Office Hours: I'm the VP of Engineering for LinkedIn Talent Solutions, LinkedIn Learning, and Glint. I’m Erica Lockheimer.Featured

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Thanks so much for joining us @ericalockheimer!Elphas – please ask @ericalockheimer your questions before Friday, October 29th. @ericalockheimer may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
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^ Hi Elphas! Just an FYI that @ericalockheimer will be answering your questions on Monday, Nov. 1st - so you have a few extra days to get your questions in! Happy Halloween! 🎃
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Hello Erica,Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question. As the lead of Women in Technology (WIT) at LinkedIn Initiative, how have discussions and actions on personal and career development evolved amongst the women? As the discussions evolved, are women leveraging resources, opportunities, and professional networks to advance to more senior roles? Joy-Nicole Smith
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Hi @joynicolesmithThe discussions definitely has hanged. I replied to a lot of this with @blee. When we first kicked off the discussions, it was all about awareness for WIT, and post getting the data we had a better understanding of how the women at LinkedIn felt, and then were able to design programs and initiatives to create change. Just like any other project you need to deliver on, you need to have a strategy, investment, measured results for impact, and innovation. I am super proud of the work we have done and you can find more details here: https://engineering.linkedin.com/women-in-tech and you can follow our page here: https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/linkedin-wit/ and follow hashtag #LinkedInWIT
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Hi @ericalockheimer:So nice seeing you on Elpha! It seems like ages ago when I saw you at the Women in Tech events! What advice would you give for building sponsorship? Are there key projects that you worked on to gain sponsors organically?Thank you!Candice
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Hey @candicevbSo great to hear from you again, and yes it sure does some like ages ago. Can't wait to see each other again for an in person event. It will be quite a reunion for so many of us. Great question. I have found sponsorship happens when someone witnesses or personally experienced how you did at your job, and then they want to invest. When I look back in my career, we didn't have coined terms like "mentors" and "sponsors", but what I did feel was that people invested in me. I think you phrased it best, in that it was organic. They invested in me because they saw I was committed to my work, had an impact on the business and the people, and most importantly I wanted to learn and get better. It made it worth their investment, and that's also why I tend to stay at companies longer as that investment only gets better over time If you are in the right place, team, mgr, etc. I think about the people I want to invest in, and how we should all flip the script of what we should be if want the same thing. Ask yourself, why would someone want to sponsor me? I have worked on many key projects throughout my career and still do. I tend to like to take on something that truly needs my help where it is disorganized, messy, not a clear path to resolution, team morale may be low, but strategically important to the business. I love a good turnaround story! I have done many painful migrations from old systems to new systems and that is a true engineer to build something beautiful and delightful, scalable where quality of service is high! Hope that helped and take care!Erica
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Hi Erica, Thanks for hosting office hours! I'm quite interested about your experience building strong tech teams. What aspects of the tech team helped you achieve business outcomes, such as doubling the member sign up rate? What types of communications between tech team and business teams do you think really helped propel the entire team forward?
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Hi @yihuangI am definitely only as good as my team. I strategically ensure I first have the right people on the team and in the right positions. So assessing if you have the right team in place is #1. Next, it is about the story you need to share of why the business outcome is so important. Just sharing you need to drive membership sign up rate is not that exciting, but to share you need to drive membership signup rate to create a community to help connect talent to economic opportunity has much more personal meaning. I am very mission-driven where I feel I need to have my work align with the type of values and impact I want to have and others, and I find that is often true for others. When I think about the work I do on a more personal level and share that vision to the team where they care too, that is where innovation comes in to think bigger and be passionate to finish the job with quality. I need to work with people that care for what we are doing, care for their team, and have the willingness to aim high. Those are the people I want to work with. Take care and thanks for the question!
Hi Erica,1. Is it a good idea to join a more traditional non-tech company that needed 'digital transformation' and requires years of hard work and change to reach a measurable ROI? I'm afraid the 'hard work' to change the culture is not valuable to the market.2. How do we attract good talents for a non-tech company? 3. What's the culture that you've tried to setup for your strong tech team?4. Why did you choose to stay in Engineering path rather than pivot to other path like Product Management?Thanks in advance. I'm at junctions of my career and appreciate some precious insights from tech leader before making a move.
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Hi @Slyvia761. I would first start about what you are passionate about doing. Are you passionate about turning things around? See my response to @candicevb I personally enjoy those types of things because of the impact and transformation and also that I learn so much. Going through something like that are the stories you get to tell. There are so many companies that need digital transformation and without our help, they will fall behind. I definitely would value this kind of impact!2. I attract people with the mission of the team and impact which is true for tech or non-tech company. See my response to @yihuang3. Culture is one of the most important values I have. I must have a team that trusts each other, has each other's back, thrives on innovation and making things better, impact, takes feedback to improve, and most importantly knows how to have fun. I can't work any other way! And if I feel someone on the team does not fit that mold, that is the time for feedback, and either I can help coach them along with the team or they are not in the right team. As my dad always said, "there is a saucer for every cup, and sometimes it just fits or doesn't"4. I have decided to stay in Engineering because I love to build and be in the trenches where I know I can actually get my hands dirty and create a different outcome. And as an engineer, I get to have an impact on the product as well. I am very aligned with my product partner where I am at the ideation phase so I feel like I have the opportunity to do both. I understand not all R&D teams are like that (and I couldn't work that way!), but we have really pushed a culture where ideas can come from anyone and if anything engineers are critical to helping that idea come to life as they are the builders and can make the idea potentially better and at scale. Hope this helps!Erica
Thank you Erica, they are very helpful insights!
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Hi Erica, I would love any advice you have on choosing a cofounder/CTO for a tech start up. Would also love your thoughts on keeping development in house versus out sourcing it.
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I have this same question as I am trying to do a search right now and it has been very challenging!
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@HSchust - answered above and would love to hear your struggles.
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Thank you for your thoughtful response @ericalockheimer. I am a non-technical founder who has experience working with engineers but is not an engineer and does not play one on TV! Pre-product, I searched for a diverse technical co-founder to no avail (I suppose it is like getting married and it was challenging to make the match and diversity is a priority for us). We have been working with a very good dev shop but my dilemma now that we have raised a pre-seed is trying to find a first engineering hire and/or co-founder when the talent market is so tight. I have tried to source through my engineering friends but everyone is working. Any suggestions on ways to find great talent are appreciated. Thanks! h
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I have had many friends that have started companies and that I have also invested in. When it comes to choosing a cofounder/CTO, I have found that most people choose someone that they have worked with directly before as the trust and known impact on what each of you can deliver is there. If you don't have that then it's all about recommendations and getting that data from others who have experiences with them, and I would get a ton of feedback. The person you choose will make or break things so early so I would take as much time as possible in finding that person as then they will also shape how you build your team from there out. I would also think about the diversity of backgrounds where a new skill or perspective you have is missing can be filled by that person hence a true partnership of what you are bringing together to help each other succeed. As far as outsourcing, I would first have the core team in-house and then decide what skills the team needs that can be scaled via outsourcing and take an audit. I would be cautious at first.
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Hi Erica,I am interested in connecting with an engineer to create a digital health platform. I am a physician and would like to partner with a developer to create a digital health platform and potentially become co-founder. Any advice for how content experts can network with engineers?Best wishes,Emily
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Hi @emilyaron, I’m following your question because I’m interested in the answer. I’m a freelance UX designer.
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Hi ErinZ! Let me know if you would like to connect and have a phone call! -Emily
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Hi Emily, what area of digital health are you in? Could potentially introduce you to people in this area
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Hi Michele,First, thank you for taking the time to reply to my question. I am working in the mental health space, looking to develop a B2C platform dedicated to perinatal social-emotional support from pregnancy through the first five years postnatal. Thanks again! -Emily
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I would say use LinkedIn :). Seriously, there are so many ways to connect to the right people where you know their backgrounds, can follow influencers, join events, and join groups for the discussion. And of course Elpha! Look at how you are engaging here. :)
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Hi Erica. Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer our questions. ☺️ I'm particularly interested in your time at LinkedIn and employee engagement. Two questions:1. What insight or advice can you offer to companies looking at deepening their employee engagement?2. Do you think there are extra (or different) considerations when trying to foster engagement in engineering/development teams?
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Hi @alinaonelphaThis is a great and huge question. I can talk all day on this one. :) I think there are many factors to deepening employee engagement. Here is what works for me that I have also found works for others:1. Working with a purpose. I need to work for a company where I believe I am truly impacting people's lives to be better. At LinkedIn, our mission is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. And when you know your line of work measures up to the companies mission statement that resonates and is empowering! 2. A sense of belonging where I feel valued, heard, and have a community of people I trust to be my authentic self.3. A place where I feel invested, and I can grow! I want to be able to raise my hand and feel comfortable asking for opportunities to learn a new skill or lead in a new area, but I also want folks in the organization to tap on my shoulder and ask me for help and where I will be valued most. Both are important!4. A sense of autonomy where I can bring my ideas, execute on them, and be recognized for my achievements.5. Work-life balance. LinkedIn offers Indays (every 3rd Friday of the month to invest in yourself), No meeting Fridays once a month, company shutdowns in December, Spring and Summer. I am so thankful for the time!6. Hybrid work. With Covid, many companies have shifted their work location policies and we are seeing this in the masses on LinkedIn for the jobs marketplace. Adapting to this change is huge and meeting people where they are at. I can't imagine going back to the office 5 days a week. Maybe 2-3 and on flex time.The bottom line is I stay with a company because I want to invest and help them grow, but I expect the same in return to invest in me and help me grow.And I wrote about similar ideas in my response to @yihuangIn regards to your second question, I do think there are some different needs with engineers as they are builders. We have many hack day competitions at LinkedIn where engineers get to build on our product with their own ideas and pitch it to us, we have days like Inday where you can use the time you how you see fit and with engineers that could be learning a new language, new architecture design, etc., and then for every day work, engineers need to be part of the design and idea phase of any product. They can't just be the ticket taker of an idea to execute. They need to be part of the process and partner with product and engineering so everyone has skin in the game from the beginning to feel they are executing on their ideas and others.Hope this helps!
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@ericalockheimer - thank you so much for your advice and for taking the time to answer my questions!
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Hi Erica! I am currently reading the book Brag Better: The Art of Self Promotion. I imagine getting to Senior management levels, you have to quickly learn how to advocate for yourself and promote your accomplishments, what advice would you give a woman struggling with self promotion? Thanks
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Hello Erica, Looking forward to reading all your responses! I have two questions - 1. What are some of the most important personality traits you look for when you hire? 2. What are some of the events you have for WIT at linkedin? My company has just started the WIT initiative and would love to get some ideas.
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Hi @ericalockheimer,Thank you so much for taking questions! Since LinkedIn acquired Glint I’ve been really curious to see how the employee insights might par with LinkedIn learning to better enable upskilling and light up career pathways. Do you have any use cases of employees leveraging insights from Glint to curate learning opportunities that align with open roles/future roles? To me, it seems like a great way to assess the skills employees already have that may be under utilized and the skills gaps that exist in the org.Thank you,Katie Fay
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Hi @katiefayGreat thinking! We actually have recommended LinkedIn Learning courses to take based on your EVS results from Glint. The more that we can align direct feedback with skills to learn to be better at your job, that is the vision we are after! There is definitely more to come here so please stay tuned as we are only getting started in some ways.
Hi Erica,I am in a bit of a bind. I graduated from a top tier business school and decided to start a start-up. Over the last year, there have been pivots, twists, loss of co-founders etc. I am finally in a place where I have advisors and will be launching our second pilot in two months. I also just found out I am pregnant. The pilot will wrap up in March and I'll have to decide if it was a success I'll go raise VC funding. If it was a failure, I'll go get a job. By then I'll be 6 months pregnant. What company would want to hire someone going on maternity leave in 2 months? What VC would want to back a solo founder who is 7 months pregnant? I am not sure if I am overthinking this. I honestly don't know how the market views pregnant women (I've never been pregnant). It's sad that I even have to think about this but it's likely a reality. If it's between me and another candidate who doesn't have to leave, who would you choose?
I'm in a bit of a bind. I graduated from a top MBA program a year ago and decided to start a start-up. Over the last year, there have been many turns, pivots, loss of co-founders etc. I am finally at a place where I have advisors and am pushing forward to launch our pilot in a couple of months. I also just found out I am pregnant (very early). The pilot program will likely conclude in March and I will evaluate whether it makes sense to raise funding or look for a job. By then I'll be 6 months pregnant and I worry about fund raising pregnant and also looking for a job pregnant. I am not sure what to do. Who will want to hire a woman who will go on maternity leave in 2 months? What VC will want to fund a woman run team where the CEO is 7 months pregnant?I am not sure if I am overthinking this. I honestly don't know how the marketplace views pregnant women. It's a real shame that I even have to think about this, but I also think it's a reality. If it's between me and another candidate who doesn't have to leave for maternity leave, who would you hire?
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Hi Erica! How are you incorporating culture change that makes it harder for bullies to thrive? I talk to so many folks who, like myself, got little support from our tech companies when we faced sexual harassment, racial harassment, or other types of bullying. It seems like we're getting better at "calling out" individuals, but what are you doing to make swap things around so those who face bullies are MORE comfortable at work and bullies are LESS comfortable? -- Cindy Gross, ex-techie, career coach, Adaptive Leader, strategic consultantBefriending Dragons https://befriendingdragons.com/
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Erica,Thank you for sharing your wisdom. As a leader, what have you found to be critical to do with your teams to encourage healthy, humanizing work culture? Do you have key actions or activities you believe are necessary for positive team interactions? How do you prioritize these initiatives (which often can be seen as "softer" or less valuable) against business outcome objectives?
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Hi Erica,thanks so much for being with us this week! You have had a fascinating journey in the tech world and now at LinkedIn. I am non-technical so my question is a bit more on the soft skills/leadership development. - What has surprised you the most in your experience being the WIT leader for LinkedIn Initiative? - And given that Elpha is a space for women in tech to grow and support each other, what in your opinion are ways in which Elpha can build more momentum and support women even more (right now the model is primarily online via the forum and connecting members with amazing roles at women-friendly companies). Any lessons learned or best practices would be super welcome!
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Hey Erica, thanks for doing this !My question to you is how should one go about networking especially when they are early in their career and trying to find a job overseas. What are the challenges one might face and how should one overcome them?Thank you,Shruti
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Erica, I think everyone right now wants to know how to hire more women and URMs in tech and diversify their teams. As a women in this field, what insights and perspectives can you share that we can take back to our employers? I know it’s about building a safe and equitable work environment for women and URMs but what if your current numbers are already stacked against you? And there’s a low percentage of diverse folks in the area of Engineering you’re hiring for?
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Yes, this is the huge question for everyone! First, I would say don't let the current low numbers distract you. If anything, it shows the more acute need that has to take place to change the culture of the company and how you hire. When I first started at LinkedIn, the number of women in tech was in the single digits, but we are in such a different place now and of course, still have work to do for women and URMs. We are by no means finished. I was just in a talk with URMs last week and it reminded me of the early days at LinkedIn for Women In Tech, but to know when we put our energy in the right place of the need, we can get the outcomes we want. It is a marathon and not a sprint so it does take patience. Here are some things that I have found works:1) Create a community. You need to get the people together so they have a sense of belonging and have a space on a continuous basis. Have an exec sponsor and or lead that drives this just like any other critical project for the business. Talent should be your #1 priority.2) You need allies with awareness. One of the first Women In Tech events (now have 25+ events and yearly!) I created was 80% women and 20% men and that is how you flip the script and have empathy. It is not about fixing the women, it is about sharing lessons and perspectives with the 20% that is unware. We started with top execs and worked our way through the org. It has been a game-changer. Once you know how people feel and the opportunities for upside for change, you are going to want help. 3) Invest in women and URMs and walk the talk. You need to ensure managers are giving equal opportunities to those individuals so they can grow. They need to feel you want to invest in them and your actions will be everything to keep them. Events and talking about it are good, but we need to turn things around with action. If you want a different outcome, you are going to need to do something different and may even something that you are not used to doing. Time for change and to innovate!4) Hire differently - focus on skills and potential rather than past experiences and solely on degrees or pedigree background. I am proud to share that we developed a program called Reach where folks that showcase their skills (eg: project, coding bootcamp, etc.) we put them in a 9month+ apprentice engineering program and several have been promoted since. The best outcome was most of the candidates were diverse and would have easily been passed up, but we were able to help them succeed and showcase their talent. We just started our next yearly cohort! These folks are some of the best folks on the team and what is great is they also like to #PayItForward5) Looks at your data in your organization on how people are interviewed, hired, promoted and why they leave. "What gets measured, gets fixed!"
Hi Erica - Can you share any resources to help a manager with a business and strategy background "get smart" on how to effectively manage BIEs and DEs for the 1st time? More specifically, do you know of a quick way to build the foundational technical knowledge required to manage an Analytics team for the first time?
How did you approach getting buy-in (especially about product adoption) for your ideas in a male dominated field? Did you find that it took longer to gain consensus than male ideas presented by male co-workers?
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What advice would you give to Product Managers in effectively working with engineers at IC and Manager levels? Anything you particularly like/dislike about how PMs at LinkedIn partner with engineering?