The Engineering Leadership Podcast · Episode 58

BONUS: Internal mobility, mission-driven decisions, & self-service infrastructure

with Guillermo Fisher

Aug 24, 2021
Guillermo Fisher (Director of Engineering, Infrastructure @ Handshake) shares the impact of mission & values alignment, supporting your team’s internal mobility & professional growth, plus interesting infrastructure challenges & actualizing values on the infra team. This episode serves as a great reminder of WHY we become engineering leaders - to empower our teams to become great leaders in tech.
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SPEAKER

Guillermo Fisher Director of Engineering, Infrastructure @ Handshake

Guillermo Andrae Fisher has been working on the Web for almost twenty years in several capacities, many of which are detailed on LinkedIn. He is currently the Director of Infrastructure at Handshake. He is also the founder of 757 Color Coded, a nonprofit organization focused on helping people of color achieve careers in technology and advisor at Kura Labs - a free training and job placement academy for Infrastructure Computing, DevOps, and SRE for students from under-served communities. Guillermo is a Christian, husband, father of four, continuous delivery enthusiast, writer, AWS Data Hero, and a fan of very silly comedy.

"The engineering team pivoted! Trashed OKRs! Trashed the roadmap... and said, 'We're going to build out virtual career fairs.'

And so we did the work over the course of the year. Delivered career fairs in that same year... which is amazing! And have since served thousands and thousands of career fairs."

- Guillermo Fisher

Show Notes

  • Guillermo’s engineering leadership origin story (1:39)
  • Discovering mission & values alignment at Handshake (4:29)
  • The impact of Handshake’s COVID career fair pivot on students (6:25)
  • How engineering enables Handshakes mission (8:03)
  • Internal mobility, promotions & how Handshake supports professional growth within the company (10:15)
  • How Handshake’s values are actualized on the infrastructure team (13:02)
  • Practices to operationalize empathy on your team (14:43)
  • What Guillermo loves most about the people and culture at Handshake (18:36)
  • How to cultivate care & passion on your team (19:56)
  • The infrastructure team's future focus and impact (21:45)
  • Infrastructure challenges Guillermo's most excited about (23:42)
  • Why Guillermo’s most excited to be at Handshake right now (25:39)
  • Guillermo’s favorite part of being an engineering leader (27:43)
  • Final Words: “If you want to work on something cool that matters, come here” (28:50)

Links

757 Color Coded

Guillermo's Website

Kura Labs

Want To Continue The Conversation?

To stay up to date with key engineering initiatives at Handshake, keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the launch of the LinkedIn group "Engineering at Handshake" (we'll update here once it's live!).

And of course, if you're exploring new opportunities and motivated by Handshake's mission, check out open roles at joinhandshake.com/join-us/

Transcript

Guillermo's Engineering Leadership Story

Patrick Gallagher: With that Guillermo, Welcome to the Engineering Leadership Podcast.

Guillermo Fisher: Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here.

Patrick Gallagher: In considering our conversation here, I think there are a few things that come to mind...

One, the work that you do at Handshake is incredibly inspiring. Like Handshake's mission IS inspiring.

And on top of that, you all are working on some really interesting engineering challenges. Which brings us to this conversation to dive into a little bit more both of those. So we're going to talk about both of those.

But, I think what's going to be really fun is to start with you Guillermo and your leadership story...

Can you tell us your engineering leadership story? Why did you join Handshake and how did you become the Director of engineering and of infrastructure at Handshake?

Guillermo Fisher: Sure. Well, I've been in tech for around 18 plus years and when I I was first introduced to Handshake, it was through a friend who was working there at the time. He shared with me the company's mission and told me they're hiring and I was like, "Wow, this actually sounds like the kind of thing I'm, I'm excited about "democratizing opportunity for students."

And so as a person of color, specifically in tech, I do this kind of work outside of like my day job. But I try to make sure our people of color have opportunities in tech. So the opportunity to actually do it for my nine to five was really compelling.

And then through the interview process, I actually learned that they weren't playing around with it. You know, you go to some company's websites, and they have missions and values, et cetera, et cetera.

But like with Handshake, I came to understand that it really plays an important role in how they make decisions about the product, how they allocate resources to different things. Like it's central to how we do what we do.

And so, you know, I have been on board for almost two years now. When I first came on board, I was running the educational engineering team.

So there are three sides to our business: students, employers, and the educational institutions that we partner with. So I was running the EDU side and help them with processes and scaling the team up into two teams.

And then this opportunity came to run the infrastructure team. And I had had experiences with what was then the platform team... It was a very small team... as somebody who was like their customer. And felt like I could use my experience in products, but also in infrastructure and platform and dev ops quote unquote to really uplevel that team.

I've been like an internal dev-ops evangelist. I've been in the support role myself. And so I wanted to use all of that to help this team get better.

So I applied for the job When I heard about it, I think it was through slack. Talked to my manager at the time about it. And he was on board.

I kind of went through an interview process. There were other candidates that got interviewed. But they decided to go with me and that was great. And since then I've helped scale the team up to, I think we're at around 15 now? And, with plans to get even bigger by the end of the year.

Discovering mission and values-alignment at Handshake

Patrick Gallagher: There was one moment you mentioned where you identified that Handshake... like it has values, but it doesn't just, you know, have the values on the website or on a poster, but it actually lives them out every day.

Can you tell me a little bit more about that moment, where you identified like, "Oh, like this company really means what say? They say what they mean. And they mean what they say. And they actually live out what they say they value."

What was that moment like?

Guillermo Fisher: Oh boy... That is a good question.

COVID It's March... Schools are scrambling, employers are scrambling...

we identified that there's an opportunity for us as Handshake to meet a need that existed for students, employers, and career services centers. Right.

So, if you think about the worst career fair you've been to... it's crowded, the booths are crowded. You can't talk to the people that you want to talk to. And that, goes from both sides, right? The employers and the students.

So we decided to reframe that in a virtual setting. So the engineering team... in partnership with all the other teams, sales, product, marketing, et cetera... pivoted trashed OKRs, trashed the roadmap... and said, "We're going to build out virtual career fairs."

And so we did the work over the course of the year. Delivered career fairs in that same year, which is amazing! And have since served thousands and thousands of career fairs.

And so what we've been able to do as a result of that, and what was a big driving force behind that work... is that now students, in particular, have this flexibility to interact with employers in a way that they couldn't before and from places they couldn't interact with them before. Right?

So as long as you have a mobile device or access to the internet or a computer, you can actually interact with an employer.

And as a result of that, we've been able to find that, you know, 71% of students prefer that. And find it to be less intimidating than being in person. Women, people of color, they prefer the virtual career fairs and find them easier to prepare for, easier to balance, and more accessible than doing it in person. And, you know, those kinds of things really show that we're committed to creating a better experience for people in a democratic way.

The impact of Handshake's COVID career fair pivot on students

Patrick Gallagher: We had a conversation with Asif Makhani, CTO at Handshake a few weeks ago. And one of the quotes that he shared related to Handshake was that... "talent is distributed equally, but opportunity is not."

So to hear the feedback from students in that, "democratize the opportunity" of like a virtual career fair opens up and increases access to opportunity like that for people. I personally find really, really inspiring...

What was some of the feedback that you got from students for that part of the product?

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah! So primarily increased flexibility around scheduling; easier to prepare for. So like, if you consider like, you have to prepare for meeting with employers. It's easier for them to prepare virtually than it is in-person for a number of reasons. Like, you know, you don't have to... Maybe you get dressed from the top up versus like, you know, wearing a full suit. Right.

Made the job search process more convenient in general. And, and, and the actual experience that we provide is really engaging, right? It's like, it's, one-to-one verses like... I mean, there are options where you are in kind of like a virtual room with several people. We do provide this kind of one-to-one personal interaction that is really valuable to the students.

Patrick Gallagher: I used to work in the higher education space. And so I've participated in, on both sides of career fairs. And the experience of walking up to a booth where there are 15 to 20 other people sort of jockeying for position to try to talk to that recruiter is a really intimidating experience.

And so if you're somebody who's like... you know, I don't. Sorry, that's friction. I'm not interested, see you later. And that can be really hard. And the one-on-one opportunity really makes a big difference.

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah, for sure. And for neurodiverse people, as well, like, you know, if you consider, you know, the kind of anxiety that you might have in that situation, you know, that kind of gets reduced a bit with the virtual offering.

How engineering enables Handshake's mission

Patrick Gallagher: Absolutely. So I wanted to rewind a little bit Guillermo because you've shared a couple of stories of how Handshake has sort of brought its mission to life within the product. I'd love to hear a couple of examples or stories of how the engineering team enables this mission or brings this mission to life?

Guillermo Fisher: Sure. So Handshake's mission is to democratize opportunity. So no matter where you are, who your parents were... like you said before, talent is evenly distributed. We want to make sure that everyone has access to opportunities. No matter what.

And so the way engineering helps to bring that to life is, there's collaboration that exists between all different sides, all departments. What it really comes down to is whether or not engineering can deliver, right?

So engineering is the team that builds out all this stuff and brings all the intangible ideas into reality. And I think a great example of that is that virtual career, for example, that I've mentioned.

So, you know, as we were doing the research for that, and selling the idea to folks... I mean, all that stuff is great, but like when it comes down to it, like I said, where the rubber hits the road, like we have to actually build it.

And so for the engineering team to prioritize it, to be creative and resourceful in providing the solution, I think is a real testament to the strength of the team, shows real dedication to the mission and to the success that we want to bring to our students who want to succeed in life. Right?

I think that's probably the most impactful example that I can think of.

Patrick Gallagher: What's really interesting when I think about like how companies make decisions based off of their mission... this is the first time that I've heard about the pivot for the virtual career fair. And I, I think that it really met students' needs of the moment. Especially with this huge disruption and transition to virtual world.

But also enabled, in a way, like a better world. Where it became a lot easier... Where it's a better way for students to uncover opportunity for themselves. Then what would have existed beforehand and like with the in-person model of career fairs.

And so I just think it's really, really interesting to see how Handshake is willing to make big decisions to change how their mission looks in order to serve people in different ways.

Internal mobility, promotions & how Handshake supports professional growth within the company

Patrick Gallagher: One thing you mentioned about the process of moving to become Director of Engineering for the Infrastructure side...

You'd mentioned that, you know, there are other folks being interviewed and you're sort of on a different side of the business.

And I think a lot of people have this perception that in order to sort of progress in your career, you have to change companies in order to kind of like tack your way up to a different level or to a different part of the business.

But your path was different than that!

Can you tell us a little bit more about what the opportunity has been like to grow within Handshake and some of the different ways that Handshake supports the internal growth of people within the company?

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah, for sure. I think what that really highlights is a commitment from the leadership team at Handshake to help people develop. I think my boss at the time, a guy named Robin Lim, who's sort of my peer now, was really supportive in helping me kind of navigate through the transition. Helped me to figure out what the timing should be. How do I balance responsibilities as I'm moving between the two?

I think with this infrastructure role in particular, and I think if we're thinking about just, you know, outside of Handshake. When people are thinking about moving into infrastructure...

Having some experience on the product side or on the feature side, whatever you call it within your company is incredibly valuable because like, those are infrastructure customers, right? So, for you to have firsthand experience as a customer before you move into that role is awesome!

So I was able to get that. And yeah, the support of the leadership team all the way up was fantastic. On that same point, so pre COVID Handshake kind of existed... there, there are two offices, one in San Francisco, one in Denver. And then we have a bunch of remote folks. That's how we existed pre COVID.

And now that we're in like a sort of post, COVID... not really, but like a new world I'll say... we're considering how to look at engineering in a way that'll make it easier for people to move between teams.

So it used to be for instance, if you want it to be on a student team, you had to be in San Francisco. If you wanted to work on the employer team, you had to be in the Denver office. And if you wanted to be on the university team, you had to be remote.

And so like now we're rethinking that, so that engineers and managers who want to move between teams can do it in a way that isn't very process intensive. Right? You don't have to consider where you are. It shouldn't matter where you live. If you want to add value to another part of the business or get experience in another side of the business.

Patrick Gallagher: That to me seems like a really like a real unique experience within Handshake. Cause I haven't heard a lot of other companies like really thoughtfully try to design their experience where it allows people with like a lower friction and a lower barrier to entry... to have that same sort of navigation in between the company.

That's really fascinating.

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah. Yeah. It's, it's something that we've been thinking a lot about, especially as, you know, we're starting to figure out what like the hybrid environment looks like and wanted to consider, you know... as people have been moving around in their lives as a result of this pandemic, how do we support that?

And how do we support, you know, like I said, inner mobility for folks that want a new opportunity.

How Handshake's values are actualized on the infrastructure team

Patrick Gallagher: I'd love to talk a little bit more about the values. I think, especially how you have helped reinforce or demonstrate those values within your team. Or examples of Handshakes values that have come up in your team that you wanted to highlight.

So can you, I guess, oriented a little bit to what does Handshake value as an organization and what does this look like in action on the infrastructure team?

Guillermo Fisher: Sure. Yeah! The values that we have at Handshake are... I'll list a few of them. And then I'll talk about how some of them are in particular are brought to life in infrastructure.

So acting with empathy, students first, move fast but don't rush, And powered by diversity and focusing on impact.

I think in particular on the infrastructure team, acting with empathy is really important.

The engineers at Handshake, are our customers. And in infrastructure and platform teams, it's really important to build and communicate this desire to actually support and empower the engineers. Instead of like, you know, pushing your own agenda on those engineers.

And so that can only be done I think best through a lens of empathy, right? Trying to understand what people are going through, getting feedback, and then applying that feedback, applying all that information that you're getting from those... your customers, into real solutions that help them increase their productivity and make them happier with the developer experience. With their experience, at work. Right?

So that's key! It's one of the first things that I wanted to do as I took over the team was make sure that support and empowerment were at the center of what we did. And so we built out a mission that used those words within the team. It's about empowering and enabling folks to build scalable solutions.

And so that's how we act with empathy.

Practices to operationalize empathy on your team

Patrick Gallagher: I have a quick follow-up question about that... I think what you shared about how you create a vision, and how support and empathy were at the very core of the organization...

What are some of the ways, tactically, that you've helped operationalize empathy or different practices of that within the team?

Like, are there certain questions?

Is there a framework that you have people go through as they're proposing like different features or different projects?

I guess, are there certain tactical elements that you've helped support the team with there.

Guillermo Fisher: I mean, we're still perfecting a lot of this stuff. But you know, we're going through... well, one of the things that we've been doing is sending out surveys, right? So like our developer experience team, for instance, is one of the teams that's under me.

And so that manager, Maria Verba, and her team are sending out surveys to understand, you know, what are the pain points that our engineers are having?

And then using that information to determine what they work on. You know, how do we add that stuff to the roadmap? How do we make space for that kind of work so that we can improve the experience that folks have?

We also have office hours. So there are three teams that I'm responsible for. There is the production infrastructure team, which is responsible for cloud infrastructure stuff. There is also the developer experience team, and then there's the platform services team that builds services that kind of cross all sides of the business. So emails, authentication, and that kind of thing.

And so within each of these different teams, there are office hours set up so that you can sit with an engineer and ask questions about anything that you might have questions about. If you need to pair up on something or have a question about, for instance, how to add or modify an infrastructure resource, you can come to the office hours and work that.

And then we take the information that we gather from those office hours, if there is any, and then we kind of apply that to again, to our roadmap or to our sprints and say, "This is something that we need to do in support of the engineers."

And so, and the other thing that I've implemented. So we use JIRA pretty heavily and really try to focus on making all of our work visible. Not just for the sake of the team but for the sake of our customers as well. Right?

So I think when you don't document all the work that's coming in, all of the work that the team is doing you can kind of give off a false impression that maybe we're not doing as much as we are. And so there's room for us to do, you know, XYZ.

But if we can make it visible, then we can let people know what we're working on. And for the stuff that comes in that's ad hoc or in addition to that, we can ask... We work with the product teams to prioritize that stuff so that they understand, you know, what "We've been asked to do A by this team we've been asked to do B by this team, we need you all to work together so that we can do what's best for the company. Prioritize that and maybe get to the, you know, A or B later on depending on the priority of it."

So yeah, making work visible is also critically important to our success.

Patrick Gallagher: I was going to say, because I feel like infrastructure, like for, especially for engineers, maybe working more on the product side... that oftentimes that work could be more hidden and it's hard to see like, just all of the things that you have going on there.

So have you seen like with the office hours and things like that, like an increase in speed and decision making for other teams because they're able to have an increased amount of visibility?

Guillermo Fisher: I think we're working towards a world where that can lead to really impactful, like to really quick decision-making.

But I think what's important. And I should've mentioned this before actually is...

We're at this place right now where we're trying to, we're trying to split out our codebase and provide features and a self-service platform that will kind of add onto that and make things happen a lot faster. And that's kind of like one of the most pressing and most challenging things that we're working through right now. Right.

It's how do we... like many other startups we've gotten to this place where we, we started out with just like big Rails monolith and it's grown over, you know, five, six years. Now we got to get to a place where an engineer on a student team can make a change without having to talk to the engineer on a student team. Right?

And so once we can get to that place, I think it'll be even faster. We'll see even bigger gains in productivity there. But we are working through that now and will be this year and into the next year.

What Guillermo loves most about the people and culture at Handshake

Patrick Gallagher: Absolutely. So I have one more, one more question, more oriented around like people and culture. And then I want to dive in a little bit more into some of the challenges that you all are tackling on the infrastructure team right now.

But I think really, I just wanted to, it was more of a broad question about what do you enjoy or love most about the people that you work with and the culture at Handshake?

Guillermo Fisher: I really love that the people that I work with want to help each other. And it shows up in a lot of different ways. Specifically with some of the managers on my team. They really want to make sure that they're doing all that they can to support the engineers.

And one of the ways that shows up is that they're frustrated when they can't do everything that the engineers want them to do because "the team is too small. We don't have enough time." Right?

And so, you know, we've been talking about like, in a support role like it's got, you gotta be okay with saying no sometimes. And just kind of understand that, you know, we'll get to the point where we can meet more of these needs. But we won't ever be able to meet everybody's needs. Right. And so you have to be okay with that reality. But it's difficult for them to do because they care so much! Right.

And that's a great problem to have, like. You have people that care so much that they want to, they want to help everybody.

And I think that's true for a lot of folks in Handshake, there's a real heart to help. And that's why they joined the company. Right? It's a mission-driven company. You attract those kinds of people to it.

How to cultivate care & passion on your team

Patrick Gallagher: And that's like one of those things that you can't... you can't teach somebody to care. As a leader of your organization to have somebody who cares so passionately about supporting other people... like that's something you can't teach. So how do you cultivate that and enhance that as a leader? Like, is there a way where you create the space to sort of amplify that?

Or how do you, I guess, how do you tend to that quality so that you don't lose that?

Guillermo Fisher: Oh, man. That's a great question. You are good at this job. I think the solution is to make space for it. Just like you said. I don't want folks to get to a place where like, they feel like that's a negative, right? Like that the fact that they care so much is a negative.

I want to make space for it. I want them to be able to communicate their desires and their passion to other folks. But work with other people to make sure that other folks understand too. So that when we're having discussions about priority they understand we're not coming at it from like... "When we're saying no, we're not saying no, because we don't want to help you. We're saying no, because we physically, I can't right now."

And so it's important for like, you know, one of my managers, Monique Mitchell you know, she recently we were going through that exercise right now, as we're going through planning, like, you know, there's a lot of stuff that people want us to do. And I want to make sure that, you know, people understand, no doesn't mean 'we're never going to do this, or we don't want to'

it's just like, 'We need more people or we need more time.'

And one of the ways that she is amplifying, that is through the development of like a mission and charter. I mean, communicate to people so that people know "this is what we want to do. This is how we want to serve you. This is how you should work with us. This is how we want to work with you."

And I think that all does help to amplify that desire. in a way that can ultimately be productive.

Patrick Gallagher: And it sounds like it sort of helps shape the expectations of the people that... that are sort of interacting with the infrastructure team in a way that leaves people still feeling empowered to make requests. Even if there, there is a no in the short term.

That's great.

The infrastructure team's future focus and impact

Patrick Gallagher: So I'd love to talk a little bit more about some of the challenges at Handshake. And so, Guillermo, can we rewind a little bit? What's the focus of the infrastructure team right now? And what's the impact that you all are having on Handshake?

Because I think we mentioned this I think when you and I were catching up offline here about how Handshake is experiencing some pretty tremendous growth right now...

So tell us a little more about like, what's the infrastructure team focused on right now? And what's the impact, especially during this rapid growth of the company?

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah. So, we're focused right now on an initiative that involves all of engineering and to some extent product. Where we are taking this monolith and splitting it up into team-specific areas or team-specific code bases. And we're calling it "Handshake Next." It's like our next iteration.

So one of the engineers on my team Dan Whining was kind of like put this grand vision together where we're using domain design and building out initially miny services that provide like a logical separation of the codebase. And then eventually microservices that provide a physical separation of the codebase.

So that we improve the autonomy of our different teams. So, like I said before, if an engineer on the employer team wants to make a feature change, they don't have to involve somebody from, the other teams to make that change. They can just go ahead, make the change without stepping on toes.

They can do it in a quick way. So eventually we'll want to get to the place where, you know, build times improve as a result of this. Because you don't have to run 9,000 tests against the entire code base.

So yeah, we're leading that initiative. We're creating tooling to help make that easier for our engineering teams. We've provided a plan and I've made asks across the engineering teams to have engineers helping us do this work. Tooling, training, and laying the foundation for the work that the engineers are going to be doing.

So we're kind of like paving the way. And that's kind of how we're starting off in our Q3. And then in our Q4, we want to get more engineers involved to build on top of the work that we've done.

Infrastructure challenges Guillermo's most excited about

Patrick Gallagher: Of all the different challenges that you all are tackling What are the ones that you're most excited about right now? Like what're the problems that you, you are like, "Ah, I mean, this one is one that just really lights my brain on fire!"

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah, I think The one that I'm most excited about is... I want to create a self-service infrastructure platform for the team!

So, right now, we've got a pretty small team that's responsible for our cloud infrastructure. And... because the team is small and that supports like a growing engineering team. We can sometimes be a bottleneck for requests.

And so we've been trying to roll out new technologies like Terraform. We're using Sentinel now to automate some policies. Or create policies that can automate checks against changes made to Terraform. So that people can make the changes that they need without having to get us involved.

And I want to iterate on that idea eventually to get to this place where we can provide for like a CLI or a UI or some kind of interface for folks to use that kind of templatized things so that they don't have to do as much thinking as they kind of have to be right now if they want to, for instance, build out a new service.

You just say, "Hey, I want to build a new service. And it needs to have... I don't know... 50 gig database attached to it."

You just pop in some parameters and then you have everything you need and you don't have to actually get into GCP or do a bunch of stuff yourself. You just have to put it in the interface and your resources are created for you in a secure, automated way.

Patrick Gallagher: I love that. Well, I think the big thing you identified as like "We're the bottleneck here and we want to build this self-service infrastructure platform to then enable and empower teams..."

I think like, Guillermo just like through our whole conversation, the little stories that you've shared have really demonstrated so much about the sense of selflessness and service and support and empathy and empowering other people.

Very much so, like the values that we talked about at the beginning, just everything you've mentioned from what the core focus of the team is to the products that you're building, the internal tooling really exemplifies that.

And I think that's really, really powerful. So thank you, for sharing that.

Guillermo Fisher: Thank you.

Why Guillermo's most excited to be at Handshake right now

Patrick Gallagher: A little bit more of a higher-level question because there are some really big things happening at Handshake, especially when you shared the story of the pivot to the virtual career fair and that being a huge organizational priority.

why are you excited to be at Handshake right now? Like why is it such an interesting time to be a part of the organization and a part of the infrastructure team?

Guillermo Fisher: I think it's especially exciting right now because of all the growing that we're doing. To be at Handshake right now means that you're... not the ground level...

But you're involved at this place where we just hit a hundred engineers this year and we're, probably gonna, hopefully, double that in time to come. And then, you know, get to a place where we have maybe 500 engineers.

But to be here now, it means that you're involved in building out the culture and the processes that will make up the foundation of what engineering here will be in the future. Right? And at this like really impactful mission-driven company, that's working with cutting edge technology.

For me to be here right now, playing the role that I'm playing on the infrastructure team is gratifying.

I think, as we keep bringing people on, onboarding is going to continue to be an area where we need. To make sure that we're helping out as an infrastructure team. Right?

So like recently one of the co-founders Scott, came up with this idea for our remote development environment. And so as a developer experience team we've taken that idea and brought it to life and kind of operationalized it so that when engineers start they already have a development environment set up for them that lives in a virtual machine in GCP.

You know, those kinds of innovations and like iterating on that kind of work is really exciting. Because you're helping like again, supporting people, helping them feel productive in their first day even. Right.

Like if you can commit code in your first day or two coming to like a, you know, a startup like that's awesome!

And so having the opportunity to work on that kind of stuff is really great.

Patrick Gallagher: That fired me up. I mean, everything we're talking about like the mission to democratize the opportunity for folks. Lay the foundation for people. Working on cutting-edge technology. And to make an impact on day one, commit code from day one, is such a huge and exciting opportunity to be a part of.

Guillermo's favorite part of being an engineering leader

Patrick Gallagher: So for you personally, what is your absolute favorite thing that you love to do as a part of the Handshake team? Like what is the absolute favorite thing for you about what you do?

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah. So as corny as it may sound, I'm really passionate about helping people on my team become the best versions of themselves in whatever capacity they'll allow me to do that.

So I get to work, like I said, with really passionate people who care about their jobs, care about the work that they're doing and care about themselves as professionals.

And for me to have the responsibility to help them develop their skills is something I take very seriously.

And when they allow me to help them, not just become better professionals, but become better people. You know, I really relish those opportunities.

And I want to build relationships with folks, help them be better than I am. And, you know, leverage my experience to create not just like great engineers, but great leaders in tech.

So that's really what gets me fired up.

Patrick Gallagher: I wish I had infrastructure skills and I could be on your team Guillermo because that sounds incredible!

Final Words: “If you want to work on something cool that matters, come here”

Patrick Gallagher: That's great. Well, one more question to sort of close out our conversation... I think one of the intentions of this conversation is also, as people are listening and become inspired by the mission and become curious and intrigued about the challenges that the infrastructure team is facing...

So what I was wondering... you know, do you have any final words for somebody who might be interested in an opportunity at Handshake or interested in contributing to the mission or helping solve some of the challenges that you all are facing? Do you have any final words that you'd want to share with that person as they explore that opportunity?

Guillermo Fisher: Yeah, come on. Let's do it! Join us! We want people who care about our mission. We want to work with all kinds of engineers, from all different backgrounds. We're really passionate about not just democratizing opportunities for students. We also want to build a diverse workforce here at Handshake, right. And it's specifically in engineering. And so I welcome everybody to apply.

Join us. We're doing great work. We're doing some really exciting, like I talked about... really exciting refactoring work. Solving, really interesting problems with architecture and with data, trying to build out, you know, really intelligent solutions.

This is the place to be! Like, if you, if you want to work on something cool that matters come here!

Patrick Gallagher: If you want to work on something cool that matters, come here. I love it.

Guillermo, thank you so much. Just as a quick meta-comment. I mean, one of the things that we pay attention to a lot within our community are folks that really genuinely care about supporting and serving other people.

So just for you as a leader, to have that commitment to service and to support the people on your team, their growth, their well-being and they're just development as professionals.

Just thank you for being somebody who embodies that. And inspires other people to take that on as part of their leadership because there are not enough managers and engineering leaders like that in our industry.

And so thank you for being a great example of that.

Guillermo Fisher: I really appreciate that, man. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Want to continue the conversation? Check out Engineering at Handshake!

Patrick Gallagher: If you'd like to continue the discussion and stay up to date with the key engineering initiatives at Handshake, keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the launch of their new LinkedIn group Engineering at Handshake (we'll have that link available once it's live HERE)

And of course, if you're exploring new opportunities and motivated by Handshake's mission, check out open roles at https://joinhandshake.com/join-us/

Thanks for listening to the engineering leadership podcast!

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