Get to Know: Michelle Pan, Engineering Manager

Michelle Pan, Engineering Manager @ Thumbtack

Michelle joined Thumbtack three and a half years ago as a frontend engineer before stepping into an Engineering Manager role last year. She grew up in Austin, TX, was a long-time resident of the Bay Area, and just recently moved down to LA thanks to Thumbtack’s remote work policy. Outside of work, she loves hanging out at the beach, baking bread (a quarantine hobby), watching movies, and exploring LA through food.

What were you doing before joining Thumbtack?

Before Thumbtack I took a break from working for a year. I wanted an opportunity to pursue some of my creative hobbies, which really ended up being me getting deep in the weeds with Photoshop and taking a part-time job at the Museum of Ice Cream. Prior to that I was working as an engineer at a fashion-tech startup, Polyvore, which later got acquired by Yahoo.

What motivated you to join Thumbtack?

I saw a lot of potential in the product Thumbtack was building and was super impressed by the people I met during my interview process. A lot of the things that I love about the engineering team definitely came through during the interview and it was reassuring to know, after I joined, that it wasn’t all just talk. As a frontend engineer, I also appreciated the community that Thumbtack had surrounding frontend development.

In your own words, tell us a bit about the engineering culture. What’s your favorite part of being on this team?

The engineering team is very open, communicative, and incredibly humble. Everyone is eager to collaborate and share knowledge, which makes working on the team feel really effortless. Opinions from all across the organization are valued and listened to, and it’s easy and encouraged to get involved with a project you’re passionate about.

What do you love to do outside of work? (Hobbies, TV shows, books, video games, etc)

Since I just moved to a new city, my current hobbies revolve around exploring all the things that LA has to offer. I love finding new beach games, visiting museums, going on hikes to take in the views throughout the city, exploring different cuisines and eating my way through LA. During the first few weeks of lockdown I, like many others, picked up sourdough baking and became pretty obsessed with making breads. I still love making the occasional brioche, croissant, or sourdough loaf on weekends.

How has the transition to virtual-first impacted your experience?

I was one of those people who fully embraced virtual work from the beginning! I love not having to commute and having the flexibility to work from home on my own time. I will say that after 2 years of Zoom meetings, my position has shifted a little, but overall I’m still loving remote work. I do really miss seeing people face-to-face though.

Another plus was that, after living in the Bay Area for almost 10 years, I had the opportunity to explore other areas of the US. After a year of Airbnb-hopping, my husband and I landed back in California, but this time in LA, and we’re loving it so far.

How has Thumbtack enabled and supported your career growth? Things like switching teams, changes in the scope of your role, etc.

Thumbtack has helped to bring a lot of clarity to my career growth. To be honest, I didn’t think I would be in a management role when I joined the company over 3 years ago. Over the past few years I’ve been supported and encouraged by my managers and peers to jump in and try out something new. There are incredible support systems here at Thumbtack that make these transitions feel less scary, which helped me feel like I was on the right path.

What kind of projects have you used your TT Bucks for? (There are so many options!)

I’ve used my TT Bucks for so many different projects throughout the years! I try to branch out and try a new category every quarter so I’ve hired pros for things like: event makeup, tax preparation, gardening, house cleaning, massage therapy, power washing, and moving. The TT Bucks perk is a great way to get everyone on the product, engage with pros regularly, and it helps with getting things done around the house :)


TT Bucks: Full time US employees are allocated a certain amount of money every year to be used with pros on our platform as a way to bring us closer to our product and then share feedback directly with our product teams.

About Thumbtack

Thumbtack ( is a local services marketplace where customers find and hire skilled professionals. Our app intelligently matches customers to electricians, landscapers, photographers and more with the right expertise, availability, and pricing. Headquartered in San Francisco, Thumbtack has raised more than $400 million from Baillie Gifford, Capital G, Javelin Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Tiger Global Management among others.

Stories from the Engineering team at Thumbtack

Recommended from Medium

A Toxic Working Environment Isn’t Worth It

Everybody was cargo culting

Introducing our Female Software Developers

Curiosity & Craft: Designing Solutions in Healthcare — a Followup Interview with Tai

Mr. Gebru helped lead of Google’s A.I. ethics team and co-founded Black in A.I., an international

Pivoting to the Future

An Inside Look at the Bench Sales Team

Benchmates at the townhall meeting

Are goals killing the experience?

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Thumbtack Engineering

Thumbtack Engineering

We're the builders behind Thumbtack - an online marketplace that matches customers with local professionals to accomplish their projects.

More from Medium

Six lessons from my first six(ish) months of engineering management

Inside our staff engineering summit: Building our Virtual First staff engineering community

Tips on hiring engineers for managers

What does it really mean to be an Engineering Manager?