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Pooja Brown on Building Great Engineering Cultures


In this podcast Shane Hastie, Lead Editor for Culture & Methods, spoke with Pooja Brown, VP of Engineering at Docusign about building great engineering culture.

Key Takeaways

  • Great culture comes when people are aligned with the organisation’s mission
  • There are ways to bring the voice of the customer to the ears of the team and doing so creates empathy and results in better products
  • Transparency and openness around what matters to the company helps ensure people align with those goals
  • Every engineer is responsible for ensuring that the code they write is reliable, available and secure
  • Fairness and transparency are key to great culture
  • Being a people manager requires technical knowledge for credibility but is not about providing technical leadership; many people confuse the two

Sponsored by

Ocado Technology: This podcast is brought to you by Ocado Technology, a division of the Ocado Group. Ocado Technology builds the software and systems powering, the world's largest online-only grocery retailer. We’ve been disrupting the grocery industry for over fifteen years using the cloud, robotics, AI, and IoT. Find out more and check out career opportunities here.

  • 0:40 Introductions
  • 1:32 Why digital signature technology matters
  • 2:42 To have a great culture you need to be a part of the mission statement
  • 3:32 The importance of truly being customer focused
  • 3:48 An example of how Docusign are focusing on real customer experiences
  • 4:46 How to open channels to enable engineers to really hear the voice of the customer
  • 5:12 The “three-in-a-box” model that Docusign uses to ensure teams hear directly from their customers in order to build empathy and understanding
  • 5:42 Ways in which Docusign ensures that the engineering teams hear from their customers
  • 6:08 The closer you can get the person writing the code to the real customer problem the faster and more effectively the problem will be addressed
  • 6:32 The importance of transparency around what matters to the company
  • 6:57 Every engineer is responsible for ensuring that the code they write is reliable, available and secure
  • 7:59 The value of providing a framework for career growth in an organisation
  • 8:27 It’s important to build a fair culture where people understand why decisions are made, even if they don’t agree with them they can see how a decision was made
  • 8:36 Make sure that people understand the expectations for each role and each level in the role across the whole organisation
  • 8:52 This transparency, including salary transparency, removes fear from within and between teams
  • 9:27 How Docusign give everyone a Global Impact Day in which people volunteer their time at the company’s expense for causes that matter to them
  • 9:40 Pooja and some of her team going to the Glide Memorial Church to help out in a soup kitchen
  • 10:48 Being clear about career progression structures that doesn’t confuse management and technical leadership
  • 11:00 Being a people manager is a hard role to be successful at in a software company
  • 11:12 Being a people manager requires technical knowledge for credibility but is not about providing technical leadership; many people confuse the two
  • 12:25 The way Docusign supports people who move into a people management role
  • 12:48 The best way to build technical leadership is through an apprentice model
  • 13:03 Ways that Docusign provides guidance and support for people building their technical competencies
  • 14:05 The experience of the Docusign team at QCon
  • 16:03 The number of women leaders on the Docusign team
  • 16:15 Approaches to actively promote and help build women’s careers
  • 16:31 Writing job descriptions so they are truly gender neutral



Attend QCon Plus online software conference this November 1-12 and catch up on the trends that matter in software development.

QCon Plus is an online conference for senior software engineers, architects and team leads. Deep-dive with 64+ world-class software leaders like Anika Mukherji, Fran Mendez or Courtney Kissler on the patterns, practices, and use cases leveraged by the world's most innovative software professionals. Attend QCon Plus (Nov 1-12) and save valuable time understanding new technologies and how to apply them to your projects.

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