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#HSonAir Employee Spotlight Series: Amanda Atwood (Recruiting)

amandaatwoodIn episode 24 we interview Amanda Atwood, Recruiter at Hearsay Social. In our discussion we explore the challenge of finding talent in this competitive market and what sets Hearsay Social apart from other companies in San Francisco. We also talk about our internship program, university recruitment, and the recent video produced by her team showing a year in the life of a new employee. To find out more about job opportunities at Hearsay Social, visit our careers page online.
Join @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr in the conversation on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.

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#HSonAir Employee Spotlight Series: Interview with Greg Kroleski of Hearsay Social

26bf7cdIn episode 17 of Hearsay Social On the Air we introduce Greg Kroleski (Product Manager, Hearsay Social, @gregkroleski) and the role he and his team play in the design and development of our enterprise solution for the financial services industry.
We also discuss how customer feedback impacts the evolution of our solution and leads to future enhancements. Join the conversation with @VictorGaxiola and @ronnykerr on Twitter using hashtag #HSonAir.
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Celebrating technical women at Facebook's Tech Women's Day #TWD

What an honor and pleasure it was to address the female software engineers, product managers, designers, and engineering management at Facebook’s fourth annual Tech Women’s Day earlier this week.
It was a walk down memory lane for both my co-panelists Diane Greene (founder and former CEO of VMware) and Leah Busque (founder and CEO of TaskRabbit, @labusque) and myself, as we shared our personal journeys through covert and overt discrimination, learning how to be heard, impostor syndrome, finding mentors and role models, and building community.

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I joined VMWare founder and former CEO Diane Greene and TaskRabbit founder and CEO Leah Busque for the “Tech Luminary Panel.”


Above, a a fireside chat with Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook, @sherylsandberg).
Below, we got #TWD hoodies & hair ties! #bestswagever.

At Hearsay Social, we are excited to welcome an engineering intern class of 60% women this year and will be hosting our own Afternoon Tea with Hearsay Social Women Engineers next month.

Seeing so many bright, talented, and passionate women emerging in the tech world gives me great hope and optimism regarding the future — I am excited and grateful to be part of the movement.

Related Posts:

Creative problem solving and the evolution of STEM education at #FortuneTech

This week Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih (@clarashih) had the special privilege of speaking at Fortune Brainstorm TECH, one of the world’s premier technology and innovation events, on the growing demand for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College) and Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social)

Fortune Brainstorm TECH 2014
Colin Bodell (CTO, Time Inc.), Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social), and John Chambers (CEO, Cisco)

Other prominent speakers at the conference included CEOs John Chambers of Cisco, Daniel Ek of Spotify, Aaron Levie of Box, Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed, and Kevin Systrom of Instagram, as well as Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman and JPMorgan Chase & Co. Vice Chairman James Lee.
On Tuesday, Clara joined John Chambers (CEO, Cisco) and Maria Klawe (President, Harvey Mudd College, @MariaKlawe) to discuss the state of STEM education in a session moderated by Colin Bodell (Chief Technology Officer, Time Inc.). See Fortune’s coverage of the panel here; our key takeaways and full video are below.

The growing demand for STEM education

Maria kicked off the session, describing how Harvey Mudd College transformed its student body from 27% females in engineering and 30% females total to, in the class of 2014, 56% females in engineering and 46% total. And that took just eight years.
Changes implemented by the college to spur that transformation were simple. The college’s recruiting materials showed 50% females, tour guides were 50% female, and today the faculty is 40% female. As Maria explained, “We just made it really clear that being a female engineer, physicist, mathematician, computer scientist—that’s normal.” Not only that, but their courses placed an emphasis on creative problem solving.
“I have yet to meet a young person who doesn’t want to be creative and who doesn’t like problem solving,” said Maria.
It’s an incredible accomplishment for Harvey Mudd but, as Cisco CEO John Chambers explained, there are still many steps until we will see changes like this globally. “K-12 is broken,” he said, and it will require major rethinking of education and identity to fix it.
“When you do a Google image search for ‘computer scientist,’ it’s all white male.” said Clara. “And that’s the societal view of it right now, so there’s an issue of identity.”
Clara spoke to her personal experience as an immigrant and women in the science and math fields. As she argued, parents, teachers, and the students themselves are responsible for cultivating a new, disrupted educational landscape where technology is not something to be intimidated by, but something to embrace.
Watch the full conversation here and see tweets from the session below:


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Going to PyCon 2014? See Hearsay Social engineer talks and join us for a beer

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 11.37.22Over the next week, developers and technologists will converge on Montreal for PyCon 2014, the largest annual gathering dedicated to the Python programming community. Once again, the Hearsay Social team is proud to be a major part of the event.
This weekend, see presentations from two Hearsay Social software engineers giving talks, and also drop by our beer bash on Saturday evening. Details here:

Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python

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WHO: Scott Lobdell, Hearsay Social software engineer (Be sure to read our special interview with Scott here.)
WHAT: This talk documents the journey of a less than conventional robotics application in which python is used as the logical controller of an autonomous 20 foot blimp. The blimp’s autopilot features, prolonged air time, large size, and smooth motion make it the ideal platform for aerial photography. Giving the blimp an onboard controller reduces the overall costs and requirements of the operation. (More details here.)
WHEN: Saturday, 5:10 p.m. – 5:40 p.m.

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Localization Revisited

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WHO: Ruchi Varshney, Hearsay Social software engineer

WHAT: Is your web app ready for a global audience? Internationalizing your codebase with gettext (bit.ly/pyconi18n) might just be the simpler part of the puzzle. It’s hard to maintain translations in a fast paced deployment environment without constant manual intervention. This talk covers tools and strategies you can adopt to automate your localization process and ensure high translation coverage. (More details here.)

WHEN: Sunday, 2:30 p.m. – 3 p.m.

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Hearsay Social’s PyCon Beer Bash

On Saturday evening at 7:00 PM, join Hearsay Social’s engineering team and other PyCon attendees for food and drinks at the Reporter Room (The Westin Montreal). Come discuss your favorite sessions from the conference and share any interesting ideas you’ve learned. Anyone attending PyCon is welcome and drinks and food are on us, so we look forward to seeing you there!
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Superhero Spotlight, PyCon Edition: Scott Lobdell

Welcome to Hearsay Social’s “Superhero Spotlight” series, in which we highlight one employee at the company that drives our engineering, customer success, marketing, sales, and operations. These are the faces of Hearsay Social!

superhero scott

For this “PyCon Edition” of the Superhero Spotlight we spoke with Hearsay Social software engineer Scott Lobdell, who is presenting at PyCon 2014 Montréal, a Python community conference, on one the coolest programming projects we’ve ever seen: Programming an Autonomous 20 Foot Blimp with Python.

Be sure to check out his session and join Hearsay Social for other activities at PyCon!

Title: Software Engineer

Time at Hearsay Social: Nearly 1 year

What did you do before coming to Hearsay Social?

I was in the Army for 5 years, so this is actually my first civilian job. Before coming here, I was a signal officer in the Army and deployed to Afghanistan once.

That’s a big shift. What attracted you to Hearsay Social?

When I went to apply for a job, I wanted to be a software engineer, so I did a shotgun blast of applying to companies. But on paper I looked like a risky hire, so most technical recruiters wouldn’t even look at me. But Hearsay Social actually took the time to interview me. Once they made an offer, I accepted.

What were the reasons you looked risky on paper?

I didn’t have any experience. I’d never been a software engineer before. I respected Hearsay Social a lot because they actually took a second to test me, essentially.

Were you programming before you went to the Army?

I was a computer science major in college at West Point, and I programmed on the side–just for fun–my entire time in the Army. Although I didn’t actually program in the Army, I was in the most technical branch of the army. Programming is what I’m passionate about.

ScottQuote4So what does your typical day look like at Hearsay Social?

When I come in the morning depends on how late I stayed the night prior. I work on something that I want to finish or something I think is cool, so I’ve stayed as late as midnight. Typical day for me is mostly programming, problem solving, working on a project–given the amount of things that there are to do, it’s always been a project of my choosing. Very rarely am I specifically told what I need to do.

What do you love the most about working here?

There are a ton of perks. Probably the best thing is that this is the smartest group of people I’ve ever worked with. I’ve made more friends here in two weeks than in the past five years. I get paid to do something that I love. I really enjoy programming, which is why I work long hours. Another unique thing is the sports we play on the side, like volleyball and a little flag football.

ScottQuote2

Is there any specific accomplishment you’re proud of from the past year?

My proudest one so far is the “suggested time to post.” [Ed. note: “Suggested time to post” is a unique feature in Hearsay Social that recommends to you the most ideal time of day to schedule your post.] It’s neat because it’s fairly subtle: all the hard work is done in the backend to ultimately deliver you a single tool tip, which I think is kind of cool. It works by leveraging all the data that Hearsay Social has already collected, doing a little analyzing, and pushing it towards the user. It’s personalized, so it’s different per user. The reason I did that was I wanted to know the answer to that question myself. It became useful to others.

ScottQuote1What’s your best advice for job seekers?

There’s a lot of value in showing initiative yourself, whether that’s maintaining your own blog or your own application. That creates value no matter what, whether it gets you hired or not.

Time for the fun questions! What’s your favorite snack?

I eat more beef jerky than anybody else here.

Scott's favorite movie
Scott’s favorite movie is a parody starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Favorite movie?

Last Action Hero. It’s an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where the whole thing is a parody to other action movies, so it’s just over-the-top ridiculousness the whole time.

Favorite color? #111

Do you have a superpower? I can fuse two hydrogen atoms to create helium.

Favorite song to DJ on the office Sonos?

Nobody likes my music, so I generally wait for everyone to leave before I start DJing, but it’s all heavy metal.

Who is your role model, and why?

I had an influential mentor in the army, who was an infantry officer with a PhD in computer science. He was committed to the idea of a warrior-scholar. He was extremely smart and one of the most athletic and strongest people I’ve ever met, and he was a badass infantry dude. He just had an unbreakable work ethic. Those are the traits I respect in the professional realm.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, learn more about what it’s like working at Hearsay Social. Oh, and check out Scott’s autonomous 20-foot blimp below. It will be making an appearance at PyCon in April.

Leading by example: Empowering the next generation of distribution managers at GAMA LAMP 2014

“Leadership requires us to take risks and risks help us become great managers.”

So said Howard Elias during his opening keynote at GAMA International’s 2014 Leadership and Management Program (LAMP) conference. As GAMA’s retiring president and CEO of Guardian Life Insurance’s Wealth Advisory Group, Howard drew on his decades of leadership experience as he addressed the event’s more than 2,700 attendees. His session focused on the important role distribution leaders have in delivering value to their clients and in keeping the industry relevant to future generations. This was a sentiment that was shared by speakers throughout the conference.

Hearsay Social was excited to be among the event’s participants. Thank you to everyone who came to our sessions or stopped by our booth.  For those of you who weren’t able to attend, here are some of the best takeaways we discovered.

The value of transparency and trust

Robert Krumroy, founder of Identity Branding and creator and CEO of e-Relationship.com, reminded the audience that they need to build trust and foster relationships before the sales process can begin. “No one cares about your company, commodity or brand,” he said, “… you need to educate your customers. And if you’re not doing it, you have to ask who is.”

Other key points he addressed included:

  • “Stop sending drips and start sending tips.” The most effective advisors use the Internet to share financial information their clients may find useful.

  • “79% of people are more likely to buy from someone they have a connection with. You can’t set an appointment with a prospect until they have emotional safety.”

  • “Social media is not a replacement for social connection. Don’t dismiss the value of using your database to nurture relationships over time.”

Getting down at the Denim & Diamonds Bash
From left to right: Jean Paul LaBelle (Strategic Account Executive, Hearsay Social, @jplabelle), Bonnie Godsman (Vice President, Corporate Relations, GAMA), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social, @clarashih), Gary Liu (Vice President, Marketing, Hearsay Social, @garycliu) and Shawn Davis (Senior Vice President, Transamerica, @shawncdavis).

How social media and big data are transforming distribution

Next on the stage was Clara Shih, Hearsay Social’s CEO and Founder. In her session, Clara discussed how social media and big data are helping financial services firms address the challenges of the evolving industry.

“People don’t want to buy from institutions,” Clara said, “they want to buy from people they know.” Customers share over 1 billion buying signals each day and advisors who have insight into “three or more life events” are more productive, see an average of a 10% increase in sales and are more likely to get customer referrals.

Clara Shih at GAMA LAMP 2014
Establishing trust and relevancy have never been more important for financial services firms. “Social media is a key way consumers validate their purchasing decisions,” said Clara. “But consumers across all generations still prefer to engage with trusted advisors face-to-face. Today’s technologies should enhance your producers activity. Help them become more successful by encouraging them to tie their digital activities to their real world channels.”

The dawn of the superhuman advisor

In a special Leaders of Tomorrow and Today (LOTT) session, Jason Suen, Hearsay Social’s Director of Customer Success, was joined by Eileen Forrest, Head of Sales Support, AXA Advisors & President, AXA Network, Robert Keorkunian, Regional Director at Modern Woodmen of America, and Desi Doise, State Manager at Woodmen of the World. Their session focused on key tactics financial services firms could implement to drive social business success.

Not surprisingly, compliance was initially a key concern for each of the panelists and their firms. “We started our social media program three years ago as a pilot with a focus on compliance,” said Eileen. “Hearsay Social made it possible to use social media as a marketing program,” a transition that was echoed by the other panelists. As their firms began to embrace digital channels, social media training and access was offered to more and more producers in the field.

Other key takeaways included:

  • Top social networks: “Facebook and LinkedIn are the ones we use the most,” said Robert. Desi agreed. “We use LinkedIn a lot for recruiting,” he said. “By the time we speak with candidates, they already know something about our firm.”

  • Digital replaces other forms of advertising: “We’ve gone from Yellow Pages and mailers, to social where it’s all about giving our clients and prospects quick access to information,” said Robert.

  • Provide social media access and training: “We’ve rolled out our social business program to all of our advisors,” said Eileen. “But before getting access, they need to go through a three-part compliance training program. We also offer a weekly opt-in social media class that covers a variety of topics.”

  • Know your audience: To use social media effectively, advisors need to strike a balance between business, educational and fun content. “We encourage our advisors to share different types of content,” said Eileen. “There should be a 5:1 ratio of fun to business posts,” agreed Robert. “Keep your posts to a schedule and 3-5 posts per week is a good number to shoot for.”

Recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent

The issues of the aging advisor workforce, and challenges of recruiting (and retaining) new talent were discussed throughout the conference. In our next post, we’ll share the best advice we heard for attracting millennial candidates, effective recruiting strategies and empowering new advisors to be successful from day one.

Superhero Spotlight: Akshay Shah

This is our second installment in Hearsay Social’s “Superhero Spotlight” series, in which we highlight one employee at the company that drives our engineering, customer success, marketing, sales, and operations. These are the faces of Hearsay Social!

SHotW_Akshay_BlogTitle: Data Scientist

Time at Hearsay Social: 2 years

What did you do before coming to Hearsay Social?

I’ve been a lot of different things. I was a public school teacher for awhile. I went to med school and was an EMT for a while. When I came out here, I was a spammer at another startup for about six months–I was in the shady margins of marketing. I was doing a mix of marketing and informatics work.

That’s pretty interesting. So what eventually attracted you to Hearsay Social?

Cool data. We gather a lot of data about our clients but we’re doing it on their behalf. We have the opportunity to build really interesting products using that data.

What does your typical day look like?

Luckily, I have very, very few meetings. I think I have a grand total of three hours of meetings a week, which is pretty awesome. The engineering team as a whole shields most of us from meetings. Other than that, my day is pretty mixed. I spend a chunk of time chasing down and fixing random bugs. I spend probably half my time building user-facing features in the product, and about half my time doing data stuff, which is usually more exploratory work that hasn’t found a home in our product yet.

AkshayQuote1What do you love the most about working here?

I love that Steve is actually an equal partner in running the company, and I think that trickles down to everybody on the technical side of the business. You never really see anyone coming up to the engineering team and saying, “I need you to build this thing. Go build it.” It’s always a conversation: “Our customer is having a lot of trouble with this thing. Can we find a way to solve that problem for them?” Engineering always has a big input in what gets built, how it gets built, and how the features are designed from the very beginning. That’s certainly not the case at many companies. I think that makes this a really great place to be on the technical side of the business.

AkshayQuotes2Is there any specific accomplishment you’re proud of from the past year?

In the last two years, I more or less taught myself to be an engineer. When I got hired, I got hired into a very different role not really focused on writing code. The idea was that I was going to be more of a business analyst, but nobody had a super clear idea of what the job description was. There was some notion that I was going to do some analysis and Excel stuff and maybe write some database queries… and write code if necessary. In the last two years, I’m officially moved over to the engineering team and I’m on the team that handles site reliability. For me, that’s been a really big growth. That role could’ve gone in a bunch of different directions. It was nice that we got to choose the direction we take that in.

What’s your best advice for job seekers?

I wish somebody had told me to take a deep breath. It’s gonna be totally fine, and this is a really good time to be a technical person. I was so stressed out about finding a job that I would really enjoy. In a lot of ways, I got lucky finding this job. Programming is a lot of fun.

Time for the fun questions. What’s your favorite lunch served at Hearsay Social and your favorite snack from the kitchen?

Favorite lunch is definitely the Thai food. Favorite snack is clearly the baked cheetos. The only thing in the running are the five-pound sacks of gummi bears.

Favorite color? Orange.

Favorite movie? The Seventh Seal.

Richard_Stallman_at_Pittsburgh_University
Richard Stallman, American software freedom activist and computer programmer. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I want a prehensile tail. Think about how much easier it would be to carry three coffee cups! Cold winter day? Just wrap your tail around your neck. So many uses! If I were strong enough, I could pogo stick without a pogo stick. This has been my answer for this question since I was 19 years old.

Who is your role model, and why?

Richard Stallman. He has a bunch of really crazy ideas, but he’s the guy that made free software a thing. Our company wouldn’t exist without it.

Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, learn more about what it’s like working at Hearsay Social.

TechCrunch Founder Stories spotlights Hearsay Social's strong engineering culture

Engineers are the lifeblood of any true Silicon Valley organization. For any company with a vision of improving the world and streamlining the way business works, as Hearsay Social does by driving deeper customer relationships, great technologists and engineers are essential.
That’s why we’re so proud to see TechCrunch recognizing our strong engineering team and culture.
In the interview below, Michael Abbott (general partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, previously Twitter’s VP of Engineering) talks to Hearsay Social founder and CTO Steve Garrity about our company’s engineering culture—from its early development to the present.
What was it like starting an entirely new company after leaving one as large as Microsoft? Why does Hearsay Social regularly send engineers into the field to speak with customers and end users? How do we implement efficient processes to make the most of each engineers’ time?
Steve details answers to these questions and more in the interview. And remember, Hearsay Social is always hiring the best engineers, so get in touch!