From Executive Assistant To Cybersecurity Specialist, MongoDB Employee Shares Her Career Growth Story And Guide To Online Personal Safety
Editor's note: This was originally published on AfroTech’s website. It’s never too late to reinvent your career or make a pivot into the technology field. Just ask Dawn Charles, Business Support Specialist at MongoDB. Charles worked as a personal trainer for 12 years before she took an executive assistant position that eventually led to a career in cybersecurity. MongoDB is a database platform that provides the back-end infrastructure used by many popular apps, including the online game Fortnite. It’s an attractive option for tech professionals all over the world, including Black tech professionals who are looking to elevate their career. Charles spoke with AfroTech to share her experience working for MongoDB as a Black tech professional, gave advice on individuals looking to make a career switch and provided tips on how to keep your personal cybersecurity measures up-to-date. How Dawn Charles Made a Career Pivot Charles started working for MongoDB five years ago and has been a crucial part of the success of many departments at the company. When she first joined the company, she was a recent cancer survivor and knew she wanted a job that could provide financial security. MongoDB fulfilled both requirements, and although it was her first time joining a larger company compared to previous employers, she was able to become involved with many teams, including the developer relations, solutions architecture, sales, and product marketing functions. As a Business Support Specialist, she now works in the global security department and supports the Chief Information Security Officer. Charles aides with special assignments, manages the security brand and works as a liaison for global teams to guarantee their “personal security is aligned and secure.” “Initially, I started at MongoDB as an EA [executive assistant] to two sales leaders,” says Charles. “Everything revolved around making quotas and performance of the sales teams. I would volunteer to get involved with other team projects, one being our sales bootcamp, which was a very small program then.” “I offered to help in things that interested me, not necessarily looking for a change, but just to explore new things and make my day to day more interesting” Charles adds. “It adds to your workload, but gives you insight to what other roles might entail, and also proves that you are up for the task before even making a change.” Over the last five years, Charles’ exposure to new areas of the company contributed to her versatility, and she still has large goals she’d like to see come to fruition. Charles suggests that those who are looking to switch roles should shadow someone in the role they’re pursuing, and get as much insight as possible. “In all of my career I have always been very social, building great relationships with people I have worked alongside on different projects.” Charles adds. “Having this has enabled me to have access to amazing people who are always willing to provide advice and support.” Which has led to having many champions on her side who believe in her. When it comes to working for MongoDB as Black woman in particular, Charles describes it as being “great and interesting.” As a UK native, she says it’s been amazing because she has the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people, not just from the U.S, but from all over the world. Her experience helps her realize that she is her own biggest advocate, which means she learns to not only speak up for herself, but to also speak up if she comes across something that is not “fair or just.” The Importance of Online Safety Since MongoDB is a database company, cybersecurity plays a huge role in guaranteeing that their customers and the company are protected. Charles believes that online safety is just as important as everyday security measures, such as locking your doors and cars, which is standard. “Our whole lives and all of our personal information are online, but security is an afterthought for many,” says Charles. Below are a few key steps Charles believes are necessary to keep yourself safe online. Secure your home's WiFi connection Make sure your phone and computer OS are up-to-date along with specific apps. Enable an auto update feature so that you don't have to remember. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) and password managers. Use MFA to mitigate risk of password loss. Create passphrases instead of passwords e.g. DawnLikesSmoothies9492! Make sure nothing personal that people can search about you like your animal name or the year you were born. Use a password manager Avoid password reuse since hackers use breached credentials (e.g, credential stuffing). Sign up for 1Password for your one stop site to store all of your passwords. Email is the most important asset to secure Email provides access to all your accounts via password resets. Protect your email! Once again use MFA and a secure pin on your phone. Use biometrics if available. Considering her effort and dedication to ensure safety for all based on these tips, Charles said that she is “proud and incredibly lucky to work at MongoDB.” “Our work environment and culture is amazing and we are encouraged to actually have fun in what we do,” Charles says. “I truly enjoy the people I work with and have made some amazing connections that will last a lifetime. MongoDB continues to grow, and we are always welcoming new people to the team.” One of the MongoDB core values is to “Think Big, Go Far.” If this is a motto you can see yourself working by, explore current job opportunities on their career page . Join MongoDB in supporting organizations fighting for racial justice and equal opportunity. Donate to our fund by December 31, 2020 and MongoDB will match the donation up to a maximum aggregate amount of $250,000. Learn more here .
Engineering for Engineers: How MongoDB’s Culture Enables Engineers to Be Their Very Best
As a leading technology company disrupting the fast-growing database market, MongoDB offers a unique opportunity for ambitious engineers. Here, we’re engineers for engineers, breaking down barriers to entry and enabling all developers — from a teen dabbling in app development to a team lead working at a massive enterprise — to have the tools needed to make their big ideas happen. As an engineer on our team, you have the freedom to solve pain points you’ve likely experienced throughout your career. You also have the freedom to test boundaries and innovate. Curious to know more? Our engineers weigh in. Here’s what to expect when you join our team. Beyond the Database Our goal is to solve interesting problems and empower engineers to see their ideas come to life. We may be in the business of databases, but we’re not limited to it. Dan Pasette, Executive Vice President (EVP) of Core Engineering, shares how engineers at MongoDB can touch all aspects of technology. “Data and databases are at the heart of just about every software application. Thus, engineers at MongoDB are exposed to every sort of application, platform, hardware, use case, language, and technology under the sun,” he explains. “We’re not just a database company. We do systems engineering, web apps, library design (in 12 different languages), desktop applications, and distributed cloud applications, to name a few.” The variety of problems we solve and the technologies we use keep things fresh for our engineers, giving them flexibility to innovate beyond databases and without limitations. A Culture of Innovation and Inclusion All engineers, from interns to leadership, have the opportunity to make an impact . With a learning environment in place, you’re encouraged to pursue your ideas, even if they fail. We look for tenacious people who can put their ideas into motion, learn, and iterate. It’s only through this we can find the best ways to support our customers in this ever-changing landscape. Dan talks about how our culture allows engineers to take ownership and grow their careers. “We have developed an incredibly nurturing environment for engineers based on pushing responsibility to individual engineers and providing mentorship and support for engineers at every stage of their career,” he says. “This allows new engineers to grow very quickly and experienced engineers to wield a high degree of independence and agency.” We leave our egos at the door, and everyone comes together to support our core mission. As a member of our team, you’ll work alongside talented people who are eager to share their knowledge and are willing to roll up their sleeves and help. We don’t focus on titles, tenure, or career level. Instead, we believe everyone has something worthwhile to bring to the table and welcome you to voice your thoughts. Maria van Keulen , Product Manager and prior Senior Software Engineer, shares more about how she’s empowered to innovate, both in the products she works with and how she manages her career. “MongoDB provides me with opportunities to undertake projects I’m proud of and passionate about, solve interesting problems, and build exciting technologies,” she says. “I’m grateful for MongoDB and the successes I’m encouraged to pursue here: I have spoken at a conference, mentored interns, and led a nine-month-long project from concept to completion. Also, I recently transitioned into Product Management, after four years as a software engineer.” When leading projects, she continues, “I start by defining a clear and compelling vision to serve as a foundation. As the project progresses, I always strive to find a balance between what is necessary for me to do and what can be delegated, empowering those around me while we work toward our end goal. I have been able to work with and learn from so many bright and talented people with a shared passion and motivation for the company’s success. I look forward to applying these learnings and more while helping to shape MongoDB’s future.” Maria adds that she also is involved in a few groups at MongoDB — “One of which,” she says, “being our Underrepresented Genders in Tech (UGT) group. UGT is a group for people of underrepresented genders in technical roles who provide a network and resources for growing professionally and personally. In addition to being a valuable forum for fostering the growth of our members, UGT enacts positive change to make MongoDB an even more welcoming, collaborative place to work.” Judah Schvimer, Director of Engineering for Server Replication and Security, reflects on his experience working at MongoDB. “From the beginning, one thing I have loved about MongoDB is the amount of impact engineers can make from an early stage in their career,” he says. “MongoDB encourages junior engineers to provide feedback on complicated and impactful designs. The organization encourages the most junior engineers to ask the most senior engineers questions when they’re stuck. When I first started, I sat in the same row as one of the company’s first employees. I was amazed that someone who, to me, had so much more important work to do would take time to help me grow. I now realize that there’s little that’s more important to MongoDB than the growth of its engineers.” Mark Porter, our CTO, shares how our culture helps engineers produce their best work. “In my short time at MongoDB, I’ve been delighted to see one of the most engineer-empowered cultures I’ve witnessed in my career. Our engineering process is just rigorous enough to produce great products, but not bloated at all — and we get rid of unnecessary approvals, meetings, and processes regularly,” he explains. “We encourage every engineer to have flow time where they can do deep work, including ‘no-meeting days’ every week. We hold everybody accountable for teaching others, doing code reviews, and writing great tests, all without additional process or micromanagement to enforce this accountability,” he continues. “In our product planning process, the business teams give context on what they think the market needs and then let the Engineering and Product teams have the freedom to come up with the right solution to meet that need. It’s a great engineering organization, and all MongoDB engineers do their part to keep it that way.” Culture is everything here and contributes to the success of our engineers. We’re all about creating a respectful, energizing, and inclusive workplace where every employee can thrive. Pride in Our Products No matter how big or small your contribution, as an engineer at MongoDB you’re making a real difference for our customers. They’re at the heart of everything we do, and we’re obsessed with helping them be stunningly successful Ronnen Miller, SVP of Technical Services Engineering, touches on our commitment to customers. “We are all very focused on customer requirements and customer success,” he says. “Our attention to practical, ‘real world’ customer experience runs deep, right into the product roadmap itself, but it’s also represented in the decisions we make every day. Our commitment to serving our customers informs how we recruit, train, and organize our worldwide team, and how we develop processes and systems that enable the team to deliver on our commitment. We measure our own success by how well our customers succeed in reaching their goals.” James Wahlin, Database Query Optimization Lead, also talks about how his experience in different roles has allowed him to get a better understanding of our products. This insight helps him consider the best ways to make improvements. “I’ve been at MongoDB for eight years, starting off as a Technical Services Engineer and then moving to a full-time software engineering role on the Server team,” he says. “Working in Technical Services allowed me to help make our customers successful while learning about the strengths and weaknesses of our product. As a Server Engineer, I could then take that knowledge and use it toward improving our database. It’s important to me that any role I am in provides the opportunity to evolve our software and to help me grow as an engineer and leader.” Dan Pasette believes our Engineering team’s strengths come from its focus on quality. “Considering our roots are in building a database, I think our rigorous approach to software engineering, developer productivity, and correctness are top-notch. Our Engineering leadership always puts quality first, which gives our engineers a great sense that their work is valued and that they are encouraged to put extra effort into producing the best they can.” Transform Your Career MongoDB gives its engineers the tools, resources, and support to grow their career in the direction they want to. Judah shares how he makes an impact as an engineer. “MongoDB has offered me opportunities I couldn't possibly imagine getting in my first five years on the job. After one year, I was empowered to mentor interns and then new grads on my team. This broadened my management skills, and after three years of work, I was promoted to help lead the team I had been on since I began at the company. This was an enormous responsibility and privilege for someone so young,” he says. “Doing this job has been an incredible learning opportunity, and the company has also provided structured training to hone my management skills. I’m very grateful to MongoDB for investing in me and both entrusting and supporting me to rise to challenges faster than I could have imagined.” Judah’s story is just one of many exciting experiences our people have had while working here and is something we’re proud to offer our employees. We know that by investing in our people, we go farther. If you want to join an engineering team where you’ll build cutting-edge technologies and undertake interesting projects you’re passionate about, MongoDB may be the place for you. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe and would love for you to build your career with us!
Meet the MongoDB Sharding Team’s New Barcelona Division
I sat down with Kaloian Manassiev (Kal), Lead Engineer on MongoDB’s Barcelona-based Sharding team, to better understand what the team does and how they plan to grow. The Sharding team started in our New York City headquarters and expanded to Barcelona in the summer of 2019. Here, we explore who they are recruiting in the growing Spanish market and why someone would be excited to join their team. Ashley Perez: First, can you give a quick overview of what the Sharding team does? Kal Manassiev: The Sharding team builds frameworks and tools that abstract away difficult distributed systems problems for database users. This frees developers to focus on working with the data itself and not have to worry about where it resides, whether there is some network problem, or if a data center catches fire. As a result of this, the projects delivered by the Sharding team are highly visible and are predominantly flagship features for each major MongoDB release. AP: Let’s dive in a little more. What projects has your team taken on? KM: In the past, we’ve delivered projects such as Distributed Transactions and Retryable Writes . Retryable Writes, for example, makes it much easier to implement scenarios so that if your browser crashes when you click the Pay button, it will not charge you two times when you try again. Just recently, we completed a project to assign vector or scalar clocks to all the distributed objects we manage, so that our system is easier to reason about and can be proven correct via theoretical proof models and correctness checkers such as TLA+. This project also makes it easier to add more distributed systems features and be confident in their correctness. AP: Very interesting! What are some projects on the horizon? KM: The biggest upcoming effort is to make sharding even more transparent (invisible) to developers so they can focus on working with data. Behind the scenes, we will analyze their workload patterns and apply balancing techniques to relocate data in order to squeeze the maximum performance out of the hardware and offer the best possible throughput and latency to users. There are a myriad of technical challenges we will need to solve. For example: how to decide the best placement for workloads that might change dynamically, how to ensure consistency while we are reshuffling in the background, and how to minimize the impact on the customers’ workloads so they are not aware of what is going on behind the scenes. AP: I’m sure our customers will be excited when you roll this out. Now, let’s talk a little bit about you. Why did you join MongoDB? KM: Before joining MongoDB, I worked in Seattle at Microsoft SQL Server and at AWS, where I was thrown in the deep end, working on a service running on thousands of nodes across the globe. One day, while I was on vacation, a recruiter from MongoDB randomly reached out to me. After learning about the new Document Model and how MongoDB is essentially taking the best things from the good old relational databases and making them more scalable and available, I was convinced that this was “the future.” So, I made the jump and moved to New York City. I have been at MongoDB for more than seven years because I still believe the direction we are going is the future. In addition, I love the company culture with respect to giving responsibility to engineers to provide input into the roadmap of their teams, and also with tasking them with doing features of critical importance to the business. AP: You went from Seattle to New York City, and now Spain. Can you tell me more about your move and how that sparked a new Sharding team in Barcelona? KM: After living in the United States for roughly 15 years, I decided to move to Europe. It had always been my dream to live in Barcelona because of the Mediterranean climate and lifestyle, which are very well paired with a good education and technology environment. For example, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya is a well-known school here that hosts the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre and the Mare Nostrum supercomputer. They conduct research very closely related to what my team does, and a good portion of my team had some tenure there at some point in their careers. Because I was very familiar with the company culture and could mentor this team on our technological base, company values, and processes, MongoDB gave me the opportunity to build a small team in Barcelona to see how things would work out. Initially, we started with just two people. After the first eight months (which included the COVID-19 lockdown), it was obvious the team was very strong and that there is very good talent in Barcelona. Therefore, we decided to scale it up and now we have eight people. AP: I hear you’re planning to hire a few more to the Sharding team in Barcelona. What are the career opportunities for your team? KM: That’s correct. Our team is growing. Since sharding is at the forefront of the company’s products, there are many interesting projects to choose from that solve difficult distributed systems problems. With respect to career growth in general, it’s not much different from our North American teams. Our career growth guidelines are universal. Currently, there are two career paths; individual contributor (IC) and manager. On the Barcelona Sharding team, we have career growth opportunities mostly on the IC path. However, we have discovered that it is best to promote leads from within the team, because they already have established rapport with the team members and can work well with them. So while we are growing initially and we definitely lean on the IC path more, there are lead opportunities too. AP: How do you mentor individual contributors so they can move up on the team? KM: It’s a cliche, but the best way to build skills for new engineers is to “throw them in the deep end” and let them figure out how to swim. When people join, we generally let them ease into the team’s processes for a few weeks and train them on how to use MongoDB as a customer. Then, they spend the next month or so fixing small bugs, investigating failures, and so on. After that, they typically join an ongoing project, and little by little will become responsible for some aspect of the project. Mentorship comes as a byproduct of working together with engineers who have been on the team a long time already, and consists of providing feedback and explaining internals of the system and why things work the way they work historically. I also encourage people to read papers, see what other products are doing, and so forth. AP: What’s your proudest moment leading this team? KM: Realizing about five to six months after the first two engineers started and after we hired our third engineer that we have become a proper team and not that little group of people working out of Europe. Our team members were participating in discussions with the bigger team in New York, defending their ideas and proposing new ones. I believe this helped MongoDB see the value in our team and why we’re able to continue to add more hires in Barcelona. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe, and would love for you to build your career with us!
How Growth and Leadership Foster Change In The Tech Space
Editor's note: This was originally published on AfroTech’s website . Are you on the hunt for your next role in the tech space? We know firsthand just how difficult it can be to find a company that is truly committed to investing in Black talent, so we’re highlighting a few of our top picks that are currently hiring. First up is MongoDB — with over 2,200 employees, this New York-based tech company provides database software that powers companies like Epic Games (best known for its popular game Fortnite), Shine Text, Coinbase, 7-Eleven, and more. MongoDB prides itself in cultivating an environment for employees to share their ideas about diversity and inclusion in the workplace without judgment. The general purpose database platform focuses on elevating productivity and scalability for both its clients and employees, which sets up a space for everyone to shine. The company offers opportunities for Black tech professionals to thrive as it values different thoughts and perspectives and those who approach tech solutions in a unique way. No matter their gender, race, age or sexual orientation, employees are valued and respected by MongoDB’s leadership. Its open environment encourages employees to perform at their best and elevates the success of the company. Let’s explore one employee’s experience and his unique role at the company. Tosin Ajayi leads MongoDB’s global corporate Solutions Architect team. He is a prime example of how a Black tech leader creates and influences an inclusive company culture for all employees. Ajayi uses his position to promote growth, leadership and foster change. For example, he’s currently building an Associate Solutions Architects team . The team is suited for junior or early-career professionals and provides them a great start to a highly coveted technical presales career. “The presales role is unique as it combines the technical prowess of an engineer, the vision of a product manager, the sales acumen of a sales rep and the design and troubleshooting skills of a consultant,” Ajayi said. “In essence, it bridges several functions within an organization to bring solutions to our customers and revenue to MongoDB,” all while furthering MongoDB’s goal of inclusion as a top priority. While Ajayi believes that practicing inclusion is everyone’s responsibility, he asserts that MongoDB’s tone about inclusiveness is set at the executive level, which helps such a culture thrive. Here are concrete initiatives that MongoDB has implemented to support diversity in the workplace: The company holds all-hands meetings where the executive team takes open questions. For a company this size, it’s quite impressive considering the diversity of thoughts and opinions in a large employee base. And yes, the questions often reflect that diversity in thoughts and opinions. MongoDB signed the ParityPledge to ensure that at least one qualified woman candidate is interviewed for all VP and higher positions. There is a company-wide Decoding Inclusion series that addresses a variety of topics like race, the LGBTQ+ community, and mental health. MongoDB is really big on feedback. Surveys are consistently run in order to seek to understand employees’ visceral feelings towards their work, their team, team makeup, leaders, workplace, and work conditions. MongoDB has a dedicated D&I team. In fact, this interview is happening as a result of the great work Cindy Class and Danielle James are doing. Companies across the country are tackling current events such as the disproportionate rate of COVID-19 affecting Black people and the violence at the hands of police. These events require open dialogue for employees to express their thoughts and feelings and MongoDB has done just that. Ajayi agrees that it’s important to have these conversations in order to “disambiguate the stance on human decency issues and promote inclusiveness”. “Employees aren’t a monolith,” Ajayi said. “Yes, we’re a collection of driven and talented professionals — but well above that, we’re human beings. Employees want to feel heard, they want to know that their feelings and opinions matter, they want a company whose philosophy they can align with. Talking about current events is a display of awareness, it shows a sense of connectedness to the outside events that can and often affect employees. More importantly, it shows empathy and support for employees.” These candid conversations help Ajayi as a leader, allowing him to “address the historically taboo topic of race and racial injustice.” When topics such as these are addressed it impacts the success of the company positively and creates a “psychologically safe environment” at work. “Another point here is that employees are only as good as they feel,” Ajayi said. “I find that people give more of themselves when they’re in a space where they feel psychologically safe.” MongoDB continues to promote their mission of inclusivity and diversity through various initiatives like scholarships to their MongoDB World conference, an Intern Mentorship program, affinity groups like The Underrepresented People of Color Network (TUPOC), Queeries, MDBWomen, Underrepresented Genders in Tech, Veterans, and the Green Team, and the company’s Decoding Inclusion series that was launched last year by the Diversity and Inclusion team. “The [Decoding Inclusion Series] is an opportunity to educate and sometimes challenge preconceived ideas about D&I,” Ajayi said. “[These sessions] are sponsored by MongoDB executives. We feature employees and bring guest speakers to talk about a variety of topics including race, gender, mental health issues, and other topics that pertain to D&I.” Ajayi revealed that he found sessions like the most recent Decoding Inclusion conversation on race very informative, resulting in his own self-evaluation about his understanding of community and societal differences. He is proud to see these types of programs not only deconstruct the taboo topic of racism in the workplace, but make changes as a result of it. “I encourage all organizations to embrace the humanity of their employees, not just the workers in them, and promote an environment where people can talk, like my company has done for us,” Ajayi added. MongoDB is dedicated to creating opportunities to impact change, not only at the company but throughout the community. Are you a tech-minded dreamer, who is passionate about innovation? Grow your career at MongoDB, view open roles here and make sure to indicate that you learned about the role through AfroTech when applying. Join MongoDB in supporting organizations fighting for racial justice and equal opportunity. Donate to our fund by December 31, 2020 and MongoDB will match the donation up to a maximum aggregate amount of $250,000. Learn more here.
Meet Sam Fiorenzo: Why I Chose MongoDB for a Second Time
I sat down with Sam Fiorenzo, Enterprise Account Executive in our Austin office, to learn about her quick career growth in sales at MongoDB. We talked about how she progressed through multiple promotions, why she left, and what made her want to come back less than a year later. Ashley Perez: Welcome back to the team! Can you tell me a bit about how you got into sales and why you enjoy it? Sam Fiorenzo: Thank you. I’m happy to be back! I actually went to school for film editing and design, so I fell into sales like a lot of us do. I got my start in sales using my film and design knowledge to sell into the creative, design, and UX spaces. Then, I moved into tech sales at MongoDB. I’ve stuck with sales for a lot of reasons. It fits my personality: I’m analytical, competitive, and find joy in connecting with my customers or landing new ones. Each customer has a unique need, and because of that, it makes every deal at MongoDB different. This keeps the job interesting. It always requires me to come up with new ways to address their needs. Also, MongoDB is a leader in the database space, with a ton of room to grow. There are plenty of new deals to land and growth to enable, which means my earning potential has no cap. AP: You’ve had a lot of success in your sales career at MongoDB. Can you tell me a bit about your career journey? SF: I joined as an entry-level Sales Development Representative (SDR) about four years ago. This was pre-IPO days, so a lot has changed simply because of that. I quickly worked my way up to become one of the first reps on what is now called the Cloud team. This was when MongoDB’s Atlas offering was brand-new, and we had to figure out how to sell it. After that, I was promoted to the Corporate Sales team , where I saw a lot of success again. Then, I was promoted to a senior-level role. AP: It’s impressive to receive that many promotions in less than four years. Congrats! How were you able to secure those roles? SF: I worked hard and smart and as consistently as I could. I focused on being coachable and constantly tried to learn. I also invested in my colleagues (and they did the same for me) by collaborating, helping each other overcome obstacles, and offering general support. This allowed all of us to grow. Finally, I asked for what I wanted. Making my intentions clear helped my managers pay attention to what I was doing and suggest ways to fill relevant gaps. When it was time for a promotion, I believed they could easily consider me for the next role because I put in the work. AP: But despite the career growth, you still decided to move on from MongoDB. Why? SF: At that point, I was trying to grow my skill sets in an enterprise organization. Our sales team — and the entire company really — was growing so quickly. However, the promotion process was not as well defined as I had hoped (and as it is now). Our Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) had just created a program to grow people from within, but it still had things to be ironed out. Although I had seen a lot of success in my career growth, the next part of my career path wasn’t immediately clear to me. So I left in December 2019 to take a sales role at a startup with a new product monetizing a different open source technology. It was an exciting opportunity, and I saw the potential for me to continue to grow my career quickly. But as with many startups, it wasn’t the most stable or safest place to be. I was unsure of our ability to execute, which was a reason for concern. I knew I had to move on, but I wanted to make sure the next opportunity was the right one. AP: So after some soul searching, how did you land on MongoDB again? SF: When I considered my next move, I focused on the following: A large market: MongoDB has a huge addressable market of potential customers. Our product is core and mission critical to most organizations, meaning it’s tied to revenue. This meant larger and more-strategic deals. A world-class product: I wanted to sell an impressive product that was winning or disrupting market share because it was truly first-class. Talented and smart people: I wanted to be surrounded by colleagues who were like-minded. And I wanted to work under leadership I believed in and that could guide me to being better than I was yesterday. I think this is so core to growth and improvement no matter your career. If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room. An organization where I can grow: In these uncertain times, it was even more important to work somewhere that had resources to invest in me and where I could build my career. I was interviewing elsewhere, and when comparing opportunities side by side, MongoDB once again came out ahead. Yet, I was reluctant to go back. In my mind, there was a negative connotation associated with “going back to a former employer.” However, when speaking with leaders at MongoDB, they instead positioned me as an asset and an obvious hire. The MongoDB team was “welcoming me back home” with open arms and a quota waiting for me. After more consideration, I realized that the reasons I had left were now irrelevant. I sought advice from people way more experienced than me in diverse careers and with separate — and sometimes conflicting — perspectives. These mentors helped me get past those reservations and focus on what was important to me. AP: It’s clear your leaders really valued you here. How has your role differed from the first time to now? SF: Although my new role as an Enterprise Account Executive is much more strategic, with more responsibilities than when I’d joined as an SDR, I still use a lot of the foundations of pipeline generation I’d picked up four years prior to start conversations with developers and key stakeholders. I also think MongoDB has matured its promotion process this time around. When an organization grows as fast as we did, it’s hard to have all the processes ironed out to help employees understand what it takes to get to the next level or do so in a timely fashion. What previously made for a bumpy road has since been smoothed out. Now, our CRO, Cedric Pech, has created the “BDR to CRO” program. The path for career growth is clearly defined and discussed with each sales employee. I now clearly understand how to get to the next level of my career and have a plan to get there that my leadership supports. AP: So, after everything’s said and done, why would you recommend MongoDB to other sales professionals looking for an opportunity? SF: First, the sales enablement is impressive. I had never been educated on a proper qualification tool or sales process before. Nor had I ever experienced a complicated enough sale where that knowledge would become important. For clarification, when I say “complicated” sale, you need to remember that MongoDB is open source or free for most, and we’re often selling against our own community version. We need buy-in from many different stakeholders who care about different things to get a deal done. It’s also very technical, so we have our Solutions Architects partnering with us, but the best reps are well-versed in the technology so they too can qualify every conversation. Everything we do is meant to be “value-based.” It sounds super fluffy, but the way MongoDB teaches sales reps to engage with prospects is designed to bring a ton of value at every touchpoint. We enable prospects like they’re customers before they actually become one. This commitment and care continues after they sign on the dotted line. Also, I really believe MongoDB is the whole package for building a sales career, with enough resources and thought leadership to continue to be. There’s so much potential here because of our position in the market, and I’m confident it will only continue to grow. If you’re a tech sales professional with high hopes for your career and want to run with the best reps out there, consider MongoDB. If you’re smart enough to know you’ll always learn here and passionate enough to have grit, you’ll likely be successful. A lot of people take a “lower job title” in their careers to be here. I did twice, and it’s been worth it both times. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!
Decoding Inclusion: The Intersection of Race and LGBTQ+ Issues
Earlier this year, MongoDB launched “Decoding Inclusion,” an internal event series for our employees aimed at building community and foundational knowledge on various diversity and inclusion topics such as neurodiversity and racial justice. In June, we had a Decoding Inclusion session focused on the intersection of race and LGBTQ+ issues. The movement surrounding racial equity and police brutality in the U.S. is an opportunity to understand and discuss the role of trans people of color in the origins of Pride and the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for civil rights. Jonathan Balsano (he/him), who is a Lead Software Developer at MongoDB and leads our employee affinity group "Queeries," was the moderator, and Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza (they/them) and Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier (he/him/they/them) joined us as speakers. Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, who founded the Activist Theology Project , is trained as a constructive philosophical theologian and ethicist and practices public theology via film, writing, and speaking engagements. Dr. Koach is a healer and musician who is working towards the day everyone experiences liberation. He helps people reconnect with the world around them by helping them improve their hearing and providing love and support through revolutionary listening. Pictured (from left to right): Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Jonathan Balsano, and Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier The Conversation: A Brief Recap (Note this transcript has been edited and condensed) We began the session watching this video about the Stonewall riots in 1969, which were demonstrations by members of the gay community in response to a police raid that began on June 28th, 1969. We discussed many key figures who stood on the front-lines of the demonstrations — like Marsha P. Johnson, for example, who was a Black, transgender pioneer, activist, and a self-identified drag queen. After watching the video, we began our discussion. Dr. Robyn Henderson-Espinoza : Thank you for hosting a pivotal conversation in a moment in history. I move in the world with power, access, and privilege because of my skin privilege, but I live in sections of marginality with the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race. I’m very excited to be here! Dr. Koach Baruch Frazier : I come to you as a Black trans Jew living at the intersection where life can be hard and is hard, and yet there is also joy, and I’m thriving. I want to be able to hold all of that as we talk about this important story within queer history, where there is joy and celebration of life as well as tragedy. What is your recollection of Pride personally? Dr. Robyn : I remember the first Pride event I attended. I had just finished my first graduate degree in Chicago and went to Chicago Pride. I had moved from a small town in West Texas to the big city of Chicago and was confronted with the rest of the world, but when I went to Pride, it was a mostly white and male event. I love the gay men in my life, but what I was hungry for was where are the LatinX people, the people of color. Because that’s who I was surrounded by growing up but I didn’t see that at Pride. It took many years for me to see that people of color have a separate Pride. Dr. Koach : I went to Pride for the first time when I attended St. Louis University. My first interaction with Pride was Black Pride. That’s how I got enculturated into the queer community in St. Louis. I didn’t know much about this other Pride, all I knew was about Black Pride, and I was so happy to be around Black queer people. I felt like I searched for my family all my life and I finally found them. Then I was exposed to more corporate Pride and found myself disappointed both in representation and in the narrative that our movement was only about marriage. Me being a trans person didn’t come into the conversation at all. Jonathan : A lot of what you’re saying is resonant for me. As a white cis gay man, my own relationship with Pride was complicated, for a long time, by wanting to assimilate. It wasn't until after college that I felt comfortable attending a Pride event, because I felt like going to one was too radical for me, and that made me feel as if there wasn't space for me. Now, there are two things that always hit me hard at Pride. One is the parents who are willing to be a part of Pride. Having parental support in such a public way is something I didn’t always feel like I had, and when I see that, it always makes me want to cry. The second thing is acknowledging people who have lost their lives. After the Pulse nightclub shooting and now as we focus on the impact of police brutality, we all need to take a moment to stop and acknowledge these are people who lost their lives and can't be here to celebrate with us. Amidst all the celebration of pride, it's important to simultaneously hold onto the idea that celebration is a privilege when so many others are fighting for their lives. We all have these distinctive Pride experiences, and we remain curious about what can become of our community. What is your imagination for our community? Dr. Koach : If I’m dreaming really wildly, my hope is that the people who are at the center of the target for white supremacy culture in terms of transphobia, misogyny, and so on are at the center of our attention. I also hope we are able to do the work. I want us to approach each other with different kinds of energy where I don't make assumptions about who you are and you don’t make assumptions about who I am, but instead, we see each other for who we really are. Jonathan : I want us to be at a place where we feel comfortable examining our own identities so that we can understand why we might look at somebody else and not recognize what they are going through and what they need help with. I think we should be able to interrogate ourselves about why we might deny that help to someone else. One of the things that took me a long time to understand was the internalized misogyny I was holding onto. This was part of why I avoided Pride and the queer community in general. I was worried about coming off as too feminine myself, and I would judge gay men who were too feminine. It's just one small facet of the ways power dynamics that have been ingrained in us from society play out. So when I dream, I think it would be amazing if we can be a community that supports one another in interrogating within ourselves where those feelings come from. How has Pride and Black Lives Matter worked together (or not) during this time, especially during a pandemic? Dr. Robyn : LA Pride worked with Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to do a Black Lives Matter march in place of Pride. I saw that as a sharing of space and leadership and bringing together our different movements. As we know, Pride isn’t just white people, so it’s really wonderful to see these big cultural movements come together and support one another. That's one really tangible way. Dr. Koach : It’s regional. There are some places where the relationship has been fostered for years or other areas where it’s strained. In St, Louis, the Black trans community said there is no Pride until Black trans lives matter, and I have seen that conversation happen around the country. There are folks on the street saying "Pride, get your act together, and you need to disconnect from the police," and that is an ongoing campaign where we understand what safety means for all members of our community and work on how we can achieve actual safety for all of us. People are trying to see where they fit in, and I’m grateful for that and I hope that continues. Jonathan : For New York, there is usually the Pride "parade" and then there's the Queer Liberation March. The Queer Liberation March was still scheduled for this year as a march for Black lives against police brutality. So the question is, what is Pride at its root? In New York, we think of the parade, a celebration that is now on several news networks. But at the same time there are people marching in the Queer Liberation March in protest, drawing attention this year to BLM and police brutality, and in the past to sex workers' rights and other issues that disproportionately affect the queer and trans community. What is the role of religion between LGBTQ+ Pride and race rights? Dr. Koach : A rabbi I learned from says we have to have queer folks looking at religious texts, because when they see the text, they see themselves in the text. Just like back when women were able to study the scripture they saw themselves in the text and we got a feminist theology, so queer people can create a liberation theology. Dr. Robyn : As someone who is trained in Christian tradition, I see a lot of energy at Pride and other LGBTQ+ related events where Christian supremacy is not only present but is also violent toward our community. I agree with Dr. Koach that trans and queer people need to be interpreting text on their own terms so that we can create religious narratives to create conditions for flourishing in our communities. How can that be a liberative experience for the queer and trans people in the congregation, and how can it be liberative for me even though these narratives have been formed to oppress me? How can we also have a power analysis when we think about religious traditions? Many queer and trans people feel like there is no space for them in religion or spirituality, but scripture has been weaponized against our community to marginalize us and that breeds loneliness and disconnection from the larger community. This is why for a lot of people, church is having brunch on a Sunday — and I want to say that is just as sacred and holy as being in a church house on a Sunday. If you could choose a focus for the movement, what would it be? Dr. Robyn : That’s a big question. I immediately go to housing for queer and trans people. Housing is a need for people to flourish, and it is a human right. People need to have their basic needs met. If we can create conditions for people to have housing, I think that would eliminate so much violence. Dr. Koach : In addition, when we think about basic things people need to survive, I think of food, shelter, and some form of connection to other people. It doesn't have to be a physical connection, but some kind of connection to other humans. Trans folks need that too, so how can we make sure trans folks have food, shelter and connection to other humans — all of which are basic things stripped away from trans people, especially trans people of color, just because we want to live and breathe. I just want to be able to go to the grocery store without being harassed so I can buy food and eat at my kitchen table. How do we ensure we have basic rights? Can you speak to intersection of marginalized individuals with disabilities and people with chronic conditions? Dr. Robyn : Largely all of our communities have erased people living with mental health challenges and experiences and different abilities. Part of what we do at my organization, Faith Matters Network , is connect the dots and help people understand the reality we live in. So much of supremacy culture has made it impossible for people with disabilities to live in our communities. This is also true for Pride, where not everything is accessible. We need to realize there are people living with varying degrees of abilities in our communities, so what is stopping us from exposing people with those differences so we can live all together? If we really believe there is no degree of separation, how do we form that community? Dr. Koach : It's putting people who need our attention at the center. When we do that, that's how we all get free. We have to prioritize those who have been the target of discrimination and put them at the center of our attention. Thank you so much Jonathan, Dr. Robyn and Dr. Koach for joining us in this very important conversation around intersection of race and LGBTQ+ issues. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us! Join MongoDB in supporting organizations fighting for racial justice and equal opportunity. Donate to our fund by December 31, 2020 and MongoDB will match the donation up to a maximum aggregate amount of $250,000. Learn more here .
MongoDB Employees Share Their Coming Out Stories
National Coming Out Day is celebrated annually on October 11 and is widely recognized in the U.S. This year, however, as a company that embraces and supports all of our employees across the globe, MongoDB reimagined the celebration as (Inter)national Coming Out Day. In honor of (Inter)National Coming Out Day, we interviewed employees who are members of the LGBTQIA+ community to learn about their coming out experiences. These are their stories. Cara Silverman , Team Lead, Executive Assistant, New York, NY I didn’t know or understand who I was for a very long time. I didn’t have any gay or queer community members growing up, and my parents were more on the “traditional” side in a lot of ways. Things started off pretty confusing because my mom was a die-hard Irish Catholic and my dad is a non-practicing Jew. I went to Catholic school until 4th grade, where being gay was hardly even talked about — and if it ever was, it was described in a very dark way and definitely never something you were encouraged to think about or discuss. Even when I went over to public school, kids would make fun of someone if they thought they were gay, and it was this taboo thing that I never wanted to admit to. The only thing I could really tell was that I was supposed to grow up and find a nice boy to marry. When I was still fairly young (in middle school) and starting to have different feelings, my sister came out as being gay. Her being four years older, she was at a more mature stage in her life and was ready to take that step. My dad didn’t take the news very well, not out of hatred and not in any way cutting her off, but seeing it as more of a “phase” and a time of uncertainty that she would perhaps grow out of. He thought maybe it low was self-esteem, rebellion, or a number of things, none of them being that she was actually just gay. The denial was strong . As I watched this all unfold and I saw how hard it was for him to digest, it became even harder for me to talk about. I didn’t want to be seen as a little sister copying her big sister, or cause my dad more grief. I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother at the time so my dad’s opinion literally meant the world to me. I tried to date men for many years but just never felt a real connection. I thought there was something wrong with me, even when I started secretly dating a close friend of mine. I said she was my best friend (which she was), and that’s why we were inseparable. This went on for about three years when I was a teenager. I started feeling comfortable enough to talk to my sister about it, who surprisingly didn’t take me seriously at first. We were very different people, and our own stories are different as well. I didn’t know how or what to think and didn’t have the exposure like my sister did. I didn’t know what to ask or how to ask. Eventually, my sister told me to get to a good place in a relationship, and after we’d been together for a year to then tell my dad so that he would take the relationship and me seriously. So, I did. I waited to hit a year with my then-girlfriend, I went out to eat with just my dad and had a few drinks, and then I just let it out: “Dad….. I’m gay.” There were some moments of silence as the news digested and then a sigh, followed by “You too?!” At this point, my dad had had a few years to adjust to my sister’s news, but this didn’t make his acceptance of mine any easier. Since my dad had some traditional views (although he was also a hippie — weird mix), he thought he must have failed us as a parent. “Where did I go wrong?” he said. I told him he’s a great dad (he really is), and that my sister’s and my preferences are no reflection of that. We talked through everything, and he told me that he will love us both no matter what, even if he doesn’t fully understand it. Fast-forward about 13ish years to today, and he has fully embraced my partner and my sister’s wife as family (seriously, the cards he writes to them would make you cry). He knew nothing of the LGBTQIA+ world then, but he knows so much more now, simply from being around us. I know I’m lucky to have that and not everyone does, but it’s still a scary thing to bring up in any situation (work, family, friends, etcetera), especially when you don’t know where to even start. I’m even luckier now to work at MongoDB, where I’m not just supported, but embraced and empowered to share my story. I only hope my experiences can help others navigate their own way. Julien Contarin , Senior Solutions Architect, Partners EMEA, Paris, France Ten years after coming out to the world at age 23, a friend asked me something that took me by surprise: “Can you remember little things your family would say while you were growing up on how you should be different?” I spent the night thinking about it and couldn’t find one single example. I do think my parents would have been more comfortable if I was into traditionally masculine sports, mostly for health reasons. But overall, they never tried to change or shape me into something I wasn’t. I think this is the source of a coming out story in reverse. I came out to my parents at age 17, and it was a non-event. We were watching a TV show featuring a gay character, and I just dropped it. At that age, TV was the only representation of LGBTQIA+ people I had ever been exposed to. My parents and siblings onboarded this path to self-discovery with me, and I am extremely grateful for this. I always felt incredibly lucky at home, but none of my quirks and behaviors went unnoticed at school. Growing up in the countryside in the center of France does not exactly allow you to explore being different at an early age. I waited patiently, hoping to change, but I didn’t. Middle school was the peak of several bad years. Then came high school, and things started to turn around; I had a stable group of friends and we organized summer parties together. Because I thought this group of friends would be in my life forever, at 16 years old, I used the “Truth or Dare” game to ask them if they’d ever been attracted to somebody of the same gender. Everybody said “no” and laughed. We never spoke of it again. I decided to wait longer before coming out. I don’t think any of this was intentional or even conscious, but it was at that point I decided to work very hard in school to get accepted to any college that would take me more than 400 kilometers from my hometown. The idea was to have excuses for why I couldn’t commute back home every weekend like most of the other students did. Two years later, and when I was sure I was accepted to college, I came out to the same group of friends from the “Truth or Dare” game on my 18th birthday. The experience was not great, and they slowly pushed me away from their lives afterwards. But at least I was at a place in my life where I didn’t need to be around them. It took three years of college for me to meet the right people, and even though none of them were LGBTQIA+, they made me so comfortable and happy that I ended up coming out to them all at age 21. It wasn’t until I moved to Boston for a year at age 23 that I started to be “out first” to any new person I’d meet, work or otherwise. What’s funny about coming out is how boring and casual it ends up being. Only homophobia makes our stories seem more like epiphanies. Now, at age 34, I am grateful to be working for a company where people have a positive bias for growth. What I love about people at MongoDB is the obsession they have to listen and to learn. Time and time again, people have made me feel like I truly belong here. Seán Carroll , Marketing Operations and Analytics Manager, EMEA, Dublin, Ireland Looking back on my childhood and teenage years, a lot of things that made me different started to make sense once I embraced my sexuality. I grew up about 5 kilometers outside a small Irish town in County Limerick. I was never into the traditional Irish sports such as hurling or Gaelic football and never had any interest in soccer, but I adored animals, horseback riding, and outdoor sports. While this environment traditionally would have been quite conservative, I always found people who were supportive and inclusive of me. I was fortunate growing up because I always had an incredibly supportive family that did not enforce traditional gender roles or stereotypes. I did, however, face bullying throughout my school years for my sexuality, which although unknown to me at the time seemed evident to my peers in school. In my teens, I was fortunate to make some great friends who were either LGBTQIA+ or had close friends who were part of the community. This was the part that helped me grow as a person and discover who I really was. When I finally came out, my family was amazing. I was so nervous, having seen and heard from friends who had come out and been completely rejected, or worse, kicked out of their homes. I told my mother the night before my 18th birthday, and her response was simply, “Okay. What do you want for dinner?” She then told my father and sister, who saw no issue with it. The true turning point for me was university. It was there that I found my tribe — my group of friends who never made an issue of who I was or treated me any differently due to my sexuality. Coming out can change your entire life. I had a great experience, and my life truly changed when I was no longer carrying the weight of that secret. Unfortunately, it is something that people from the LGBTQIA+ community have to do again and again throughout their lives. I’m lucky to work for a company that embraces the power of differences and values employees’ intellectual honesty. This is something I wish could be shared by all people and organizations, because it can truly change peoples’ lives. Robson Gomes , Workplace Coordinator, EMEA, Dublin, Ireland Back in 2013, there was me, Robson, a gay guy who was super anxious about coming out to his parents (this is usually the most difficult part). But let’s start at the beginning. When I was a teenager watching famous Brazilian soap operas with my family, I realized I was paying too much attention to the guys instead of looking at the girls. I remember thinking, “Why am I doing this? This is so weird.” I didn't have anyone to talk to about it. I had no queer friends nor queer family members (as far I knew at the time). My family had always taught me that I should grow up, get a good job, and marry the woman of my dreams. I also grew up in the Brazilian countryside, and back then, people there could be very cruel if they found out that I was (am) gay. Some people just love to drag you out of the closet without your consent in order to make fun of you to your face. The following thoughts constantly ran through my head: “How will I be able to tell the world about myself? My family won’t approve of it, and my friends will reject me. Not to mention other peoples’ prejudices as well.” I even tried to date some girls before I came out just to be really sure because I thought being gay was unacceptable, which I know now is completely untrue. When I was 17, I applied for a university in another town, which was my way of trying to explore this side of my life without impacting my relationships with family and friends. I thought that would be enough, and it was enough...until I met someone. When I was 22, I met my husband and realized that this closet I was in was too tiny for two people. Being in the closet was affecting my relationship with my boyfriend (now husband) because we couldn’t “be free.” I started telling my family, person by person, until everybody knew and respected it. I won’t say everybody was happy about it in the beginning, but at least they respected me and our happiness. Three years after coming out, we decided to move to Ireland. My family and friends were very supportive of us moving to another country together; their main concern was whether we would ever feel at home. In fact, this feeling came quickly. I made a lot of friends in Dublin, but I wanted to work in a company that was very embracing of LGBTQI+, where I could be my true self. I had a job interview at MongoDB back in February 2020, and once I stepped into the office, I could feel the great culture we have. I was impressed by our employee affinity groups such as “Queeries,” and of course, the Pride flags at people’s desks. I got hired, and today I can say I’m very happy here! Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!
Meet Nicholas Cottrell: How My Experience Using MongoDB Inspired My First Book
I sat down with Nicholas (Nic) Cottrell, Technical Services Program Manager, to talk about his career progression at MongoDB and the exciting news of his recent book release, MongoDB Topology Design : Scalability, Security, and Compliance on a Global Scale. Ashley Perez: Prior to joining MongoDB, you already were familiar with our products. How did you learn about us, and why did you decide to join the team? Nic Cottrell: I've always been interested in natural language technologies and was, at the time, building a multilingual version of WordNet to facilitate machine translation of websites. I had experimented with object databases and tried to scale with systems built on top of SQL. I couldn’t find anything that would scale until I stumbled upon MongoDB around 2011. I remember being at a MongoDB event in Paris where they presented replication and sharding. I was blown away by both the implementation and the potential for scaling. I ended up using MongoDB for consulting clients and personal projects. I transitioned from customer to employee when I had completed several large consulting projects in Sweden. In spring of 2017, I had moved to France for my wife's work, and it seemed like the perfect time to seek new challenges. I wanted to leverage my experience with MongoDB, so joining MongoDB as a Consulting Engineer that October seemed like an excellent way to complement those existing skills. AP: Wow. You’ve been working with our technologies for quite some time. So, you started as a Consulting Engineer but continued to progress your career in other ways? NC: Correct. While I loved the consulting role, the amount of travel made it hard to spend time with my kids (aged one and three at the time). MongoDB is very supportive of work/life balance, so we found that a move into a technical services role would be a good solution. This remote position is much more flexible and means I can pick up the kids from school and make them dinner. I catch up on cases and email in the calm of the evening to round out the day. AP: What does the Technical Services team do? NC: The Technical Services team assists our customers with applications and databases already in deployment. We help recover systems when an unexpected event has occurred (hardware failure, for example). We can diagnose changes in performance and track it back to things such as new network misconfigurations, app features, or changes in user patterns. Being a Technical Services Engineer (TSE) sometimes feels like playing Dr. House. We have to diagnose complex systems with partial information, and success means working with customers to perform the right tests and collect the right information to identify a root cause(s). In other cases, it’s like playing Inspector Poirot. We can see that part of the system misbehaved, but the obvious suspect is seldom the real perpetrator. Customers can provide a set of diagnostic information including internal metrics from the member nodes, information about the automation of cluster components from our Ops Manager tool , and details of the host and operating system configuration. We have tools that let us visualize and zoom in to one-second intervals to piece together the timeline of events and solve the mystery. By working in pairs with our engineering colleagues, we solve these issues more quickly and also transfer knowledge and skills to our growing team. AP: Interesting way to describe it. Sounds as if the Technical Services team is perfect for curious minds who like a good puzzle. You've recently made another career move, right? Can you tell me about your new role? NC: In August 2020, I moved into a program management role within the same team. I am working on several initiatives, including expanding our knowledge management systems and our premium services offering such as Named TSE . I am now working with a larger group within MongoDB globally and am involved in the entire life cycle of the technical services experience from the customers' perspective. AP: How has MongoDB supported your career growth? NC: MongoDB has very clear and well-defined corporate values. Unlike most places I've worked, people internalize these, and I experience them every day in what we do. In particular, our culture of taking responsibility as a group improves both the product and our service delivery. As an engineer, I was encouraged to share ideas for changes, propose solutions, and follow through with getting them implemented. I feel as if the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well despite our huge growth. AP: I hear the Technical Services team is encouraged to work on side projects. I’m sure that helps accelerate career growth too. Can you tell me a bit about that? NC: Absolutely. We are encouraged to spend about four hours a week on other projects. For some, this can mean self-education and preparing for accreditations such as AWS professional-level exams. For me, due to my development background, I focused on improving our tooling. This let me learn a new programming language ( Go ) and test out our new drivers in the process. The tool I built has become a core component in our case assignment workflow globally. It’'s been great to see it have so much positive impact. Our staff engineers get to spend even more time on other projects, including guiding junior engineers, and also delving deeper into special use cases, writing tools, and knowledge base articles. All these projects can have a multiplier effect on our capacity as a team to solve customer issues quickly and efficiently. AP: Very cool. How else do you feel MongoDB sets itself apart from other companies as a place to work? NC: I love the responsiveness and approachability of our management, from individual product managers to top-level executives. It's a very flat organization, and we make use of modern techniques such as 1:1 skip meetings so we keep two-way communication open across the company. Most things move very quickly, and now that our product catalog has grown, there's a lot of news to catch up on.There are always exciting announcements around the corner. As an employee, my contributions are appreciated and actioned, and I directly benefit from the financial success of the company. AP: Thanks for sharing your experience. Now, are you ready to share your exciting news? Congrats on your recent book release! I’d love to hear more about it. NC: Thank you. My book, MongoDB Topology Design : Scalability, Security, and Compliance on a Global Scale , released in September 2020. It was inspired by questions and concerns raised during my consulting engagements, as well as my participation in our Ask the Experts booths and trainings at various MongoDB.local and World events . The book is intended to assist large enterprises managing MongoDB themselves on-premises or in cloud instances. These customers tend to have very specific security and data protection requirements and a low tolerance for any negative production impact. I wanted to create something that both management and engineers could read to get up to speed on how MongoDB works and the issues to consider when scaling out a large deployment. There are several small things that can make it much easier to scale out globally later. AP: That sounds like an amazing resource for our customers. How did members of MongoDB support you during your writing process? NC: MongoDB itself was very supportive, and I was encouraged to reach out internally to our developers to ensure complete accuracy. My manager even helped proofread my draft copies. While MongoDB Atlas is definitely the future for MongoDB production deployments, I wanted to make sure organizations that are still required to manage their own infrastructure have a single reference while industries prepare themselves for a fully cloud, SaaS world. Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us!
Meet Marissa Jasso: My Experience as a Mexican/Native American Woman in Tech
In honor of National Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, I sat down with Marissa Jasso to learn more about her career at MongoDB, her family's history, her experience as a Latina woman, and how she empowers herself to reach for more. Marissa is a Product Marketing Manager for our MongoDB Atlas product. Take a look at her story. Ashley Perez: Thank you so much for sitting down with me and sharing your experience. Can you start by telling me a bit about your career and how you got into the tech industry? Marissa Jasso: My first internship during freshman year of college was as a content strategist at Autodesk. Seeing firsthand the positive impacts Autodesk software made in different industries inspired me to follow a path into the tech industry. Computer-aided design is just a chip off the tip of the tech iceberg. What intrigued me was the ability to use software to express creativity in meaningful outlets that create impact. My experience at Autodesk propelled me to study computer science in addition to English, but what I truly pursued was the intersection of technology and art. From there, I interned at Flickr. Then I worked at Twitter as a technical writer, where I created internal documentation guidelines for engineers for projects on their open source site. Upon graduating, I worked at YouTube building knowledge bases, and that’s when I came across MongoDB. The opportunity to work within the tech sector and focus on something as interesting and technical as databases clicked for me. It was something I couldn’t walk away from. AP: That’s quite an impressive resume, with a lot of top companies so early in your career. Can you tell me about your role at MongoDB? MJ: I’m currently a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) for Atlas — MongoDB’s fully managed global cloud database. I create the messaging, positioning and go-to-market (GTM) strategy for the newest Atlas features. My focus is working with the Cloud Automation and the Cloud Insights and Telemetry teams. By working closely with product managers from ideation through development to execution, I’m able to deliver the best GTM strategy for internal stakeholders and external users. A few of my favorite feature releases include MongoDB Ops Manager containerization , which allows for a simplified Ops Manager management experience, and Schema Suggestions in MongoDB Atlas, which provide custom recommendations on how to optimize your data model. When I initially joined MongoDB in 2019, I was doing content marketing and transitioned to product marketing midway through the year. When the opportunity arose to try something new in a different domain, I seized it. I think my technical internships played a role in determining my fit for working as a PMM on an overtly technical product like Atlas. AP: It’s amazing to see all of your career growth at MongoDB in a short period of time. In light of Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month, why don’t we talk about your family? MJ: I’m both Mexican and Native American. My parents are first-generation college graduates and high school sweethearts. They met in El Paso, Texas, and moved together to California for college. My dad attended Stanford University, became an immigration attorney, and opened a private family-run practice. My mom attended Santa Clara University, studied psychology, and became a teacher. She came to realize she was pretty amazing at her job, so my brother and I were homeschooled while she simultaneously managed my father’s practice until just two years ago when he became a federal judge. She now makes good use of her psychology degree by providing me with free therapy and enduring the mental combat of raising my teenage sister. Owning a business where you fight for the rights of immigrants who typically can’t get a half-decent paying job because of their immigration status wasn’t incredibly lucrative. The older my siblings and I got, the more we began to understand that. I can only imagine how torn my parents must have felt by their desire to boundlessly provide for their children and pursue such a purpose-driven mission. As a daughter, the endeavour of my parents will always be something I’m most proud of. They brought families together, gave people opportunity, and constantly did the work for only the price that people could spare. That sort of bountiful generosity, positivity, and drive — even when it means giving more than you’re getting — despite the overwhelming amount of work there is to do, are just a few virtues my parents have lived and instilled in me by example. I also consider these attributes an embodiment of my culture, because both Mexican and Native American communities have historically and still are consistently advocating for belonging, for preservation of identity, and against oppression. AP: Thank you so much for sharing that. It’s clear there’s plenty to be proud of when it comes to your family, and I’m sure those they’ve helped are eternally grateful. Now, can you tell me a little bit more about you and your experiences? MJ: Being a young Latina has never been a cake walk. I’ve felt it as both a curse and blessing, sometimes all at once. My Latina heritage has been central to my upbringing, from the way I speak to the way I dress. I’ve never really had an eye for fashion, but I’ve always had a respect for tradition. Like many other Latinas, I had my ears pierced right after I was born. Since then, my abuelita made darn sure I never left the house without appropriate earrings. Eventually, I grew into my gold hoops — a rite of passage and a staple of Mexican culture. Recently, it’s been interesting watching hoops adapt to a signature Instagram look in mainstream media when the Latinas who gave them life value them so much differently. Traditions aside, as a Latina, I’ve faced plenty of adversity throughout my life. I’ve been looked at every which way for simply walking into a room, been repeatedly sexually harassed when taking my dog for walks on the streets of New York (the hypersexualization of Latinas in the media isn’t helping), and been consistently told (and felt) that my identity isn’t even worth the time it takes to pronounce my name correctly (Mah-dee-sah). Despite the nuances of safely navigating a brown body in the United States, I’m utterly grateful because I wear my experiences as a suit of armor against the accusations and stereotypes placed upon my culture. And with that, I take the time to educate myself on matters of race, politics, and history. On days when I find it particularly difficult to simply be, I’ll read a bit more and dive a little deeper. The past few months I’ve completed Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad, The Periodic Table of Feminism by Marisa Bate, Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge, and I’m currently tackling Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum. I’d highly recommend all of these! I’ve spent my life being passive and sitting silently in discomfort too many times, because there is nothing I hate more than being a feather ruffler. But the recent political climate has proved that I have to put my personal preferences aside, because being actively anti-racist may involve feather ruffling, and I’m obligated to speak up. AP: What’s something you wish to share about your story that job candidates and readers can learn from or relate to? MJ: Latinas hold only 2 percent of STEM jobs, and that’s a huge issue. That statistic has mirrored my experience within tech. I’ve rarely worked with people who share a similar background, and every mentor I’ve ever had within tech has been a white man. Although I’m incredibly grateful to have such empowered mentors and advocates, it can feel unsettling to never see people who look like you in positions of power within the tech sector. But when I begin to wonder why, I consider my own path. I never had access to a computer science class until college, which I paid for on my own. I took many classes at my local community college during high school so I could save money by graduating early. During my time at university, I always worked three jobs to not only keep afloat, but also to make consistent student loan payments (and I still graduated with a lot of debt). I think it’s a privilege to use college as an opportunity to “find yourself,” because for many others, it is one of the few pathways — if not the only direct one — for achievement, wealth, and success. Many people attend college with a blank slate, but when you’re a person of color, it can feel as if your background continues to define you. I think it’s important to remember that isn’t a bad thing. Sure, I didn’t have the luxury of making mistakes while studying abroad in Spain, but I found immense joy where I was. I was lucky enough to apply for and land jobs that fulfilled my passion, I found a love for nature, and I found an even deeper love for the guy who brought it into my life. It’s important to try to appreciate and dwell in the present, even if you consider it a stepping stone. AP: You’ve faced a lot of adversity in your life. Has MongoDB done its part to make you feel as if you belong? MJ: I joined MongoDB because I want to work at a company that truly operates by its values. I want to work at a company with big ambitions and limitless potential in its product and impact. MongoDB fits the bill, which was what originally intrigued me. A large part of why I feel so comfortable here is that I’m able to truly express myself. My greater team is distributed, making them incredibly diverse, and I am so grateful to work with people of all backgrounds. Our MongoDB affinity group, TUPOC (The Underrepresented People of Color), has always supported my ideas, and because of that community, I know I always have a safe place to go. Since working at MongoDB, I’ve felt as if I could leave my cultural and racial insecurities at home, and that’s one less thing I have to worry about. I get to focus on working, and that hasn’t always been the case at other companies. AP: I’m glad that’s been your experience, and I know MongoDB is working to continue to create opportunities for inclusion for all our employees. Any other closing thoughts? MJ: My little sister just started her freshman year of high school. When considering how my actions could potentially create a better world for my culture, for this generation, and for the generations to come, she is at the forefront of my motivation. I hope, like my parents did for me, to lead by example and show that we can be and do anything — even if the playing field isn’t and was never equal. As a Latina, she’ll undergo an unprecedented amount of adversity, and as an empowered Latina, she’ll probably face even more adversity because of it. But I hope she, like myself, owns it, because our culture in itself is bold, beautiful, and something to be proud of! Interested in pursuing a career at MongoDB? We have several open roles on our teams across the globe , and would love for you to build your career with us! Join MongoDB in supporting organizations fighting for racial justice and equal opportunity. Donate to our fund by December 31, 2020 and MongoDB will match the donation up to a maximum aggregate amount of $250,000. Learn more here .