Being the only female minority in a room full of men has never been surprising (or upsetting) to me. It first happened when I was in junior high. There was a select group of students that were chosen to learn code and build websites, and I was lucky enough to be the only girl who got to join the club. I became enamored with problem solving and bridging gaps in the tech industry, and it became apparent pretty quickly that I was about to be the only girl in a lot of rooms because this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
After college, I worked at several different IT and tech companies looking to make a difference, but began to take notice that none of the companies I was working for really cared about solving difficult problems or challenging the status quo. They refused to give their employees (regardless if they were men or women) power: the power to make decisions, the power to grow, the power to succeed. Leaders would make decisions without consultation or reason, and the employees would be left scrambling, expected to make it work. But when I discovered Flywheel, a managed WordPress hosting company based out of Omaha, NE dedicated to helping creatives do their best work, I knew I was about to have a seat at a very different kind of table.
I started at Flywheel in May 2018. Again, I didn’t really see myself, but that didn’t mean that I didn’t belong! Honestly, it was quite the opposite. My team members may not have looked like me, but they definitely had the same energy and passion as I did to get sh*t done. After an intense week of onboarding, I jumped right into my work as a Product Manager on our FlyTools team. My team put their heads down and we started working on Flywheel’s largest project to date: the creation of the Flywheel Cloud Platform and getting it off the ground as we began to migrate customers to it. I was feeling totally empowered and had made more decisions in three months at Flywheel than I had at any other job I’d been at combined!
I made more decisions in three months at Flywheel than I had at any other job I’d been at combined!
After about a year of awesome teamwork and collaboration, I was presented with the opportunity to become the second engineering manager at Flywheel. The product and engineering (P&E) team had grown from three to seven teams, and I was given 12 people to manage. I was now sitting at the table with our CPO, CTO, and VP of Engineering. I was finally in the position to help my current team members do amazing work, and hire new ones that felt the exact way I did at so many of my previous jobs.
As an engineering manager, I make it my number one priority to make sure that my team knows that I’m a partner here to help you solve problems, rather than a manager here to create them. By doing this, teams will feel empowered, have pride in their incredible work, and drive employee engagement up and to the right!
Two main focuses for myself and my fellow engineering managers (Keegan, Becky, and Donnie) is to make sure our teams are learning from each other and that they’re growing in their roles. One way we do this is by creating job ladders so our engineers can level up their careers without having to move into management. While these job ladders focus heavily on the technicality of their position, they also take into account their soft skills, like looking over other people’s code, being a good human, and mentoring your team members.
I’ve learned it takes all of us to be able to grow, so watering other people’s knowledge garden is imperative to building a successful team! We make sure the team has the tools they need to thrive, has a plan to level up, and make sure we’re hiring the right people at the right time.
It takes all of us to be able to grow, so watering other people’s knowledge garden is imperative to building a successful team!
So, I’ve made it, right? I have a great job with an amazing team (and get to pet dogs every day!), what more could I want? Well, thanks to that little girl back in junior high who was always alone in a room full of guys for so long, I’m determined to help solve one of the trickiest problems in the tech industry: Diversity and Inclusion (D&I).
To help bridge the gap here at Flywheel, I’ve joined the Fly Community Committee and recently became the Community Champion for all of Flywheel’s D&I efforts. Our team members speak at conferences and sit on panels. We have employees who are board members at organizations like Mystery Code Society, a group that offers free, beginner to intermediate coding education to women, femmes, and non-men. We even host events like Ruby on Ales, a free workshop hosted at Flywheel and taught by Flywheeler Andy Neely. He spent the evening teaching the basics of Ruby (the tech stack that Flywheel’s platform is built on) to engineers already in the industry!
But, we don’t just want to mold the engineers of today, we’re focusing on the future. We work with local groups in our community like Code Crush, a series of iSTEM immersion experiences for 8th and 9th graders, and SheCode, a group dedicated to teaching teenage girls of color programming and coding skills. I schedule tours with these organizations and bring young people into our space every month because showing them that they too can work at a place like Flywheel in a few short years, regardless of race, sex, or economic status, is so important. (Just ask Grace, who learned about Flywheel when she was just 14 years old!) It’s just like with our current employees, are you a good human willing to put in the work? Then, we probably have a place for you, whether it’s now or 10 years from now.
Showing young people that they can work at a place like Flywheel in a few years, regardless of race, sex, or economic status, is so important.
At the end of the day, if I’ve invited someone to the table who may not think a place like Flywheel is in their future through a quick conversation, I’ve done my job. So, if you’re determined, confident in what you do, and want to work at a company that makes you feel totally empowered, please drop me a message or apply to join our team! As you can tell, I can talk about this stuff all day.