Transforming Technology Through Diverse Teams

T Vu
T Vu
Jul 16 · 4 min read

A few months ago I had the honor of being interviewed by Campaign US for their Female Frontier awards.

Image for post

We spoke about what it takes to succeed in technology, the importance of company culture and what inspired me to become an engineer.

What’s your one professional rule? Have you ever broken it?
To not play too closely to the rules, as long as you’re still in service of the original intent.

Some other rules I hold close are:

· Learn to recognize the invisible work. This is really important if you work in a data-driven technical world where it’s tempting to believe that the only high-value work shows up via a git commit.

· Take chances on talent; bet on your people. Developing your people is as important as developing products.

· Work on your listening — it’s a survival skill.

And yes, I’ve broken those rules enough to learn the hard way just how important they are.

Can you sum up your journey in less than five words?
Being yourself requires due diligence.

What three qualities do you need to be successful?
Grit, kindness and not taking yourself too seriously.

How does the culture at your organization help you to thrive?
The focus on learning. A core value at our company is “Teach & Learn”, and within the tech organization we even have our own Learning & Development team. We provide access to great resources (learning stipends, workshops, tech talks) but we’re also not shy about giving people at all levels responsibilities. Those stretch opportunities, in addition to all the learning resources, are what drive progress.

I’ve benefited from that over and over again in my career here.

Who’s your biggest inspiration and why?
It’s a total cliché, but it’s absolutely my mother. My family came to the US as refugees from Vietnam and had to rebuild their lives from scratch. Growing up, I watched my mom start her career as an office janitor and eventually work her way up to become a Director of End to End Testing at Cisco. As someone who’s familiar with the challenges for women in technology now, it blows my mind to think about what it was like 25 years ago, and that my mom was able to navigate all of that and obtain the success that she did.

I have these scattered memories that seemed innocuous when I was younger but are so much more meaningful now — her coming home from a business trip “laughing” with my father about how she was constantly mistaken as the secretary within her engineering team, her studying English late into the night and asking me to correct the grammar on her reports because she was told her communication wasn’t strong enough for her to be promotable, her filling our bookshelves with self-improvement book upon self-improvement book whenever she hit a new roadblock. My mother is a beast. If she started her career when I started…who knows how much further she could have gone.

What advice would you give to someone entering the industry? Any tips for success you’d like to share?
Technology moves quickly — you have to build a solid learning routine for yourself. When things get busy it can be very tempting to eat into your self-development time, but you have to protect that.

To all the managers out there, management can be very lonely — seek friends outside of your team. When you’re an individual contributor, you don’t have to actively seek out peers, you belong on a team of peers that you collaborate with regularly. When you start managing, the people you interact with most (your team) won’t necessarily be the best confidants for you.

For one, the dynamics are different, two, there may be levels of confidentiality you can’t breach, and three, you may need a friend who has been in your role before and knows what you’re going through. So, keep an eye on building a good circle of support. The more challenging your role, the more you’ll need this.

Is technology still a man’s world?
If we’re looking at numbers, then the answer is yes. Numbers aside, there’s been enough proof on the ground that diverse teams perform better. So, in the sense of creating a winning strategy, it can’t be a man’s world anymore.

How’s it going to change? Or how is it changing?
Generally, awareness around the need for diversity has dramatically improved. Compared to a few years ago, I’ve never seen such lively conversation about unconscious bias or inclusive interview practices or ally skill training. Going from awareness to impactful action has been much tougher however, and that’s something we’ve set a high bar for at Xandr.

One thing that makes me very optimistic is how the younger generation of software engineers view diversity as a mandate. I think that’s the only way that the industry will be held accountable to change — when we demand diversity and take responsibility for it at all levels, instead of giving the onus to one department in HR, or to one leader in a group of executives.

This article originally published in Campaign

Xandr-Tech

Our latest thoughts, challenges, triumphs, try-again’s…

T Vu

Written by

T Vu

my mama said if you want to be a rapper, be the best darn computer scientist/lawyer/doctor rapper you can be!

Xandr-Tech

Our latest thoughts, challenges, triumphs, try-again’s, most snarky and profound commit messages. Our proudest achievements, deepest darkest technical debt regrets (just kidding, maybe). All the humbling yet informative things you learn when you try to do things with computers.

T Vu

Written by

T Vu

my mama said if you want to be a rapper, be the best darn computer scientist/lawyer/doctor rapper you can be!

Xandr-Tech

Our latest thoughts, challenges, triumphs, try-again’s, most snarky and profound commit messages. Our proudest achievements, deepest darkest technical debt regrets (just kidding, maybe). All the humbling yet informative things you learn when you try to do things with computers.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

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