Session 2

Building team culture

Understanding, creating and sustaining team culture 

November 2, 18:00 - 20:30 GMT
10am–12.30pm PT / 1–3.30pm ET / 6–8.30pm GMT / 7–9.30pm CEST

November 3, 14:00 - 16:30 GMT
6–8.30am PT / 9–11.30am ET / 2–4.30pm GMT / 3–5.30pm CEST

See session details

Meet our session contributors

HOST

Anjuan Simmons

Engineering Coach

Help Scout

co-HOST

Kathryn Koehler

Engineering Director

Netflix

SPEAKER

Dana Laswson

VP of Engineering

GitHub

SPEAKER

Emily Nakishima

VP of Engineering

Honeycomb.io

SPEAKER

Jason Wong

Engineering Leader

J Wong Works

Panelist

Jared Jordan

Director of Engineering

YouTube

PANELIST

Tara Ellis

Engineering Manager 

Netflix

PANELIST

Ryan Burgess

Senior Software Engineer

Netflix

PANELIST

Preethi Sitaraman

Engineering Manager 

Netflix

Meet our session contributors

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Session overview

Culture determines how we treat people, how we respond to problems, and how we approach our work. And culture isn’t static, but something that changes with every new person that joins a team, and every new policy created. This session will focus on:

The importance of creating a culture of trust

How to create a fast, high-signal hiring process that selects for culture fit but still yields a diverse team

Mapping the unchangeable aspects of culture

Hosted by 

Kathryn Koehler

Engineering DirectorNetflix

Kathryn Koehler is an Engineering Director within Netflix’s Productivity Engineering organization.

Her teams focus on the development environment and associated experiences which enable and empower developers at Netflix to bootstrap, code, build, test, debug and maintain software more effectively and efficiently.

Talk

Creating a culture of trust

When you’re responsible for a team, creating an environment where everyone feels safe to do their work without fear of retribution is vital. If engineers feel safe, they’re able to do their work more freely, to test and experiment more readily, all whilst feeling happier in the roles. 

So how can you build a culture of trust? And what do you do if you’re remote, or you’re inheriting a team where trust has always been low? 

In this talk, we’ll explore how to quickly build cultures of trust on engineering teams, outlining the benefits and giving practical advice.

Dana Lawson

VP of Engineering

GitHub

Dana Lawson has over 20 years of experience as an engineer and engineering leader. She has worn many hats to complement a product’s lifecycle through her leadership roles at Heptio, InVision, New Relic, and GitHub where she currently serves as VP of Engineering. 

With a background in fine arts, she brings her creative vision to chart new waters and lead the engineering teams of the future.

Talk

Hiring for culture add, not culture fit

So often "culture fit" is a phrase tossed around when we're merely pattern-matching for people like ourselves or leaning into our biases. And yet, we really do want to find employees who will thrive in our team environments and embody the values unique to our company. 

How can we create a fast, high-signal hiring process that selects for culture fit but still yields a diverse team? 

I'll dig into how our hiring process has evolved at Honeycomb, including a number of iterations on incorporating values into our hiring process, letting candidates design their own interview process, and more wacky experiments with sometimes good and sometimes disastrous results

Emily Nakishima

VP of Engineering 

Honeycomb.io

Emily is VP of Engineering at Honeycomb.io. In the past, she's worked on javascript, web perf, and monitoring at companies like Bugsnag & GitHub. 

In her free time, she organizes an unconference called AndConf, makes many checklists, and likes to talk about disaster preparedness.

Talk

Culture change in a hostile environment

What do you do when you find yourself working in a hostile environment? Whether you’ve been sold a dream job that didn’t match reality or the company you loved has changed into a place you no longer recognize, there are many ways we can find ourselves fighting cultural toxicity and values mis-alignment. As leaders, how do you enact cultural change? How different can that culture be? And, how do you know when it’s time to move on? 

In this talk we’ll discuss strategies and tactics for seeding cultural change, creating environments for that change to grow, and what are the limits to those changes.

Jason Wong

Engineering Leader 

J Wong Works

Jason Wong is a proven engineering leader, diversity & inclusion consultant, and doughnut enthusiast.

With over two decades of experience in building and scaling web applications, he has worked in a range of industries from academia to online media and e-commerce. He helped establish web development and administrative computing at Columbia College, led development of premium video streaming services at Yahoo! Sports, and spent seven years at Etsy leading their Infrastructure Engineering team.

He currently works with executive teams and engineering leaders to improve their engineering management practices and establish inclusive cultures.

Panel

Actionable insights and how to build your team culture

Group discussions are such a powerful tool in problem-solving and decision-making, and they help you build confidence in yourself. But openly discussing challenges you are facing and mistakes you might have made in front of a group is not that easy.    

So to help you structure the discussion time with your group and turn your conversation into actionable insights, a group of engineering colleagues will be joining the panel and will role model some of the discussions you will be having later.

MODERATOR

Kathryn Koehler

Engineering Director

Netflix

Kathryn Koehler is an Engineering Director within Netflix’s Productivity Engineering organization.

Her teams focus on the development environment and associated experiences which enable and empower developers at Netflix to bootstrap, code, build, test, debug and maintain software more effectively and efficiently.

PANELIST

Jared Jordan

Director of Engineering 

YouTube

Jared Jordan is a Director of Engineering on YouTube’s A La Carte and sports team, leading a team that integrates features to support primetime content into YouTube. Last year, he started at YouTube, is a member of Google’s Black Google Network resource group, and has a passion for building high-performing and inclusive teams. Jared is a graduate of the University of Washington and previously worked as the APAC Growth Engineering leader at Netflix. Outside of work, he enjoys church, family, and working out, and chasing his three kids around.

PANELIST

Tara Ellis

Engineering Manager 

Netflix

Tara Ellis is an avid tinkerer and has been since the early days of the web. As a critical and creative thinker, she is a relentless problem-solver skilled at applying critical thinking, analysis, and technical skills. Tara is a strong believer in “Peopleware” and because of that has a keen understanding of building and managing engineering teams that deliver. 

Tara currently has the privilege of leading a team of engineers at Netflix where she has focused on continuously improving the sign-up to bring in the next 100 million Netflix members globally. 

PANELIST

Ryan Burgess

Senior Software Engineering Manager  

Netflix

Ryan is a Software Engineering Manager at Netflix who’s passionate about building and growing inclusive teams. He’s the host of the popular engineering podcast, Front End Happy Hour.

PANELIST

Preethi Sitaraman

Engineering Manager 

Netflix

Preethi Sitaraman is an Engineering Manager for Acquisition UI which is part of the growth team at Netflix. She has been at Netflix for 10 years. Preethi leads a team of Software Engineers responsible for building the user interfaces for the Netflix sign up experience via A/B tests which brings new users to Netflix. 

When not working, Preethi loves cooking and likes to try out new recipes.

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