Session 3

Difficult conversations

Navigating difficult situations with confidence and empathy

May 11, 18:00 - 21:00 BST
10am–1pm PDT / 1–4pm EDT / 6–9pm BST / 7–10pm CEST

May 12, 14:00 - 17:00 BST
6–9am PDT / 9am–12pm EDT / 2–5pm BST / 3–6pm CEST

See session details

Meet our session contributors

HOST

Anjuan Simmons

Engineering Coach

Help Scout

co-HOST

Erica Stanley

General Manager   

Mozilla Hubs

SPEAKER

Beth Laing

Senior 

Engineering Manager 

CallRail

SPEAKER

Carina Gerry

Director of Engineering Quality

SalesLoft

SPEAKER

Krystal Smith-Moore

Engineering Manager

Mailchimp

PANELIST

Pete Holiday

Director of Software Engineering

Samsara

PANELIST

Tara Ellis

Engineering Manager

Netflix

PANELIST

Jill Wetzler

Head of Engineering

Pilot

PANELIST

Jessica Mink

Director of Engineering

FOLX Health

Plus more speakers to be announced soon!

Meet our session contributors

Experience all of last year's sessions

Get full access to 29 videos from the debut series in 2020. Enjoy talks and panels on coaching, difficult conversations, career vectors, and more.

Session overview

As an engineering leader, there will always be times when you have to navigate difficult situations. While these can be uncomfortable to tackle, it’s your responsibility as a manager to develop these skills so that you can do right by your teams. 

In this session, you’ll hear talks on:

  

How to prepare for difficult conversations and how to build trust as the foundation on which they’re held   

Strategies for communicating change with empathy  

How to manage conflict on engineering teams   

And strategies for using the skills you’ve learnt in a wide range of real-life business scenarios  

Hosted by 

Erica Stanley

General Manager

Mozilla Hubs

Erica Stanley is an engineering leader, entrepreneur, and tech diversity & inclusion advocate. She is an acting General Manager at Mozilla, working with Mozilla Hubs – a social mixed reality platform.   

In her 20-year career, she’s worked in Fortune 500 companies, early-stage startups, and academia.

Talk

Creating the foundation for difficult conversations

Difficult conversations are always going to be tough, and that’s because every difficult conversation is inherently an emotional one. And as a leader, it’s important that you take into account the emotions of everyone you interact with - and not just in the conversation, but in all your interactions in the lead up as well.  

In this talk, we’ll discuss how to build and cultivate trust as the foundation for difficult conversations so that your team knows that, whatever the subject matter, they’ll always be heard. We’ll also go over practical strategies for preparing for a difficult conversation.

Beth Laing

Senior Engineering Manager 

CallRail

Beth is a Senior Engineering Manager at CallRail, working on bringing the newest product, Lead Center, from MVP to production. As one of the directors for Women Who Code Atlanta, and a founder of the REFACTR.TECH conference, Beth works to create great programming and build a strong and inclusive community for the Atlanta tech scene.  

Talk

Communicating change: leading through the change curve

Change can be big or small; you see it coming or you're blindsided by it.  In this talk, you'll hear some examples of change, as well as understand your role as a leader as your teams go through the stages of the change curve.  

You'll come away from this talk with tools on how to tailor your communications based on how your employees are experiencing and reacting to the change.  

Carina Gerry

Director of Engineering Quality

SalesLoft

Carina is the Director of Engineering at SalesLoft, where she's been since it was an early stage start up.  She's built the QA team from scratch, and taken on leadership roles for the support engineering and outsourcing teams as well.  Company-wide, she's one of the leaders of SalesLoft Cares, the new diversity and inclusion group.  Prior to SalesLoft, she worked at Nexidia testing their call center analytics product and started her career at Accenture building software for state government programs.

Talk

Turning conflict into empathy on engineering teams

Navigating conflict on engineering teams can be a challenging task for any leader. While healthy debate can spark ideas and creativity, what happens when the discussion turns into an unhealthy argument and ends in conflict? Your reaction can help the team navigate back to a healthy state and turn conflict into a positive force. 

In this talk, you'll learn:  

 •  How to turn conflict into opportunities for empathetic behavior 

 •  How to create a safe space for open communication 

 •  How to get your team involved in creating a process to prevent conflict from destroying team morale

Krystal Smith-Moore

Engineering Manager

Mailchimp

Krystal began her engineering career in Detroit and relocated to Atlanta after years of freelancing and trying to find her place in tech.  Currently, she is managing Mailchimp's websites team, previous A*Member and facilitator and currently a BFS member of /dev/color, and continuing to mentor newer engineers as they embark on their software engineering careers. 

Krystal has also written a curriculum for Mailchimp’s hands-on learning program Launchpad, created in partnership with Clayton State University, and mentored apprentices in the Treehouse Talent Path program. 

Panel

Understanding difficult conversations in your own organization

In this session’s talks, we’ve learnt the frameworks for having difficult conversations that will set us up for success in the future. But as with any framework, there will always be times when you have to adapt and alter your approach. 

In this panel, we’ll explore examples of real life situations and model the approaches that our panellists will take.

PANELIST

Tara Ellis

Engineering Manager

Netflix

Tara currently leads a team of engineers at Netflix where she has focused on continuously improving the sign-up to bring in the next 100 million members, globally. Prior to Netflix, she led engineering teams at Disney; if you’ve been to Disneyland or Disneyworld in the last decade, you’ve interacted with some of her teams’ software.

PANELIST

Pete Holiday

Director of Software Engineerin

Samsara

Pete is a Director of Engineering at Samsara. He's been in engineering leadership for most of the past ten years and has focused on interview practices, growing strong team members, and trying to find the exact right amount of process in any situation. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, toddler, and two dogs who would love to give you a good snuggle.

MODERATOR

Erica Stanley

General Manager

Mozilla Hubs

PANELIST

Jill Wetzler

Head of Engineering

Pilot

Jill is the Head of Engineering at Pilot, a bookkeeping firm powered by software. She was previously Director of Engineering at Lyft where she built out their Infrastructure Engineering organization. In her last year at Lyft, she created a role to develop and coach managers within the Tech organization, with a focus on supporting the career progression of underrepresented employees. Jill began her career at salesforce.com, where she was an engineer, a tech lead, and eventually an engineering manager. Outside of Pilot, Jill works with organizations like the Kapor Center for Social Impact (local to her own city of Oakland) and advises startups in East Africa.  

PANELIST

Jessica Mink

Director of Engineering

FOLX Health

Jess Mink is a software engineering leader with over a decade of experience. She’s worked in larger organizations like Amazon, but most of her career has been focused on building effective engineering teams in smaller companies.  She’s currently the Director of Engineering at FOLX Health, which provides healthcare for the trans and queer community.  

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