We’re celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing some of the amazing members of Women Engineers at Button (WEBs). WEBs is a self-organized Employee Resource Group here at Button — you can read more about how the group got their start and the mission and purpose of WEBs in a recent blog post here.
Earlier this month, we sat down with a few of the women to learn more about their journeys into tech, what a typical day at Button looks like, and their insight and advice for women out there who are interested in pursuing similar career paths in tech. While they all work in very different roles at Button, all of them are united by a common drive to build delightful products and a knack for working collaboratively across teams to solve tough technical challenges.
Here’s what they had to say!
Ami, Senior Partner Support Engineer
Hi, Ami! Tell us a little about your role at Button.
I work on the Partner Support Team at Button as a Senior Support Engineer, providing technical support to several of our partners. I love my job because you never know what issues you will work on and the process of figuring out what internal and external resources can be used to get to the solution keeps me on my toes!
How did you get your start in Engineering and what brought you to Button?
I started out as the first Operations Engineer (aka DevOps) in a startup providing SaaS solutions to nuclear power plants. I learned a lot about how to run DevOps for enterprise applications and the occasional adrenaline rush that comes with fixing critical issues at 4 am on a Sunday! More recently, I had been working in an e-commerce startup supporting different types of integrations with brands and found it really interesting. The role at Button offered a more challenging task of supporting many complex integrations that make the Button Marketplace possible—and that’s exactly what I was looking for!
What are some of the most interesting or fun technical challenges you’ve taken on at Button?
Figuring out how to use data to solve problems! Stringing together useful information from different parts of our product to build the whole picture relevant to an issue.
What’s your favorite Button memory?
We celebrated Diwali at Button last year by indulging in some Indian sweets, dressing up in traditional clothes, and creating colorful Rangoli out of flower petals (which are thought to bring good luck). We also ended our Friday company meeting by dancing to Bollywood tunes!
What can we find you doing outside of the office?
Trying a new studio on ClassPass. Hip Hop dance classes are my favorite way to end a Monday!
Rachel, Senior Product Designer
Hey, Rachel! Tell us what you’re up to at Button.
As a Product Designer at Button, I am responsible for solving problems for people. That’s the simple answer! At Button, I have the opportunity to work both internally with Buttonians to design products that make their day to day lives easier, as well as, products for our partners to help them grow their business and provide amazing experiences to their customers. My process starts with product strategy and understanding the need for a product. I do this through user research and learning about our users’ processes, motivations, and frustrations. A large part of my role is discovery through talking to stakeholders and users to determine WHAT we need to do. Once my questions are answered I focus on HOW. How can I solve the defined problem in the simplest way? To answer this question, I ideate and come up with ideas, some good, some bad, some in between. Then, I confirm with users that I did indeed solve the problem defined through testing.
How did you get your start in Product Design?
I started my career as a developer with a heavy design background. When I was developing, I kept finding myself more and more fascinated with what I was told to build and I was very interested in understanding why. I found myself always asking designers questions and wanting to sit in on user interviews. Ultimately, I worked in a combined design and development role and then in a product design role!
What was it about Button?
The company culture and the design focus from leadership. Button’s culture is unmatched and it starts with the people who care so much about Button’s success both internally, through a warm and motivating culture, and externally, as a business.
From my experience, Buttonians don’t just show up — they participate every single day. They choose to be here, to work hard and create a better way to do business in mobile. It is much easier to find value in and love what you do when you sit next to people who find that same value.
On a similar note, I feel incredibly supported by leadership as a designer at Button.
What does a typical day look like for you at Button?
I am always on the move, whether I am talking to stakeholders to define problems, working on an MVP with Engineering or iterating on existing designs. A typical day does not exist, but it’s safe to say I am either sitting with the design team, getting feedback and pushing the experience of our products, or sitting with the product team asking questions and demoing prototypes.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get started in Product Design?
Generally, experience comes with time and from making mistakes. You learn what you should do by understanding why you shouldn’t do something. That’s why designers should always push for user testing — so we can find our mistakes early. Also, do not be afraid to ask a lot of questions.
Asking questions is part of a designers job and it’s our responsibility to validate assumptions — so never, in any circumstance, feel like you shouldn’t ask a question.
My team will certainly tell you that I ask questions all day! Lastly, focus on the experience of the product before adding visual elements. That may seem like a no-brainer, and if it does, great! But if it doesn’t, make sure you have a product workflow defined before adding visual elements. You will have a much better understanding of how your product intends to work, will be able to identify scope creep and will more consciously decide on visual elements that support the experience.
Cori, Brand Designer
Hello, Cori! Tell us about your role at Button.
I’m a Brand Designer. My role involves a lot of cross-functional collaboration, so I get to work with engineers, marketers, product managers, and others throughout the company to clearly communicate Button’s value. I work on Button’s external-facing company website, along with other diverse projects.
How did you get your start in design?
A lot of my interests stem from my love of stories. I read a lot of fiction books as a kid and loved the visual art that brought science fiction and fantasy stories to life. It’s powerful to be able to communicate to others what the mind can conceive. When I started tinkering with websites in middle school, I enjoyed being able to understand how it worked and how changes in code became changes in what you saw and experienced. The overlap between my interest in visual communication and how things worked led me to design.
What does the average day look like for you at Button?
My day can differ a lot depending on what projects I’m working on, but I try to organize my calendar into meeting days and work days. My role involves collaborating with people across the organization, so I have meetings to stay apprised of what’s going on in other departments as well as meetings within the Design Team to give each other feedback on our work. On my work days, I try to stay pretty heads down to design and to also complete or review any documentation needed.
What piece of advice would you offer to someone just starting a career in design?
There are tons of resources out there, so try out a few things to see what works for you. There are also lots of ways to integrate engineering into existing interests, so creating a project that meshes the two can be a great way.
Favorite memory at Button so far?
Baking together with a former Buttonian, Grace, for the Great Button Bake-off in November. We made a “mirror cake,” and called it the Jupiter Cake, winning Best in Show :) What made it a favorite memory though was that we were celebrating “Button-giving.” We took the time to sit down to a warm dinner together and enjoy each other’s company.
Jiaqi, Senior Software Engineer
Hi, Jiaqi! Talk to us about your role at Button.
I’m a Tech Lead and Software Engineer within the Platform organization at Button. I do my best to spend an equal amount of time building great software and guiding others to do the same. As Tech Lead, I lead design discussions, sprints, and set the overall technical direction of my team. As an Engineer, my role can be generally described as a Data Engineer or Platform Engineer. I spend a lot of my time building reliable and scalable systems that transform and move the underlying data that powers Button as a mobile commerce platform. Along with my fellow WEB, Liwei, I also participate in an on-call rotation that guarantees the uptime of our products. I’m a huge champion of our on-call culture and have written about it on the Button Engineering Blog.
What are some of the most interesting or fun technical challenges you’ve taken on at Button?
One of the more buzzy topics in reliability engineering, and that I’m trying to also push for in data engineering, is observability. So, I guess to answer this question, as a technical challenge, I’m still trying to better explore how to bring visibility into the health and behavior of our data systems. Yes, we know we’re able to build this data pipeline that generates business-critical data for our customers but now that we have it, how do we guarantee it has consistent behavior 99% of the time, 99.99%, 99.999%? And, if we can guarantee availability, how do we next build this so that we can quickly and easily verify that a new feature doesn’t introduce unwanted side effects? This is something I’ve spoken about at PyCon in 2018 on how Button is building observable pipelines and that I blog about in open source forums.
What piece of advice would you give to someone looking to get started in Engineering?
Be inquisitive, be genuinely curious about what you are working on and also ask why something is the way it is. Honestly, if the answer to why doesn’t make sense, maybe it’s worth reconsidering. On that note, also be willing to challenge the status quo.
What’s one of your favorite Button memories?
Hard to name just one favorite Button memory, but in honor of WEBs, one of my favorites was when we went to a workshop called “Be Unhumble.” This workshop promoted public speaking and improv skills that would help build our confidence and enable us to make persuasive arguments. We did improv exercises and learned a lot about each other. At the end of the workshop, one of our members volunteered to give an on-the-spot presentation on a random topic chosen by the rest of us. The instructor asked us for a topic and Rachel said “Kangaroo” and then Liwei said “Reproduction” so Grace ended up giving a talk about “Kangaroo Reproduction” on the spot. She took on the persona of a Professor of Biology and presented her research—that it was actually male kangaroos who carry the baby. It was absolutely hilarious and we were so proud of how she incorporated techniques from the course such as owning your expertise, speaking calmly with dramatic pauses, and using fillers to help stall when answering on the spot questions.
Outside of the office, what can we find you doing?
You can find me reading at a coffee shop. I’m currently trying to start a book club so reading recommendations are welcome!
Interested in joining Jiaqi’s book club, talking all-things-design with Rachel and Cori, or learning more about the latest engineering challenges Ami’s working on? Button is hiring! Read more about our open roles here (and the chance to work closely with these amazing ladies.)