When my eighth grade yearbook made a prediction of where each person would be in 10 years, it was no surprise to my family and friends that I was listed as working for Bill Gates. Immediately after college, this prediction came true, and I began my master class in building enterprise software. Anytime I needed a change of pace, there was another team ready to excite me; I worked in operations on MSN, in Windows as a Tester, and finally Visual Studio and Azure DevOps as a Program manager. Then, after 17 years, there I was explaining to my parents why I was handing in my blue badge to work for a startup. While they were supportive, they were also a bit shocked. I constantly bragged that I was fortunate enough to go to work every morning with a smile on my face, excited for the day ahead. So why was I throwing this all away and working for a company they’d never heard of?
I first heard about UiPath through a LinkedIn notification about a former colleague, Munil Shah, joining as senior vice president of engineering. He had been at Microsoft for almost 25 years so seeing him leave to a company I hadn’t heard of made me curious enough to reach out and set up a time to meet. A few days later, when he came out of the elevator to meet me, he had a huge smile on his face and seemed happier and more relaxed than at any time I could remember. His excitement was infectious, and before I knew it, I had setup an interview with his product management counterpart.
Before the interview, I decided to do my homework, as tons of questions were running through my head, primarily, what is RPA and how could a company in Romania be a unicorn? A couple web searches later and it started to become clear that UiPath had figured out a niche market that provided enterprise companies an easy way to scale their workforce and save money at the same time. I had seen Microsoft perfect this type of enterprise software play and knew that once you had a few key customers, a snowball effect ensued, growing the business quickly. Market fit – check! The list of investors and board members, including my previous EVP at Microsoft, helped reinforce this viewpoint with funding, allowing the company to not only grow quickly to capitalize on the opportunity, but also find a balance between short- and long-term investments for sustainable growth. The last thing I wanted was to join a flash in the pan that only made decisions for the customer right in front of them.
My family’s biggest concern was around work/life balance; weren’t startups notorious for long hours? I have two kids in elementary school and it was super important that I could continue to take them to soccer practices and have a nightly family dinner together. At this point in my career, I know how to focus my time in the office on the right work by working smarter, not longer hours. At UiPath, most people have kids, and it was normal for people to work from home when needed or head out early and finish up some emails and documents later at night. What I realized was that calling it a startup was not really fair, as the maturity of the employees in the company was closer to what I had at Microsoft than what my friends at small, local startups experienced.
One of the primary things keeping me at Microsoft was the incredible talent that I was fortunate enough to work with day in, day out. From a career perspective, I’ve always felt that the people are more important than the product, as these are the people you spend the majority of your time with every day. I don’t have patience for incredible engineers that are impossible to work with or individual heroes that don’t know how to be team players. I want to be surrounded by people that push me to learn and grow. The influx of funding had allowed UiPath to attract the best and brightest, and build a powerhouse of tech talent from all the incredibly companies in the area. The number one recruitment vehicle has been references from employees, all top performers that we’ve collectively worked with in previous roles/teams. At last count, 8 of my former colleagues have since decided to join, following my lead.
Finally, if I was going to make the change, either inside Microsoft or out, it was imperative that the organization I join have a strong culture based on customer empathy and a growth mindset; this was one of the best things Satya Nadella had fostered at Microsoft over the past 5 years. In reading about UiPath, and more specifically Daniel Dines our CEO, it became clear that this was a central pillar of him forming the company. I found videos of him talking about building a company where employees feel inspired, engaged, and happy; empowering employees to have impact through ownership of their decisions. This was the kind of leader I wanted to work for and the kind of culture I wanted to be a part of.
In January, I took the leap and joined the rocket ship. My first six months at UiPath have been nothing short of amazing: meeting customers who are raving fans of our product, growing the Bellevue office to triple in size, achieving 200 million in recurring revenue, watching investors raise our valuation to 7 billion – not a bad start! As a product manager on the Customer Experience and Innovation team, I get to define new product offerings and platform enhancements needed to expand our reach into new vertical markets. I spend much of my time talking directly with customers to get feedback on our existing product and understand where their needs are not currently met. I refine these needs into requirements and partner with my UX counterparts to create innovative solutions to these problems. This all boils down to a prioritized product backlog that I use to focus my engineering team on delivering the right value.
I feel proud every time the latest survey or article is published recognizing UiPath as one of the top companies in the world, not only for happiness and culture, but also for benefits and compensation. I’ve seen how the values listed on the company website aren’t simply text on a page; they’re truly the words we live by, and you can see them emblazoned on the background of almost every monitor in the office, acting as constant reminders of why we exist and what success looks like. And I made it to every one of my daughter’s softball games this spring!