Kelly Shkuratoff: Senior Manager, Salesforce
How does your job affect people’s lives?
I love going into work every day – we have so many customers that use our software to run their business and reach their customers, that I’m always sure I’m making an impact. We help people manage their health care data, run their customer service, or manage their sales pipeline. I’m also proud that we support many non-profits on our platform. My work affects those close to me and those far away. We connect my dad to product support for something he purchased, or help families around the world connect to social assistance programs. In addition to my technical work, I am also supported by the company to donate my time through volunteering. There are many ways to feel good about the work I do, and who it helps.
While many people use “the cloud”, it’s pretty amazing when you are the cloud, and are responsible for keeping everything running. Keeping the world connected.
What motivates you in your career?
Constantly learning something new is my favorite part of my job. Sometimes it’s a new technology, or a new way of doing things, or the chance to step into a new role. All these things help to keep things fresh. I love that I get complicated problems to solve. Sometimes it is with weeks of deep thought, and sometimes in an instant when the heat is on. I think I enjoy large companies because they tend to have large problems to solve. We might be solving things that have never been solved before. It’s humbling but exciting to realize you are running the largest X or Y, or you are able to give guidance to others on ways to accomplish something challenging.
Although I really love the technology – I probably love the people even more. My company feels like a family – we work hard but we play hard too. I have many close friends at my workplace, and we do many things outside of work, even go on vacation together. On the people front – I also love driving change at a large organization. Bringing a technical idea to life requires both the engineering work, and champions to make sure it reaches the finish line and gets adopted by others. On a given project I may work with five or more teams, ensuring everyone knows where we’re headed and we have what we need to be successful.
Describe what you do at work.
My days vary – but it’s always a combination of technology and people. I have over 10 years experience, mainly as a developer. Most recently I’ve been working as a manager for a talented team of software engineers. Some of my time is spent in technical design meetings, working with other teams, or responding to on-call incidents that affect our customers. I also attend leadership team meetings, focus on talent and employee satisfaction, and help with change management. I use my background in hardware and software engineering to understand how large web infrastructure works, and work to scale it up to meet new and exciting demands.
My current team focuses on visibility – we run a software service that transfers information from thousands of servers in datacenters all over the world. Billions of events flow through our service. We can keep track of what’s going on from the comfort of our desks. We meet each morning to talk about what we’re working on. We also have group chats open to reach each other throughout the day. For several years of my career I also worked remotely for teams based in San Francisco, because they had projects I was interested in. I was able to do this because my managers and teammates were willing to make it work. Technology to stay connected has come a long way, making the workplace more flexible than ever. I appreciate that I can work from a cabin, or a beach, or from home for the day, and still do what I need to do.
Describe your career path to this career.
When I was younger I was always making things. I was really into arts and crafts, or any sort of building toy. In high school I enjoyed math and sciences, and also took drafting courses. I entered general sciences in university, and ended up majoring in animal biology for three years. I found the courses incredibly interesting, but in the end, it wasn’t quite the field I wanted to work in. In my fourth year I made the decision to leave biology and transfer to computer engineering, and was delighted when they handed me tools and a soldering iron on my first day. I have to say the learning curve was pretty steep. I felt rather behind others who had been coding for years or who always knew they’d go into tech. All that said – I had found the right place to be. I also joined the co-op program and enjoyed internships at both small and large companies. All told – I went to university for seven years, but I don’t regret a thing!
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
While I enjoy spending time in the digital world during the work week, I like to play more in the physical world in my free time. I’ve been known to sew quilts, or even a wedding dress, and build a loft bed, or a patio table. I’m always looking for new project, or an excuse to get more tools. To really relax I love camping and hiking, and get out for a good number of weekends all summer long if I can. I enjoy skiing and scuba diving. I also volunteer as the lead organizer for a conference called “DevOpsDays Vancouver”.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
Go for it – you won’t be disappointed! There are many roads that can get you there, from formal education to being self-taught to receiving hands-on training. My advice would be to approach it like a field of study rather than a box of tools/skills – focus on learning good engineering principles and approaches and you can’t go wrong.
I was born/grew up in: Port Alberni, BC, Canada
I now live in: New Westminster, BC, Canada