics, them books, and then went to college, studied computer science, did some competitions in ECM, so that competitive programming. And then I had a friend of mine who had an internship.

Uh, Google who ended up referring me and I did the internship at Google. Then while I was doing the internship at Google, another friend referred me to Facebook and I actually did that internship at Facebook in the U S and then after I finished school, I got a full-time offer after my internship and came to Facebook and they’ve asked, and this is my only full-time job been here for like 6.6 and a half.

For close, closest seven years versus a software engineer, then a manager then now engineering that active at Facebook.

Christian McCarrick: [00:03:17] Awesome. Congratulations on your journey. It sounds awesome. And one of the things too, you’ve been at Facebook for pretty much, your career started as an IC. How did you get into management? What sort of led you to do that? Was this something you always thought you wanted to do or kind of evolved? Naturally?

Christine Awad: [00:03:31] I actually thought very explicitly that they don’t want to do this. I remember my first couple of years I felt of managers as. Oh, they spent all of their times in meetings and I love just coding all the time.

Why would I be a manager ever? And I remember my manager, like in my a year and a half in or something, I was like the tech leading a big project. And he said, Hey, you actually show really good leadership capabilities. I think he would be a good manager. And I was like, I can do like leadership abilities as an IC.

And I actually still like actually push ICS all the time. Hey, you don’t need to transition to managers. But then my manager went on parental leave for four months and he asked me to like start doing one-on-ones with the team that I was working with. And I was like, Okay. It’s like temporary, but like I used to do one-on-ones anyway.

And we used to spend it talking about the project. What would be so different this time, but it was actually incredibly different. I like, I discovered that people were having like, actually the interesting, crucial conversations with their manager because the manager was not there. And the skip manager at the time was like a VP of engineering.

So like the time he was spending with the team was like once a month. So I was like, basically kind of almost like. Semi manager at the time. And then I hit a few interesting cases. Like I had like a new grad come in and tell me, Hey, like I’d love to know what’s the path from  what’s different. And I was like, Oh, he does, like, from my experience, he does a thing and he does the things to look at.

And then I started seeing this person do this changes and get their way. And I had another colleague at work. She was a female colleague who telling me like, Hey, I feel like sometimes. People unintentionally speak over me in meetings. I don’t know what, how to do it. And I was like, I felt something similar.

And I had this ally who had it in my voice into the conversation. And now I don’t feel this anymore. And I started dating this person for her. And I started seeing like a sense of fulfillment. I would say that I just didn’t expect to have, except from like coding and launching code. And that was. Oh, that’s interesting.

So when my manager came back, I was like, okay, I’m willing to give this a try, but not officially, but like to actually be in that role. And then I discovered also like, okay, I really feel super fulfilled by mentoring people by having these conversations and helping them out. And at the end of the year, I was like looking back at what were my greatest accomplishments.

And it was like, Oh, it was the situations versus the products. That we were launching. So I was like, okay. I mean, it’s not a one way door. So I basically tried it out and of 2016 or beginning of 2017 and it was like, I like it. So I have States since then.

Christian McCarrick: [00:06:12] Great. Yeah. I found a lot of managers that I talk to are sort of the reluctant managers and not a lot of people come in saying I want to be a manager. That’s my career goal. But I think like you, a lot of other people also sort of, there’s some reason maybe a manager leaves and maybe it’s a little bit more temporary slash permanent or someone goes on leave, which is, I think, I think there’s also another great opportunity. The listeners out there, if you’re managing people, if you see that, that you can potentially also have someone go on leave, maybe try to fill in for a role.

And I think that gives them a lot of maybe confidence or other things to even succeed in their IC job, not just their manager job.

Christine Awad: [00:06:44] I agree.

Christian McCarrick: [00:06:45] Great. Now, something else I’ll ask all my guests that transition to management is not always completely seamless. Even today. I continue to make mistakes. We all make mistakes. Any ones that stand out to you that you’ve made protect the innocent, of course, but anything you’ve made that you’ve learned from, or you can help some of the listeners learn from yeah.

Christine Awad: [00:07:02] Numerous mistakes. I think in all levels of relationships, I have made mistakes, especially early on with like people who I support, the mistakes I have made was assuming that everyone is like me. So people will want to be supported the way I’m supported, which is like a classic manager mistake. They went through and I had to actually like learn it the really hard way, but I was like really lucky to have people I support to it, like push back really hard and be like, Hey Christine, this is not Taiwan.

This to like, I would be getting these like messages. I think this was probably the biggest. People mistake. I think the other one is just like, kind of being sometimes forceful in advice based on experience. Like when I feel like someone is like me is someone who has similar career trajectory or really hard and specific thing I would like to be giving them, Hey, you will burn out.

Watch out. And I remember in my days, I was like used to like, when my managers come to me and tell me this, I’d be like, why are you saying like, we are very different people. Why are you giving me advice in this specific way? And I made this mistake of doing good the same way as well. Interesting. But I think the biggest mistakes beyond on supporting people on my, with my peers and everything else is that I just didn’t realize that like, Being the manager.

It starts to also have a specific weight when you start having a specific feedback in conversations. So I used to, like, I also joined Facebook very young. It didn’t have, let’s say the mistakes that you make of like, just being, I’m an engineer. And I want to just execute in this thing and I have never been an engineer before and someone is blocking me.

So this person is a blocker and considering like specific functions of blockers, et cetera, was like one of the things that like I hit. And honestly, I didn’t see it back then this way, but I feel like now it’s like blessed by the fact that I had managers who very explicitly had a high bar on this and blocked my promotions a couple of times to actually teach a lesson that yes, you can be like amazing at execution.

You can like bulldozer your way, whatever way you want to. But if you don’t build the. Relationships and bring people along and be a true leader on the team. Then you will never be successful and people wouldn’t not want to work with you. And if people don’t want to work with you, then what’s the point.

Christian McCarrick: [00:09:19] That’s right. Yeah. No, thank you. I thank you for being candid with that. I appreciate it. I think I just do this. I’d ask these questions too, because sometimes I think especially first time managers. They get the sense that they have to be perfect right from the start. And that’s not true. We all make mistakes, but like you said, it’s important to have that introspective to be able to look and learn and then to improve over time.

So thank you for that. One of the things too, I think we often focus these shows on one topic and the topic we’re gonna focus. Our conversation today on is going to be around diversity inclusion in tech, specifically women in tech. And I do thank you, Christine, for coming on and agreeing to talk candidly about this is critical yet I think challenging topics. So thank you for that. I do want to start off with some statistics. According to Pew research thing today, women make up about 46% of the overall workforce in the U S yet only about 14% are in software engineering, slightly higher in the larger sort of computer related fields.

3% of computing related jobs are held by African-American women. 6% held the Asian women and 2% by Hispanic women, 50% of women say that experienced gender discrimination at work. And in 2016, women only received about 2% of total investor funding and women led businesses made up just 4.9% of all VC backed deals.

So, as I mentioned this, and I don’t think these stats are anything new to you, Christine. I mean, what are your thoughts when you hear stats like this, how does it affect you? How does being a woman in tech kind of shaped your experience?

Christine Awad: [00:10:35] Yeah. So it’s an interesting topic in gender. The stats are sobering. Like we, it seems like also almost every year, while there is some progress, the progress is just so much slower than what we were hoping for. I think when people like ask me this and say, Hey, what are the reasons? And then even if you end up like digging deeper, if you look into the workforce and computer science, Even in like companies that push for diversity and really cared about diversity so much like Facebook, the percentage of women who are in like entry-level jobs since I’ve taught engineering is very different than women in like leadership level and beyond how a lot of people think, okay, is it like, how do we fix it by courses of like discrimination?

We think through like managing bias, managing inclusion, we have classes in Facebook, like be the ally, which are all like, actually a really good. And I think how a lot, and I have seen like people go through them and then think, Oh, I actually was doing this action. And I discovered this right now. But I think it also comes from just seeing people in the room around you who look like you as a woman in tech.

One of the things that I was like, kind of blessed buys, it’s like, actually, when I have other women in the room, they send me sometimes screenshots of like, Hey, here it is this like meeting group right now. It’s like, it has 30 managers and only two are women. Or there is no black men or women in the room.

So I do think the situation is hard for me, how it affected me personally is probably two things, which is probably different than how it would affect other women. But some women do it the same way is it kind of made me more ambitious in a way, which is like the front is like, I took it as a challenge of when I was very young.

I don’t know if this happens and they last or not, but back in Egypt, one of the things I was always the first in class in math. Mathematics. And I used to like, get the feedback from other boys at school of like, Oh, it’s very weird that you are a girl and that you like math and you were like, good, that’s it.

And I was like, I saw this as like a challenge of like, okay, then I will be better at math again, to be good at it. And I took it the same way in like computer science. But then now when I feel like I’m the only person in the room, I’m like, okay, I’m going to be a reason why people believe that, like women can do it and do it more, which I understand this actually like when you talk to people from underrepresented community, some people will feel this way.

And some people feel like this is a huge burden on them as well. So like, I’m not saying that this is the angle, but this is how it affected me. And I think the other thing is like I started being very insistent on being an ally. Two people. So I am in rooms where I’m the only woman in the room and I am in rooms where people discuss opportunities for other, like, we have an opening for an engineering manager role where we have an opening for someone to join leadership.

Who do we consider? So I start seeing, Hey, this person like being like a sponsor for others. Women to be there, or I’m in a room when performance management is described. And then if I end up seeing any example where I would say what I feel like we’re promoting this person, he has been expecting it. And I’m like, okay, who are the other women who probably haven’t talked to you about this?

So like, if you start seeing things that are not explicitly like intentional bias, but you start watching it’s out and this is how. It has affected me and how I’m trying to like pay back. And then finally, just the thing that I cared about the most on diversity is like, I do think there is a ton of work that we can do on finding women who apply.

But I think also people apply when they see examples of them. So the thing that I’ve been focusing on is women who are already in the company. What I see a lot of potential in them, how can like. I provide them with a mentorship, similar to how people like mentored me and were the allies for me and sponsored me.

Christian McCarrick: [00:14:26] Sure. No, thank you for sharing. I appreciate that. But you’ve mentioned in that a couple of things from early on, you’ve mentioned a couple of things you’ve seen around, maybe some unintentional bias. Are you comfortable sharing any negative experiences or challenges you’ve experienced or other you’ve experienced happened to other women in tech that maybe are a little more blatant or maybe not so blatant.

And I think those, sometimes those are the important things to let some of the listeners hear, especially some of the men listeners here that might not understand that this is a behavior that is actually hurtful harmful in some way to women in tech.

Christine Awad: [00:14:57] I think an example that I faced personally, and I have seen a couple of women face says being described as aggressive and because of being aggressive listed as, okay, this person like Christine was aggressive in the situation.

So she was not bringing people along. And why there is feedback there that is valid around. How do you should everyone should push people, bring people along? I think in other cases, I have seen men being described as effective in them or not getting the feedback as much. And I think how it has affected me is that I got to face where I call it out.

Sometimes I’m like, Things like, I don’t want, because I’m a woman to get a pass on, not bringing people along. So like, first of all, like I acknowledge that this is a good feedback and what I’m doing to do it, but then it’d be like, okay, every single person should watch out for their biases. And also watch out for the other people, biases around them.

And the fact is like, as women, we are expected to be like nicer than we are expected to be bringing people along. Even if you feel like don’t mention it as much. And when I get feedback like this, I actually kind of push people to be like, okay, maybe do go to like. Managing pious classes and watch out for it.

And then when I am in the person, who’s actually running meetings and I see feedback where, when we talk about men, we talk a lot about the accomplishments and the things that they have actually like what was the result? Of their behavior. And when we talk about women, we talk about behavior more than the results I like, I watch out for it.

And so these were examples that I had, honestly, in more recent years, I have seen this behavior improve and I have seen like other people calling it out other than me in the room. So like, I was really actually delighted. We just went through mid cycle calibrations of. Like high level ICS promotion and high level manager promotion.

And I’ve seen other people, other men in the room who are allies who, when something like this was described, I didn’t have to be the person who was like calling this out in a meeting. I was like, okay, this is actually amazing progress. I’m so glad. Oh, your classes are working. No, no, no. That’s good. That’s great to hear too.

Christian McCarrick: [00:17:12] I think it’s fantastic. And it’s one of the reasons I joined. I think Facebook and just candidly, I think one of the things, as you mentioned, calibrations, and I do feel that clearly there’s room for improvement continually in every org, no matter where you are. And I think we do take that feedback, but I think the level of hopefully quantitative type analysis that we do and try to leveling the playing field and trying to be fair across the board, compared to other companies, I have seen that we do actually a fairly good job. Not always room for improvement. Right. But I think comparatively, I think we do take it seriously with the trainings and just, I’ve seen even the last half people sort of calling people out, even when it’s just men in the room and there weren’t any women, which is a problem in itself, but I have found that starting to happen more to where you start seeing people say, no, are we labeling that because of this or that? Let’s actually go deeper on that. So definitely good.

Christine Awad: [00:17:58] Yeah. And honestly, I think I’m an example of this. Like I tell people this all the time, I had a really good career at Facebook and a lot of it is because I also had managers who, by the way, you weren’t old men who pushed for me so much. And actually, like I had a manager, I don’t know if we can call names, but like my previous manager in my team was the person who, when I actually went to him with questions on, Hey, like just like watch out.

I wasn’t this like. Conversation. And I think I could be described as aggressive in it. He was like, you’re learning. I’m actually, I don’t want like any biases to be there. And there are a lot of things that make you and make you really good at what you do. And I think the biggest part is that you’re effective.

You cut through random stuff and just go to the point. And I think this is what is unique and why. Oldest one to be on my team. And I don’t want you to lose the skill like you should watch out for where there are sharp edges and like things where there is negatives out of this, but you’re unique. And I wanted to be on this and I don’t want you to be like, apologetic about it.

And I was like, okay, I could work for this manager all my life. And this are actually like, A lot of my managers in Facebook were like this and they were my strongest allies. And right now I see things where we like expect all of our managers to go through like managing inclusion, be the ally managing bias and a lot of classes that we just actually have at Facebook. And we’re like expecting also I see, is to start going through it and I’m starting really to see like a lot of progress and people who really care about it, not just like lip servicing, that we are actually really absolutely believe that this is the right thing to do.

Christian McCarrick: [00:19:41] And this actually, I think segues nice to another topic, which is kind of sometimes can be contradictory to the being seen being as aggressive, et cetera.

And that sort of like the topic of imposter syndrome, I think. Unfortunately, Harvard study women often are not confident or underestimate their skills reports. Show that female computer science graduates with eight. Years of programming experience, put themselves down as confident in their skills as their male peers with zero to one years of experience.

Right. So one, have you ever experienced this yourself? And if so, so, you know, how did you sort of go about handling that and especially. If you want to become overconfident, then sometimes you get labeled as aggressive and it’s this back and forth. Right? How have you found that balance and how have you gone through that?

So

Christine Awad: [00:20:24] I have seen it happen most of the times, especially with other women on the team.

I have seen examples where someone would like, I would go to someone and tell them, Hey, here’s an amazing shop for you. Apply for it. And they’re like, No. They said that lucky the center expectations of the job and I’m like nine out of 10 of them. So I’m not like doing it. And I, like, I have seen the other people who apply are way more qualified.

So I like, see definitely the Harvard study is right. And there are like lots of examples of it. I think it goes from having honestly people around you who lift you up, like the Fiji CMO who’s the head of Facebook app says something that I keep telling people. She said that the thing that she looks at when she works on something, or when she’s like, considering the shop does like, who is her manager and does her manager see the metric in her?

Because she talks through that. If the person who was your manager, or, the orders, people who are around, do you see the magic in you, then they uplift you. Then when you’re like pushing yourself down, they’re like pushing you up as well. And then hopefully over time, you don’t need people around you to be pushing you.

But I do think like that job of like being like someone’s cheerleader is more needed for people who face imposter syndrome. And by the way, it’s not just women, like lots of people face this. So like, this is not many. My biggest advice is like, I tell people, Hey, like, Actually, this job is interesting. It’s an interesting product and everything, but the biggest bonus is this manager or this team is actually known to be like pretty strong allies.

And I have seen it and I have seen this happen and I have been like trying to push other women who are in roles where they can actually be sponsoring other people to be like, okay, don’t just wait for who are coming to you for the job. Consider other people who might be qualified or not coming and go wide in the train for me.

Did I face imposter syndrome myself? A ton of times. I think at the beginning, when I just joined Facebook, I was just like, okay. I came out of school, I’m working at Facebook. My school in Egypt is not like a well-known school. It’s like, and I’m faced with like, All of these people who come from like best colleges in computer science in the world.

And I was like, I didn’t know if I was good enough. And I had a manager at a time where I really love this manager now. And he’s actually the person who grew me the most in my career, but he was the first time he was supporting a team. And his style is he was managing people. Like he wants to be managed.

And his style was okay, I’m going to mention what is missing in something, because this is the best way to, to improve is if you know what is missing versus here’s how great you are. And I think in his mind, I was great in so many things, but then in every single conversation it was, Hey, here’s the thing that’s missing in this project.

And I was facing the worst imposter syndrome ever. So it climax to the point where I was like, we’re in a deadline, in a project. And I was like, I just like lost it. I was like, I’m really horrible at my job. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. Like, I just couldn’t do it. And he’s like, what are you doing?

What are you saying? This doesn’t make any sense at all. You’re amazing at what you’re doing. And I’m like, but do you all have our one-on-ones you’re telling you everything that’s missing. And he’s like, Oh, it’s just like how you grow, but you’re really good. And I was like, Oh, Okay. And then I was like, okay, maybe he just told me this.

Cause I was like, feeling really bad at the moment. And then, um, at the end of the tough, I actually got to redefine expectations, which is the highest speed thing that like we have at Facebook. And I was like, how do you like this? I didn’t get the signal at all. And I think afterwards he got tested where he’s like, Oh, he starts the meetings.

He does everything that’s going good. But I have learned afterwards to also do this, which is like interesting, but. Yes, people face imposter syndrome and it’s around. How do people like lift them up or own? And I think the biggest thing I tell people who face this is like, Hey, no, that you’re good. The fact that you are working in these companies, the fact that you’re here is.

By itself proof it you’re good. And you’re actually like qualified to do the next thing. And what is the worst thing that can happen by you applying? Like the worst thing is luck to you. You get rejected and you are in the same place that you are, which is if you don’t apply is where you are right now. So like, just like apply because the upside is so much higher.

Christian McCarrick: [00:24:54] Those are great background. Great anecdotes. I appreciate sharing that. My listeners certainly can appreciate some of those stories. And that’s good. I think it’s good feedback for some, our listeners to maybe be a little bit more forward or proactive with asking some of the people that you support, what is their feedback style?

How do they like to get it so that maybe they can avoid some of these conversations or these surprises at the end later? Right? I think it’s always certainly good. Some people have mentioned the past, coming up with a manager contract or something. This is how I manage. This is how I do, this is my expectations of me.

Then they give it to kind of new employees. It’s something I know other managers at other companies do as well. Right. They try to set those expectations appropriately. I want to move on to sort of something that’s timely right now. And the specific impacts that COVID has had on women in the workplace, specifically women with families in the workplace and as last year, Alone 1.2 million parents exited the workforce with a staggering three quarters of those people actually being women.

Now, majority of listeners on this podcast to engineering managers, what are some of the things right now that engineering managers or other people can do to try to address this problem we have?

Christine Awad: [00:25:54] Yeah. I think the biggest thing is knowing that all of the policies that we had before COVID, doesn’t apply after COVID whatever, like sick leave, flexible work.

Things that you had is like, was never tested in a pandemic where like people are actually staying at home and doing what they need to do. And I think being flexible is the way to go and realizing that people need flexibility in different ways. So one of the things that I been really grateful at Facebook is that like, Facebook has COVID leave, which everyone.

Who is a parent can take for as long as they want to. And it’s still ongoing I’m until now. And I have had so many patterns who have been like, really thankful about this, because it just gives them the chance of whether they want it to be a week or a month or two months or two days a week, or whatever that they need to just like, make sure that they’re taking care of their kids and taking care of their sanity during all of this matches of time.

I think the second thing is just. Flexible hours. The only thing to watch out for is I had a patent in my team before who was a woman who was doing musically, just trying to do it all, but with flexible hours. So she was basically trying to, like she was saying, Hey, between this hours and this hours, I can do any meetings, but she’s still trying to work eight hours plus a day.

Outside of these like working hours. So she would like put her kids to sleep and then like work from like [8:00] PM till like 12 and then wake up at like six before anyone is like sleep and like try to work from like six to like nine and then take care of the kids. I mean, you can probably do it for a week and then feel horrible afterwards.

This is just like not sustainable. And I think the biggest thing that managers. Can do and we’re doing, and I did at the time, it was like, Hey, no, this is not possible. Like take COVID live. It’s the thing is that we need to watch out for is a lot of women who specially work on computer science and art in this industry.

They are there because they push themselves. They went against like a lot of odds to be here. So they don’t need other people to push on them. They are like pushing it. So that lots of the time, my job as a manager is to actually tell them not to realize that we are in a completely unexpected time. The fact that they can’t.

Cope with all of this is not a failure by any means. It means just that they are human and he disposed of the expectation that’s happening. And it’s fine to take it easy for a half or a year on your career, because life is just the most important thing right now versus a career. And this is not setting them.

Back. This is not like, okay, now you’re losing your job or your life not meeting expectations or anything like this. We have things like, which is, I think Facebook has been really good at is listing, adjust, adjusted expectations for the half. So beyond all of the leaves, you can decide with your manager, what you can achieve.

This half, and this is how you are evaluated on versus what are the normal expectations of your level. And I think these are the kinds of policies that all workplaces need to adopt during specialty COVID to make sure that when we get out of this pandemic, we have workforce, which is actually ready. To innovate and get back into like full mode versus you end up with a situation which is so much worse than diversity, and then spend years trying to undo the damage that like the pandemic.

Christian McCarrick: [00:29:27] Yup. And I do want to have an explicit call out to any of my managers out here as well, or any of the people who are listening that are also. Partners in relationships that are men or partners relationships. I think this is an interesting time of year. I know we’ve school is potentially getting out whatever form of school you were doing.

I think a lot of women tend to take the burdens of things that you don’t see, like planning for summer camps, things like this that just sort of are the silent tasks that add up a lot of time and energy. Just take some of these off, but you might not even know about them. And I think some of these minor micro things that kind of add up, so I do challenge everyone out here who’s a leader or just an IC listening to this that is, that does have a partner that might take on these burdens and responsibilities more, please, especially during this time, but why not every forever moving forward, this is a good opportunity to try to help out in areas that you might not have done the past.

Two things two, I want to mention really quickly, you were talking about some of the things Christine, that Facebook has. We do have two programs two right now that I want to kind of let people know about the Facebook as a returned to work program. If anyone has been out of the workforce for a while and is hesitant to get back, maybe again, some of that imposter syndrome or made it lack of confidence, but we do have a 16 week program to help with the transition providing coaching guidance, experiencing working in real teams and real challenges.

You go to Facebook, careers and search for return to work that will pop up. And that’s one of the programs. The second one, too, this is the accelerator program, and it’s a goal to partner candidates with women in tech that are at Facebook to help amplify women’s voices in the workplace. These are opportunities to chat with people like Christine or some others.

If you’re thinking about going through the interview process, hopefully it can maybe demystify that a little bit as well. So you can actually contact, accelerate her@facebook.com to find out more information about that. Something Christine, as we move on, you’ve mentioned this a couple of times. Support systems.

I think they’re so important for every engineering leader. No matter what I think the higher you go to it gets kind of lonely, but even more. So I think for leaders from underrepresented groups, how important was this sort of support ally group sort of thing for you in your career? Super important. And it has been at all levels.

Christine Awad: [00:31:24] Honestly, when I was an engineer, like one of my closest friends at work who used to be at a colleague of mine at my first team was actually my support system. When I was like, thinking about what is the next thing that I would do in my career. He was actually the first person who called me down and my first.

Break down its work. What I was thinking that I was just like doing a horrible job and he was the one that’s like, no, I have been in the industry for a very long time. I can tell you’re doing a good job. And just like having someone like him at that point just told me, okay, I’m not gonna quit and just leave because here’s someone who is that for me afterwards, it was a class of like managers who really were like my support systems in a lot of time.

And also who connected me with other mentors throughout. The organizations who I would, can have an honest conversation with and learn from them. And they had no other agenda except what is good for me to do. And now, I mean, I talk about Fiji a lot, but Fiji is the person which is she’s. So amazing. So busy, it’s so many things and she finds time for people.

Whenever, like I sent her an email, I know that an hour later she’s like sending me a message of like, Hey, like actually jump on a call for like five minutes or 10 minutes and talk through this. And it tells me like, think through, okay, here’s how I should be thinking about this problem. And. Honestly, it tells me that I have people in the company and people around me in general, who cared about me and it makes me a lot more invested in the company and more invested in just my career and more invested in me as a person and how I’m like I should be pushing things forward.

And I think what I try to do is also try to. See when I see underrepresented groups, whether it’s like women or like, Oh, that’s an ends or like blacks or any, like, African-Americans like in general, like any group that’s like under represented in tech, which we actually have a lot of like groups like this in Facebook.

I try to like push on, Hey, who is your support system? And even like people who don’t belong in any of these underrepresented groups, if you don’t have a support system around you at work, You’re very likely to end up in a situation where you need to talk to someone about something and then feeling like you don’t have anyone to talk to you about.

And when you are in a down situation, you don’t want anything that keeps you a bit down or push you more down. So this is. What I try to do. And then finally, one of the things that I really like at Facebook, which has been working for me, but not another, like a super personal level, but I check it out every now and then we have this internal groups.

Yeah, Facebook it’s like women at Facebook black at Facebook, Latinas at Facebook pride at Facebook. And sometimes when I actually feel annoyed about something, I just like go on and post that or see what’s happening on the post then. And then I start seeing this like incredible group of people who are just like, not judging you or anything, just like we’re here to support you.

And I think these kinds of support systems, especially in normal time method and especially in hard times, like what we’re passing through right now matters significantly. Yeah, no. Awesome. Thank you for that. And I agree, no matter where you are, what level having a support network has gotten me through, whether it’s an individual or some peers or a group that I can talk to.

Christian McCarrick: [00:34:44] It’s why I actually started this podcast. I always called it my hour long support therapy session when I could talk to other leaders to make sure I wasn’t totally screwing up. And cause I’ve had imposter syndrome too. Like I said, it happens to everybody. One of the things I want to, as we kind of. Get on here in this conversation.

One of the things I think happens is a lot of potential candidates, especially from underrepresented groups are intimidated by Facebook or any tech company really is interview process. Right. What advice would you give to potential candidates to encourage them to apply and how best to prepare for that interview?

Christine Awad: [00:35:15] I think in general, like I would tell them, just apply, get over the intimidation and apply. Like you will learn from the interview process in . And the fact is like tech companies are trying to hire significantly and there are a lot less people applying than we want for jobs. So like, there is a place for you.

The second is. Depending on your discipline. I would, I prepare, like I would look into like, what are the kinds of interviews? There’s so many sources online on this. I would have a friend look over my CV. I’m actually happy. People want to even just like on LinkedIn, send me like reach outs of here’s my CV.

Do you want feedback? I’m happy to like go over to this for like people who are applying for the management jobs or software engineering jobs. I think you’re underestimating. How many people care about getting you in that? Like, people will be happy to like offer advice. And then I tried to get someone to like, do a mock interview for me and just give me some tips on, okay.

Here is like you maybe talk too much in this example or you talk too little or you’re like, Don’t go into details on this example so much, or watch out that you take so much longer time or less time than you should think that it’s just like some tactical things that help. And then if I’m also still like, worried about what are the next steps, if I’m like in the interview process, I would actually tell the recruiter, Hey, like I’d love to talk to someone who can be an ADI and be second diffuse.

And I can ask them some questions I have. I actually had. Multiple talks where like recruiters reach out to me and tell me, Hey, like I have this person who is just like, worried about what would be the interview process for like engineering management. And can you just like spend that 30 minutes, 45 minutes answering their questions?

And I’m always like, happy to take it. Then there are so many managers in Facebook are happy to do this. The first step is just apply. Second is like, look online on like what materials are available, reach out to friends or any people that want to look up your CV. And if you don’t have any of this group, just pick up a couple of people in the company from like LinkedIn and send them, Hey, like here’s the thing I’m applying.

I’d love to get feedback on this. And likely one of these people that you reach out to will like reply back, especially if it’s like a. A small task. And then once you’re in with a recruiter, tell them, Hey, I would love to actually get someone in the company to talk to me about some examples. Like the routers are really helpful, especially like in Facebook actually like shout out or recruiting team.

They actually definitely have, do we choose Facebook and the end? And they are like really incentivized to help you. And this would be the next steps I would do. Yeah, I agree. Double shout out. I think we’re just looking for ways to say yes, right? I mean, we’re not trying to find no. Right. We’re trying to find every way we can to get you.

Christian McCarrick: [00:37:56] Yes. And similar to Christine, feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to give you some tips on interviewing. I think the thing you called out with doing a mock interview with somebody is so important. Sometimes we don’t feel vulnerable enough. We’d rather say this to a stranger for the first time, instead of a trusted friend that that can really make all the difference.

I did that I’ve been in industry for a long time. And it turned out, the friend I used was grilled me way harder than anyone else ever did. So when I entered the interview, it was like, that’s it? Not that it was easy, but I felt really prepared. Right. Did you give me that confidence? So that was awesome.

And as you mentioned that our programs reach out to the recruiter, there’s a whole program at Facebook where different people will be more than happy to help you for some coaching interview prep, or just saying how Facebook is treated them. And I think it’s certainly worthwhile. So thanks for pointing those out, Christine.

One thing as we wrap up, I always ask any kind of the guests on the show, any recommendations you have for like a book you’ve read recently or something that was like really stuck in your memory or a podcast or video or anything like that, that you might recommend to engineering managers?

Christine Awad: [00:38:52] Yeah. I think one that I really loved that I read recently is the score takes care of itself.

Christian McCarrick: [00:38:58] Oh, look at that. It’s having on my bookshelf.

Christine Awad: [00:39:03] I think honestly, probably whether it’s like an ICU or an engineering manager or anyone in any industry. Like, I actually think it’s a great book to read. I think it pushes a lot on and doing the thing and things will take care of itself, a method and like focusing on like less politics, less anything, and just like.

What’s that I think to do, which I think the author just like nailed it and the book and I really enjoyed it. And it had really good examples that can apply to any leadership role whatsoever. So this was like probably my favorite book recently.

Christian McCarrick: [00:39:34] Awesome. And I’ll second that as well, great choice in early, that’s an awesome book.

As we wrap up, what’s the best way. If anyone wanted to get in contact you and he’s socially willing to share LinkedIn, something like that.

Christine Awad: [00:39:44] Yeah. So I am happy to share like my LinkedIn, like please like reach out to me through LinkedIn is probably the best way. Yeah. I’m also available on Facebook. Like if you searched Christina, other probably will like come up and I can reply with probably LinkedIn is what I follow on the most.

Christian McCarrick: [00:39:58] Awesome. Well, and for, again, as a reminder to all the listeners, any of the books, we talked about links to any programs I’ve mentioned, they will be on the show notes@simpleleadership.io. Christine, I know you’re busy, a lot of planning starting to happen at Facebook too and mid cycle. So I super appreciated the conversation, had a great time.

Christine Awad: [00:40:16] And thank you very much. I’m really happy that I chatted with you. Thank you so much for having me. I really also had a great time. Thank you so much. Great have a nice day. Thank you.

Christian McCarrick: [00:40:24] Thank you for listening to this episode of the simper leadership podcast, hosted by me, Christian McCarrick. If you have enjoyed the show, please subscribe and don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes, full show notes and additional information can be found on simple leadership.io.

If you knew someone who would be a great guest for the show, or you want to share your own experiences, please drop me a line. We’ll see you back next week. For more technology, leadership tips and advice. As I interview more top software engineering.