As I celebrate today’s “Global Day of the Engineer,” I find myself reflecting on my 25 years working as a software engineer in Silicon Valley at Cisco, General Electric Digital and now Equinix. Over that time, I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of some extremely dynamic and inventive global engineering organizations. And from those experiences, I’ve seen four tried-and-true principles that create a culture of engineering excellence. These principles can be applied to any development organization, at any company, creating any type of product. And they keep the art of engineering new and exciting for myself and the talented engineering teams that I work with:
- Innovation: Hackathons and crowdsourcing are some of the best ways to foster innovation and creativity. Earlier this year, we held a Global Product Hackathon event within Equinix that was organized around the theme of customer-inspired innovation. This event presented the perfect opportunity for everyone to code and develop creative, end-to-end solutions for our customers. Many of the solutions developed solved problems facing our customers today or filled gaps that were impacting customer satisfaction. In fact, our Product Management Organization requested that this year’s top three winning teams add the software they built to our product roadmap for use in Equinix’s production environment! These hackathons also help our engineers develop creativity skills and the ability to effectively present their ideas to both technology and business leaders. Next year, we are planning to hold a Platform Hackathon event with our external partners and customers, where we will source input from our ecosystem and co-develop joint solutions that we all can use.
- Automation: As a global platform and product engineering organization, we’re always thinking about how to speed things up. One way we do this is by automating things that need to be repeated or manually exercised to best meet the requirements brought about by new technologies and the changing needs of our customers. This includes automating test cases and running an automated regression test suite to shrink development and test cycles. In some cases, we’ve been able to shrink two weeks of manual testing down to 30 minutes! We also leverage Kubernetes and other DevOps tools to help us automate entire continuous integration and deployment so we can best meet our customer needs. Automation is critical for our agile engineering culture and serves as a continuous delivery model for our customers.
- Culture Intelligence: As an engineering organization, we typically talk about emotional intelligence (EQ) as a key leadership skill. However as a global organization with three product development centers across the world (Silicon Valley, Singapore and Poland), we have to understand both Culture Intelligence (CQ) and EQ. To build a global platform and product team, it is important to learn CQ, which is the ability to function and lead effectively in different cultural and diversity contexts. This involves emphasizing and respecting each region’s different cultures and local customs, and adapting and changing your behavior accordingly. Doing this will help you bring your local engineering team closer together and build trust with them, while still achieving your global initiatives. Culture Intelligence is a key leadership skill for attracting and retaining talents in a global environment.
- Learning: I had the opportunity to meet Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella about three years ago at a San Francisco conference, and one of my favorite quotes from him is “Learn it all, instead of know it all.”[i] His mindset of continuous learning has helped to transform the Microsoft leadership team and the culture of the company. In my current global engineering organization, we host monthly learning sessions to continuously share new technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, wireless 5G and block chain. Together, we are building and sharing common ReactJS UI/UX components across different product lines. We also cross-pollinate team members so they can work in a different product or platform area, enabling them to learn about a new technology stack or a different domain.
Working with Equinix’s global engineering organization is truly rewarding, especially in a company that truly values inclusion in the workplace. Equinix Chief Legal Officer Brandi Galvin Morandi discusses this in her latest blog, Women in Action Lead to Balance in the Workplace and Beyond.
Check out Equinix Careers to find out about the exciting opportunities Equinix has to offer.
And to learn more about our unique culture at Equinix, view the video.
You may also want to read my LinkedIn blog on Being a Better Leader: 3 Tips from a Female VP of Engineering.