How Asana helps me feel included as a Latina in Engineering Management
September 30th, 2021
I’m Denise Carolina Videtta, Engineering Manager on the Communications Team in the Workflow Pillar at Asana. I was raised in Caracas, Venezuela, where I majored in Computer Science at Universidad Simon Bolivar – Venezuela, and I have a Master’s Degree in Software Engineering from Texas State University in San Marcos.
A couple of years ago, someone presented me with the difference between diversity, inclusion, and belonging—similar concepts that manifest themselves differently. I think a paraphrasing of Verna Myers says it best: Diversity is being asked to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is dancing like no one is watching. I’ve had different experiences with each throughout my life and I’m fortunate to be in a place now where they all matter. I have a seat at the table, my voice is heard and I feel comfortable bringing the parts of myself that I need to my team, my coworkers, and leadership that allow me to thrive.
Take a look at the ways that I feel included in Asana as a woman in leadership, a mom in tech, and a Latina in engineering management.
My experience going through university as an underrepresented software engineer
Growing up as an underrepresented software engineer at a predominantly male university, I did not know what my future was going to be. I didn’t realize that being one of the few women in my class was going to set a precedent in my professional journey. When I joined the workforce, there wasn’t much difference from what I experienced during my school years, and at that point, I didn’t know how telling that was going to be.
At first, I was upset and concerned about being the only woman in the room. I’d count how many people who looked like me were in the same meetings I was. The answer was often one person, me. Over time, I realized that counting was not the right thing to do. Then, I changed my mindset and decided to look for places where I could find more people with whom I could identify with. And here I am at Asana, I’m a woman engineering manager, who is also Latina and a mom. I do feel that I’m included and that I belong here.
Why I feel I belong at Asana
As a woman in an engineering leadership position, I have a support system at work
At Asana, I’m part of a strong and active community of women. One of the wide range of onboarding supporting programs consists of onboarding buddies. I was given a woman who is a leader in engineering as an onboarding buddy. I had the best experience working with her because she shared all her tips and provided me with support while onboarding remotely. But, most importantly, she encouraged me to get outside of my comfort zone and play a more active role in the engineering manager community. She has helped me understand that I can participate as much as I want and that I have a lot of venues to be present, to be heard and to impact others.
I have external networks that I looked up after for inspiration. Now, I have similar network groups directly in Asana. We have a group called Gigabytes, for all women, transgender and gender non confirming Asanas in technical roles and it is a strong support community. Additionally, as a non-male engineering manager I have the opportunity to participate in different AMAs with company leadership as well as multiple fireside chats with industry experts that makes me feel included and gives me opportunities to learn and grow. Lastly, we also have regular social time to enjoy together and learn from each other. And, newly created circles that serve as venues for smaller sets of us to come together and support each other while learning from our own experiences and cheering each other’s accomplishments.
As a mom, I feel heard and included
I joined Asana in the middle of the working remotely era with a toddler at home. It was definitely an adventure, and I was not alone. Multiple moms at Asana had the same situation we had at home. Our daughter was not the only one who occasionally came to say hi in my Zoom meetings or who people asked about how she, and we, were doing.
Something I found unique is that we have two Slack groups that are great resources for me to feel comfortable to be part of and actively participate depending on my needs. We have an “Asana Mamas” group (exclusively for mothers) and a parents group (for everyone). There you see questions, pictures, tips, challenging experiences, cheering and welcomes and especially a lot of love and respect for families from all Asanas. Definitely, being a parent at Asana is a positive experience.
Additionally, we, as parents, bring a lot of diversity of ideas and considerations when making decisions that affect an entire organization. For instance, Asana takes parents’ experience into account for company policies like returning to office, time off, parental leaves and meeting schedules.
I’m part of an engineering organization where multiple senior leads are mothers, and there are peers and managers who are also mothers. People genuinely understand what it means to be a working mom and I have the space and support I need. I peeked at calendars and realized “child care” is a perfectly valid meeting to have, there is no hiding or judgment. When you need to take care of your loved ones or go to their activities, you can do it with no shame. There is a culture of getting things done, and building inclusive communities, while bringing yourself to work with responsibility and respect. We trust each other independently of their situations and home arrangements.
As a Latina Engineering Manager, I have a community I belong to
I’ve always been the only Latina in engineering until I joined Asana. In fact, Asana has an employee resource group (ERG), Gradient, that is specifically focused on Latinx and other multicultural backgrounds. We also have a Spanish group where we chat, laugh and share topics that bring us together. This is definitely a highlight of my experience in Asana. I used to look for that networking outside of my workplace, as there are multiple communities out there, but I have one closer now within my own organization.
I’m currently the only Latina Engineering Manager and I have a couple of Latino Engineering Manager peers. This unique position gives me the opportunity to represent my culture and bring my ideas to discussions and different forums. For instance, I’ve participated in Asana-sponsored events with our partner Techqueria like Succeeding as An Engineering Manager where I had the opportunity to share my experience as a Latina engineering manager in tech.
At Asana, Latinx people are included and recognized. Each year for Latinx Heritage Month, Asana plans a number of events to uplift and highlight the community as well as to keep on building the Latinoamerican representation and community. That had a very important role in my decision to join the company. Earlier in 2020 I was a speaker in an event organized by Techqueria, they use Asana to organize their events and it got my attention for its product and its people. I looked into it some more and joined a couple of events they sponsored. That was the key factor for me joining Asana, seeing how well aligned the culture is with my personal beliefs.
Growing a diverse Team Asana
I’m looking forward to having more Latina Engineering Managers on our Engineering team, as well as growing the Latinx community at Asana. Check out our open roles and join me here if what I’ve shared is something you care about too.