‘Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable’ and Other Advice for Women in STEM — From a VP of Engineering

Sponsored by Realtor.com

Suzy Julius

Photo courtesy of Realtor.com.

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The largest real estate network in the world, Realtor.com, strives to create a culture where all employees feel at home and are able to bring their full selves to work. To achieve this goal, Realtor.com is dedicated to fostering a truly inclusive culture.

“Our investment in diversity and inclusion will continue as we grow, and I’m confident that we will thrive with a culture of collaboration and authenticity, all the while having fun,” says Suzy Julius, VP of Engineering, Enablement Services and Data Platform at Realtor.com.

We recently spoke to Julius to learn more about her work at Realtor.com, her advice as a woman engineer and how her company supports women.

Tell us a bit about your job. What’s your current role and how long have you been in this role?

I’m responsible for enabling execution excellence to increase speed of delivery, reliability of infrastructure and operations and quality of data and services. I bring a passion for creating a culture of delivery and developing high-performing teams, creating significant leverage by promoting consistency of architecture and tools across the tech stack.

What first got you interested in pursuing a career in tech? 

During my freshman year of college, while studying biology, a basketball teammate of mine mentioned that she was majoring in computer science. After learning more, I signed up for a few 101 courses. I’ve always had a passion for math, so blending that with algorithms and computational thinking to implement solutions was very exciting.  

What projects or programs are you currently working on? What about this type of work most excites you? 

My organization has three main focus areas: client and service delivery, data enablement and personalization/experimentation. In each of these, there are programs that aim to accelerate reliable and quality solutions. Specifically, we’re focused on our paved path to create consistency, a data platform to modernize and evolve our data and decisioning and orchestration services to unlock personalization. Throughout my entire career, work focused on backend infrastructure has always appealed to me. This work ties into our quality of service and elevates the business by building a strong foundation that can be leveraged throughout the organization.

What has been the biggest challenge or obstacle you’ve faced working as a woman in tech?

The biggest challenge that I’ve had as a woman in tech is getting comfortable bringing my authentic self to work. It’s much easier to conform or fit in, and I did that early in my career. Over time, I realized that this approach wasn’t going to drive awareness or change, nor was I being true to my authentic self. Now I bring my jeans and flannel-wearing (I live in Colorado) openly gay self to work. I don't fit in with the men or the women, but, by doing this, even though it can sometimes be harder, I'm leading by example and hopefully raising awareness.

Does Realtor.com provide any resources or programs to support women in your field?

Absolutely! Our parent company provides a Women In Tech forum and does a fantastic job of staying connected and with knowledge sharing. At Realtor.com, our VP of Engineering Strategy and I sponsor a women’s leadership group, a community created by women to support women in technical leadership roles. This network helps to mentor, give guidance and training, and raise awareness of issues that are faced by women. Another group that more broadly focuses on all women in tech will be launched soon and meet on a recurring basis.

What is your favorite aspect of the culture at Realtor.com?

Our culture and diversity has evolved organically, particularly in Technology. Over the years, Realtor.com has acquired a number of companies, and each acquisition has advanced our diversity. Today, Realtor.com engineering teams are made up of a diverse group of engineers with different backgrounds in different locations, each of whom bring a unique perspective to the problems we’re solving. Our investment in diversity and inclusion will continue as we grow, and I’m confident that we will thrive with a culture of collaboration and authenticity, all the while having fun.

What is something you’re especially good at at work?

I am good at coaching colleagues through solutions without giving them the answers — Solving a problem can be a strong confidence booster. Enabling someone to solve a challenge on their own helps them grow and realize their own potential. 

What are you trying to improve on? 

I have a strong bias for action. I’m working to remind myself to “slow down to speed up” and bring others along in my thinking to ensure alignment and create the ability to go faster together.  

What is the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?

I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors and leaders. A piece of advice that stands out right now is the advice to “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” For me, this advice helped shift my frame of thinking: instead of being frustrated that things felt hard, I now consider hard things as an opportunity to grow.

What advice do you have for other women who are beginning a career in tech?

Listen, internalize feedback and turn it into action. Soak in all the knowledge you can, and realize that you are in charge of your own career. There are mentors, managers and leaders that are there to help, but you should always know the direction you want to head in and have an action plan.


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