As part of our SendGrid Spotlight Series, we’re happy to hear from Silvia Botros, SendGrid’s MySQL Database Administrator on the Operations Team.
I’ve been a member of the SendGrid family for a year and a half. In that time, the company has doubled in size and has more than tripled its email volume. Needless to say, it’s been quite a ride! I’m often asked what it’s like to be a female engineer and what it’s like to work at SendGrid, so here’s a little background on how the ride has been so far.
My Opinion Matters
My role at SendGrid is a fun, but challenging one. I’m the primary MySQL DBA on the Ops team based out of our Anaheim office. This means that I’m responsible for our MySQL databases and I’m called on to help with occasional debugging and project management.
I came to SendGrid because the startup environment was always very appealing to me. And once I interviewed at SendGrid, I knew immediately that I wanted to work here. Tim Jenkins (one of SendGrid’s co-founders) is one of the coolest guys ever—I knew after talking with him that I wanted to get back to a work environment where I had bosses who I could talk to…and who would listen.
And I’ve seen that come true in the past year and a half. You can tell your opinion openly here to everyone from Jim our CEO to our founders, Isaac, Tim, and Jose to my boss, our VP of Operations, Jon. There is no lack of transparency. My team is very good at listening and my voice is heard. I really love it here because my opinion matters.
Working in Ops can be stressful. I think that’s why there tend to be fewer women in this role, but I really enjoy it. Practically speaking, the hours are just crazy. Being the only DBA, if anything happens on the database, they call me. Sometimes you can be on pager duty on nights and weekends. If anything breaks on your shift, you don’t get a lot of sleep! So it’s easy to burn out—but not if you have the right team and the right support.
When you work these crazy hours, your team gets a lot closer and personality fit becomes really important. We have a great vibe on our team—we talk shop over architecture, deployments, and prioritization. We’re all really dedicated, so it’s hard not to talk about work. You can’t survive if you don’t have a passion for it.
I get asked a lot about what got me interested in engineering. I actually didn’t have a computer until I went to college, so I was a bit of a late bloomer—kind of like Isaac. Really, I think things just fell into place for me at school when I started studying computer science. And now I’ve found my niche and my ideal team here.
Outside of my team, SendGrid’s emphasis on health and professional development have really had an impact on me. From a health standpoint, CrossFit is huge here. Especially in the Anaheim office. It’s such a big part of my routine here, which is new for me. I’m originally from Cairo Egypt—physical activity was not really part of the mentality of the culture back home. But now, I’m comparing deadlifting numbers with my co-workers on a daily basis. It’s great that SendGrid provides us with a gym stipend, but the financial help is not what keeps me going. It’s the team support. I’m so thankful that SendGrid introduced me to it.
For professional development, I’ve also benefitted from going to Decker Communications speaker training. Every manager gets to choose someone from their team to go to training and I was recently chosen to go. Even though I don’t speak in front of groups frequently in my role, SendGrid is very equal opportunity, and wants us all to benefit from learning this skill. In general, learning new skills is really encouraged at SendGrid. Now, I use tools that I had never even heard of before SendGrid.
Overall, SendGrid has been a good fit for me—it’s home. Here I can ask questions about anything outside of DBA, I’m not pigeonholed. I’ve found the right balance here and I encourage other women who are looking for the same to look into opportunities here. If you do, you’re going to work your butt off, but you’re going to love it. The culture is awesome, the management team is awesome, you’re just going to have a great time.