Women's Empowerment Month: Career Paths to Cloudflare
Part of ensuring equity in the workplace involves creating a vision for what success and professional development could look like.
Join Nayla Raad, Senior Manager of Customer Success at Cloudflare, as she chats about the professional (and sometimes personal) journeys of some of Cloudflare's rockstar women, their approaches to their own career development, and what it's like to work at Cloudflare.
Hello Cloudflare TV and happy Women's Empowerment Month. My name is Nayla Raad and I am the Senior Manager of Customer Success here at Cloudflare.
I really wanted to focus today on how we can ensure equity in the workplace.
This is a huge focus for Women's Empowerment Month this year and what we're really thinking about is how do we create a vision for success for women both at Cloudflare but more broadly as well and I think a huge part of that is creating a path and an idea of what professional development really could look like.
So the art of the possible in terms of professional growth and development.
I'm really excited about this opportunity because I get to chat with a few women from across Cloudflare about their professional journeys and their personal journeys in some cases and really their approach to career development both outside and in Cloudflare and also what it's like to work here.
So with that we jump right in here. If you do have any questions you can submit them.
You can email us live studio at Cloudflare TV and you can find the banner right below this video and so with that I'm going to pass it to our guests.
Talea I'm going to start with you. I would love it if you could introduce yourself, name, what's your title and what does your title do at Cloudflare?
Awesome thanks so much Naila. So I'm Talea. I work on our Customer Success Programs team.
I am a Customer Success Programs Manager at Cloudflare and what our team focuses on is a variety of things.
We do enablement on our team. We find and put together tools for customer success so that we can deliver amazing experiences to our customers and everything that we do is kind of aligned towards that and making sure that we're supporting that team and so I specifically work on a set of programs in support of that kind of vision.
Fantastic thank you. Rajdeep I'm going to turn it to you next.
Okay so hi thank you for the introduction Naila.
I'm Rajdeep. I work at DataDiv in Cloudflare London. My main focus is to handle the entire data that comes at the Cloudflare edges and we make sure that we deliver the analytics to our customers.
We provide them with a dashboard and the accurate results as much as we can.
I'm really enthusiastic about working in data team because we deal with a huge amount of data and because Cloudflare experiences the like enormous traffic and that is really incredible to see it live with your own hands so it is really interesting to see in like data team what we do over there.
I love it and Rajdeep what's your formal title here at Cloudflare? So I work as a system engineer here and yeah and we immediately handle this like the architecture or for the analytics right now.
Incredible and tell me a little I loved chatting with you about how you ended up at Cloudflare and what your experience was like when you first started here.
So tell us a little bit about your path to Cloudflare.
How did you make it here? Oh my one is actually a little funny actually.
What happened I was like looking I just randomly got a call from my manager one day and we were chatting and the conversation was so amazing.
I mean after a while I think I just had this like I think I just had this dynamic of the conversation you know what that became like more less of an interview and more of a conversation and like it started with one call then I had like one test and that test was not also like a typical interview question.
The test was really it was something it was not like asking you to test you.
The test was only about how you think how you're going to like approach the problem at Cloudflare because I think what I have understood with the Cloudflare interview process is we just want to see how people work with us.
So I think that has been really amazing and then I've been asked to come for the on-site interview and that was really amazing.
I think the entire day I have just spent just discussing not I just never felt it was an interview and I think that actually made me decide you know like really I really want to work with these people.
I really want to work at this place because I think I can do better here so that's my story.
And for the first time I think I met somebody I think my final round was with Jen Taylor and I was so excited to meet her and so inspired by her in the final round so that became my choice.
I love it and when you were describing to me just kind of how inspired you were by the impact that you're able to have across the business I thought that was it's really incredible to be in a role where you feel like you have an impact not just on your co-workers or your broader team but really globally and that's the kind of work that you do for us at Cloudflare.
Yeah I think I'm really fortunate that it ended up someplace like that who has actually direct impact like you know what the customer is somewhere like he's just like he's like he's accessing something on his website we could directly see and like we can directly provide them analytics and then we can directly like provide them with like if there is some issue we can directly help them that in a in a really short span of time.
I think that is really amazing to see like whatever happening in the world like it's really inspiring.
I love that.
Talia you have somewhat of a mixed bag of incredible skills that have come together in your program manager role.
I think your professional history as well as kind of the volunteer work you do all are incredibly applicable and and contribute to building the robust skill set you need to be able to manage the complexity of the programs that you're managing on a regular basis.
Can you walk us through a little bit about your professional career to date and and how you ended up at Cloudflare?
Yeah so I feel like this is going to be a bit of a long -winded answer but back in 2014 I just graduated and the looking for my first job and I joined this company a really like real small startup like it was less than 10 people and there was a few of us you know just working and you know I started there did marketing for a little while but to tell you the truth I really didn't like it.
Being in that kind of really small environment you know it's really stressful and it I just you have to like really believe in like what you're doing if you're gonna work for that small of a company and like try to get something off the ground which you know at the time I didn't realize right like you're young you just graduate and so trying to figure things out and the reason I stayed for for as long as I did I was there for about I think 10 months total is we started we got into a startup accelerator program in the city and we did 500 startups and what I learned through that whole entire experience was what I wanted out of a company and what I wanted to do with my career when I was looking to you kind of kick things off and get my hands dirty and get in the weeds and it was somewhere that was big enough so that there was going to be someone to guide me someone to navigate someone to teach me and for me to lean on but somewhere small enough where I could still kind of you know find things that I was really passionate about and really interested in and make an impact and just kind of help do new things because from from my perspective all I wanted to do was learn I just really wanted to learn how to do new things gain new skills and that was uh and I got that when I was looking for you know different companies I did a ton of research and so knowing that's that that's exactly what I wanted to do I looked up I started getting creative and so one of the you know ways I researched was I think I looked up who won the crunchies that year like the tech crunch awards um I don't think they do them anymore and I saw Klappler on the list and I'm like well this is a company I've never heard of and I went and I looked um you know and a ton of people were telling me at the time make sure you use your connections network I just applied cold like and one month later I had something in my inbox it was like do you can you come in for um you know uh an interview so I went through that whole process and and the more I learned it's like this is exactly the environment I want to be in it's a hard problem we're trying to solve um it's something big you know it's not something small everyone uses the Internet everyone interacts the Internet we are in such a strong position to make you know impact all over the place um however kind of and being able to shape that future was so interesting to me um and I think the the last interview um like bridge deep was just saying uh we we all kind of interview with an executive at the end um at that time everyone still did their final interview with Matthew and I think at the time I was so sick of hearing we're looking for the smartest people we're looking for the smartest people I'm like what does that mean like you know the people are smart in like so many different ways you can be clever you can be book smart you can be street smart like so the answer I asked Matthew what he was looking for and he said we're looking for people who are curious and we're looking for people who are empathetic um and he said if you have empathy and you can put yourself in someone else's shoes and if you're curious um you know you will do well here because we trust that you'll dig in uh and figure things out and that really resonated with me and it was such a unique answer that I hadn't heard at the time and I was like okay I'm sold like um so I came here and I don't think I ever lost that spirit like I really truly wanted to learn as much as I could and watching this company grow over the past six years and setting up the new foundation to go in the next phase of what we were trying to accomplish in the next phase was so interesting and I got exactly what I wanted at the time um I think I had done I started in business development and shortly after moved to customer success um we didn't have a programs team at the time but we had a lot of different programs and projects and initiatives that we were trying to you know do I volunteered for anything and everything that I could um and it was so fun because um I got to work on you know customer communications about different things that were going on um our first uh I got to work you know really collaboratively with marketing on like case studies and that kind of thing and um uh prop like I got to work on different projects with uh product and um you know I got to work on some of my own ideas too so it's uh that's kind of been how I ended up um you know doing programs but um I Naila I know you mentioned um you know the my non-profit experience too so you know at night and on my weekends I uh you know spend a lot of time volunteering and I think that skill set that I learned at Cloudflare has really been able to has it really enabled me to also be impactful elsewhere um so it's been a really incredible uh career journey so far and really uh interesting.
I love that you know one thing I'm newer to the Cloudflare family but one of the things that really resonated with me uh which I think is it's fascinating to hear that this was part of your journey five plus years ago was the idea that we all have a concrete impact and also that curiosity has a natural and necessary place um I think one of the things that I consistently hear here that really inspires me is that um we want diversity of perspectives because that makes us better and I think similarly a lot of times when I chat with people about when I'm hiring for a new role on the team or I'm I'm chatting with folks that are interested in what we do um a lot of the questions I get sometimes are um what's the right candidate what do I have to do what what is the skill set that I have to bring to the table and it's a it's honestly a hard question to answer because I think that there are things that are really hard to teach it's hard to teach somebody to be curious I find that generally people uh tend to be curious or not um it's hard to teach people to care more about what you're doing they either tend to care about the cause or not whether it's tech or volunteer or anything else um and so I think there's something there that's that's just very innate to what we do here and what I always ask myself is how do how do candidates add and so what's the skill set that you can develop what's the experience that you can have that adds a dimension to our team to our company to um the impact that we're trying to have rather than what's the checklist of items that you need to make sure you have um so I love that you've got kind of that broad range of skills.
Rajdeep, I think you are very similar in that you are a woman of many uh many backgrounds and experiences in terms of just your your ability and how you really come to the role you're at today um but I am curious to flip this on you and say what's been most surprising to you about being at Cloudflare?
I think the most amazing thing is when you see the when you work with the people around you I think that is like first the scale and the second the people I think both can be the dates again because when I started working here the scale is the first thing that you know like oh my god the scale was like I was working on the like a like a task few few I think few months back and that actually gave me the depth that amount of the data that we deal with amount of the request we deal with and how many people are just reliable on us and that makes me really like it makes you more curious it makes you more alert it makes you more like it makes you want to do more than you like want more to think for in a broader manner like you know what there are so many people who are relying on you for the accurate numbers for the for their availability so I think that is the one thing that hit me really hard after I think I it it it resonated with me in after a couple of months because I think while I was busy onboarding I was learning and then I finally got oh my god this is what I'm doing and this sending so many things and it's like it's so amazing and the second thing I would say I think I think my team actually I think I'm really incredibly lucky that I have like I'm surrounded by so many amazing people like somebody who's like so much experience this was like been programming since so long I mean his stories his experience and along with everything is warm like the way he's like still he's curious and in spite of being so young people are so like eager to like listen your views and they are so eager to you know what optimize and they're so like helpful to each other like somebody who has like quote contributed in golang somebody who's like so has so much knowledge and the protocols and in spite of having this type of knowledge and this type of experience and they are always ready for the optimization somebody's writing like rewriting the definite like the classical Kafka libraries and that's being used and it's really incredible how the way we are changing the way we process the way world process the data and the way we are actually like the way and for example ABR and I think the way we are pointing the three accurate numbers and it's really amazing to deal and give as accurate as data points to the users and as soon as we can so I think that is really amazing that what we do and that is really inspires me every single day.
Yeah I can absolutely echo that I think the scale and and the breadth of the impact that the work we do has is definitely I sometimes I'm also I'm taken aback by it so I love that that that resonates with you.
Talia how about you what was most surprising to you about being at Cloudflare if I can ask you to remember?
Yeah I think I'm continuously you know surprised but I think two two things kind of stand out.
The first is like you know the first what I was just speaking to a few minutes ago is that you know someone let me work on all these kind of like first projects as we were you know setting them up and that was invaluable experience that you know I got to do that at a lot of other companies I can imagine that you wouldn't necessarily get the opportunity to you know work on and I think the second thing that you know has been surprised me lately is this idea of bringing your full self to work and when I say that the thing that I've been thinking about a lot lately is you know we're here doing Women's Empowerment Month and you know this is something that I actually started a year ago our Women's Employee Resource Group and our co-lead Angela came in shortly after we launched it and so we got all this stuff together for Women's Empowerment Month and it's been a truly amazing experience to be a part of and honestly we've we've pushed ourselves a lot this month to even like try new things do new experiences.
We learned how to you know be moderators this month which is something neither of us had really done before but you know working on gender equality is who I am in at work and outside of work and being able to you know bring that to the work environment is you know challenging sometimes because you're trying to balance like your day job with all this other stuff but it's amazing to also bring your passion to to work too because you know a lot a lot of what I do outside of work is you know working on gender equality and it it really is a gift.
Yeah it's it's incredible to to think that we would in any circumstance ask people to silo and I think everybody has a different level.
I always think of it in terms of a range as with most things in life where there's not really a professional and personal but it's usually a broad scale and some people prefer to be on the one end of it or another but ultimately when people are hired into a business ideally they are hired because of everything that they do that has shaped who they've become and how they've become that person.
So I think I think it's definitely it's been one of my learnings too which is like how do you actually show up at work while staying true to yourself in a professional and personal way all the time which I think is a hard thing to do.
I'm curious given that what is a piece of advice in your career that you that has set you up for success?
Holly I'll put you on the spot first. Yeah that's a really good question because I I think throughout my life I've always tended to you know take the directions that some someone puts in front of me and kind of make something out of it myself but I think the best piece of advice that I've gotten is you don't need to know how to do something just like go do it go figure it out.
Sometimes I sit there and I'm like I really want to you know do this next thing in my life and I'll I'll be reflecting on like different strategies I could take and you know how do I actually do this like is there a step-by-step process and the answer is not really.
Most of the things that people will tell you you know is just more information for you to kind of craft your own journey but it is your journey and you don't need to know how to do everything or exactly how to get there.
If someone told me that I was going to be a philosophy major in college and then go work at Cloudflare and work on business programs I probably would have told them that they didn't know what they're talking about and so you know just like don't give up on your don't and I say that as like don't give up on your passion like if you want to do something you just figure it out and you keep pushing until you know you make it and you might have to pivot a little bit along the way and it might not look exactly how you pictured it but it'll probably be even better.
I love that. Rushdeep how about you in your career what's a piece of advice that's really set you up for success?
I think oh I think persistence. I think these like the storm is every single day I need to get up with the same attitude.
I mean irrespective of like how my day was yesterday there are days are going to be worse.
There are days maybe yesterday is going to be bad tomorrow is going to be worse and day after tomorrow maybe more but then bad but there will be a day which will be a which will light up and after that you will start like seeing the bigger picture but till that day I mean you just need to keep like doing doing like just keep need to keep trying and I think the one thing that I think I have been told and I think I realized about myself is I don't leave anything until it's done.
I think I just keep on the chasing and chasing and chasing it and I think yeah if you just know where you have you want to go and you just take one small step it will eventually land you to the final step.
I think that is what I think. So persistence and taking day by day step by step.
Yeah yeah I think recently I think recently of like I we were having a discussion and a friend of mine was about like was telling you know what it has been if she's been trying to do that particular factor like particular thing from last one year and she was like just about to give up.
It's like most of the people just give up before it ends you know just like give it a more I think I might have to talk with her regularly for a month just like in the morning like just to tell her you know what let's do it let's do it and finally it happened and we were so happy.
I love that. I think you're also highlighting something that's really important which is the power of community and I think a lot about that in the context of Women's Empowerment Month and what community can do to propel people forward because I think persistence definitely there are dark days there are hard times and who you have to fall back on and how you can rally your community to be able to continue is so critical.
Along those lines what advice should people ignore?
I hear a lot of advice on a regular basis. If there was one piece of advice that you would tell people don't even listen to that what would that be Talia?
Do you have something top of mind? Yeah I think you know that it's something along the lines of and I've heard it you know several times of like you have to and maybe this is building off of what I just said but you have to like you have to follow this like a linear path to get to where you want to go which you know hasn't really been true for for me at all.
I definitely you know I feel like the one thing people can never take away from you is what you learn and what you you know do that everyone can always strip away your your title and you know various other things from you along your your career.
But I think when you know people try and kind of say like you need to do this and like you know you really wouldn't be good at doing x y z because you're so quiet or you know you need to be more you need to be like more well-spoken or you know other stuff like that.
I think that's the advice that everyone should just ignore.
Do what you think is the right thing for you to do and you will get better at it along the way as you go.
There's no like natural career for for anyone in particular.
Yeah I love that and I think there's there's something so true about those kind of blanket statements.
I always challenge folks with if you get the advice of you need to be more articulate, you need to have more of a presence, these kind of sort of abstract concepts that you could tactically break down into into smaller more concrete actionable things.
But oftentimes that's not the advice you get.
You get this big vision of something really momentous that needs to shift.
I always like to say like give me a couple concrete ways that I could help drive in that direction and then you can listen to it and say yeah that actually I think is valid or not or they can't come up with something very tactical and concrete.
It's usually a good indication for me that that's just something I probably don't want to weigh too heavily on at this point.
Totally. I'm looking at the time and I also I know we have a few minutes left here and I am super excited because you both have these these really interesting lives off screen here today.
So I want I want you to share one thing that you think everyone at Cloudflare or outside of Cloudflare might find surprising about you.
Rajeev, do you want to start? Oh I think I mean I run a lot nowadays.
I read a lot of books about human psychology. I think that is something like I really love because human mind is like something I really find it fascinating and a little bit doodled around here and there but that that's that's really pretty normal.
I love your doodles and I had the privilege of getting to see some of them and we chatted offline and preparing for today so I just want to share one of them because we can.
So can you tell us a little bit about how you were inspired to do this?
So actually this is something that my that my that that happened because of my parents.
So what whenever they're calling you know what they're saying you know you you do everything right why don't you comb your hairs and this is something really hard for me to manage like because they're like calling me really early and I'm just like gathering everything and you know I can do guys like I'm doing everything it's just like managing hairs is really hard for me.
It's not an easy task and it has been and it's right I'm a little bit lazy doing that so I think that came out of I think out of you know what I can do everything just just don't ask me I can't just like I'm handling my hairs.
I love that. So yeah how about you?
Let's bring us home here. One quick surprising thing that we don't know about you.
So I guess this is more of a fun fact from my earlier life but I actually spent 10 years of my life doing taekwondo and martial arts and I have a black belt.
That's super impressive and I want to ask so many more questions but I know we're out of time here today.
Thank you both so much it's been a privilege to get a chance to talk to you and thank you all for logging in today to watch some Cloudflare TV.