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A mother and software engineer finds you can design a balance in the world of tech


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I’m in the extremely fortunate position of wondering whether my first, first day at Signifyd was one of the best days of my professional career or whether my second, first day beat it out.

What I think of as my first, first day came after my husband and I moved to Silicon Valley from the east coast. Dan had just landed a new job with a well-known valley company. I was looking for a job. And I was pregnant — midway through my pregnancy, in fact.

I was pregnant and Hispanic and a woman in software engineering — a minority on all three counts. No matter. After evaluating my qualifications, Signifyd offered me the position for which I had looked and prepared.

 Agile scrum meetings, flat-structure code reviews and foosball

This position became one of my favorite jobs. The atmosphere was professional, friendly, and productive. We held agile scrum meetings that started and ended on time, while keeping on purpose. We had flat-structure code reviews. Management encouraged us to share our ideas for improvement with any management tier.

Sometimes we played games like darts and foosball. Someone was always available to help overcome roadblocks. Retrospective action items were implemented; team members ironed out issues; our manager maintained an open line of communication. The technical work offered learning opportunities.

In the autumn of my first year at Signifyd, our son, Benjamin, was born. Dan and I experienced all the joy and exhaustion of new parents. And, of course, the day eventually came when it was time for me to return to work.

I read a Recode story recently about mothers returning to jobs in tech. It talked about some of the struggles for some moms and some of the great things some companies are doing to make things easier for those returning to the office. The story included a survey that found that on a scale of one to five (five being “great”), 48.5 percent of returning mothers rated their experience coming back to work as a four or five.

More than a quarter ranked their returns as a one or two, with one being “horrible.”

I am squarely in the first group.

After the birth of our son, I asked Signifyd for some help to better adjust to my new life as a mother. The company leaned in. It provided flexibility with my work hours. And it allowed me to work remotely for a while, an arrangement I’m pleased to say that 62.5 percent of the mother’s surveyed by Recode were able to experience. I do feel for the other 37.5 percent.

 In the midst of rapid change, culture can remain constant

Eventually, I took a leave to care for my family full-time. I kept my hand in the game during that time, working on a gaming app that’s coming along nicely.

By January of this year, the time was right to rejoin Signifyd. I love my work. Programming is something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid in Cuba, playing video games and taking programming classes using Logo to animate a digital turtle.

Signifyd hasn’t changed much since my first, first day. I’m working with a new team, but I still like my job — for the same reasons I liked it before.

It’s fulfilling to be working on innovations that are helping ecommerce businesses to fare better in the face of fraud. I like to think that the work we are doing here is helping others do the work that they always wanted to do.

Meanwhile, I hope that Signifyd continues to adhere to its start-up values as it grows. It remains fresh with innovation and professionalism, which, in my world of software engineering, often manifest themselves as interesting work, friendly collaboration, focus on quality, and caring for employees.

Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

Nely Behar

Nely is a software engineer at Signifyd.