Software Engineer Turned International Traveler

by Pilar Pickering, Senior Software Engineer and Sarah Shaffer, Employer Branding Marketing Intern

Meet Pilar.

Pilar joined Zuora back in 2017 as a Software Engineer, quickly earning her Senior title a year later. Pilar is a coding powerhouse and leverages her technical prowess to drive innovation on her team in The States and overseas.

We sat down with Pilar to get the low-down on what her team’s all about, the 1,300+ person support-system of Zuora, and her growth experience as a female engineer.

Alright, let’s get into it.

What were you looking for prior to joining Zuora and what ultimately drew you to Zuora?

Like many mature software companies with a growing customer base that demands scalability and increased performance, Zuora has embarked on a reinvent journey of its own. Part of this journey is to transform the existing architecture. After hearing about this undertaking, I instantly wanted to take part. To me this is an intriguing challenge because it is a common problem that often requires tailored solutions. Although Zuora’s services are recent and use modern technologies (fun!), the challenge of being performant and being able to integrate with legacy code was something I felt would support my growth as an engineer.

Tell us about your role and the work your team is doing?

I’ve been at Zuora for approximately two years now, working mostly as a backend engineer, although I like to dabble in testing and participate in every design session I can. I’m currently part of a team that works on a groundbreaking new service that not only isolates functionality, but also allows for easy extensibility. This has proven to be a set of interesting and exciting problems because of several technical challenges present: being capable in a highly distributed system and, of course, the existing system!

At Zuora, we have the opportunity to not only work with other teams, but also to work on other teams, in our shared codebase. I’ve personally learned so much from working closely with our teams in Beijing. I am not just talking about the technical aspects of the job — I’ve also been able to hone my soft skills and completely immerse myself in a different culture.

Tell me about your team. You work remotely, right? What makes the team here different than others you’ve worked with?

We’re an exceptionally diverse, distributed team that has been successful at delivering milestone after milestone. This takes constant communication and amazing team building activities (go-karting, wine tasting and VR games to name a few!).

I’m one of the full-time remote employees on our team. This is a first for me and I love it! Building relationships with co-workers has always been extremely important to me. I was initially worried that being fully remote would make that difficult or even impossible. Despite not being physically present in one specific office, everyone has been approachable and supportive at Zuora since I joined, making it easy to make personal connections at all levels of the company. What I wasn’t expecting is how international Zuora really is and how close teams work together, despite time differences and large distances. Truly an inclusive workplace no matter which office you land in.

So, you work with the Beijing team often. Tell us about the relationships you’ve been able to build overseas?

After my first trip to Beijing I was inspired and eager to go back for more. In the course of two years, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the Beijing office eight times (you read that right… eight!) The personal and professional growth I’ve experienced during these trips has been incredible. Not to mention the personal connections I’ve made during each of my visits there.

The support demonstrated through the past two years goes well beyond the office. I have had the opportunity to play a role as a mentor/teacher to support Jie Q. through her pursuit to improve her English. We “meet” online outside of work hours and practice conversational English and sometimes I even attempt to speak (poorly) some rudimentary Mandarin. This is just another example of ZEOs coming together for a common goal.

You’ve been a software engineer for over a decade. What’s it been like to be a female in the industry?

My experience as a female engineer has been typical in some aspects like still experiencing “imposter syndrome,” seeing the few female engineers leave the industry, and the constant struggle to be heard. Since joining Zuora, I’ve found plenty of strong allies, female tech leaders and immediately got the impression that I could contribute fully.

This kind of thing doesn’t just happen. Zuora invests a great deal of effort into groups like #zwomen and #subscribetodiversity to empower everyone across the globe. I am excited to join the latest ZEO founded interest group dedicated to Latinxs–we call it #zfamilia. At Zuora, we can be ourselves and feel like we are part of something big.

Why would someone want to join your team and Zuora?

Zuora is a special place to work for people that want interesting problems to solve, team camaraderie and collaboration that is not limited by hierarchy–not to mention the outstanding benefits. You have the unique opportunity to be the ZEO of your career and your whole Zuora experience.

(psst… we’re hiring!)

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