We are Cloudflare
Meet all the people who make up the Cloudflare team from all offices, all teams, all levels, in as many languages as possible.
Hello, everyone. This is Chaat Butsunturn. I'm your host of We Are Cloudflare. And while it is Security Week at Cloudflare, it is also Women's Empowerment Month.
And I have the good fortune of being able to interview three of our members of the CSUP team.
That's Customer Support. I have with me Ruth Grigsby, and she's in our San Francisco office.
And she is the Assistant to our Head of Support, Otto. And I also have Lisa Sak.
She manages our North American CSUP team. And she's in Austin. Hello.
And Justina Wong, who is a team lead in our CSUP team in Lisbon. So we are spanning globe.
Thanks for joining, everyone. Hello, everyone. I'll start with a question.
So I'm always interested to hear a little bit more about like, okay, well, let's just start with what do you guys do?
And I'm going to just go around the horn on here.
Justina, what exactly is your role at Cloudflare? I know we're Customer Support, but exactly what do you do?
So being the Technical Support team lead, I actually grew from being a Technical Support in the beginning.
So I did go through all the training.
So I had my years of like serving a customer, helping with the tickets, any incoming calls.
And now that I have moved on to a new role, I think right now I oversee the whole support process, like and make sure that everybody is being served if they come to us to get help.
And at the same time, like we want to continue to fix our workflow to make sure that everybody is happy and we continue to learn and grow with our customers together.
So I think that's my main role.
Okay, I gotcha. And were you always, you're in Lisbon, were you always in Lisbon?
Or did you move from another office? So I was hired in the London office.
And I stayed there for a year. And then I moved to our Singapore office.
Because at the time, there's a need to have more Chinese speakers over there.
And a year ago, when we opened the Lisbon office, and here I am back to Europe.
So I've been working in three different offices. And it's fun. That is great.
I haven't been to any of those other offices. I'd love to see them. I've only seen them, you know, virtually.
Lisa, how about yourself? What's your role as a team lead?
And when did you join Cloudflare? So I joined Cloudflare in June.
And so my role itself is managing the North America support organization. So that would include tech support engineers, and leads.
And so I myself have six leads. So that would be for example, Justina, she's a lead.
So it would be like six of Justina's I would love to have six Justina's, but I do not.
No offense to my specific team.
But so yeah, and so my job is the same, a lot of what Justina does, but I do it for more people, essentially.
So it's a lot of what programs and processes do we have in place?
What do we need? How do we scale? What does that look like?
What is three years from now? What tools do we need? And then my favorite part is people development.
So I develop my leads, and then I help them develop each of their tech support engineers.
Right, the cascade. That's wonderful. Thanks.
Ruth, so you're working with Otto. What's your role in our team structure here?
So I'm Otto's executive assistant, like you mentioned. My time is split though, because I'm also the executive assistant for Janet Van Hise, the head of people.
So I split my time between the two of them. My day to day really is all about making sure their calendars run efficiently, and their days are running smoothly.
So I take whatever tasks off their plate that I can. So including the calendar management, expense reports, POs, plenty of ad hoc projects have just come up as well.
I also plan team events, which that would be a favorite of mine. I love building community and getting teams together.
And it's been a little more tricky in this virtual space, but I really enjoy doing it.
And I look forward to getting back into the office and having in -person events at some point.
And to mention, I've been at the company for six months now.
I started in September, 2020. Oh, wow.
So Lisa and Ruth started virtually. Yes. And have either of you set foot in a Cloudflare office?
Nope. Nope, not yet. I really want to. Even when I get my stuff, it was only like, here's the delivery outside.
But keep in mind, this is June of 2020.
I should say, I did see the San Jose office when I first started because I needed to go pick up a monitor, but I haven't been to my home office in San Francisco.
Well, the background you see behind me, where'd my finger go? There it is, is from our office lobby.
I'm sure some of you have seen it, but it's, yeah, it's pretty- Justina, have you been to that office?
Yeah. Actually, when I joined, so we did our orientation in San Francisco.
So all of us were there for two weeks.
And this is what you will see when you walk into the San Francisco office. On the left side is all the lava lamp and on the right side is the reception.
So it's really good to see this background.
It brings a lot of memories back. Right. Yeah.
I've seen pictures. It looks very cool. Yeah. It's a pretty neat office. Of course, when we go back, I don't think it's going to look anything like it was when we left or when I left, I should say.
So you're working with Janet and Otto.
They're pretty different people. What's it like working with each of them?
Do you have to kind of adjust your style or are they actually more similar than I know from the outside?
No, I mean, I suppose there are some adjustments, but I mean, as an EA, the day -to-day tasks are very similar.
How I'm supporting and helping each of them is very similar.
So it's really not too different. Yeah. I remember in a previous life, I was a manager for the Assembly Majority Leader of California and it was kind of a nightmare job, honestly, managing a calendar.
I couldn't imagine managing two. And I actually got published in, do you guys know David Pogue?
So he was a writer for the New York Times and he now works at Yahoo, or at least he did for a time.
He wrote this book when Twitter first came out, it was about like, everyone send me a tweet about this, that, and the other.
One of the tweets that he asked about was like, what was your worst job ever?
And mine was like scheduling, because I felt like my job was to triple book and then offer apologies to the people who didn't make the cut.
I was like, oh God, this is awful. So in your previous life, what were you doing, Ruth, before you joined the Clougher team?
So, I mean, I don't know how far back you want me to go.
In my early years, I started a family early. My husband took a job in Japan.
So I had small kids and lived in Japan for five years.
And when we got back, I was looking for a position and I just wanted to do something part-time.
So I took a role at a nearby school and did that for a bit. And then they transferred me to a full-time position at their middle school.
It's West Valley Middle School.
And I was there for a total of nine years. And I did a lot of different things there.
I mean, it was office administration. So I was working on school programs, planning out extended day and summer school programs and different events throughout the year and field trips and student cum files.
And I was even the nurse from time to time.
So like I was all over the place doing different things. Many hats.
And then from there, I moved to Symantec. I took an EA role there and I started out working in finance, supporting the real estate and FP&A leaders and did that for a few years.
And then I shifted to HR and supported the leader of HR. And the last year I was there, I went into more of a HR manager role.
And then I was there a total of eight years and then came to Cloudflare after that.
Right on. Well, glad to have you here.
Lisa, in your previous life, I mean, it was only, I guess, six months ago.
Or eight months ago. But how did you get, what were you doing?
How did you get to Cloudflare? And also, how did you get into the tech space? I'm curious about that.
Oh, gosh. I think I was born into the tech space. My mom was a computer teacher, which back then was typing on typewriters.
And so I would go into her little office and I would type on typewriters.
Then came computers. And so since she worked at a school in this district, they got computers very early on.
I think they were Apple TVs. I don't know, but that's what it feels like they were.
And so since she was the teacher, she had to install all the software and hook up all the computers.
And I just started doing it when I was younger. You were a tech support at a young age.
It led to a whole career of tech, which is one of my fun facts.
I don't know if you want me to put it or skip that. Sure. Let's do it. Lay it out.
One of the things that I did in my first career was that I managed a recording studio and I was an audio engineer for a recording studio in New York City called Platinum Sound Recording Studios.
And if anybody is familiar with the Fugees, my boss was Wyclef.
Wow. Yeah. Those years have their own probably have their own bill of stories.
But that was my fun fact is that was my first career. I was in that for about four years.
And then I realized I don't think I could do that the rest of my life.
So be in music and work 100 hours a week and be on the train at three in the morning.
And, you know, so I was I moved to audiovisual and installation and development of audiovisual.
I'm trying to even get to it, but sometimes we would do programming and set up an installation of audiovisual things.
I did that for education for a while. Then I actually got laid off the last time we went through a recession from an audiovisual company.
And so I was doing project management for them for a while and products.
And I started as their office manager and kind of moved more into installation of product.
And then I went into Apple after that.
I got laid off. And the next thing I was like, I kind of just want to work from home.
And I was like, who does that? And I don't know. Let me just kind of look like look online.
And I found Apple. And this is 2012. By the way, Apple had at home work at 2012.
I was like, this is fake. Fake.
So I applied and it was literally Apple and I did get a job and it was a part time role at that time.
But keep in mind, I was just laid off. Right. So and I did during that time I was laid off.
I started my own I.T. company, which I love, but I was bored because it was just me.
And so I started working for Apple and did that for a very long time, I think seven or eight years.
And then I worked. My last job was a director of support and for a startup.
I did that for a year. And then now I am at Kotler.
So were you in a support role at Apple, too? Yes, I was. I did.
I did a lot of support management. I did project management for them. I did. I created organizations for them or with them.
I did a lot. I was kind of all over the place at Apple.
I had a wonderful experience at Apple. They allowed me to kind of do what I wanted.
I know that sounds crazy. For about three or four years, I didn't have a team and they just put me in different places and let me run different projects.
And I had a wonderful experience there. Yeah. So but I'm here now and I'm happy.
Wow. That's great. Really interesting. Right. Justina, pre -Kotler, right?
So yeah. So you were you're so I guess it would have been pre -London then.
Were you pre-London at the time or did you move to London from some other part of the world for Kotler?
I just moved to London from France. So I don't know how far back should I start because Ruth has very similar background as Ruth.
Well, actually not very similar, but we do have a bit of overlapping things.
If I have to go far back because I started my career as a flight attendant.
So after university.
So yeah, I was a flight attendant for a few years. What airline? I was flying for Cathay Pacific.
So an airline from Hong Kong. It's really fun. You get to go around because every flight is an international flight for us.
We only have one small city.
So I did it for three years and then I moved to Japan. So Ruth, I don't know where you were in Japan.
We might have been neighbors. Yeah, I was a high school teacher there teaching English.
And then I moved to China running some programs for NGOs.
Doing speaking tours around China as well. And then I started getting into tech.
I worked for a tech company as a customer success manager.
That's when I started being exposed to different things. And I'm like, I want to fix the issue.
So instead of customer talking to me and I talk to the support team, I want to be in the support team.
And so I move and then I start doing support there.
And Cloudflare has an opening in London. And here I am in Cloudflare.
And yeah, it's not as exciting as Lisa's or Ruth's. Oh, yes, it is. Yeah, definitely.
A flight attendant. I mean, that sounds amazing. That had to have been your fun fact, Justyna.
Was that your fun fact? No, my fun fact is not. So yes, I actually did a lot of things.
I was also a bartender before in my previous life. But my fun fact is I used to be a theater actress in Hong Kong.
So I was involved in a few theater production.
It was great. So it's always fun to... Yeah. Yeah, stage. Yes.
Yeah. Wow. Okay. Well, that's also fun. Ruth, what was your fun fact? My fun fact isn't quite as exciting, but I love to bake.
I really, really love it. So I do it often on the weekends because I'm busy during the week, but it relaxes me.
During the pandemic, when we had some downtime and my kids home, we were all together, I started working more with yeast because I didn't really do that before because it was just so time-consuming.
So I got pretty good at it. I know how to make doughs.
And I did the whole sourdough thing like everybody did at the beginning of the pandemic.
Made lots of different types of bread, all sorts of things, vodka, bagels, cinnamon rolls.
Oh, bagels. All right. Those seem complicated. You have to boil them first and then bake them, I understand.
Yeah. And I also heard that there was...
I remember early in the pandemic, there was actually a flour shortage.
And I remember at least in the Bay Area, it was... It was very hard to get your hands on flour and yeast.
It was like next to impossible. A neighbor of mine actually brought some over because my husband happened to mention that I was looking for it.
So then it kept my baking going. Thank goodness. Otherwise, I would have had to stop.
Yeah. My dream is to open a dessert cafe someday. I've always wanted to do that.
So we'll see if that happens. I think when we reopen the office, we'll have to buy the roof to bake us something to eat.
I would love to. I'll bake on Sundays and bring it on Monday.
Yes. I'm going to sign up for that. I'm glad I'm in the local office.
I'll just fly in, you know? Absolutely. Yeah, I know.
So I was curious about the onboarding process. Cloudflare is a pretty...
It's a unique organization. I really appreciate what we do here at Cloudflare.
And I'm just like, you never had a chance to get into the office.
So I'm just curious about what do you look forward to getting into the office?
Or are you really enjoying working from the flexibility of working from home?
I think I don't know what I don't know yet.
Yeah, right. Sorry, go ahead, Ruth.
I was going to say that the onboarding experience was... I didn't know what to expect, but I felt like they did a fantastic job with having people come in and talk to the groups virtually and getting to know the leaders.
And they did a great job considering they had to shift to virtual so quickly.
But I do miss the office.
I miss it. I miss those face-to-face interactions with people, just that energy exchange you'd have when you're in-person with somebody.
I miss that.
Lisa was so kind to give me some work-from-home tips, though. So that's helped tremendously, getting outside and just stretching your legs and getting some fresh air.
But I really look forward to getting back to the office. Right.
Is there something, Justyna, that you... I mean, one, you've been in three Cloudflare offices.
So I don't even know which one to ask you, which one do you miss?
Which one do you miss most, I guess, of all three? But they all have their good things, you know?
I think... Well, the other fun fact, I guess now, so every time I move to a new office or every time I start in a new office, by the end of my terms, we are moving to a new office, because we grow too big that we need a new space.
So I started in London in our old office, which is actually fun. So we have two floors and support is in the little loft.
So you have to go outside, go to the staircase, to go to the little support corner.
And we have our own little space. And I remember the first day I go to the office, they walk you around with a little orientation.
And when we go to that support room, no one is talking. And I'm like, oh, no, my team doesn't talk.
Okay. But actually, it turns out everybody is talking, but just virtually in a chat room and things like that.
Yeah. And I think in the end, we moved to the current office now, like in County Hall.
So you get to see the London Eye from a part of the office, which is like a very nice view.
And you can also watch the New Year's Eve fireworks from the office.
Oh, yeah. Right.
I can't wait till we go back to the office and we have fireworks again. I'm going to sign up to join that office party.
And same for Singapore. So like we used to be in a shared office space in the beginning.
We were relatively small. But by the end, we moved to a huge office space.
We have double the size. And it was a 35th floor of a building in the middle of Singapore.
And you get to see the whole Chinatown in your eyes.
Wow. The Lisbon office, I haven't used it yet. Oh, really? Okay.
I haven't been able to visit it yet. But I heard it has a very nice view. And you could overlook the whole city centre of Lisbon.
You can also see the castle and the pier in the office balcony.
So I can't wait till we go and try it. I know. So I was curious also, here we are in Women's Empowerment Month.
And technology has been traditionally a space that seems to be dominated by men.
But Cloudflare, I mean, two things I would say about Cloudflare.
One is, I feel like we've really made a really great, strong effort to bring in women of tech into the company.
And yet also, Cloudflare is a very technical product, a very technical space.
So I wanted to, Lisa and Justina, what's your observation about your experience as a woman in tech?
And what was it like transitioning into Cloudflare where, I mean, I don't know if your previous experiences were similarly as technical as they are now, or how does that play into your experience of transitioning into Cloudflare and also just being a woman in the tech space?
Oh, sure. It's complicated in that sometimes I feel like you do a little bit more to be taken seriously, as seriously as perhaps there appears.
And I'm not saying it's all like this. And I'm not even saying Cloudflare is like this, but just generally how it feels to kind of be a woman and the challenges that you may go through.
Yeah. And so it's proving that you have the knowledge.
And I think sometimes that means feeling like you have to run twice as fast and push two times as hard to get there.
But I think it makes you stronger in a lot of ways.
So that's okay. As far as getting to Cloudflare, you know, with Apple, I did all levels of technicality, but we probably didn't get this far into things.
For example, we would get into networking, but we wouldn't get so far into networking that we would get close to the ISP, too far into the close to the ISP.
You see what I'm saying? So we would have our limitations, but it was a lot of software and a lot of hardware.
And I did enjoy the technicality of it.
I started, in fact, at Apple, just doing what Justyna did. So I was doing regular support tickets, right?
And I love the technicality of it. But the challenge I feel like that I face now is, and it's regardless of Cloudflare or not, it is the industry's lack of females.
It is, it plagues me day and night. I wake up in the sweats.
I'm not going to hit my, you know, I'm not going to hit my diversity numbers or, you know, the hard, true facts that, you know, the people are lost in COVID, right?
People are lost in COVID. When we're lost in COVID, we're running path forward programs, which allows us to, at least we can do this in the United States so far, it allows us to bring somebody in that has not been in the workforce for a couple of years.
So, to help bridge that gap. But yeah, it's, that is the hardest part, is getting enough female voices in that you start to create enough of leadership to be able to grow more females into those leadership roles.
So we're still very, very, very scarce in CSEP, in leadership and in females, just in general.
So. Well, how lucky am I to have two of them on my show right now? We got to find them.
We got to find them all. Right. Yeah. On the hunt. So if anybody knows anything, you know, we have, I do my hiring manager stuff and I email it out.
So if you're listening to this and you know somebody that could be a tech support engineer for Cloudflare, you send them to us.
Reach out, please. How about you, Justina?
What's your take on that? And just to do a little time check, we got about three minutes.
So, you know, a couple of minutes. I'll make sure I only spend one minute then.
I think I'm very lucky because like when I started being a very technical role, it is with Cloudflare already.
And in this company, we are very encouraging to have like inclusiveness.
Like when we do hiring, we will make sure that we are hiring everybody who is willing to learn, not just based on the gender.
So in a way, I feel like being a female or not doesn't really matter as long as you're willing to learn and you're interested in the technology.
So for me, I'm very lucky since I joined the company.
I have been given a lot of opportunity to try different things, to learn different things.
And there's a lot of like support from the company as well.
Like there's like extra woman flair going on to create a community for everybody who might need like extra help or like they need more guidelines.
And so far, it's been great. I mean, we have been hiring in Lisbon last year and we have over 40% of our team is female.
So we're going to keep throwing in that.
And I guess like my own background too, like I said, like I started as a flight attendant, right?
Like as a hiring manager right now, when I look at someone's resume, like, oh, they're in the aviation industry too.
And if they show interest and they are already interested in any technology or the Internet space and security, they could be a part of us.
And yeah, so that's how I see it. Yeah. I'm also glad you mentioned Women Flair.
For those who aren't aware, Cloudflare does have a number of employee resource groups and that logo in the corner of Ruth and just, there it is.
Thank you. All right. Yeah. Those are- Mine will be on my face if I try that.
That's the badge. You are Women Flair. Yeah. Right. Yeah. And it's great to have those ERG groups to help support and provide a space for support, for advocates, for allies as well.
And I think Cloudflare, that's something that we've done pretty well.
Well, in the last minute, I just want to say, what are you looking forward to most for the return to normal or to the office in like 10 seconds?
Let me start with you, Ruth. What are you looking forward to most besides bringing me bagels?
I'm in the local office, so I'm very lucky to have you in the local office.
It's what I said earlier. It's that face-to-face interactions with folks and just getting to meet cross-functional people too.
Yeah. That's what I'm looking forward to.
I'm going to say the same. And plus I get to ride the train, the train or the whatever we got here in Austin.
But yeah, genuinely, it's just getting to meet people in person.
It's a very different vibe and experience.
Justina? Totally. And well, the people and the snacks in the office.
Oh, man. I heard they're good. Yeah. The chips, the chocolate, everything.
Yeah. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new office is going to look like.
What does it look in the aftertimes? But with that, I have five seconds left to thank my guests, Ruth, Lisa, and Justina.
This is chat with We Are Cloudflare.
Thank you so much for joining, everyone. Thank you. Thank you.