People at Mobimeo share a common goal: To get you and others out of your car and into public transport. Grace Yan, engineering lead, talks about working for the greater good and how women need to come together to support each other.
Grace, what are your responsibilities at Mobimeo?
I am the engineering lead for a product team at Mobimeo. My team is responsible for creating a number of mobility features and applications that aim to get people out of their cars and use more public transportation. I work with a team of talented engineers, product managers, user researchers and marketing folks to make this happen. A big part of my job is coaching and people management, but I also get to give technical guidance to the engineering team, vet product ideas with our product teams, get buy-ins with upper management and other stakeholders.
In what way does your employer foster your career and personal development?
Mobimeo provides leadership coaching for all of the leads, and I always find them super helpful. We also take feedback and career development talks quite seriously. If there are courses and conferences we are interested in, there is a pretty generous development budget. Internally we also have a “Women at Mobimeo” group where we can network and give each other support. We organize speakers and seminars on equality issues. For me personally, my current boss is also my mentor and she has been very supportive in creating opportunities and being a great ally.
Since you are focused on public transport: What role does sustainability play in your work?
Sustainability is one of our core values. Not only is it good for business, more importantly it just makes sense to be ecologically responsible. It might seem a small thing, but I think every car taken off the street is one step toward a better future for the planet. Our aim is to be both practical and delightful in order to change people’s mind about taking public transport versus driving.
What are you particularly proud of regarding your career?
I like that I am at a point in my career where I can effectively coach more junior members and mentor other women.
In your opinion: Why aren’t there more women choosing to work in the tech industry?
I think, in Germany especially, it is a perception problem starting from a young age. There are quite rigid gender roles that are imposed on kids starting from elementary school. We internalize these stereotypes of what boys and girls are good at. It is then exacerbated by peer pressure and cultural expectation on what women should focus on. Without new role models, education and opportunities to counter such prejudice, the status quo will not change.
What kind of “obstacles” do women have to overcome in tech?
We have to work extra hard just to be heard and to prove ourselves. While sometimes there are overt hostilities and harassment, more commonly we encounter microaggression. Key social and networking opportunities are also harder to come by as a woman.
Would our world be different if more women worked in STEM?
Yes! Since there are so few women in leadership roles in tech, it is hard for us to find mentors that understand our journey and provide support. Women also bring a unique perspective. Given at least 50 percent of our users are female, it is invaluable to have the women’s view point represented.
What advice would you give to our female readers considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
Find a support system. It is important for women in tech to find a mentor, whether it is a relative or someone in tech that you admire. Seek out a mentor that understands your goals, appreciates your talents and is willing to help you succeed. It really helped me when I was starting out, and I hope it will help you, too.
Secondly, show up and stand out. Be confident, be bold and don’t let anyone intimidate you. Be ok with not knowing and asking for help. Spend your personal time learning and refining your skills. Always volunteer for projects even those you do not have a knowledge-set in. It’s a learning opportunity and a way to diversify your skill set.