Hi everyone, my name is Hetal Shah and I lead engineering recruiting here at Handshake. Today we're kicking off a new series, "Explore Engineering," which will feature team members in different roles throughout our engineering organization. We're starting with Marta Fonda, who recently joined our University engineering team as an Engineering Manager. We are so pleased to have her join Handshake! I had a great time learning about her background during a special Q&A session with her, which you can read below.
From Spain to San Francisco
Handshake (HS): Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experience?
Marta Fonda (MF): I have always been interested in new technologies and entrepreneurship, that’s why I decided to study Computer Science and Business Administration. I worked for several companies as a Software Engineer and six years ago I achieved that goal and I came to Silicon Valley and co-founded my own startup. It was an incredible experience (it was also super tough) and I learned a lot.
After that experience, with everything I learned about management and technology, I went back to Spain and I continued working as Engineering Manager at different startups. I was not thinking about coming back to the Bay Area, but you never know what the future holds! One year later I was here again, in San Francisco, walking through the same streets.
HS: Where are you from originally, and what are your thoughts on San Francisco?
MF: I am originally from Spain and everything has changed in the last 10 years but, when I was at university, there weren’t a lot of startups in Spain nor big tech headquarters. At some point, I made the decision to set myself the goal to come to the USA and continue learning after my studies.
I have always been in love with this city, since the very first time I visited it in 2013. San Francisco is a city of freedom, tolerance, and innovation. Maybe it is because of the diversity of the city but it is an incredible place to live. Of course, there are a lot of things I don’t like, and it has changed a lot in the last few years, but the essence is still there.
Values over everything
HS: Why did you choose to join Handshake?
MF: After a few years working as Engineering Manager at different companies (mostly small startups), I needed a change. I was looking for a bigger company, but most importantly, I was looking for a value-driven company. I've worked at different companies where values were just a list of “nice-to-haves” posted on their websites. Instead, I was looking for a place where values were the core of the company and all the decisions could be made relying on those values.
In February this year, I decided to do some interviews with different companies and one of those companies was Handshake. From the very first interview with the recruiter, I fell in love with the company and the team.
HS: What was it about Handshake specifically that set it apart from other companies you were considering during your job hunt?
MF: At Handshake, we want all students to have the chance to build the career they want, no matter where they’re from or what school they attend. But not only that, our core values are amazing and they are actually driving our goals every quarter.
Diving into a distributed team
HS: How has your experience been since you started?
MF: We are a fully remote team, and although I had some experience working with remote teams, it was the first time I was doing the onboarding process completely remotely. I was shocked when I saw the level of organization this company had for the onboarding process, but I was even more surprised by the incredible amount of messages I received during my first day at Handshake welcoming me. I had never felt more welcomed to a company in my life.
I've been working at Handshake for more than a month now, and I want to be here forever. I'm learning a lot every single day and they are giving me a lot of opportunities to grow which is incredible.
Helping Handshake be its best
HS: What excites you about your work?
MF: As an Engineering Manager, I am responsible for my team. My main goal is to lead, grow, and mentor the engineers building our University-side products. I am also in charge of recruiting, mentoring, and retaining talent, so that means I am working for my team and that is amazing. This is even better when you are supported by your company and those core values.
HS: What do you feel is the most unique part of the HS work culture that sets it apart from the other places you've worked?
MF: My team is full of talented people and I am specifically proud to be in a team where both managers (the tech lead and me as Engineering Manager) are women. We work every single day to do our best and continue learning (as a team and as individuals) but one of the things I like the most about working at Handshake is the fact that the leadership team is completely transparent with us and delegate on us to do the job. They know they need to hire great diverse talent to create the best company and we are tremendously lucky to work with all these talented people.
As I mentioned before I am from Spain and I have been working for several companies from different countries. I do think my company relies on me to share everything I learned in the past and use it to make my team better and help the company to be the best.
We continue growing and I do know I want to be part of that growth and help more and more students to achieve their dream.