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Spotlight Series: Nadia Alramli, Vice President of Engineering, HubSpot

Nadia Alramli

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Nadia shares her leadership journey from being born as a Palestinian stateless refugee in Syria to becoming the VP of Engineering at HubSpot.

Nadia currently runs the marketing hub product line at HubSpot but is very much a techie – starting out her career in video games, building back-end services for the Call of Duty franchise.

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How did you land your current role? Was it planned?

It has been quite the adventure. Growing up, education was something I really valued. I was a Palestinian refugee growing up in Syria, so I didn’t take things for granted that many other people did, such as an education. I was always the kid who loved to figure out how things worked, which is why I fell in love with computers. Despite some folks thinking I should choose a more traditional career path for women in my culture, I was drawn to the magic of coding and computer science. It felt right, and I trusted that feeling, even when it meant stepping into the unknown.

Before HubSpot, I worked in the video game industry, which was as cool as it sounds! I worked on some of the world’s biggest games including Call of Duty and Crash Bandicoot. It was intense and exciting, but I learned a lot about teamwork and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible with technology.

When the opportunity at HubSpot came up, it was the culture that really pulled me in. It felt like a place where people genuinely cared for the customers and where the organisation’s leaders were determined to lift others up, while investing in each employee’s development–and I was right! I took the leap, and it’s been an incredible journey. I get to work with amazing people every day, leading engineering efforts and contributing to a company that’s making a real difference. For example, the organisation makes a conscious effort to excel in areas like ESG and DE&I.

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise?

Early in my career, I hit a crossroads – continue as a senior software engineer, diving deeper into coding, or step into management, guiding others to unlock their potential. My boss at the time suggested I lean into my technical prowess and become an architect, hinting that management might waste my skills. However, I chose management to stay with the team I built and I was deeply committed to the mission we set together. This choice was more about my connection to the team than the role itself, which isn’t always something I would recommend, however I followed my instincts and it paid off. Here I am today, thriving as a VP of Engineering at HubSpot, overseeing a vibrant team of over 130 engineers through four amazing engineering leaders.

This journey debunked a big myth for me that you’re either a technical expert or a born leader, but never both. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; the skills that make you great in one role–problem-solving, technical competence, leadership–are invaluable in the other. What really matters is finding joy in your work, whether that’s in the weeds of code or leading teams to success. For me, blending technical know-how with nurturing talent was the sweet spot and where I wanted my career to centre itself. It wasn’t about choosing between being an individual contributor or a manager; it was about embracing the aspects of each role that I loved the most.

Did you (or do you) have a role model in tech or business in general?

Absolutely! Yamini Rangan, CEO at HubSpot, is my guiding star in both tech and business. I’ve been lucky enough to have her as my mentor since last year and she’s nothing short of amazing. Even a one-minute conversation with Yamini can leave you inspired and ready to bring a fresh approach to your next challenge.

What are you most proud of in your career, so far?

I’ve been in the industry for almost 20 years and to this day, I genuinely LOVE what I do, which for many people, is not always true. It’s not just about the projects I’ve worked on or the titles I’ve held, but the fact the excitement and passion for the work hasn’t faded.

This doesn’t happen by luck. There have been times where I’ve felt burnt out and overwhelmed, but I always look for the silver linings in those situations and make the most of them. It’s when I remind myself of this that I’m able to get the most out of the harder moments and recapture the happiness and passion quickly.

What does an average work day look like for you?

I schedule my days in a manner that gives me balance and ensures I have the capacity to dive deep into my work. I don’t like back-to-back meetings, so I keep my calendar as open as I can and always ask whether my attendance at a meeting is truly needed, or am I being asked to attend for the sake of it. I want to make valuable contributions, as well as be fresh and engaging in every meeting I attend, but that’s not possible if I’ve overcommitted my time. That’s why I structure my days with the 30-30-40 rule: 30% meetings, 30% project work and 40% dealing with questions, prepping for upcoming meetings and general ad-hoc items.

Are there any specific skills or traits that you notice companies look for when you’re searching for roles in your field?

I can’t speak for other organisations, but I know at HubSpot we look for people who are resilient, adaptive and problem-solvers. Things don’t always go to plan, so we look for people that can not only stick to a plan but are able to analyse situations in the moment and find ways to get results when things have perhaps gone a little unexpected.

We’re big on our HEART values at HubSpot: Humble, Empathetic, Adaptable, Remarkable, Transparent. Of course we want people who fit the job description and have the experience, but above all we want leaders who can support and grow their teams, maintain high standards, and work well with others, all while keeping our customers front and centre.

Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive?

I’ve been super lucky to meet mostly supportive folks who’ve cheered me on and have really wanted the best for my personal and professional development. As always, there have also been some not-so-supportive people along the way, but they’ve made me tougher and more resilient. I’ve always managed to quickly identify who they are and distance myself as much as possible. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with people who adopt a “collaborative mindset” where everyone contributes positively, supports each other’s growth, and works together towards common goals.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

I’ve dealt with tough situations in my career that challenged me to the limits at times. When I faced these challenges they seemed like impossible obstacles that caused me a lot of stress and anxiety, but my resilience and perseverance got me through each challenge. This has helped me put things into perspective when I face new challenges. Yes, it’s hard, and yes I’ll make mistakes, but it will pass and it will get better eventually…and I’ll learn a lot in the process.

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed?

Don’t stress about ticking off every single thing on a job description before you apply. These can be aspirational and not expected to be 100% true for all applicants. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember that it’s okay not to match every requirement perfectly. Go ahead and apply anyway; you might just be the person they’re looking for!

Entering the workforce can feel like a whirlwind. It’s totally normal to feel swamped by all the meetings, deadlines, and endless notifications. But it doesn’t have to be a wild ride. When things get too much, it’s okay to hit the pause button. Take a moment to breathe, step outside, or chat with a friend. It’s about looking at the big picture and finding balance. And remember, feeling overwhelmed is just a phase; you’ve got this!

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology?

If you’re aiming high in tech, find some mentors. Look for those who are rocking it in areas where you want to get better. And just as important, make sure you’re surrounded by folks you can really trust – people who’ll give it to you straight, push you to improve, and cheer you on as you tackle new challenges.

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