Logins: The Last 4 of Your SSN
Sam Rhea hosts a casual fireside chat with Cloudflare's Emily Hancock and Kari Linder to learn how their careers got started — and where their newfound access took them.
Hello, welcome, everyone. This program is called Logins, and this is the first episode of that program.
Here at Logins, what we're doing is we're listening to the stories of someone's first experience giving, being given trust to log into a particular system, but really that's just a conceit for understanding the career journeys of some of our guests.
Today we have Emily Hancock and Kari Linder, two members of the Cloudflare team, and Emily and Kari, thank you so much for being here.
I'm so excited to hear about your stories and your careers and the journeys that led you here on Cloudflare TV today, so thank you so much for your time.
Thanks for inviting us.
In Logins, we kind of start at the beginning, so I think Emily will chat for the first 15 minutes here and Kari for the second 15 minutes, but Emily, I would love just to hear kind of in your words if you can introduce yourself and your role here at Cloudflare.
Sure, I'm Emily Hancock. I'm the data protection officer and I head up the product, privacy, and intellectual property team within the legal department.
Fantastic, and going back before Cloudflare, back in time a bit, what was your first job, like before you were in this role?
Yeah, well we had to go way back for that, but my first job was actually kind of right out of high school.
I worked in a department of motor vehicles office in my hometown, and you know, it's quite the interesting experience in customer service, I'll tell you that.
What did you do there at the DMV? What did that look like?
I helped process automobile titles, so you know, the piece of paper that you have to have that shows that you own the car, that's, I process those for people.
And were people pretty friendly to come and have their title processed, or was this kind of a long day job?
What was that like? Yeah, I know, people were pretty friendly, but you realize how, you know, how dependent they are on you, and you can see why sometimes the clerks at these offices get a little bit of a bad reputation for customer service, because people are not always super nice, even though they need something from you.
And so there's that pressure to always really try to be friendly, and responsive, and good customer service, even though people are just annoyed that they have to be there, and that they have to talk to you in the first place.
And I, the next question I have for you, I think, probably at the DMV, this was very important, but do you remember the first job where you had to log into a system of some sort?
So the first time I had to probably log into a system was when I had my first job at a law firm, because my jobs before that, so this is embarrassing to admit, but my jobs before that, I'm old enough that they, I used computers that were not connected to the Internet.
So they were these internal systems that you basically just had to enter your name in, and that's how you would get in.
And I don't remember having, like, any kind of special credentials that I needed.
And then when I got to my first law firm, then it was a more interconnected system, and they locked it down a lot more.
But at that point, it was still just a username and a password.
And was it, though, kind of exciting, scary, intimidating?
Like, now you, what were you able to connect to? Like, what were you, what did you have access to that you didn't before?
Not a lot. I mean, they, they, the law firms at least kind of lock things down, so that you don't have access to everything, right?
Because then you're, you're getting access to a lot of attorney -client provision information, and matters that you may not necessarily be working on.
So they did a good job of segmenting things. And, and then prior to that, I was a newspaper reporter.
And at that, you had access to, like, everybody's articles that they were writing, and you had access to all kinds of different things.
So, so it definitely depended, I think, on the transition from the pre-Internet world to the now you're on the Internet, now you're on connected systems.
And once you're on connected systems, the idea of, like, locking things down, and making sure there's more security, and kind of, like, firewalls around things, got to be a lot more important.
And what, what took you from the newsroom to a law office? I decided I was not a very good reporter.
I was a newspaper reporter, and I really did not like going up to strangers and asking them about bad things that happened, and said, how do you feel now that this bad thing happened?
So that and, and I think maybe I'd always thought I would probably end up going to law school.
But yeah, I think the two things kind of combined.
And it's, you know, why not go three more years of debt, and, you know, just rack that up and go to law school.
And when, when you arrived at that law office, you said it was just username and password, did you have to use 2FA, or when, when did that enter the picture?
No, the first time I ended up using Two Factor, so my first job after, I worked at two different law firms, and then I went to work at Yahoo.
And I think it was when I got to Yahoo that I first got one of those RSA tokens.
And, you know, so like those old physical things that you had to put on your keyring and carry around with you to access the VPN.
So that was, that was my first experience with Two Factor that I can remember.
I don't remember having that at the law firm, but at Yahoo, for sure, we did.
And what was that experience like at Yahoo? Not just RSA tokens, but working there as counsel?
Yeah, I started at Yahoo when Yahoo was still, I think, fairly competitive with Google.
And then as I was there, you know, Google started to surpass, so that turned into a little bit of a different experience.
But when I was at Yahoo, I mean, one of the things that, that I ended up, that I worked on, I was the lawyer who advised the team that responded to law enforcement requests.
And so in order to do that, you've got a team of people who by necessity ended up having to have access to a lot of information.
And if you think about, you know, Yahoo and email and the kind of services Yahoo provided, a lot of it was really sensitive information to people.
And I think that, that was my first, when it really kind of hit me in the gut about just how much, how much power the tech companies can have, and how much information the tech companies can have, and how really important it is for the employees at those companies to realize the, the access that they may have to, to realize that they shouldn't have as much access as, you know, like not everybody should have the same amount of access there.
And that you have to really respect the data that you have access to.
And so like, I think that was, that was a really interesting eye opening experience and taught me a lot about respect for people's information.
What, what do you think all of us here in this segment and watching this segment should, should learn from that?
Like, what, what, what did it teach you that we should take away?
Yeah, well, I'm a privacy lawyer.
So there's also layers of things that I think about when I think about accessing data.
But I mean, I think the biggest thing is to never forget, and it depends on where you're working, but to never forget that the data that you're dealing with involves somebody's life, right?
And to varying degrees, and, and, you know, Cloudflare, I don't think we deal with that quite as much as someplace like a Yahoo or Google, but you are dealing with somebody's life information.
And if they lose access to it, that can be devastating.
If it gets leaked, that can be devastating.
You know, if you have, you know, if you have like a bad employee who decides they want to do something with the data, like these, these can have a really big impact.
So you might be working away at your desk and, you know, dealing with a lot of different data and not, not really thinking about the people connected to that data.
But if you stop and think about the people, and you kind of realize, wow, like I actually have access to a lot of information.
I think making sure that people at the tech companies are, are really well trained on what that access means, how to lock that access down, how to treat the data with respect, how to minimize the data at all times.
I think those are, are core lessons that anybody at any tech company should really take with them.
I think at Cloudflare, we're in a very different position than a lot of these other companies are, but, and, and, you know, but that's why we have like the, the privacy training that we've all done, and a number of other programs that we have in place to make sure that we're locking down access and, and training people on how to deal with data.
And kind of speaking to Cloudflare a bit, what, what brought you to Cloudflare?
How did, how did that begin?
Yeah, so I was, I was at some event when I worked at my last company, and I met Michelle Datlin there, and, you know, didn't really know anything about Cloudflare or her, but I just found her very impressive in the way she was talking about the Internet and security on the Internet.
And I also at the time, I think her oldest child was, was kind of there on the same, same age as my youngest child.
And so I was just super impressed with the fact that this woman was incredibly impressive founding a company and also raising a toddler at the same time.
And, and so I, I, I went back and kind of researched Cloudflare and started to look into it.
And I had to really study to figure out what Cloudflare did at that time.
And I'm still sometimes feeling like I have to study a lot to figure out exactly what Cloudflare does.
But once I kind of learned about it, I was like, you know, I felt like the mission of the company was really important.
And I think for me, it's been hard.
Sometimes it's hard to find jobs in the Valley as a privacy lawyer where you can work at a place that really values privacy and security of data.
So Cloudflare's mission and posture about data really, really kind of struck me and hit home.
And then I kind of followed Cloudflare on and off for a few years.
And then our general counsel was a friend of mine from my first law firm.
It was basically both of us worked at the same law firm, right out of law school.
I went to different law schools. And so he moved out here to take the job as general counsel.
And we kind of connected and kept talking. And then at some point, he said that they needed, you know, Cloudflare needed a data protection officer.
And I kind of said, please, I would love to do that. And so I really jumped at the opportunity and it worked out really well.
And yeah, so here I am. Fantastic.
We're glad you're here. Yeah, me too. Like you mentioned, a lot of what we work, what we do, we put security first and the trust that customers place on us first.
And to do that, we use a few internal systems to keep things safe. Do you, and I say this, that we're pretty transparent about how we dog food, kind of the processes we have in place, including how we reach internal tools.
Do you remember the first time you went through that experience at Cloudflare?
So I was thinking about that.
And I don't know if I totally do, because I think, first of all, I don't think that product teams totally think of the legal team as a great place to have people dog food technology.
I'm not sure the lawyers are the people you want to have testing everything.
But I guess the other thing that I was thinking of is you don't notice when something works really well, right?
When something works well, it just works.
And you can log into your systems, you can do what you need to do.
Like the SSO logins that we have at Cloudflare, it just works and it works really well.
And so it doesn't hit my radar. And again, as a lawyer, a little bit like things don't totally hit your radar unless you see problems.
And so I haven't noticed a lot of problems and things have felt pretty seamless for me.
So it's worked out pretty well.
I've got one question before we hear from Carrie. From the DMV all the way to this role here at Cloudflare, what advice would you give to that earlier self, the one who is processing those title applications and things about your journey here to where you are today?
Well, I think my earlier self would not have understood this advice necessarily, but the advice I would give is I should have taken a coding class.
It would have helped if I had taken a few coding classes or some kind of computer science classes to get a little bit more sense of on the technical side.
And I've been fortunate at all the companies I've worked at, including Cloudflare, product managers like yourself and other engineers have been really patient and great about explaining the technology.
But I feel like it would have helped or it's not too late.
It would help if I had maybe taken some coding classes and had a little bit more of an understanding of what that entails, because then I wouldn't be the person who's like, I don't understand why it's so hard for you to program that.
What do you mean it's hard? And I would have a bit more understanding about that.
So I feel like that would be the piece of advice. Wonderful.
Well, thank you so much for sharing with us that journey. I really appreciate you being the first guest on this segment.
We're still working through kind of how to make this entertaining, but thankfully to you, it was and it was fascinating.
So I really appreciate you telling your story. Yeah, thank you. We'll keep you around for a little bit in case there's questions.
But yeah, thank you. Sounds good.
Great. Wonderful. Carrie. Hi. Hello. How are you doing? Doing pretty well.
Doing pretty well, all things considered. Well, could you introduce yourself for our audience and what you do here on the Cloudflare team?
Sure. Hi, I'm Carrie.
I'm a visual designer on the product team. So I work on a lot of sort of the visuals that you see sort of in your UI, the in-product illustrations, and a lot of the diagrams and illustrations that you see on the blog.
And those are all fantastic.
As a big fan of your work, we're very grateful for it. Thank you. Yeah.
Going kind of before Cloudflare all the way to the beginning, what was your first job?
Was it always in design? No, not at all. The first job that I had that actually felt like a job was doing research and policy for the Kauffman Foundation, which is Foundation for Education and Entrepreneurship.
If you listen to NPR, you'll hear their commercials all the time.
And I feel like that kind of changed my course a little bit because there was a lot of responsibility, but it was sort of compiling these 40-page lit reviews.
And I just found it so boring that I felt like I had to sort of shift my career path so that I could do something that was a little bit more sort of engaging.
And to pay homage to the title of the show, did you have to log into some type of system to publish those reports?
What was that like? The first time someone gave you the keys to something?
Yeah. It was a little bit nerve-wracking. I think in your first job, especially in an office setting that I wasn't used to being in, they would sort of give me the instructions and then I would be like, for sure.
And then I wouldn't exactly know what to do with the instructions.
And I didn't want to ask all the time because it feels like you're a burden or annoying.
And it feels like maybe this was something that you should have already known how to do before they gave you the job.
So I spent a lot of time Googling and trying to find answers elsewhere so that I could appear to know what I was doing to a moderate degree of success.
Did that help? It helped a little bit. I think probably my advice to that version of me would be just ask.
It's so much easier if you just ask a person that knows what they're doing.
And is that what made it less intimidating over time, just learning from others?
Yes. Yeah. I think work environments that have that kind of open line of communication so that oftentimes people will say, oh, my door's always open, just ask.
But that relationship isn't necessarily such that you feel comfortable bothering that person all the time.
And I think especially here, it's much easier to seek help when you need it.
Yeah. And do you happen to recall the first time someone gave you the keys to something that was intimidating to you beyond just not knowing how to do something, but something that spooked you having access to?
So I worked in, out of college, Moral Emotions and Trust Psychology Laboratory, and they gave me the keys to the laboratory to go in and run the experiments and analyze the data and all of that.
Like the physical keys. The physical keys.
Yeah. So I could sort of go in there whenever I needed to. And it felt like a lot of responsibility having this place that, you know, I had worked there, but there had always been sort of people that were running the show.
And then they sort of gave me the keys and they were like, all right, do all the things that you need to do.
And I think I did, but I was always somewhat paranoid. We had cameras in the room that we were conducting the experiments, but I always sort of thought that I might be on camera anywhere that I was.
So I, you know, exclusively used that computer for, you know, work that pertained to the subject at hand.
And I didn't want anyone to see me on Facebook in there. And with, from that experience in the laboratory to, you know, before that with the research group, how did you then find yourself into design?
Well, I, it's sort of interesting. I was a computer science and psychology major.
And towards the end of, you know, the progression, you can take psychology classes that kind of lean a little bit more towards design.
And, you know, I took human-centered design and interaction design on the engineering side.
And it, you know, these two areas that I found really interesting, computer science and psychology, actually came together really well in, in, you know, interaction design and user-centered design.
And I had been, you know, freelance designing for a long time.
And so it was sort of these three areas that all kind of came together in this way that I did not expect.
And I figured that after college, I would just, you know, do software engineering, which was interesting enough, but, you know, it sort of felt like homework.
And then I kind of realized that there was this whole path that was open to me, you know, in this user-centered design where you can use the research skills and you can use, you know, the visual design.
And it just sort of felt like the doors were opening up and this, you know, it's the perfect thing, even though I didn't plan it at all.
And so I'm really sort of grateful that I found my path that led me here. That's really special.
How did, how did you start, you said you were doing freelance work.
How did you start making that a career path for you? You have freelance clients that grow and then they tell their friends and then, you know, it, I think I did too much freelance design work.
I sort of wasn't all that great at, you know, saying no and making sure that my work didn't, you know, find its way into my nights and weekends and all of that.
And so it was kind of a welcome change to get into a more sort of office setting where it was, you know, you clock in at nine and then you clock out at five, and then you have all of this space where you don't have anything lingering that you have to do.
And so I was really happy to make that change.
And when did that office space become the Cloudflare office space back when we were all in the office space?
I joined Cloudflare about three and a half years ago.
And yeah, so there, there were two designers, a manager and a designer on the product team, and then a manager on the marketing team.
And then I was the other designer on the marketing team.
So it, it started out with a fairly broad set of responsibilities just because there, there weren't all that many people that were sort of contributing in this space.
And so when all of these random things came up that needed, you know, some sort of visual, we were called upon and you sort of figure it out on the fly because you have all of those programs on your computer already.
And, and I think it, it really shaped kind of the way that I interact with Cloudflare today because you get to know all of these people on all of these different teams because you don't have, you know, specific designers that cater to all of these, all of these different teams yet.
And when you were working with all those different teams, what, what made it so successful?
You've been here at Cloudflare for a long time.
You've, some of the kind of favorite ways that we present what we build to customers or I attribute to you and in the way that you share those, the visual representations of that work, what kind of made all that come together in a time when we're much smaller and learning a lot?
I think that the, the folks that I was interacting with were really excited to share their work.
And, you know, it was my first time interacting with it, but they had been working on these projects for months and months.
And so, you know, they were really happy to go into detail and help me understand and help me get kind of a better sort of foundation so that I could build up visuals that actually, you know, elevated and helped to sort of support their project.
And it was nice to have that, that sort of support because these are subjects that can be quite intimidating.
And I knew a bit about, you know, some of the things, but the sort of, you're talking with the expert in the field, you're talking with people that are, you know, writing the systems that, that underlie our whole Internet.
And so they were, I was really grateful that everyone was so willing to take the time to sit down and help me understand so that I could do my job a little bit better.
It's such a gracious experience when people are willing to kind of help all of us learn.
Absolutely. It's, it's fascinating to work here. Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of working here and speaking of visual design, you know, dogfooding is important to our, how we build things and you've represented us dogfooding in a few ways.
Do you remember dogfooding some of our products like that control access to our systems?
Yes. Yeah. As soon as I could log onto JIRA on my mobile device, it felt like magic.
It was, it was incredible. It just like, there's this whole world that opened up and, you know, in some ways it was great.
And in some ways it meant that I could access all of our things wherever I was.
And so, you know, you have to kind of redraw the, the lines that govern when you're working and when you're not working, because, you know, now your phone is a portal to the wiki.
So, but being able to, you know, not have to go find my computer, wherever it was to understand, you know, what someone was talking about was, was amazing.
And, you know, I didn't do that much to really help it get set up, but as soon as it was set up, it was magic.
Yeah. You make, I like that point a lot about having easier access to something does kind of force you to draw that line.
And is there, do you kind of delineate now that again, we're, we're, we're all working from home right now.
Do you have a good way of delineating when is work time and when isn't it's so easy to get different things?
Yeah. It took a little bit to figure all of that out. But I try to do something active.
There, there were a few months in quarantine where I didn't really move all that much.
And so now when I think that it's time to shut off and I feel like that, you know, the work is done for the day.
I try to go and do a little workout.
And it's one of those things where, you know, if you say you'll go for five minutes, then you can actually kind of get the whole thing.
It's just about kind of getting started.
But doing something active often leads to, you know, a shower and then you're, you know, in different clothes and it feels like it's kind of like a punctuation mark on the day.
And towards the beginning of quarantine, I was like, well, I'm done with my work.
I'll have a glass of wine, but that's not sustainable every day for several months as it became obvious that this was going to last for a little while.
I had to figure out a different punctuation mark to add in there.
A change in the routine. Yeah. A little change in the routine.
And I try to, I try to walk a little bit before I sit down at my computer just because I'm currently in my bedroom slash home office slash home gym.
So everything is in the same space right now.
So you gotta, you know, get out and, and not go straight from bed to office chair.
All the time. Yeah. Guilty of that as well at the beginning of all this.
I think hopefully we're all kind of finding a better routine.
Speaking of giving ourselves better advice, what advice would you give to younger Carey who's studying psychology and computer science, working in that research lab now all the way to where you are today, kind of helping, helping users understand how the Internet works?
I had no idea that this path existed.
I felt like, you know, when I was entering the professional world, there were a few tracks that felt prestigious, that felt like I could talk about them at cocktail parties and that, you know, that would be a worthwhile pursuit.
And I think, you know, that's why I figured, you know, I'll just go into software engineering because that's good enough.
And, and no offense to software engineers, that that's lovely that absolutely necessary.
It just, it wasn't, you know, the right path for me.
And had I known that you could find a footing and that you couldn't, you know, make this space for yourself and that these, these career lines are a lot more complicated as you kind of enter into the space, it's not just, you can be a doctor, you can be a lawyer, you can be an engineer.
I think that that would have alleviated a lot of the stress that I was feeling kind of early in my career, trying to pick the path that, you know, would make everyone proud.
There, there are so many different paths and they're winding in so many ways. So it, I'm so grateful that I have sort of meandered my way here.
We're grateful you are here too.
I, I, whenever I ever see a new Cleftler blog post, I look for the diagram from Carrie first, because that helps me understand what someone much, much brighter than me is, is, is conveying in that post.
Well, thank you all so much both for your time, for sharing your stories about your journeys and your career paths.
I think we've got a couple minutes. I'm going to check to see if we have any questions.
I don't think that we do. And so the last question I will ask then is in kind of one sentence, I'll give you some time to think about it.
What is your favorite thing about your day job?
Just the day in, day out of it. Anyone can raise their hand to go first.
I feel like we need the Jeopardy, the Jeopardy countdown language or the countdown music real quick while I think about my final answer.
I think mine would probably be that I get to spend so much of my day, like sitting down and understanding concepts that I don't understand yet.
You know, reading the blog and, and that work is towards a goal.
It's necessary for, for me to do my job well.
And so I feel like it's worthwhile, but, you know, in, in other circumstances, I would feel like that was sort of me time taking up, you know, I, I want to sit down and read the blog, but it's taking a break from my work.
So it's nice to have it be incorporated and sort of part of my work. Yeah.
I think that, I think the, the thing I, my, the best part of my day, and sometimes also the worst part of my day are the really thorny questions that we get, because again, like Cloudflare is not super straightforward when you're thinking about from a data privacy perspective.
And when you think about the privacy laws and the way they apply to us.
And I love getting the thorny questions because it really makes me think, I have to dig in and, and like Kerry said, like spending a lot of time doing some research doesn't sometimes feel like working, but it absolutely is.
Sometimes it's also the worst part of my day because the questions can be really hard.
But fortunately, like we have some awesome teammates who are really, really good at helping think through a lot of the issues.
And so that usually makes it better.
I'm grateful that we have you for the thorny questions and your team.
Well, thank y'all so much. I think we're out of time. Thank you everyone for watching this episode of Logins.
Y'all have a good rest of your day.
Thanks. Thank y'all. Bye.