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Happiness Engineer at Automattic – Kavya Gokul

Happiness Engineer at Automattic, Kavya Gokul

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Kavya Gokul, Happiness Engineer at Automattic tells us about her role and what advice she would give to women aspiring to get into tech and how all companies should promote diversity and inclusion.

How did you first get into tech?

I was introduced to web technologies in high school, and learned ASP classic and VBScript there. At the end of school, I started discovering PHP, and by the first year of college, I and a two of my friends decided to start freelancing, and ultimately started an agency.

What was your first tech role?

You could say co-founder. My friends and I ran the agency for close to 5 years, and I had to put on many hats during those years. We all went different ways by the end of that, but that was probably the most rigorous learning experience ever.

What do you enjoy most about working at Automattic? 

I would say the culture is the best thing about working here. People are treated like people, human beings, and not nameless cogs in a machine. Every single person I’ve interacted with here has nothing but kind, friendly, and super awesome.

What does the role of “happiness engineer” involve?

Happiness Engineers are the front line in supporting our products. In my day to day work, I do live chats with customers of WordPress.com and help them get the best out of their websites. We also need to do supplementary things like reporting bugs, testing upcoming changes, giving feedback for proposed changes to the product and so on.

How would you describe Automattic’s culture? 

As I said earlier, it’s very human-centric. We’re expected to make mistakes, learn from them, try and fix, and move on with the learning. There is constant learning here, and every day is a new adventure.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to get into tech?

Do not listen to people. If you’re aspiring to get into tech, you already are in tech. Also, in the time you spend pondering whether you’re 5mm short of the job description, 5 incompetent but highly confident men have already applied for it. So apply everywhere, take every single opportunity you get, and just grab it like it’s supposed to be yours since the birth of the universe.

How do you think we can get more women into tech?

Well, we can’t fix bad parenting on a global scale at once, so the next best thing we can do is just be more visible. Little girls who are constantly told that tech is not for them need visible role models to show them what’s possible. We also need more companies to hire more women in senior roles, so that there is less friction in junior positions for newer ones. For junior roles, employers also need to start advertising in women-only groups, queer spaces, women’s colleges, etc.

How does Automattic currently promote diversity and inclusion?

Automattic makes a lot of effort to make people from various diverse backgrounds feel safe and accepted. We have Employee resource groups for LGBTQIA+ people, women, and so on. We also have internal groups to connect people together, and foster conversation. We do workshops on WooCommerce for women in various parts of the world, and we promote and sponsor WordCamps around the world. We have this scholarship for LGBTQIA+ folks to attend WordCamps

Love your work not your employer, Kavya Gokul

What is it about tech that you love?

Since childhood, I have been always interested  in breaking and making things, tinkering with electronics in the house, playing with construction/mechanical toys and so on. I would say the best thing about tech for me is the joy of making new things, and tinkering with new things that other people have made. I’ve been a moderately active open source contributor in many communities apart from WordPress as well(like GNOME, Ubuntu, etc), and there is no such thing as being able to create and change things by writing/editing just words.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?

I would say the best one is ‘love your work, not your employer’.

The reason I have stuck with Automattic for 4+ years is that I love the work I do here, and the company supports and encourages my work, as well as things I do around and outside my main core work.

What would you say is the highlight of your career so far?

I would say that the highlight of my career is when I was first introduced to Free/Open source software. I have been an avid user and advocate of Linux over the years, and I still use/contribute to Free/Open source software as and when possible. This is an area where I would like to be for the foreseeable future regardless of my main job.

Find out more about Automattic.

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