“As a manager, my first priority is making my team happy and ensuring that they have all the tools and resources needed to be successful in their jobs,” says Fernanda Mora, Engineering Manager at Dropbox.
Formerly a software engineer at the company, Mora felt supported by her managers and team as she transitioned into her new role. Now, she enjoys leading, all while doing what she loves. She also appreciates the many benefits of working at Dropbox, including serving as co-lead for the Latinx ERG at the company. “It’s also an amazing opportunity to get to know people from teams you normally don’t work with,” she notes.
Recently, Fairygodboss spoke with Mora about her work, the transition into management and the advice she has to offer other women software engineers.
How long have you been in your current role, and how did you find the opportunity?
I’ve been in my role for only a month, but I joined Dropbox/HelloSign four years ago as a software engineer. During these years, I’ve had opportunities to lead projects and groups of people, which made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in management. My manager and skip manager always supported me and gave me responsibilities while I was a software engineer that helped with the transition.
How does your company support women in engineering?
Dropbox does a really good job of supporting women in engineering. They have different programs and initiatives to push women and underrepresented minorities to the next level. I’m currently part of the LEAD program, which is designed for participants to grow their professional networks, increase visibility with senior leadership, explore leadership opportunities and advance their role at the company.
What led you to apply to a management position?
When applying for the manager position, what most appealed to me was how close my team is to the core business. At the same time, the team has really exciting projects to improve our customers’ experience, which is an area that I’m really passionate about.
Tell me about your job.
I manage a team of eight people: six software engineers and two testing/automation engineers. We take care of HelloSign’s billing and document list.
HelloSign is a part of the Dropbox line of products and one of our fastest growing lines of business, which makes it super exciting to be part of. As a manager, my first priority is making my team happy and ensuring that they have all the tools and resources they need to be successful in their jobs.
What has Virtual First allowed you to do differently?
Virtual First has allowed me to have a completely distributed team, so that we’re able to find talent that we might not have been able to find if we were only focusing in the Bay Area.
I’m super excited about upcoming get-togethers with my team and the possibilities that Virtual First gives us to meet not necessarily just in the Bay Area, but in other locations as well!
Are you a part of any employee resource groups or programs at your company? If so, how did you first get involved, and what have you liked most about being a member?
Yes, I am! I’ve been the Latinx co-lead for the past two years. I got involved when HelloSign was acquired by Dropbox in early 2019. They invited me to a photoshoot and to talk about my experience being a Latina in an All Hands. I absolutely loved the support from everyone and the fact that you could feel at home there.
The Latinx ERG hosts meetings every month, and we create different events that resonate with our community. It’s also an amazing opportunity to get to know people from teams you normally don’t work with!
What projects are you currently working on?
We’re currently redesigning the documents page in HelloSign to provide a better user experience for our customers. This is a project that I’m super excited about, and I’m sure our customers will be as well.
What’s something you’re proud of?
Every year, Dropbox has a week called “Hack Week,” where we stop regular development and work on whatever project we want that is related to the business. A couple of years ago, I was part of a project to integrate PDF automatic field detection using AWS Textract, and I had the opportunity to lead that project into production. That was an amazing experience that helped me grow as an engineer and work on my leadership skills.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for women software engineers who are looking for jobs right now?
I would advise women software engineers to believe in yourself and don’t hesitate to apply to your dream jobs. While in interviews, always ask clarifying questions and make sure to communicate your thought process. That, sometimes, is even more important than having a perfect answer.
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