Delivery Management at Cloudflare
Join Cloudflare Delivery Managers in conversation about their experience in working to build and ship products.
Hello everybody and welcome to another episode of Delivery Management at Cloudflare.
This is a segment we've been doing and talking to product managers, engineering managers, directors, other delivery managers to explore a little bit more about the world of delivery management.
What we do, what does this mean at Cloudflare?
And I'm Alex, I'm the Lead Delivery Manager for EMEA and today I am very lucky to be joined by Krystal who is actually the only Delivery Manager at Cloudflare who is not based out of EMEA.
So I'm really really happy to have you here.
How are you Krystal? I'm good Alex, thanks. How are you? I'm good, I'm good. Actually I'm quite excited about this segment also because I think it's my 10th Cloudflare TV segment.
So yeah, happy sort of anniversary. But today is about you, about what your role here at Cloudflare is and actually what brought you here, what's your journey.
So Krystal, why don't we start with you talking to us a little bit more about your background.
So where did you grow up? Where did you spend your formative years?
Yeah, thanks Alex. Well thanks for having me this morning, super excited to be here.
So I grew up in Illinois mostly, so central Illinois. My parents are from Mexico so I grew up in like a Mexican household, spoke Spanish and then we were in Mexico a lot as well.
So my grandparents still live there. Yeah, just had a great upbringing and lived, yeah, I've also lived in other cultures, like countries like Brazil, Italy, Japan.
But yeah, always just lived close to family and that was great.
Yeah, oh that's actually great. I didn't know you lived in so many countries.
I'm quite tempted to talk to you a little bit more about this. So why don't we talk about your career journey and maybe you can give us a little bit more insight on about not just your skills and professional development but also where all of this past experience took take you.
Yeah, great question. So yeah, as I mentioned, I've traveled a lot and that kind of gave me different perspectives on like life and career and I honestly don't exactly know how I ended up where I am today.
I mean it's been like a winding journey but it's been really great.
So yeah, my first, my bachelor's degrees were economics and Spanish linguistics and I really, really enjoyed that and after that I lived in Brazil for a couple of years and then that's kind of what got me interested in kind of like data science type work.
So then I went to do a master's degree in applied economics and so again just like focusing on data science and so that experience led me to work in, you know, big data coordinating research.
So I've worked in like other tech companies and also at large research universities and so yeah, I really like hadn't associated, you know, big data with like tech early on especially like in research at the university.
So then like moving to a tech company and then really being able to apply those like statistical, you know, analysis and economic background to, you know, data science working with software engineers and other technical professionals.
Yeah, it was a really interesting journey but again it all kind of lined up.
Yeah, well it lined up to where you are today, right? So you joined Cloudflare as a delivery manager a few months ago, Crystal.
Actually, I think the first time you and I spoke was yeah, more than a couple of months ago during your interview process and I can remember that all the feedback that I got is that you've spoken to us, you've been actually in touch with Cloudflare for quite some time before you actually managed to join us to see the right role for you here.
So I wanted to ask you, do you want to share what do you do?
Like what do you do on a daily basis? Also in light of what you were doing previously and how that's different.
Yeah, so on a daily basis, so I'm working on the Magic Transit and Magic Firewall teams.
So again, this role as you mentioned, Alex, is like still quite new.
So but on a daily basis, it's, you know, attending daily stand-ups, communicating a lot with the team, collaborating, making sure that work is, you know, not blocked.
And so really, yeah, just helping the engineers be as effective and efficient as possible.
And, you know, whether that's working with metrics or developing metrics to help us stay on track or, you know, participating in meetings or leading meetings, especially, you know, with cross -collaboration projects.
But every day is different and it's exciting, for sure. Yeah, you mentioned that every day is different and you accentuated this idea that a very important part of this role is keeping everything on track, right?
Is trying to understand, okay, what are we trying to do?
Who is working on it? Are people blocked?
And so what, obviously there is no, you know, university degree in software delivery management.
So what prepares you for a role like this, Crystal?
Like what do you do personally to stay up to date? Yeah, great question. Well, yeah, as Alex mentioned, like this is my first time in this role.
And so, and I've had a lot of different experiences, you know, working in tech companies, working in a technical position, but software delivery management is really, it's really interesting.
It's really unique because, you know, we have to know enough of the tech to work and communicate with engineers and also know enough of, you know, the business and the product to help make sure that what the product managers need and the engineering managers need is getting done, right?
So for me to stay up to date, you know, currently right now, as this is like a new position, especially with COVID and working remote, I'm really just trying to, you know, make a really good onboarding process right now.
And so I'm reading books called like the first 90 days and virtual meetings matter, and really just trying to help like drive team building and team communication, because I think that will definitely, you know, go into the work.
And so that as well as, you know, I read a lot of medium articles on software product management or delivery.
So just, yeah, lots of online resources and books.
Yeah. And you mentioned the first 90 days, right?
I think this is also a concept I've seen with new presidents, right? The first 100 days, right?
In which they have this really detailed plan of what they will achieve, how they will learn, how do they do transition and everything else.
And I think that this translated really well into business.
And I actually do this quite rigorously for myself and for people in the team, trying to break it down into what are you going to do the first 30 days in terms of what are you going to learn?
Who are you going to meet?
What is expected of you? Same for the first 60 days, first 90 days.
So how does your plan look like? Like what's your first 90 days? Yeah.
So, I mean, first 90 days, you know, it's really the three pillars are like building a learning plan.
So that's, you know, technical, but also cultural. So really learning like the culture of Cloudflare.
You know, two is aligning my goals with the goals of the team.
And so how do we, you know, is everybody on the same page with goals and making the strategic plans in place to really achieve those goals?
And then three is really focusing on building connections. And so who are my stakeholders?
How do I, you know, really build these relationships of trust with my teammates and my coworkers, colleagues to really drive the work that needs to get done?
Yeah, understood. And, you know, this sounds like these are very common sense things you want to do at the beginning of any job, right?
Regardless of what are your responsibilities, but of course, you want to build the network.
You want to learn a little bit more and just as important to understand the culture of the company that you're stepping into and try to understand how can you adapt to it and what do you really bring to it?
So I want to ask you, Crystal, because you're also fairly fresh, you've done onboarding a couple of months ago.
So, so far, what surprises you the most about Cloudflare?
That's a great question. Definitely, I think just how fast Cloudflare moves and it's growing.
I mean, that's, I've worked in, you know, tech before, but it's just, it's just insane how fast everything moves, which is also exciting.
And so it always like keeps me on my toes. So that's definitely been really surprising.
I'm also just surprised and impressed really with, you know, how welcoming everybody's been and just, especially in these like hard COVID times, like everyone's been super supportive, making me feel welcome, you know, getting me onboarded.
That's just, that's been, yeah, really, yeah, really great. Like, I feel like I can, you know, approach my teammates or whoever to really get the work done.
So, yeah, I feel like I'm still learning everything. Yeah. And I'll, I'll be fully honest.
I think that we should keep this feeling of constantly learning, right?
Because it's, it's what fuels our engine, right? And you mentioned, you mentioned onboarding, Crystal.
So I think definitely our unsung heroes in Cloudflare, actually they're quite some, are the onboarding team, right?
So transitioning towards onboarding everybody from everybody physically in the same space into the remote experience was a huge task that I think that we've managed pretty well.
But I wanted to ask you, how did you experience that? So what worked for you to be able to fully onboard well?
Yeah. Well, this was my first, I guess I would say this is my first experience totally onboarding, right?
Remote. So, I mean, for me, it went like really well.
Everyone, you know, there was a lot of communication happening.
I received my laptop and everything on time. So it was just really great.
You know, that Cloudflare was always keeping me on track to tell for the, throughout the whole onboarding process as well as, you know, meeting with my team and, you know, kind of coming up, coming up with an onboarding plan.
Yeah. So I, I've been really impressed with just, you know, the whole situation.
Yeah. Yeah. I understood. I can reflect on the same thing because I also onboarded remotely almost a year ago.
Like I can't believe it's been so much. And, and again, while I have no comparison, because I think most people haven't been in the situation of onboarding remotely before this, this tough year of the pandemic.
But I can still see, you know, people, our colleagues always being so, showing so much empathy towards the situation, because I mean, we're all in the same boat, even if our situations, our home are very, very different.
Right. But now, Crystal, I wanted us to go back to, to your role and actually what, what you do and the great job that you're doing so far.
You did mention that you're working with, with a couple of teams, Magic Transit, Magic Firewall.
But if you look at your, your specific value that, that you bring, how do you know that you're doing a good job?
That is a great question. And that's probably been one of the more challenging questions that I've asked in this new role.
You know, because as, as software delivery managers, we don't, and Alex loved your opinion on this.
We don't necessarily have like tangible outcomes, like us personally, right?
Our, I would say that, you know, our success depends on success of the team.
Right. So are we delivering ships on time, RMs on time, making sure that, you know, our, our teammates are unblocked.
So it's, it's kind of hard. That's been, that's been a shift that I've had to make.
I'm still making, coming from a programming background where it was just like, it's coding.
I knew what I was out, you know, outputting.
And so now in this, you know, software delivery management role, it's, it's a different outcome.
And so I think, yeah, right now, you know, I'm working with the teams to develop those outcomes, those objectives, on those goals for each team is, is different.
Right. So that's, yeah, something that I'm still working on trying to get like a better framework for.
Yeah. And I can totally reflect on this because you mentioned you would like my perspective on this Crystal.
So definitely when, when, when I started, and actually this is something that I have conversations about quite often with other delivery managers as well, as we are evolving the structure of the team, what we're doing we're probably getting some, some lessons learned that we are able to replicate into you know, and, and draw more learnings from.
So one of the things that, that I found is for me personally, it's important to understand, okay, what am I going towards?
What's the, what's the vision and what are my, my goals in a very given timeframe.
So then I am able to understand what are my constraints, where am I flexible and what's really valuable for the teams that I'm working with.
One of the things that I actually like about this, you know, autonomy and flexibility is the fact that we don't measure individuals.
We will measure the value that we bring as a team to, you know, to the product we're working on for our users, for our customers.
So this, this actually means that there is no competition.
There is no, there's no, you know, one better, one worse there, there is no scale to measure people against which I'm happy with.
But what I'm looking at is the before picture and after picture.
So let's say you, you start working with the team. You try to understand what, what metrics are important for that team.
So obviously in software development, we will look at typical things like some, some teams look at velocity.
Some teams look at, you know, how fast they can deploy, how fast they can recover from an incident, how many incidents they have, how, how smooth is their, is their release rollback process, things like that.
Right. So one thing that I found very, very helpful is setting up these, these measurements with the teams that I'm working with.
Okay. This is what's important. One, two, three. This is what's important for this group specifically and for the product that we're, we're contributing towards.
And we're going to start measuring it, the situation as it is now, we're going to suggest some specific improvements or changes either in the process in, in the way that we're working together and then measure again.
Right. So that's how you actually collect data and try to understand if what you're doing has, has an impact.
Right. So on that, what, what are the metrics that you are looking at or you would like to look at that you think might be, might be relevant for the teams that you're actually working with?
Yeah. So we're, you know, we're looking at different software delivery metrics.
So velocity, I'm trying to think of the other words, toil, you know, team toil.
Also looking at some of the customer support metrics, because obviously, you know, our product impacts customer support and, you know, we're all one team.
And so looking at, you know, how fast do we respond to a cust asks or incidents?
And how can we really advance that process?
And, or is there a knowledge gap that needs to be filled in order to, to make that, you know, more, more efficient?
Another metric, you know, that we're looking at is how do we improve average days to onboard and make that, you know, a faster process.
So yeah, lots of different metrics to look, to be looking at and each product, each team kind of has like the ones that they want to focus on.
So it's, it's always tailoring it to the team.
Yeah. And actually your, your example of onboarding is very, very good.
So for, for our viewers who don't know, so Magic Transit has a very specific onboarding process for this specific service.
And as you mentioned, Crystal, I think it's really important to, to measure and keep track of how, how soft and how smooth this onboarding is, right?
Because I know that in the last few months, we've been, we've been doing a lot of work to make this even better, even smoother and as seamless as possible for, for new customers.
And I think that, yeah, definitely this should be the experience that we offer, especially as the product matures.
Absolutely. Yeah. Okay. So we talked about the metrics, we talked about your experience.
But what I wanted to touch on today, and obviously our viewers will, will be able to see from our backgrounds the fact that we're definitely in what we call here at Cloudflare Women's Empowerment Month, right?
So it's March and for our viewers who, who will, who will see the recording, this is when we, when we aired this and definitely we don't just want to look at a month in which, you know, women are important and we want to suggest this.
And one of the things I love so much about Cloudflare is the, the platform that we have to, to be able to express our views and try to work towards a more diverse workforce because that's what actually makes us better, right?
So with, with that in mind, our, our actual hashtag for the, for the month is, is called Choose to Challenge.
So you've seen this crystal specifically in the last couple of weeks since, since we launched this.
And I was, I would be really curious to hear your thoughts on what does that mean in the context of Women Empowerment, Women's Empowerment Month?
What is Choose to Challenge? What does that mean for you? Yeah, that's a great question.
I've heard so many inspiring, you know, thoughts on this from, from our colleagues and just from, you know, various people online.
For me personally, you know, I, I choose to challenge bringing my most authentic self to work and really, you know, helping women just be their most authentic self and really supporting them, encouraging them in their roles.
And I think especially during these, you know, pandemic times it's just been really inspiring and motivating to see women do, do it all right.
They're taking care of their families and working.
And it's just, I think definitely really just helping, you know, build a culture that, that encourages, that uplifts so that women can, you know, be, be their most authentic self.
Yeah, that, that actually sounds, I want to say great, but actually does sound inspiring, Crystal.
I, as I mentioned, one of the things I love about Cloudflare is that not, not just that we talk about diversity, not, you know, we have a month, it's a token, we do this, but we have really strong employee resource groups.
So actually both of us are part of, of Womenflare.
And what I've seen is these really interesting and inspiring events where we are exposed to different points of view, but we also have the opportunity to interact with a lot of leaders, women or not, but mainly women who, who can share their story and who can, who can share their learnings.
So I'm thinking, as you mentioned, you wanted to bring your authentic self and that's what Choose to Challenge actually means for you.
Are there things that you're purposefully doing differently in relationship with, with that, Crystal?
So how are you actually translating your authentic self and transitioning it into your day-to-day work and your life?
Yeah, that's a great question. I'd have to think of more of like how exactly I'm implementing it, but I don't know.
I'm really, I would like to think of myself as like an uplifting person and just like encouraging others.
And so I really want to be able to, you know, encourage my teammates, like build that team environment.
And so, yeah, and I would, I don't know, just like not shying away from my like true personality.
Like I'm really trying to bring that, you know, to like our team standouts meetings.
Another thing is, you know, just like being more open about like my life and just kind of like the family that I have, the culture, like the food that I eat, because it is like very particular to each person, obviously.
And that's like been, I would say that that's been a challenge. Obviously being remote is, you know, learning, like really learning about my teammates and the culture.
I, you know, hope someday to meet you in person and that'd be great.
But yeah, I just want to, yeah, I'm trying to be, you know, more of myself, like especially on screen, because this is like all we have for now, you know?
So like we have coffee breaks and I like to make coffee, but other days I like to make like Mexican hot chocolate, right?
So just like trying to bring these more like fun things about myself and sharing it with my colleagues.
Yeah. Actually that sounds really interesting.
We definitely need to talk more about food and cultural background.
And I'm glad you're mentioning this, you know, recently as we grew our delivery management team, I've been reflecting a lot on what does it mean to build a diverse team and how do we do this without just stumbling upon it and, you know, just hiring diverse people by mistake.
You don't do that by mistake. We need to put in some extra efforts for that.
And I'm really, really glad to say that when I thought about it, I realized we're six delivery managers so far at Cloudflare, six different nationalities, which I think it's a great win.
We have different ethnic groups represented in the team.
We have a really good gender balance.
We all come from very different backgrounds. So as I mentioned, we have six different nationalities, which means we all grew up in different places.
We experienced very different cultures.
And actually this for me is a very utopian kind of team.
I know that this is not reflected in every single team. It's definitely not in any other team that I've been at before Cloudflare.
So moving towards this topic of diversity, what can we do actually to share a little bit more about this?
You know, more than just being social and, you know, sharing a virtual coffee with everybody else, because I would definitely learn to understand a bit more and maybe get some recommendations and get some of your recipes of Mexican food.
I'm very, very open to that. Yeah. So what can we do or what have you seen working in this sense?
Yeah, that's a another great question. That's I would say, you know, that's one thing that I've also been surprised at being at Cloudflare.
It's just this really intentional, intentionalness with diversity and inclusion, right?
And all the different employee research groups and events that are happening, you can tell that it's really important to Cloudflare.
And so I've really appreciated that. And I don't know ways to help do that virtually.
I cannot think of anything right now, except for just, yeah, encouraging others, you know, to, again, be their most authentic self, um, building that kind of culture of like, trust and vulnerability, because I really do think like, vulnerability is power.
And so, yeah, and I don't know, just that's a really hard question.
It's, it's hard for me as well.
And, you know, I found it slightly harder to to share, you know, who I am, what I do, the kind of stuff I watch, or what I eat, or what I read, via, via the 100% virtual remote environment, right?
So obviously, if we were, if we would have been in an office, people would notice, okay, what did you bring for lunch?
Or what did you buy? They would, I think this natural way of starting conversations is a little bit lost right now.
So I actually am trying to push myself a bit to do this.
So just sharing random thoughts, and I've had very mixed responses with this, but I am plowing on because I think it's the right thing to do.
Because I would do it in, I would do exactly the same thing in a very different way.
And I think it's so important to be able to get to know your colleagues, who they are as people, not just as professionals, as okay, what are you working on today?
That's interesting. Um, so sometimes it's even asking these unfortunate, slightly forced questions, just to get a conversation going that that for me works.
But it works more on a one to one level, rather than on a team level. And a team level.
Yeah, absolutely. No, I totally agree. And, you know, I hope someday we can all like, be together, because I really do think, you know, working with colleagues, like it not only makes us better workers, it makes us better people, right?
And, and learning from each other. And so that's, you know, something that I really miss.
And I'm gonna try to be more intentional, you know, as we remain until we as we remain virtual.
Yeah, to really get to know my colleagues, personally, as well.
I think it's super important. Yeah, yeah. Actually, I'm going to make a mental note.
And I'm going to do that. In my next meeting, I'm going to ask personal questions to people that I speak to.
So if, if anybody's watching, please be aware.
Be prepared. Because yeah, it's, it's how we create better connections.
I'm really, really excited, actually, about going back to the office whenever that will be, it's okay.
But I can I can share a little story because last year, after after I started, when when it was still allowed to actually see other people outside, we organized this mini picnic with with new colleagues.
And actually, we had somebody who, who was an intern at the time.
And they were saying that they are so so disappointed that their their first internship experience has been so great professionally.
But from a social perspective, it was so strange, nothing could have prepared him for that.
And now I realize it's been a year since I've been doing this, right.
So it takes a little bit of strength and maybe just a bit more patience until until we can get the flexibility back.
Right. Yeah. So Crystal, we have about a minute, a minute or so left.
Is there anything else that you would like to share? Or something you want to ask me?
Yeah, I'd like to ask you what was what is your choose to challenge for this?
Yeah, my choose to challenge is actually very similar to yours. I'm actually intentionally trying to push myself to improve the way that so not to improve, but to build a better network and speak up more about what I noticed.
So I read a lot about, about diversity and about gender inequality.
And I feel that I should share a bit more of that.
So one action I am taking, I am positively responding to requests of people who want to talk to me, people who don't know me necessarily, but who might want to talk about what is life at Cloudflare, what is my role, what is everything, and specifically supporting other, other people who, who are who are in this role.
So I'm actively putting myself out there showing, showing interest and openness.
It's something that doesn't come natural to me as a person.
But I think that there is a lot of value in in sharing the experience, but also sharing what I'm learning with it.
So that's, it's kind of choosing to challenge myself, but also by by sharing, sharing what I'm learning.
Thank you so much, Crystal.