Being Latine in Tech: Two MongoDB Employees Share Their Advice on Building Careers in Engineering
Ashley Naranjo and Martin Bajana, members of MongoDB’s employee resource group QueLatine, share their career journeys and offer insight into how other members of the Latine community can build careers in tech. Jackie Denner: How did you make your way into the tech industry? Ashley Naranjo: I am a first-generation Latina with a passion for Information Technology and a knack for problem-solving. After graduating early from high school, I embarked on a career in Nursing. I chose Nursing initially because I wanted to make a difference and help others, but my path took an unexpected turn when COVID-19 reshaped our world. In light of the circumstances, I reevaluated my options and decided to seize an opportunity with a program called Year Up . During the intensive six-month training and deployment phase, I not only completed rigorous coursework but also obtained IT Google Coursera certifications and actively pursued CompTIA certifications. This experience allowed me to secure an internship at Meta (Facebook) as an Enterprise Operation IT Support Tech, where my love for technology blossomed. During my time at Meta, I had the privilege of assisting diverse Meta users worldwide with a wide range of technical issues, including troubleshooting, software and hardware support, internal access permissions, and more. The exposure to a global tech environment further fueled my passion for the field. When my internship concluded, I was offered a 1-year contract role with Meta to continue my work as a support tech for the same team. Throughout that year, I immersed myself in all aspects of technology, maximizing my learning opportunities and applying my networking skills. As time went on, I knew I needed a new challenge. This led me to embark on a search for an exciting role, which eventually brought me to MongoDB. I am passionate about driving technological innovation, and MongoDB is a place where I can make an impact. Martin Bajana: My interest in technology stems from a variety of sources. From a young age, I developed a strong passion for video games and exploring new technologies. Whether it was experimenting with the latest gaming consoles or delving into computer hardware, I relished the opportunity to learn and understand the inner workings of these technologies. In school, I discovered my affinity for mathematics, which further solidified my decision to pursue a career in the tech industry. Choosing to study computer science in college was a natural progression for me, as it allowed me to combine my love for technology with my aptitude for problem-solving. After completing my education, I was recruited by Verizon, where I worked on front-end applications and Android development. Although the transition was initially challenging, I persevered and regained my confidence. It was during this period that I realized a career in technology was my long-term aspiration. Throughout my tenure at Verizon, I embraced opportunities to work across various teams, acquiring valuable experience and honing my skills. Eventually, I made the decision to join MongoDB, which has provided me with an enriching journey and the chance to shape my career in the tech industry. JD: Have there been any challenges you've faced throughout your career? AN: Imposter syndrome has been a significant challenge for me throughout my career, and it's something I still deal with to this day. When surrounded by my talented colleagues, I would often compare myself to them and focus on my perceived weaknesses and flaws, leading to a lack of self-confidence. However, I tackled this issue by addressing my feelings with my manager. Her support and guidance helped me realize my own potential and acknowledge my accomplishments. Maintaining a positive mindset has enabled me to view myself as a competent engineer and recognize the value I bring to my team. I have learned to take ownership of my successes and embrace opportunities for growth. Stepping out of my comfort zone has become a regular practice, as personal and professional development often stems from embracing challenges and discomfort. By giving myself permission to take up space and be confident in my abilities, I have been able to overcome imposter syndrome and continue to thrive in my role. MB: I have been fortunate enough to work for companies and teams that value and respect me for the work I deliver. Being in the tech industry and growing up in a culturally diverse region of the country, I have had exposure to individuals from various backgrounds and identities, which has made me more comfortable as a Latinx individual in the industry. My personal goal is to promote a work environment where everyone is judged based on the contributions they bring to the team, rather than their identity. I believe in supporting and respecting the identities of my peers and coworkers while fostering a culture of inclusivity and equality. JD: How has MongoDB supported your career growth and development? AN: In my time working at MongoDB, I have experienced exceptional support that has greatly contributed to my professional development and growth. As an engineer at MongoDB, I have been provided with numerous opportunities to expand my knowledge and skills through participation in tech talks, hackathons, and continuous learning about emerging technologies. I am grateful for the proactive approach taken by my manager and team leaders in fostering my growth as an engineer. Additionally, MongoDB's commitment to diversity and inclusion is evident through the company's DEI initiatives. Platforms like our employee resource group “QueLatine” have made me feel a stronger sense of connection and belonging, particularly among my Latinx peers. By recognizing the power of our diverse backgrounds and experiences, MongoDB empowers us to have a meaningful impact in the industry. MB: I have experienced full support from my leader since day one. They have proactively sought to understand my career goals and have helped me create a clear career path to achieve those goals. This level of support has enabled me to take on challenging projects and initiatives within the company, allowing me to grow and develop in my career. Furthermore, MongoDB offers a wealth of learning and development resources to its employees, which I have fully utilized to continue learning and growing my skill set. JD: What is your advice for other Latines who want to begin careers in tech? AN: Having made a significant career change myself, I can empathize with the challenges that come with exploring new paths, particularly in the tech industry. As a Latina in tech, I feel a strong desire to encourage and raise awareness within our community about the incredible resources and opportunities that are available to us. My advice to others who may be considering a similar journey is to prioritize the continuous development of your technical skills, actively seek out mentoring opportunities, push yourself beyond your comfort zone by honing your networking abilities, and most importantly, believe in yourself and your ability to achieve great things! MB: Navigating the vast world of technology can certainly be overwhelming, but it's important not to fear feeling lost. Even after 12 years in this career, there are still days where I come across something I've never heard of before. Fortunately, we live in a world abundant with resources for continuous learning. My advice is to take the time to explore and ask questions. Seek out open-source projects that you can contribute to, and connect with other professionals in the tech industry who can share their experiences and provide guidance. Additionally, taking advantage of hackathons and other tech events can expose you to new technologies and ideas. Don't be afraid to make mistakes, and most importantly, don't give up! Join us in transforming the way developers work with data. Build your tech career at MongoDB .
Serving as the Digital Bridge: Meet the APIx Team at MongoDB
Meet MongoDB’s API Experience (APIx) team, the innovative group that connects our customers with our products. Their work is no small task; they operate at the intersection of technology and customer experience, ensuring that the product and user experience remains integrated, efficient, and effective. Keep reading to learn how APIx is making an impact and what it means to be part of this growing team. Jackie Denner: Thank you for joining me today to share insights into our APIx team's work. To start, will you give an overview of your software engineering background and how you started working with MongoDB? Colm Quinn: I come from a start-up background. My experience includes industrial automation, particularly in the development of time-series databases and real-time analytics tools for production data. My work spans various industries such as pharmaceuticals, oil and gas, renewable energy, and manufacturing. Throughout my career, I've adopted various roles, from development to customer relations, often serving as a bridge between Product and Engineering teams. I sought a new challenge and the opportunity to enhance my skills in system scaling in larger production environments, leading me to join MongoDB. Now, I serve as the Director of Engineering for the APIx team. Tasos Piotopoulos: In my nearly two-decade journey in the tech industry, I've explored a wide array of domains including gaming, consulting, healthcare, logistics, and site reliability. MongoDB invited me to join as a Lead Engineer for one of the APIx teams, an exciting role that combines management with hands-on technical work. This opportunity allowed me to utilize my expertise in large-scale distributed systems while nurturing my passion for fostering professional growth in others. The MongoDB interview process impressed me because I actually got to meet the team members I’d be working with, and everyone was friendly, knowledgeable, and great to collaborate with. Bianca Lisle: My experience as a software engineer has been diverse and exciting, and includes experience in IoT, automotive networks, and Android development. Additionally, I’ve worked extensively with the Control Plane of Redis and in-memory databases cloud services. MongoDB’s recruitment process and culture were delightful and positively influenced my decision to join. Currently, I work as a software engineer on the APIx team. JD: Thanks for the overviews! Tell me more about the APIx team. What types of projects does the team work on? CQ: In the APIx team, we strive to build a reliable and predictable API platform that caters to both external customers and our internal teams. A key part of our role is meeting customers where they are, considering their DevOps world, and integrating access into their platforms. We work closely together on different aspects of the API, which allows for comprehensive internal testing before the updates reach the customers. TP: The APIx team consists of three distinct units, one of which is the newly formed API Integrations. Collectively, we’re responsible for providing a world-class experience for users who interact programmatically and automate against Atlas, our cloud-native data platform. Two of our APIx units shoulder an array of Atlas API-related responsibilities. These range from the auto-generation of technical specifications and Software Development Kits, managing API versioning to shield customer applications from disruption due to platform updates, creating a comprehensive command-line interface enabling customers to interface with Atlas from their terminals, and more. Operating on a more overarching scale, the APIx Integrations unit designs a range of products that elegantly integrate with Atlas APIs, facilitating customer automation against Atlas's functionalities using leading infrastructure as code solutions. BL: The APIx team is in a unique position as an interface between the Atlas product and the customers. We work to protect customers from breaking changes in the API and also to assist our developers in avoiding breaking changes. Recently, we worked on a project related to versioning which allows the introduction of new features without impacting the customer experience. JD: APIx Integrations is a new team at MongoDB. What does the product direction look like? CQ: Our initial challenge was to ensure a consistent journey across all our integrations. That includes ensuring that different tools like AWS CloudFormation and HashiCorp TerraForm work in a consistent manner, are idiomatic, and follow similar documentation styles. Going forward, we aim to understand the DevOps ecosystem trends and the tools our customers want to use. We want to enhance our product offerings by going deeper, offering specific features for each platform that address common pain points. We're also seeking to broaden our scope by supporting more integrations based on market needs while maintaining consistency and ease of maintenance. Finally, we aim to improve our platform by automating and building tooling to keep pace with market changes. If you want to build systems, come do it with us! JD: What is the engineering team hoping to achieve with APIx Integrations? CQ: Our main goal is to increase the quality of existing and new integrations. We focus a significant part of our automation effort on maintaining consistent quality and preventing regressions in the system. We're also focused on user acquisition and gaining insights into how customers use the integrations, which can help us design better integrations in the future. We're dedicated to empathizing with our users, understanding their pain points, and working towards alleviating them. This work involves scaling up and improving our automation. It's also a great opportunity for our team members to develop their skills and grow, which aligns with our team culture. JD: Tell me about the APIx team culture. BL: I've found that we have a culture that strongly encourages questioning and learning. We've established a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable asking questions, regardless of their complexity or nature. We publicly communicate, and this openness allows the whole team to benefit from the shared information. It's an incredibly supportive group - we're never blocked for long periods due to obstacles, as there's always someone ready to help. The team's culture also gives everyone a voice. Even as a new hire, I felt encouraged to propose changes. We're open to experimentation and willing to adjust our processes based on what works best for the team. We also get the opportunity to share our work and ideas with the community, like collaborating on this blog post or participating in podcast discussions . It's an incredibly open, supportive, and dynamic team to be a part of. CQ: Our team culture is extremely collaborative. We work closely with each other, and our relationships with product managers foster a lot of ideation and discussion. Our approach to work involves rapid ideation, swift documentation, and making sure we're all on the same page before proceeding with development. We are a remote-friendly team, prioritizing support for people wherever they work. Quality is a critical aspect of our work; we prefer to delay a feature to meet our quality bar, and this results in high-quality work that the team members appreciate and take pride in. We also strive to enjoy what we do and the environment we work in. This is a reflection of MongoDB's overall culture, which is open, inviting, and encouraging for everyone to be themselves at work. We respect diversity and different viewpoints, as these contribute to better feedback and conversations. JD: Tell me more about your experience with the overall engineering culture at MongoDB. What has your experience working with the greater engineering team been like? TP: MongoDB's engineering culture embodies a profound commitment to technology as the driving force behind our work. It is refreshing to witness the genuine understanding and appreciation of technology at all levels of leadership. Also, working alongside exceptionally talented individuals at MongoDB has been a constant inspiration and motivation. The people at MongoDB are truly outstanding, making collaboration an absolute pleasure. BL: The engineering culture at MongoDB is transparent. Regular all-hands meetings with the company's leadership, including the CEO, keep everyone updated about the company's plans and direction. I also like that technical competence that runs across all leadership levels. This technical grounding allows realistic expectations and strategic trade-offs, protecting our high-quality output. CQ: The engineering culture at MongoDB has technical acuity across all levels, including senior management. The depth of technical discussions, whether it involves engineers, product managers or even salespeople, is something that pleasantly surprised me when I joined. With our primary audience being developers, we need a team with a strong set of technical skills. The work culture is incredibly friendly and supportive. TP: Additionally, our strong product management organization significantly enriches our engineering work output. MongoDB’s product managers are excellent at listening to customer needs, conducting market research, and holding user interviews before and after we develop a product. This provides us with invaluable insights to gauge interest, understand user needs, produce highly-impactful features, and allows us to continue refining our products post-development. The constant high-quality collaboration between these two areas has been a real growth opportunity. JD: What learning and growth opportunities are there for someone who joins the APIx team? CQ: Our team is constantly growing, and with this growth comes many chances to explore new areas and hone our skills. We have a targeted focus within the team to dedicate time to areas we're interested in, and we even have policies like no-meeting Wednesdays to make room for learning and growth. We also engage with the open-source community, with over half of our contributions being open-source. This allows us to integrate with a wider community, share ideas, and even speak at conferences. TP: We place a significant emphasis on growth as a central aspect of our engineering experience. We aim to provide a workspace where engineers have ample opportunities to think, read, experiment, and learn. We offer systematic coaching, weekly learning opportunities, discussions, and personal development plans. Our leads encourage each engineer to spend time on self-learning and development as part of their work. It's not just about delivering work but also about creating a nurturing environment where engineers can continuously grow with explicit support and guidance from their leads. BL: If you’re new to the APIx team, we want you to feel comfortable being yourself. Don't hesitate to ask questions, no matter how trivial they might seem. Your unique perspective could lead to improvements in our team. We encourage open communication, expressing your thoughts, and being proactive in learning about our challenges. By collaborating to solve our problems, we can elevate our team to the next level. JD: What advice would you give to someone considering applying to an open position on the APIx team? CQ: Initially, I'm interested in understanding how you've made an impact in your previous roles. When you’re in the interview process, remember that everyone in the room wants you to succeed. We’re looking for alignment in terms of how you approach situations and whether you would be happy on our team. The best way for you to succeed is to find a role where you'll genuinely enjoy the work. We’re hoping you find that place on our team! TP: MongoDB operates at an immense scale, a characteristic that might initially appear daunting, especially if you've not worked on systems of such a magnitude. Don’t let the scale discourage you from applying. We provide comprehensive onboarding training, ensuring you acquire familiarity with our practices and establish effective collaboration with colleagues. It's an incredible learning opportunity that allows you to grow both personally and professionally, and make an impact. Learn more about what our APIx team is working on: Atlas Administration API Partner Integrations Atlas CLI Atlas and AWS CloudFormation Interested in transforming your career at MongoDB? Find open roles on our engineering team .
Unleashing Innovation in the Start-Up Nation: Inside MongoDB Israel
Israel, often referred to as the “start-up nation”, has a thriving tech scene and drive for innovation. In the bustling city of Tel Aviv, our MongoDB office offers a space for employees from across the organization to collaborate, build community, and empower MongoDB customers to unleash the power of software and data. Now with over 50 employees in Tel Aviv, MongoDB Israel is paving the way for data platform transformation in this start-up nation. Read on to learn more about life at MongoDB in Israel. MongoDB has long had a presence in Tel Aviv, but we opened a new office space in December 2022. Located in WeWork Midtown, our Tel Aviv office offers amazing views of the city and coastline, and employees have full access to all of WeWork’s amenities and activities. Not to mention, we offer some great benefits to our employees in Israel, too! 25 days annual leave and 13 Israeli holidays Private medical and life insurance at no cost to employees 90% reimbursement for fertility, surrogacy, and adoption expenses through Carrot, up to a lifetime maximum of 54,500 shekel, plus new parent support through Cleo Twenty weeks of fully paid parental leave (regardless of gender) for employees who have passed their one-year work anniversary Keren Hishtalmut continuing education fund, travel allowance, meal vouchers, and an employee stock purchase program Global company initiatives to support mental well-being, including mental health resources, a free subscription to Headspace, and an employee assistance program What really makes MongoDB unique is its people. According to one team member, “The MongoDB Israel team is truly a standout in the tech industry, characterized by its vibrant energy, diverse talent, and collaborative spirit. We're a collection of individuals from various backgrounds, each contributing unique skills and experiences. This diversity fuels our innovative approach and fosters a dynamic work environment where everyone has an opportunity to grow, learn, and excel.” Hear what some of our employees have to say about working for MongoDB in Israel. Nitzan Aloni, Enterprise Account Executive Israel is a start-up nation; full of unicorns and full of innovation. This is why MongoDB is so perfect for our customers, and we feel it as a sales team. Customers love the technology and are happy to work and engage with us. It has been really wonderful to see the development of MongoDB in Israel, which is now the core developer data platform for many successful companies. Personally, one of my biggest achievements so far has been working with companies within the finance and healthcare industries. These sectors can sometimes be more legacy and less technologically advanced, but my team and I have worked with these customers to increase their confidence and knowledge. Today, almost all the big finance companies in Israel are using Atlas, our cloud managed database service. MongoDB is a major part of their modernization journey at its core. Our team in Israel is full of great minds, a lot of experience and ambition, and amazing energy! If you want to learn and develop yourself, this is the right place for you. Not to mention, the market is full of opportunities for MongoDB. Every company is looking to modernize itself, because today, more than ever, organizations need to be on the cutting edge in order to survive. MongoDB is a driving force for modernization in every sector. We are far from slowing down! Learn more about MongoDB’s opportunity and regional leadership from Vice President Gabriella Cohen. Itay Tevel, Sr. Solutions Architect My journey at MongoDB has been challenging and rewarding. I firmly believe that developers will build the future, and MongoDB empowers them by offering a developer data platform with an optimal user experience that extends far beyond the core database. My role as a Solutions Architect is multi-faceted and keeps me continuously learning while also giving me the opportunity to educate others. One of the most rewarding aspects of my role is the deep, meaningful discussions I have with developers about complex data problems. Even when engaging with teams that have been using MongoDB extensively for many years, we're often able to offer value and insights, thanks to MongoDB Atlas' ability to meet a broad range of customer demands. What sets MongoDB apart is our relentless commitment to the customer's experience. We're not just about developing outstanding technology; we're about ensuring that technology serves our customers in the best way possible. We actively work to remove roadblocks and streamline their journey with us. This customer-centric ethos permeates every level of our organization and informs every decision we make. The MongoDB Israel team is particularly known for its commitment to holistic professional development. Our Solutions Architects don't just focus on the technical aspects of their roles; they also invest considerable time and effort into enhancing their soft skills. This includes honing abilities like negotiation, time management, teamwork, and presentation skills, amongst others. Solutions Architects have the opportunity to evolve into advisory or principal roles, tackling more complex challenges, and expanding their spheres of influence. The interplay between the technical and business aspects of our customer engagements presents a fascinating challenge, one that keeps our Solutions Architects engaged, evolving, and motivated. MongoDB presents an exciting blend of technological innovation, customer engagement, and personal development opportunities. This makes it an ideal place for Solutions Architects looking to make a difference and advance their careers. Daphne Levy, Technical Services Engineer As a Technical Service Engineer (TSE) at MongoDB, every day I have the opportunity to learn and grow in my role. Apart from diving into diverse topics, such as core server performance, queries and indexes, Atlas search, replication, changestreams, and more, I have also had the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. TSEs at MongoDB have the opportunity to work on challenging, impactful, and complex projects with the help of colleagues. MongoDB supports, respects, and challenges me to exceed my own expectations. Even when I feel uncertain or lacking in knowledge, I always know that someone has my back and people are always available to help me solve a new challenge. That being said, autonomy and ownership are also highly valued. Our managers trust in our abilities. This empowerment enables individuals to be independent in their work and be comfortable taking risks in order to influence the overall success of the team. As a TSE, I feel fulfilled knowing that my contributions play a significant role in the company’s success by helping customers resolve intricate technical issues. The sense of unity and cohesiveness within the team is strong; in Hebrew we call it ‘gibush’ (גיבוש). What I particularly appreciate about the Israeli team is its commitment to diversity and inclusion. We come from various cultures, sometimes different countries, and speak several languages. This diversity of backgrounds leads to a rich array of perspectives and ideas, sparking innovation and creativity. Collaboration among team members is a defining aspect of our work environment. It would be hard to find another tech company that invests so much into its employees. We constantly have the opportunity to develop and participate in training programs, conferences, workshops, and mentorships, along with participating in fun team bonding events that bring us together and help us build a more unified team. Lastly, MongoDB places great importance on maintaining a healthy work-life balance with a supportive environment that prioritizes employee well-being and offers flexibility, which has made it particularly advantageous for me as a working mum. Irina Sidorova, Customer Success Manager Joining MongoDB in Israel was an easy decision for me. I was blown away by how excited and passionate the developer community is about MongoDB. Their energy and genuine love for the technology made me curious and excited to dive deeper into learning more about it. During the interview process, I was impressed by the level of professionalism and humanity displayed by everyone I interacted with. In addition to having great and open conversations with each one of the team members, they provided me with clear expectations and learning materials, which gave me confidence and left me with a feeling that the company sets its people up for success. In my opinion, what really sets MongoDB apart is the culture of constructive feedback. After each interview, I received honest and valuable feedback that helped me to improve for the next round. I believe that this is crucial for personal and professional growth, and it's something that I really appreciate about MongoDB. One of my biggest highlights so far has been leading the Israeli MongoDB Certification Program. The program allowed participants to enrich their knowledge of MongoDB technology with the help of MongoDB University courses and Online Live Webinars with our Israeli-based team of Solution Architects. It was a great reminder of how much developers love the technology and how eager they are to learn more about it. At MongoDB, you'll have the opportunity to work on projects that challenge the technology market and be part of a company that is constantly growing, improving, and evolving. On top of it all, MongoDB is committed to providing employees with the support and resources they need to succeed. The culture is collaborative, supportive, and inclusive, with everyone in the company working together towards a common goal. If you're looking for a dynamic, challenging, and supportive work environment, join us at MongoDB. And in case you’re still debating, the Tel Aviv office is simply stunning – boasting the best view of the city and providing a perfect environment to work in! Join this dynamic team in Tel Aviv - view open roles on our careers site .
Sales Advice for a Winning Year
Sam Fiorenzo and Lorena Cortes are two exceptional salespeople at MongoDB who have made a significant impact on their careers and the company. As they geared up to join our Excellence Club, they offered to share their insights and advice on what it takes to have a successful year in sales. Whether you're just starting out or looking to take your career to the next level, their tips and strategies are sure to inspire and guide you on your journey. FInd your next sales role at MongoDB Advice from Lorena Cortes Account Manager, Customer Success I joined MongoDB in 2020 and have since been promoted twice. In each role I’ve held, I’ve learned something new that’s helped me achieve success as a salesperson. Developing myself from an Account Development Representative to Account Executive, and most recently to an Account Manager within our Customer Success team, has taught me to have a customer-centric mindset and reiterated the importance of building and maintaining long-term relationships with clients. This is why success requires more than just hitting your quotas. To develop yourself and your career, here are my three pieces of advice: Maintain a positive mindset and trust the process This is easier said than done, but it’s essential to success. One of the keys to maintaining a positive attitude is following a proven sales methodology. At MongoDB, for example, we follow a process that involves understanding the customer's current state, what they're trying to achieve, and what is required to get there. It's important not to skip any steps and to stay patient and persistent throughout the process. Deal cycles can be long, and some deals may fall through, but it's crucial to stay focused on your long-term vision and persevere through difficulties. Preparation will be key here. As for experiencing setbacks, such as losing a deal, it's important to embrace these opportunities to reflect, review, learn, and grow. Losing deals can be tough, but it's also an opportunity to refine your approach and improve it for the next time. Trusting in the process means staying committed to your weekly M4S (Metrics for Success) and tracking your activity. Even if you don't see immediate results, trust that the actions you're taking will eventually yield outcomes. Work hard and stay consistent Working hard and staying consistent is another key to success in sales. Cultivating self-discipline and holding yourself accountable to your yearly goals is essential. Establishing a positive routine will help you avoid distractions and stay on track. Allocating time for additional enablement around the technology you’re selling and working with internal stakeholders can help establish credibility with your customers. This is a reflection of how well you listen to your customer and take your partnership with their company seriously. Achieve work-life balance Achieving work-life balance is crucial to your physical and mental well-being, and ultimately, your success in sales. This was one of my biggest lessons this past quarter. It's easy to get caught up in work and forget to take care of yourself outside of the office, but this can actually hinder your productivity and success. Making time for yourself outside of work by engaging in activities that bring you joy, such as exercise or hobbies, will enhance your overall happiness and ability to come back to work recharged. Advice from Sam Fiorenzo Strategic Account Executive I joined MongoDB as a Sales Development Representative and have spent almost six years growing my career here. I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful salesperson from different peers or leaders and through my own experiences. While success isn’t promised, there are some things that have been core to getting there. Company matters Being selective about the product or service you want to represent makes a big difference. In my mind, a strong company will have a clearly defined addressable market, a product that is mission critical or tied to revenue-generating functions (it will solve pain for its customers), and is backed by a leadership team that you trust to drive the company forward. If you’re missing these factors, it probably means you’re selling a commodity or you’re losing to competitors for various reasons. Selling “nice-to-haves” makes it difficult to differentiate based on real value and near impossible to forecast. The company you work for matters. Having an employer who invests in understanding the market and your customers' pain points matters. Working for an organization like MongoDB that is continuously iterating to improve products or services massively simplifies my role. I get to focus on finding and understanding the real problems some of the largest organizations in the world are facing, and then help them fix it. Growth mindset Sales can be a tough job. You hear "no" far more often than "yes," and it's easy to become discouraged when it seems like all of your hard work isn't paying off. I’ve had to learn to be diligent in reframing challenges or setbacks. I’ve messed up a sales cycle more times than I can count, missed an important qualification detail or deadline, and have definitely lost deals. The key for me is that I don’t look at any of those as my end result. When I’m met with a challenge in order to progress, it just means I need to pivot. These moments act as change agents that drive me forward. It would be untrue to state that all problems you face are good, however, if I had never learned to persevere through setbacks, my sales career would’ve ended years ago. Some of the most successful sales professionals I’ve come across refer to this as having a growth mindset. They’re the people who could get a door slammed in their face and respond with “not that door? – I’ll try this window.” Great discovery The foundation of any good partnership or deal is deeply understanding your customer’s current state and their biggest problems. We refer to this as discovery. Early in my tech sales career, I was given advice to mute the phone when I wasn’t speaking. This additional second it took for me to unmute before driving the conversation forward taught me how to listen to understand instead of immediately responding. Those brief moments became filled with elaboration or detail of what was most important instead of closed questions filling the silence. Another senior leader used to tell us to “hold the point” during great discovery. He told a story about his duck-hunting dogs. It was the dogs’ job to seek out the ducks' nests and point to their location without waking them or scaring them away. He (the hunter) would then signal when he was ready to shoot. It was then that the dogs would flush or scare the ducks out of the nest. A "Hold The Point" sticker from the MongoDB archives One of his dogs was the best at finding the ducks but would get too excited and jump to flush out the ducks before he was ready. The hunts became wildly unsuccessful. He compared this excited hunting dog to an eager sales rep hearing the first pain that could be solved and jumping to share our product. When we talk to customers, it’s easy to become eager or excited when hearing about one problem your solution can fix. The analogy highlights the importance of patience in understanding their entire situation and “holding your point” before jumping to prescribe a solution. These are small examples that resonated with me. I use them as reminders to stay laser-focused on listening to the customer and understanding as much as I can about their needs before getting too excited about a qualified deal. Last, but far from least, it's important to remember that you can't do it alone It truly takes an army of talented individuals to find a lot of success in sales. For me, this includes people in roles focused on consulting services, customer success, solutions architecting, product engineering, support, and even partnerships. Whether you’re one week or ten years into selling it’s important to stay humble and acknowledge that everyone around you has unique strengths or skills that can drive your success forward. In my experience, working together and leveraging others’ expertise is crucial to overachieving goals and ultimately making a meaningful impact in your organization. Learn about MongoDB’s employee resource groups that build community and foster inclusion for women in tech, including Sell Like a Girl, an initiative devoted to making MongoDB the best place to work for women in sales.
Efficiency and Empathy: A Conversation with MongoDB’s Director of Business Systems
Tech Ops at MongoDB is committed to implementing tools and improving processes that enable our teams to work more efficiently and effectively. Hear from Devika Saharya, Director of Business Systems, to learn more about how her teams are making an impact, her approach to leadership, experience as a member of the Asian American community, and the challenges and opportunities she’s taken hold of throughout her career. This May, we’re also excited to announce the launch of our new employee resource group for employees who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander, MongoDB_API. Learn more about employee resource groups at MongoDB. Jackie Denner: Hi, Devika. Thanks for sharing more about your team and experience with me today. Can you start by telling me a bit about business systems at MongoDB? Devika Saharya: As the Director of Business Systems, I oversee two teams composed of Analysts and Engineers - the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) team and the Robotic Process Automation (RPA) team. The ERP team is responsible for managing the various tools used across the company, such as Coupa, Concur, and NetSuite, which is our primary financial tool for closing our books. Meanwhile, the RPA team constantly seeks to automate repetitive and mundane processes to help individuals and teams save time. They recently created an automated cycle of escalations and notifications for the yearly Docebo training, ensuring that employees stay compliant. This has saved our GRC team countless hours in checking and following up on noncompliant training. Our teams maintain open communication with various stakeholders internally, such as Accounts Payable, Order to Cash, Revenue, General Ledger, Data Strategy, Sales Ops, and Governance Risk and Compliance, to name a few. By staying in touch with these stakeholders and keeping track of any upcoming changes, both the ERP and RPA teams have been able to make significant contributions. This proactive approach to communication and collaboration has allowed our teams to anticipate and prepare for potential impacts on our systems, resulting in smoother processes and more effective outcomes. JD: How are the ERP and RPA teams making an impact for MongoDB? DS: Tech Ops mission is to be a collaborative and trusted partner, providing superior technology services to MongoDB and enabling our internal systems to be a source of competitive advantage. All of our work is directly aligned with this mission and supports MongoDB's broader business goals. For example, the ERP team works closely with the Finance organization to ensure a smooth and efficient close, which is critical to the financial health of the company. They have successfully implemented several projects, including Cash Application and the Vendor Onboarding tool, Graphite, which have streamlined manual processes and improved overall productivity. The RPA team, on the other hand, focuses on saving manual time and effort on business processes, which empowers users across the organization. They have delivered successful projects such as Dual Signature verification, PO Notifications, and MindTickle Automation, all of which have improved efficiency and accuracy. Both the ERP and RPA teams are currently working on high-impact projects that will further enhance our company's performance and competitiveness. Devika and her team JD: What is your approach to leadership? DS: I believe that change is the only constant, and my approach reflects a fine blend of transformational and servant leadership. My focus is on creating unity, developing bonds, creating energy, and instilling passion among my team members, with empathy serving as the foundation for all of this. To promote open communication within the team, we have catch-up sessions every Friday where everyone has the opportunity to express their feelings and discuss any topics of interest. I also believe in sharing my own life lessons, skills, and training videos that can help my team members develop their own skills and stay tightly knit. Recently, our RPA team started a 'know your team member' series, which has been a great success. This initiative has helped to further strengthen our bonds and improve collaboration within the team. Overall, my approach to leadership is centered on fostering a supportive and collaborative environment that encourages growth and empowers team members to achieve their full potential. JD: May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. What has been your experience as a member of this community working in tech? DS: I believe that everyone has their unique experiences when coming to the US, whether it's for work or study. In my case, I moved to the United States in 2012 after getting married. My initial years were challenging as I had to settle into a new country, start a new life, and build a brand new career. I faced numerous obstacles during this time, including failing multiple interviews, struggling with self-confidence, and experiencing discrimination that led to losing my first job. Despite these challenges, I persevered and worked tirelessly to acquire new skills and knowledge. As a member of the Asian American community, I've gained a sense of confidence and discovered the potential of individuals while building a strong network. I consider myself blessed to have found a mentor within this community who also happened to be my first manager in New York City. He helped me overcome my insecurities, instilled confidence, and continues to guide me when I feel stuck. One of the most valuable pieces of advice my mentor has given me is to weigh the pros and cons of every decision I make. I take every opportunity to meet him for coffee and discuss new concepts and ideas. I would also like to emphasize the significant impact of mentorship and leadership programs offered at MongoDB. In particular, I've found MDB Women, our employee resource group for women employees, to be a constant source of support and learning opportunities. JD: How have your identity and experiences made an impact on your career? DS: What sets MongoDB apart is its rapid growth while still prioritizing its people. I have had the privilege of working with some of the best talent and have been presented with learning opportunities on a daily basis, making my experience both challenging and fulfilling. A recent example of a challenge was rolling out a new Vendor Onboarding Tool. The process involved understanding how procurement and Accounts Payable onboard vendors, what paperwork is required, and how legal comes into the picture, providing valuable insight into different types of legal documents. It was an interesting challenge for both myself and the team, and we were able to successfully complete the project. By joining the Tech Ops organization, there are multiple opportunities to overcome business challenges and make an impact on the future success of MongoDB. Transform your career as an engineer or analyst on our Tech Ops team. View open roles on our careers site.
Leading by Example: Salvatore D’Auria is Taking MongoDB Italy to New Heights
Salvatore D’Auria, Regional Vice President for Italy, the Middle East, and Africa, discusses his career path at MongoDB and the incredible opportunities for sellers in Italy. Jackie Denner: What was your journey to MongoDB? Salvatore D’Auria: The first time I heard of MongoDB was in 2014, long before the company went public or opened its first offices in Milan. I was captured by MongoDB’s operating sales model, which was different from what I was used to while working at Oracle. I found the openness to developers and speed of development accompanied by a distributed architecture very interesting. I studied the growth plans, and in 2017 I invested as a private individual in the MongoDB IPO. In May 2018, I joined the company as the first employee in Rome with the aim of launching the Italian Government market. Our focus led to an enormous success in technological adoption, and this is well represented by the Green Pass developed by Sogei on MongoDB . Since 2021 we have created a team completely dedicated to public administration to support the tremendous growth of this segment. JD: Tell us about your expereince prior to joining the company. SD: I started my tech career at Oracle as an inside sales rep. I made all the classic growth steps up to managerial roles, changing locations, and gaining experience in the Data and Public sector. Then, in 2015, a pretty strategic project opened up at VMware in the development of their commercial team that allowed me to broaden my experience in the channel. Development of new markets and starting new teams while working with data platforms and software-defined infrastructures have been my focus areas over the past 15 years. JD: Why do you believe that Italy is such a strategic and important market for MongoDB? SD: MongoDB opened its first office in Milan in 2017 just before the IPO. The Italian team has always been characterized by organic growth over time, constant development of large customers, and a strong presence in public administration. Our selection process for the team is quite meticulous, albeit challenging, because each team member supports business development from all points of view: sales, pre-sales, consultancy, marketing, and channel. We work closely with our fantastic sales enablement, pre-sales, and marketing teams and take ownership of our role within the sales ecosystem. Our MongoDB values “build together” and “own what you do” are extremely relevant for our sales team. In the last four years, the growth in Italy has followed the hyper-grow our global business has experienced. We have an excellent foundation that allows us to seize further opportunities including the opening of the new Google and AWS data centers in our country, where MongoDB will be present with our developer data platform, MongoDB Atlas, as well as building momentum, availability, and success in the Italian Government sector. This makes our long-term outlook particularly favorable. The MongoDB Italy team JD: How would you describe your leadership style? SD: I have always believed in leading by example. In my experiences as a young Scout leader or as an instructor at Nunziatella Military School, I always believed that example was the key to developing rapid adoption of virtuous models. During my time at military school I learned this quote from Seneca, which still accompanies me today: “Imperare sibi, maximum imperium est” (“the greatest power is to have power over one’s self”). In large organizations, this model of leadership is essential for guiding teams towards common business and career development goals. I consider myself lucky to have learned from leaders with determination and a sense of responsibility, and I try to do the same for my team. JD: Why should someone join the team in Italy? SD: The opportunities at MongoDB are truly endless. As a member of our sales team, you’ll find a culture of transparency and meritocracy. We are focused on developing individuals to be great salespeople and like to think that we are the best technology sales school in Italy. In terms of career growth, there is an opportunity to develop yourself as a manager or individual contributor. For example, we had someone join the team as an Account Executive and after six quarters, be promoted to a Regional Director role overseeing a team. Following the MEDDIC sales methodology, there is also the opportunity to be promoted into the role of Key Account Director supporting a single customer to drive rapid adoption of MongoDB’s developer data platform. Our team is competitive, but there is a lot of camaraderie and support for one another. You’ll have the opportunity to express yourself at your best and know that you will be valued for your unique perspectives and experiences. I am excited about the impact our team in Italy will continue to make on the industry, and I’d love for you to join us. Our sales team is growing in EMEA and across the globe. View open roles on our careers site.
Women Leaders at MongoDB: Lena Smart Discusses Clarity and Goal Setting
March is Women’s History Month. Our women leaders series highlights MongoDB women who are leading teams and empowering others to own their career development and build together. Lena Smart, Chief Information Security Officer, explains why words matter, shares her thoughts on leadership, and discusses MongoDB’s internal mentorship program “MentorHER”. Tell me a bit about your team. My team is responsible for all aspects of security of MongoDB’s global offices and employees. Within my organization I have Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) and InfoSec (security engineering, physical security, etc.) under me. We are dedicated to making every effort to protect customer data, including continually improving security processes and controls. On top of that, we are committed to delivering the highest levels of standards conformance and regulatory compliance as part of our ongoing mission to address the most demanding security and privacy requirements of our customers. My goal is to build the best security and GRC team in the world. What characteristics make a good leader? In my opinion, good leaders are decisive and leave little room for ambiguity. They are understanding and know that people are depending on them for their careers, dreams, and aspirations. They make their work matter every day, are focused on continuous learning, and do not “rest on their laurels.” What has your experience been like as a woman growing your career in leadership? My experience as a woman leader has depended on the environment. It was very difficult as a CIO and CISO in the power industry. Every day I felt like I was being undermined by my peers, who (because they were all “power industry engineers”) felt they were the experts in everything to do with security (they were not). It was exhausting. I finally left and joined a FinTech company. That was better, but I still felt I could find an environment where women were actively encouraged to lead. Hence my move to MongoDB. I could not be happier here and love working with all our teams. Tell us about the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your career. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that words matter. As a leader, people can interpret your words in many ways. Be clear in your message. I have a mantra on our team: “one voice, one message”. I encourage my team members to have all the internal discussion they want, but we do not ever air our dirty laundry in public. We stand with “one voice, one message”. People in general like clarity, and we try hard to enforce that idea within my team by encouraging each person to own what they do. What’s your advice for building and developing a team? I believe cultivating a supportive and positive team culture stems from the top down. I really embrace and follow MongoDB’s company values . Build Together is the main value I follow because, to me, people are everything. You need the right people in the right places owning what they do. I am also a huge advocate for people taking the initiative and building upon their own careers. I make sure to set aside a budget for training and certification programs for my team. This allows them to enhance their knowledge and helps them grow and develop into even stronger security and GRC professionals. I also started the Security Champions Program at MongoDB almost four years ago, a volunteer-based program that allows anyone who has an interest in security to join monthly meetings to learn more. Can you tell us a bit about the MentorHER program at MongoDB? I am honored to be the Executive Sponsor for a very important internal program called MentorHER. MentorHER aims to create diverse teams, develop female leaders, drive organizational changes, and enhance MongoDB’s reputation as an employer of choice. I’ve had a couple of mentors who made a positive impact on my career. I cherished our time together and made sure to have a clear understanding of the mentoring program I signed up for. There were goals, regular meetings, and a lot of positivity generated by mentoring. I hope we can replicate that at MongoDB with our MentorHER program. We have a very strong team leading the program, and I feel very confident that we will meet our goals and embrace the different experiences and perspectives of the women around us. What is your advice to women looking to grow their careers as leaders? My advice to other women is this: be clear and honest in what you want from a leadership role. At the C-suite level you will be pulled in many directions. Control that, from the start, where possible. It’s important to be intellectually honest and have clear goals that will help your team grow and mature, and the business flourish. Join a team that builds together every day. View open career opportunities at MongoDB.
Women Leaders at MongoDB: Why Kanika Khurana is Leading with Transparency
March is Women’s History Month. Our women leaders series highlights MongoDB women who are leading teams and empowering others to own their career development and build together. Kanika Khurana, Technical Services Manager, shares how she leads with transparency, the importance of taking smart risks, and enabling team members to have the “courage to fall and rise again”. Tell me a bit about your team. I oversee the Cloud Technical Services team in India. Our team provides technical advice and support to MongoDB customers by acting as subject matter experts to clear blockers and recommend best practices, enabling customers to build next-generation applications. What characteristics make a good leader? I think that a good leader comes to know and value their employees' unique skills and abilities. They determine how to capitalize on their team’s strengths and tweak the environment to meet their larger goals. By taking the time to understand each employee, a great manager shows that they see their people for who they are. Have you faced any challenges as a woman growing your career in leadership? One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m an emotional thinker, which somehow hampers my decision-making. However, while I tend to be a more relationally-oriented decision maker, I’ve used this characteristic to help advance my career. Listening to and involving team members in essential conversations has enabled me to make more logical, reasonable, and healthier decisions. What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned throughout your career? The best leaders are transparent. They admit mistakes, ask for forgiveness, and make bad situations right. These “failures” aren’t signs of weakness but rather strengths. Mistakes are inevitable, and what we learn from them is what determines the course of our success. Trying to look perfect isn’t authentic, creates stress, and models unhealthy perfectionism. Through transparency, you build stronger relationships and an environment where a commitment to doing the right thing impacts the culture and the bottom line. The best thing you could do is to offer an Eden to your team, which allows them to grow and thrive, rather than creating an environment where the fear of making a mistake overtakes the courage to fall and rise again. What’s your advice to other women looking to grow their careers as leaders? I advise other women to be brave and take risks. Sticking to the safest option can be tempting, but you are unlikely to achieve growth and innovation if you’re not open to new steps or strategies. Of course, risks should be calculated, but carefully considering risks can progress your career. Be a little risky, take a leap, give it a try, speak up, and be kind but convicted in your effort to take a seat at the table. Join us to make an impact on your career and the future of technology. Find open roles on our careers site today.
Women Leaders at MongoDB: Raising the Bar with May Petry
March is Women’s History Month. Our women leaders series highlights MongoDB women who are leading teams and empowering others to own their career development and build together. May Petry, Vice President of Digital and Growth Marketing, discusses the importance of defining your values, being authentic, and “getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Tell me a bit about your team. The Digital and Growth Marketing team is focused on finding the next best customer for MongoDB, helping them be wildly successful on Atlas, and accelerating their future growth on our platform. Our growth goals include driving awareness in net new audiences, generating revenue through our self-serve channel, delivering new digital experiences, and growing sales opportunities. What characteristics make a good leader? Good leaders have a clear set of personal values that guide their decisions and define their leadership style. They find joy in not just what their team does but how. A good leader is a ‘bar raiser’ and demonstrates mastery of all the company values. I value authenticity, integrity, empathy, accomplishment, and advocacy in leaders. What has your experience been like as a woman growing your career in leadership? There have been many occasions where I am the only woman and person of color in the room. Early in my career, this was intimidating and lonely, but finding allies helped. I also remember being told to “use my voice.” I was. I just wasn’t being heard. Focusing on how to speak so others listen is a skill to develop. The stakes just get higher as you advance your career. Tell us about some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career. I’ll share two. First, I don’t have to be the best at what my team does. I have to be the best in helping my team do what they do best and excel at arranging their outputs, so it’s amplified, highly efficient, and ridiculously impactful. The second is that imposter syndrome doesn’t ever go away. It gets worse - use it to fuel your curiosity and empathy, drive collaboration, and help others grow. What’s your advice for building and developing a team? As a leader developing a team, you need to be a role model. Be authentic and vulnerable. Don’t just talk about learning and development - do something about it. Does everyone in your organization have an individual growth plan? Do they know what raising the bar looks like? Do they have regular conversations with their managers for feedback and recognition? That said, everyone is responsible for their own personal and professional growth. Take charge of your destiny by looking for mentors, coaches, and allies. What’s one piece of advice you have for women looking to grow their careers as leaders? Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Find a good circle of people to share, brainstorm, laugh, or cry with. We are our own worst critics, so be kind to yourself, stop apologizing, and go shine! Together, there’s nothing we can’t build. View current openings on our careers site.
Informing MongoDB Product Strategy Through Analytical Insights: Meet Natalya Furmanova
Natalya Furmanova joined MongoDB as a Product Manager in 2018. Since then, she’s had the opportunity to pursue her passions by making an internal transfer to our Data Analytics team where she produces quantitative insights that, simply put, help make our products better! Read on to learn more about how Natalya makes an impact in her role as a Data Analyst and what makes this team a great fit for someone who loves solving highly analytical problems. Jackie Denner: Thanks for taking the time to share a bit about your role and experience at MongoDB, Natalya. To start off, why did you decide to join MongoDB? Natalya Furmanova: At the time, MongoDB was transitioning from being a highly successful startup that created a popular open source technology to an established, publicly traded company. With my background in software engineering, I was fascinated at the prospect of making an impact on one of the core technology products that millions of developers use on a daily basis and that I myself was familiar with. The fact that the company produces a foundational technology that powers so many great applications was very attractive to me. I was looking forward to learning the intricacies of the distributed systems technology, the NoSQL paradigm, and the SaaS aspect of the product. JD: You were originally in Product Management and then moved to a Data Analyst role. What led you to make that transition? NF: I had joined MongoDB to help the Product team be more effective and data-driven by managing systems that support various product processes, with the main need rooted in the data systems (such as the data warehouse). As a Product Manager in Product Systems and Analytics, I found myself often performing analyses of the product usage patterns, establishing KPI systems, and democratizing data signals for the Product team’s use. I spearheaded several initiatives to centralize the scattered core technology usage signals in the data warehouse and led the analytical data platform technology transformation initiative for a while. After being promoted to Senior Product Manager, I realized that producing quantitative insights for the Product team was the most satisfying aspect of my role and decided I wanted to focus on it full time - there was so much to do! I had the opportunity to make an internal transfer and joined the Analytics and Business Operations team as a Staff Product Analyst while staying embedded with the Product and Engineering teams that I supported. I was de facto the first Product Analyst and have seen the team grow exponentially in the last two years. As a Staff-level team member, I have been supporting the team with my technology, data, and cross-product knowledge while performing planning activities and helping the team grow. JD: What is the culture like on the Data Analytics team? NF: First and foremost, I believe that every member of the Analytics team takes pride in providing high-quality quantitative insights.The level of talent inspires me to grow and learn. At the same time, the team puts emphasis on collaboration and knowledge sharing. Each analyst and data scientist works with a specific area of the business - be it product, technical support, or sales - which might lead to silos. In order to stay connected and collaborative, we form squads to tackle the problem from different perspectives, organize data hackathons which have resulted in several impactful projects, schedule weekly knowledge sharing sessions, and more. Curiosity and initiative are highly encouraged on our team - there are no wrong questions. JD: How does your team weave data and experimentation into the product roadmap? NF : The Product Analytics team works directly with the Product Managers, Lead Engineers, and Product Leadership team to set quantitative goals for the product’s adoption, test hypotheses by experimentation or causal analysis, find anomalies in the way our technology is used, provide supporting KPIs analysis for the state of the product updates, analyze the customer funnel in order to uncover the reasons for customer drop-off or churn, and more. We inject statistical rigor into the metrics and definition of KPIs and act as the thought partners to our Product and Engineering counterparts. Our quantitative findings power the product planning sessions, customer outreach, and marketing campaigns, and our projects range from defining KPIs to statistical modeling and feature engineering for machine learning problems. JD: How do you collaborate with other teams at MongoDB? NF: As Product Analysts, we are embedded in the processes of our respective Product and Engineering teams. For example, we review the scoping documentation in order to collaborate on defining the success metrics, meet regularly with our stakeholders and form squads for cross-team initiatives, and collaborate within the Product Analytics team and with other data teams to standardize and democratize the metrics that touch upon multiple products or features. JD: What are you most looking forward to over the next 6-12 months? NF: I am most looking forward to making an impact with several cross-team initiatives that are coming up, and contributing my expertise to solve some of the more challenging analytical problems that can help drive our business forward. JD: What makes working in analytics at MongoDB exciting and why should someone join the team? NF: To me, what’s most exciting is solving difficult analytical problems that require a combination of skills, from business acumen and analytical thinking to coding and math, and the ability to communicate the results to different stakeholder groups. There is so much work to do and so many exciting and highly technical product areas to support that anyone who joins can make an impact and be creative in their role. The last thing I’ll mention is how much I truly enjoy working with the people on my team. It’s an environment where you feel supported and know that everyone is working towards a common goal. Join a team that’s making it matter and building together. Find your next career opportunity at MongoDB .
Honoring Black History Month: How These MongoDB Employees Defied the Odds
February is Black History Month. It’s a time to reflect on and celebrate the struggles and triumphs of the black community and remember the importance of elevating black voices. Each year at MongoDB, we ask members of our employee resource group BEAM (Black Employees At MongoDB) if they’d like to share a personal story about their experiences and what this month means to them. This year, hear from Administrative Assistant Rita Henderson and Regional Director Daniel Hawthorne to learn more about their journeys into tech. Rita Henderson: Breaking Down Barriers and Owning Technology for Social Justice As we celebrate Black History Month, I am grateful for those who have paved the way for us to have a voice and fight for our rights. I am reminded of the struggles and achievements of black leaders throughout history. The fight for equal rights and justice is ongoing, and technology plays a crucial role in this fight. It is important to empower and uplift underrepresented communities in the tech industry to create a more inclusive and equitable future. I am a proud member of the Afro-Latinx community from North Philadelphia. Growing up in a neighborhood called Badlands, I witnessed first-hand the impact and struggles of poverty, high crime rates, and drugs. I am the youngest of six children, with parents who worked two jobs to make ends meet. Despite my parents' hard work and dedication to provide for their children, life was still a struggle for my family. At the age of 17, after completing my junior year of High School, I became a teen mom. Unfortunately, society tries to shame young mothers, especially teen moms of color. Many people reminded me that teen pregnancy is closely linked to single parenthood and that growing up in single-parent families remains the largest factor in increased poverty among children. Me (middle) and my sibling with our dad. Yes, I photoshopped myself in. As a teen mom, I was determined to break through the barriers society placed on me. With $200 in my pocket, I moved my daughter and I to western Pennsylvania and enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania. There, I earned my bachelor's degree in Criminology and studied the school-to-prison pipeline in black communities. After the murder of the young unarmed black teenager, Mike Brown, and the Ferguson uprising, my sister and I collaborated with organizers in the Ferguson community to launch a free technology program to empower community organizers, educators, and youth with skill sets to create technology tools for social and economic justice. Graduating from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Pictured with my firstborn London Rae and my mom. I am influenced by the work of the Black Panther Party; specifically, the 10th Point of the party’s 10-Point Platform, “Community Control of Modern Technology”. For 45 years, the Black Panther Party included the right to learn, access, and control technology as a right. Huey said, "Knowing how to struggle is the essence of winning. Recognizing ills is fundamental; recognizing how to overcome ills is mandatory." That is why I believe it is critical for black and latinx people to understand the role technology plays in our society and the economy if we want to understand social justice and create tools for liberation. When I hear people talk about technology in black, latinx, and working-class communities, they often use it as a scare tactic. The fear of data and control and the feeling that technology is too advanced and that we lack the knowledge and tools to participate can be overwhelming. However, it is crucial for our community to claim our place in the tech world. We need to change our thinking and know there is a place for us, just like there is for anyone else. I am grateful for MongoDB's value "embrace the power of differences" and creating a platform where underrepresented communities can share their stories, bring their ideas to the forefront, and be heard in the tech industry. As we celebrate Black History Month, I am grateful for those who have paved the way for us to have a voice and fight for our rights. I am also thankful for the opportunities I have been given to make a difference in my community and empower others to do the same. With education and technology, we can continue breaking down barriers and striving for equality, justice, and liberation. In 2022, my partner and I welcomed our baby girl Lara Sky. Daniel Hawthorne: Building a Career as a Black Man in Tech Sales I was brought into the world with the odds against me, a black boy born in South Central Los Angeles in the 80s. However, I never felt that I was on my own. Throughout my entire life, God has choreographed my every step. At a very young age, my parents decided to move us to Austin, Texas where my grandparents were moving their church ministry. I was raised in Austin along with my two older brothers (Dante and Derrell), my younger sister (Amber), and my younger brother (Joseph). My siblings called me the “golden child” because I was a mama’s boy and kept to myself. The elementary and middle schools that I attended in Austin were fairly diverse, and I seldomly experienced racism. In the 7th grade, my family moved to a suburb of North Austin that wasn’t as diverse, and racist experiences became much more frequent. It was then that I began to acknowledge that being black brought different treatment. There were moments I embraced my blackness, but others where I was more focused on adapting myself into someone I thought those in my non-diverse environment wanted me to be. In middle school, the place to hang out was the Rec Center. I would run into kids from other schools, and we’d have the basketball gym to ourselves for a bit. Eventually, the older guys would take over the court, but I was good enough that I typically got to play with them. I remember observing them as they entered the gym. They’d be dressed in nice work clothes with Dell badges hanging from their shirts - the Rec Center was only five minutes from the Dell HQ - and that became an early image of what success looked like for me. In high school and college, I started my career in sales with a few small gigs. I enjoyed it because I was typically one of the top sellers no matter what I sold. I even sold women’s shoes at one point! After graduating with my M.B.A, I had no idea what my next move would be. But then, that image of success popped into my head. I focused my attention on getting a sales job at Dell. Despite not having any experience in tech, I knew I could excel. Who knew that 10 years after my days on the Rec Center courts, I would land my first job in tech. I joined the inside sales development team at Dell, and it was one of the most pivotal moments of my career. The job was intense. After a week of training, it was clear that I was the least technical in every room. But, I was determined to not let anyone outwork me. We were required to make over 100 outbound calls per day, but I quickly figured out how to achieve the true objective (10 scheduled virtual demonstrations in a week) in fewer calls. Through my efficiency, I helped form new standards and began to make a name for myself. Being in sales development wasn’t my end goal. I knew I wanted to get into outside sales, so I began building relationships with some of the Dell outside sellers I worked with. During a coaching session with one of my mentors, who was also a minority, he shared some guidance that I wasn’t ready for. He told me that if I truly wanted to be in outside sales, I needed to lose my earrings because professional men didn’t wear them. Even though he and I understood that earrings didn’t define me, his guidance was that being a person of color meant I was already playing from behind, and that I should exhaust all things within my control to create as level a playing field as I possibly could. This theme would continue throughout my career. Similar to when I was a kid in the non-diverse suburbs of Austin, as a black man in tech, I’ve felt heavy pressure to be a certain way to appease others. When I was first getting started, I hardly encountered sales folks that looked like me. I’d attend internal trainings and events where there might be one or two other black sellers out of 200+ people. In many ways, I felt that I was on an island and had to live through trial and error. I had a fear that being ‘too black’ would put me at an even greater disadvantage. I walked the line and was careful about what I said or did. I hardly engaged in extracurricular activities with co-workers, and when I did, I kept my guard up. So much of my energy and effort was exhausted into protecting my brand and trying to avoid negative stereotyping because of the color of my skin. I often think about how much more successful I could’ve been had I not felt obligated to focus on the things that never should’ve mattered. My wife and our two daughters at the apple orchards outside of St. Louis, Missouri. As I stated before, God has led my path in life. Numerous times when I was unsure of the next turn to make, He introduced someone to provide direction. I’m truly grateful for the people who may not have looked like me, but provided me with valuable coaching that helped guide my career in tech. I joined MongoDB to help customers with their data transformations, but I didn’t expect that I would go through a transformation myself. I’ve never felt more empowered to just be myself, and through that, I’ve reached new levels of individual and team accomplishments. I was a direct seller for my first two years with the company, and after receiving coaching from peers and leaders around me, I stepped into management a year ago. This wasn’t necessarily a milestone or goal that I had set out for myself, but I came to the realization that there was tremendous value in helping other sellers (and their families) achieve new levels of success. What better company to step into leadership than at MongoDB. Every company has employee resource groups nowadays, but the intentionality behind those groups at MongoDB is different. Our leadership team has leaned into those difficult, vulnerable discussions, sometimes simply to listen because they knew they didn’t have the answers. Even in those scenarios, they’d come up with relevant action that they could personally be responsible for. Despite the comfort zone I had created over the past 10+ years of watering down my blackness, our Sales team encourages individuality and has brought out the best version of me. It’s helped lift a giant weight off my back. I know I’m no longer starting from behind, and I don’t fear that folks are going to judge me. As I wrap-up my first year in sales leadership, I’ve noticed significant transformation in my personal development, and I’m excited that I get to continue taking on new challenges that will bring discomfort, but instill confidence that I can persevere. As we celebrate Black History Month, I think about the opportunity I have to expose other members of the black community to a profession in sales. Our experiences and our perspectives are highly valued and necessary in order to build a better tech-centric future. We’re passionate about cultivating a culture where people of all backgrounds, identities, and experiences feel valued and heard. Find your next career opportunity at MongoDB.
Turning Data Points Into Actionable Insights: Meet May Hoque
Imagine the interesting insights you could glean from combining multiple data sources with one tool that helps you easily analyze data over time. May Hoque is a senior software engineer on MongoDB’s Atlas Data Federation team where he helps create a distributed, federated query engine that can query across data stored in multiple sources. Keep reading to find out more about his experience joining MongoDB as an intern and new grad, then continuing to grow his career here over the last four and a half years. Jackie Denner: Thanks for sharing more about your experience today, May! To start, will you give an overview on your software engineering background and how you started working with MongoDB? May Hoque: I began exploring computer science in a high school class. The class was rudimentary but I had fun learning how to build programs. I chose computer science as my university major because it felt like a career I could grow with that both piqued my interest and offered long-term stability. I am currently a senior software engineer on MongoDB’s Atlas Data Federation team. I first joined MongoDB in 2017 as an intern, then returned after graduation to participate in the New Grad Program in 2018 which gave me an opportunity to rotate working between three different teams at MongoDB over our first six months. I originally joined the BI connector team, but then switched to the Atlas Data Federation team. JD: Tell me more about the Atlas Data Federation product. MH: Atlas Data Federation is a distributed, federated query engine at its core. This core enables users to query multiple data sources with a single query, from a single interface. Other MongoDB products, including Atlas Online Archive and Atlas Data Lake , use this core as a building block for their own functionality. The Atlas Data Lake product, for example, orders and organizes data to optimize for super fast queries even as the user's data sources grow in volume. The ability to perform complex queries, even across multiple data sources unlocks valuable benefits for a variety of use cases, for example maintaining the ability to easily query less frequently used data even after archiving it from pre-existing database clusters to less expensive locations. JD: What makes Atlas Data Federation unique? MH: We’re more than just a search function — we can also store your data and organize it in a way that makes it really fast to actually answer those questions. Its integration with Atlas and the larger MongoDB ecosystem widens the scope of the value users can get from their databases. It’s convenient and operationally simple to have all of your solutions to different challenges in the same place. MongoDB Atlas Data Lake allows developers to easily store and analyze large amounts of data in a cost-effective and scalable manner without having to worry about the underlying infrastructure. JD: Talk me through some example use cases your team supports. MH: The real value in large data sets lies in understanding the trends and relationships between the data points. There are endless possibilities of how organizations can use Atlas Data Federation to draw insights to motivate strategic business decisions, from answering questions about specific events, to aggregating insights across a group of data points. Atlas Data Lake stores and organizes your data in a way that makes it really fast to answer questions related to your collection of data. Teams across an organization can benefit from more insight into data learnings. A marketing team may want to know what percentage of their users have spent more than a specific amount on a single item, including supporting data like what the item was and when they purchased it. An investor may want to know how much profit an organization made over a specific time period. A product team may want to look at historical sales data from past product launches. Users can answer all of these questions and more with a query on Atlas Data Federation. JD: What projects are you currently working on? MH: I am contributing to a bigger MongoDB initiative to add more sources of data. Adding this support to Atlas Data Federation and Data Lake will make our service available to new clients who want to use the product, but currently can’t. I’m also working on a high level systems design challenge to rearchitect our systems to scale and improve our service for our customers. JD: Let’s talk about what it’s like to work at MongoDB. What makes the team and product exciting to work on? MH: The Atlas Data Federation team is primarily focused on problems relating to complex distributed systems and database engineering . These challenges aren’t often easy to work on, but the careful and rigorous thinking needed to solve them is exciting and rewarding. Plus, the solution to the data lake problem is in demand, and the projects we work on are relevant to the industry. JD: What is the overall engineering culture like at MongoDB? What opportunities have inspired you to grow here? MH: My experience on the team has contributed to my growth as an engineer. I’ve noticed a strong culture of learning, mentorship and diversity both on the Atlas Data Federation team and the company at large. I appreciate that our team has a wide spectrum of experience levels, from new grads to engineers with decades of experience. The team is collaborative and takes pride in supporting each other. Whether I work on a project independently or with a group of engineers, I’m never working solo. I always have the support of the team and people to bounce ideas off of throughout a project, which creates opportunity for growth. JD: Why should someone join the Atlas Data Federation team? MH: If you're someone who really likes technical challenges or you just want to solve really cool problems, we have no shortage of them to work on. If you’re focused on growth, we have opportunities for all levels of experience. It is possible to grow from an intern to a manager on our team because of the mentorship and breadth of projects available to work on, which I’ve seen happen for some of my colleagues. Our team environment is built on empathy and collaboration. JD: What stands out to you about your overall experience working at MongoDB compared to your past experiences? MH: After a few years on the team, I'm still consistently growing my skill set and working on interesting, fun projects – two primary reasons I continue to work at MongoDB. The problems the Atlas Data Federation team works on provide me useful experience that I can apply to future projects and challenges. If you’re looking to collaborate with forward-thinking teams and interesting use cases, MongoDB is one of the best tech companies to work for. Interested in transforming your career at MongoDB? View open roles on our teams across the globe.