Meet The Adobe I/O Team: A Conversation With Sarah Xu

Adobe believes that there is strength in our diversity, and the Adobe I/O team agrees. We’re made up of men and women from all over the world and with a range of backgrounds. Over the next weeks, we’ll be sharing interviews with some of our team members, their perspectives, and what they’re working on. This is the first in that series.

Sarah Xu never thought she’d be the new Developer Evangelist for Adobe I/O. “Growing up in China, I wanted to be an ambassador,” she explains. “That changed when I got to Wellesley College. I took one political science class and realized it wasn’t for me. Art History also fascinated me and I was pursuing a career as a curator. And then things changed.”

Adobe: What happened?

Xu: Wellesley, like many liberal arts colleges, requires their students to take courses outside their major to fulfill graduation requirements. I had a choice of math or computer science, and I chose computer science. One thing led to another, and I ended up double majoring in Art History and Computer Science.

Adobe: Wellesley is one of the Seven Sisters, a woman-only school. Did that change your experience in computer science at all?

Xu: Absolutely. When I was first introduced to computer science it wasn’t gendered because the classes were all female and all the engineers I knew were women. I also took some classes at MIT, but even there, they had a good balance of gender too, so I didn’t get that vibe. I didn’t actually realize how gendered the tech industry was until I got into it professionally.

Adobe: So how did you end up at Adobe?

Xu: I was presenting at a conference on some research I had done about museum technology. While I was there, I met someone from Adobe who also had been a liberal arts major. We had a great conversation and she ended up asking for my resume. The rest was history.

Adobe: What do you do at Adobe?

Xu: I just transitioned onto the Adobe I/O team after a few years working on Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). I’m the developer evangelist for Adobe I/O. I develop demo applications that convey the features of our technology and work to make our technologies visible. I also talk to partners to advocate for more people to use the Adobe I/O platform — which enables developers to integrate with and extend applications using Adobe’s Cloud Platform.

Adobe: So in a way, you did end up as an ambassador.

Xu: You’re right! Just not in politics.

Adobe: Is there anything exciting that you’re working on that you can share with us?

Xu: Right now I’m working on a project combining the new Adobe I/O Events beta with Adobe Experience Manager. It’s a lot of fun to tailor each project to different technology stacks. For this one, I’m developing on Node.js and deploying on Heroku. I should be able to share it soon.

Adobe: What was the biggest surprise for you coming into Adobe?

I am from Canton China originally, and I went to school on the East Coast, so it was the Bay Area overall. Technology is so embedded into every aspect of life here. Coming from a humanities background, it’s kind of a shocker. It’s an interesting culture: The narrative is so linear.

Adobe is doing pretty well in encouraging women in tech. Women here are advocating for more events, more programs tailored to women, it’s been very useful. There’s a lot of events that I’ve been able to participate in. And I’ve had some very supportive managers as well.

Adobe: What was the best career advice you ever got?

Xu: Something I heard from a Wellesley alumna. She told me, “If someone calls you a bitch you’re doing something right.” It reminds me to not be afraid of what people think.

Adobe: Sounds like great advice. Thanks!