As part of Women's History Month in March, I wanted to connect with Angela Ellingsen & Su-jin Chan to learn about their journeys into the technology industry. Su-jin, Director of Development has been at Veritas for 21 years and Angela, a Distinguished Architect of the Voice of the Customer team, has been at Veritas for over 17 years come together to share their experience collaborating to improve the stability and performance of NetBackup Ushare in response to a high-profile customer escalation.
Describe your current role and responsibility at Veritas.
Su-jin Chan – I am the manager of 10 engineers for the NetBackup Appliance Performance team. I am responsible for the performance benchmark and tuning of three appliance platforms, including NBU, Flex, and Flex Scale appliances.
Angela Ellingsen – I am the Voice of the Customer (VoC) Architect, a global role that involves technical advisory, driving product evolution, socializing solution best practices, and guardrails to improve the client experience. This involves collaborating with Engineering, Product Management, Pre-Sales, Service, and Support.
What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
Su-jin Chan – After landing a three-month intern job at IBM, I was exposed to various aspects of technology and found it intriguing. Pursuing a career in technology was set at that time. Through various job assignments I found performance engineering most interesting and challenging; it is like playing a different puzzle with every new problem encountered.
Angela Ellingsen – During my university days, I was exposed to early versions of BSD (Berkley Software Definition) and SysV UNIX. It was then that I decided to focus my career in computer science, which is what it was called back in the 1980s. It was an exciting time to be involved in the evolution of operating systems, networking, systems, and storage. Then, in 1995 I was exposed to early versions of NetBackup and Storage Foundation. That’s when I knew that I wanted to work for Veritas. My goal was to learn more about operating systems, shell scripting, firewalls, general networking, and storage networking prior to starting with Veritas. I wanted to fill my proverbial toolbox with as much well-rounded experience to complement my Veritas product knowledge. When I was ready, I joined Veritas. This is where I felt I belonged. I still feel that way.
What keeps you at Veritas? What is your favorite aspect of Veritas?
Su-jin Chan – What keeps me at Veritas is the people that I work/interact with over the years. I have great respect for their expertise and treasure their friendship. My favorite part about Veritas is its culture; it’s an established company yet with a startup atmosphere/flexibility.
Angela Ellingsen – The people and the products are the reasons I stay with Veritas. I believe in the quality and robustness of our products. I started working with our products in 1995, namely NetBackup and the precursor to wInfoScale. The continued evolution of our products through technical collaboration is what I love the most about my work at Veritas.
Your role transforms the future of solutions and products at Veritas. Can you tell us about a project that you and Su-jin Chan/Angela Ellingsen collaborated on that you found most rewarding?
Su-jin Chan – The most rewarding project on which we collaborated on must be “improving the stability and performance of NBU Ushare in response to a high-profile customer escalation.” The customer is one of the early adopters of the relatively new Ushare feature running on an NBA HA appliance and experienced a series of stability and performance issues for a year. Angela and I decided to solve the problem once and for all. We pulled together the necessary development and testing resources to find a solution. The effort led to the creation of a performance EEB within a few weeks, which substantially improved Ushare stability and performance after the customer applied to the EEB.
Angela Ellingsen – Because of my focus on improving the client experience, solution performance is extremely important to me. Partnering with Su-Jin to identify and solve solution performance issues, collaborate on the improvement of new features, and define best practices and guardrails to guide the field and our clients has been an honor from day one. The pitfalls that I observe from the field provide me a unique opportunity to bring that knowledge to Engineering to help drive improvement, whether the solution is to address a product defect, close a documentation gap, improve testing criteria, or improve our diagnostic tools.
What was your biggest takeaway from this experience, working with each other? What did you learn about each other?
Su-jin Chan – I discovered that Angela, being in VoC, has a lot of knowledge about what’s important to our customers and how they use our products. The information provided critical input to the design of our customer-centric test scenarios and the NBU Capacity and Performance Tuning guide updates. I am impressed by her generosity in sharing her knowledge and obsession with doing what’s right for the company. We found our knowledge complemented each other and by working together, we can accomplish a lot more than we can individually.
Angela Ellingsen – Each of us sees our work through a specific lens. When we collaborate, we can merge those views into one lens that gives both of us a more complete perspective. It is through that new perspective that we more effectively and thoroughly address the challenges we face. Despite being in different organizations, we were able to create such a great collaborative dynamic, which brought others from PM, SQA, and CFT to collaborate with us organically. The entire experience felt holistic and natural.
How has collaborating with Su-jin Chan/Angela Ellingsen and other women at Veritas influenced or inspired you?
Su-jin Chan – I can relate to women who have to juggle work and family responsibilities like I used to. I have great respect for them because most of them tried hard to balance work and family. Some chose to put their career advancement on hold to fulfill their family responsibility, some chose to pursue career and relied more on outside help. I understand these are all personal choices, there is no right or wrong choice. The observation inspired me to promote “work-life balance” as a manager. I told my direct reports “Your health first, family second, and job third,” and adhere to this principle over the years. We are most productive when we are healthy, and our families are well taken care of. Judging from my team’s accomplishments and productivity, the principle is correct.
Angela Ellingsen – I am an architect first and foremost. Su-Jin is a talented technical leader. Together we focused on the work before us. We collaborated with a diverse group of people with only one goal in mind: to solve real-world problems and improve the client experience. When I encounter like-minded women working to fearlessly drive the evolution of our products and improve the client experience, I am inspired. We are stronger together.
What are some challenges you’ve encountered as a woman tackling these initiatives and in your role?
Su-jin Chan – One of the main challenges is to build the credibility in the field that for a long time women are the minority. To tackle the challenge, I strive to become a subject matter expert in the area that I chose. I looking for the type of work that I truly enjoy. When a job is fun, I can work hard but not feel exhausted. I naturally want to dig deeper into the subject through research. Becoming the subject matter expert follows naturally over time.
Angela Ellingsen – Despite the fact that it is 2022, it would be fair to say that I sometimes encounter stereotypes that can stifle progress and camaraderie. Luckily, this type of situation doesn’t happen very often. The key is to focus on the work. The rest of it is just noise. Whenever the problem I am trying to solve becomes bogged down in obfuscation, equivocation, and politics, I take a step back to get a fresh perspective and peel away the obstacles in my way. At the end of the day, the data is the data. Gather good data, analyze that data, and develop the problem statement. Once you have an accurate problem statement in hand, that’s when you can more easily develop a plan of action, and ultimately find the solution.
What's your advice would you give to women who want to break into tech/leadership roles?
Su-jin Chan – Pick a career/technical domain that you truly enjoy doing, learn as much as you can, make sure that you are technically and mentally ready to take the leadership role. Know what kind of leader you want to be and be prepared to adjust your ideal along the way. Most of all, make sure that you enjoy the work and responsibility that comes with the role.
Angela Ellingsen –
What do you like to do outside of work?
Su-jin Chan – Cooking, watching movies/dramas, practicing Yoga, Taiichi.
Angela Ellingsen – I’ve lived in five countries, worked in more than 12 countries and 38 states. Travel has shaped my view of the world, as well as the things I love about it. I have a great appreciation of art, architecture, literature, theatre, opera, film, fashion, and diverse cuisines. Sharing these experiences with friends and family is truly a gift.
What keeps you motivated?
Su-jin Chan – Learning innovative technologies and the opportunity to develop in-depth knowledge of the product I support. Most of all, being able to use what I know to help sell our products and solve critical customer performance issues is rewarding and keeps me motivated day in and day out.
Angela Ellingsen – It is rewarding each time we help a client solve a problem in their environment or we drive an improvement in our products and solutions. There is something magical when I’m in a deep technical discussion with Product Management, Engineering, SQA, or the National Architects and we can find a path forward through the proverbial muck. Digging into complex problems and solving them is the good stuff that drives me every day.
Veritas Technologies is growing, and we encourage you to explore open roles at our career page: https://www.veritas.com/company/careers
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