Office Hours: I led engineering teams at Instagram, Buzzfeed, ESPN, and Disney and now I’m running my own digital brand for families called Lacubvie. I’m Swati Vauthrin. AMA!Featured

Hi everyone!

I’m Swati Vauthrin and I have over 15 years of experience as an engineering leader across multiple consumer-facing product engineering teams. I’ve created and led diverse teams across the world to bring consumer experiences to market and have led execution from product-market fit and beyond. I’ve seen billions of users engage in technology on both mobile and web that my teams at ESPN, BuzzFeed, Tasty, and Instagram have owned.

It’s been an incredible journey through tech so far. Most recently I was part of the layoffs at Instagram. It was that transition which motivated me to leverage all the experience I’ve gained over the years to start my own venture and create a digital brand for families called Lacubvie. Our mission is to empower families through shared experiences and tried-and-true product recommendations as they go on their own journeys together. You can find us on IG or TT @lacubvie or

My other full-time job is being a mother of 3 - I have a 7.5yr old daughter, 4.5yr old son, and 1yr old daughter. Our family resides in NYC and we enjoy taking in all that the city has to offer. I’m also passionate about cooking (a lot of Indian) and travel (we’re heading to Europe this summer as a family of 5).

I'm also very passionate about mentorship and advocacy and am part of a few mentorship programs including WICS (Women in Computer Science) through The George Washington University.

Ask me anything about engineering leadership, software engineering, product development, starting my own business, recruiting diverse talent, going through a layoff, job search, being a working mom, or anything else! I’m so excited to hear from you all.

Thanks so much for joining us @suenacita1!Elphas – please ask @suenacita1 your questions before Friday, June 23rd. @suenacita1 may not have time to answer every questions, so emoji upvote your favorites 🔥👍🏾➕
Hi Swati! Your experience and accomplishments are so inspiring. Thanks for taking the time to give advice to those who are also trying to succeed!I am trying to make a career change from midlevel management (non-engineering) into MLOps engineering. I am currently getting my master’s to help with this process. What advice do you have for someone making this change? What skills do you look for in people who are already working and wanting to switch into engineering, and where do you think they should begin their new career?Your insight is so greatly appreciated! Thank you for being a great role model!
Hey @caseyhsiung! It's so exciting to hear that you're going after a new passion. My advice here is that as you're working towards this goal, make sure you're connecting with people and companies in parallel to building relationships in your new field as well as potentially secure internships or interviews leveraging your new skillset. Working on this in parallel will give you a better chance of landing something soon after instead of waiting. I mentioned in a few other questions about transferrable skills regardless of what role or background. Use these transferrable skills to your advantage when you do speak with other companies and people. Also just remember that our careers are like jungle gyms and you might need to start in a different place to get things going before you reach your end goal. This mental shift is important to embrace early so that you can set the appropriate expectations for yourself. Wishing you all the best in this career change for you. Please keep me posted on how it evolves!
A role model for sure! :)
Swati, everyone here said it already but you are so inspiring Thank you for all your leadership!I would love to know more about your experience being a woman in SWE and perhaps at times you might have been the only one to identify as a woman. How do you ensure a culture of inclusion for other women on the team (not only to retain existing talent but also to hire new one)?
Hey there! Thank you for this important question. In order to ensure inclusion, I embraced the role of being the only woman in the room at times and called it out for what it was. I then leveraged that position to invoke change and at times it worked and at other times it took much longer than one would think. Continuing to be vocal and leveraging my position in a leadership role helped push on change as well. There's still so much work to be done. In my 15 years, I've seen change but not at the pace I'd like so we need to continue pushing here. In addition, we need to help one another out whether it's through mentorships, advocacy, sponsorships at work, or just straight up networking. We need to make sure we help each other rise - that in my opinion is how we can accelerate change at a greater pace and ensure the culture of inclusion we'd expect.
It is very nice to meet you Swati and thank you for your time this week. Congratulations on every milestone in your career! Right now, the big topic is layoffs (especially in tech but also across other industries), and I personally always compare a layoff to a breakup. Regardless of one liked or hated their job, it can be a tough and anxiety inducing goodbye. What was your process to get through it? And what are your best job searching tips?
hi there! Your message resonates so much with me because you're right that a layoff is very much like a breakup. We spend so much of our lives at work and to know that it abruptly ended can be really heart-breaking. My first step to start healing was to send a message to my team and colleagues. It helped me mentally transition and start the closure process when I sent that "Thank You" email. I received so many incredibly heartfelt replies that also gave me confidence that I would continue to have a strong network and support system with my former colleagues moving into the future. I then focused on myself for a bit because you need to get grounded again. I spent time with my children/family, went to my favorite places in NYC, and gave myself grace to embrace this transition and do that mental shift. It was really freeing. The best job searching tips is to be direct on what you're looking for and need. For me, I'm not actively looking for a full-time role but I'm really interested in part-time tech advisor roles where I can help others and give some of my time. I also mentioned that if something interesting does come along that I'm open to chat with folks about it to see where it goes. I eventually do want to get back into something more permanent so keeping the lines open allows me to do that moving forward. Thank you so much for this question!
If I may ask, why did you get laid off?Congratulation on your next journey...
I don't mean to speak for Swati here but I wanted to share this piece icymi and that's across the tech space
Hey @MargaretCezar! Thanks for the question! The article that @iynna shared is very relevant and goes into some high level detail. At the end of the day, these are business decisions and my layoff was due to these decisions. I had an incredible experience at Instagram and I'm so grateful for having had a chance to collaborate with some of the most brilliant people I've ever worked with. I also worked on Instagram Reels at a time when we made huge impact and changed the way the app is used today. Finally, I had a blast there and created so many friendships that have continued to flourish even though I'm no longer there. It's these relationships that have allowed me to focus on what's next. What a ride it was!
Hi Swati, congratulations on your amazing career so far. I am currently exploring entrepreneurship opportunities after having worked in strategy consulting for 5 years. I would love to hear your thoughts on career transition, finding your own voice and leveraging that to start your own company. Also, I am so excited about next gen creator economy and would love to build something towards that, I would love to have a follow up chat if possible to hear your expert thoughts on it :)
Hey there @Joanaguasch! I believe I was at the right place at the right time for this career transition and finding my own voice. It was always there, I just needed to tune it up and now is that time =) I always knew I wanted something to call my own and I was given the window to go after it. These moments don't come often so if you see an opening just take it. The next gen creator economy and all that encompasses it is continuously evolving. I'd love to connect offline to discuss more. Please DM me and we can chat on what you're thinking of doing. Best of luck with it all!
Dear Swati, such encouraging words! I love the fact that the inner voice has always been there, and that you are taking that opportunity! It takes courage and a great plan!! Best of luck in your venture, it is so exciting :)I will take the offer and write to you privately, thank you so much!
It's so great to have you this week Swathi! I'm in awe, you are really doing it all, a mom, a role model for other women in CS, founder, tech exec WOW! Your kids are extremely lucky to have you as a mom!I am not in engineering but love all that you're doing! You're clearly a smart person who made intentional choices so I am curious what are the career mantras that you have lived by when deciding each of your career moves? And what would you tell your late 20s/30 year old self? For context, I graduated with my MBA 5 weeks ago, and feel at an inflection point in terms of career path. While I know exactly what I want, I also want to make sure I make the right decisions that will set me up for success 5 to 10 or so years from now. Therefore I am asking all the people around me whom I admire the above two questions (and yes I am 30, going to my 31).Oh and two more questions:- What do you need the most help with today in your venture? Let Elphas know how they can support!- Where in Europe are you going? I grew up in Paris and schooled in the UK so I love everything that Europe (yes the full continent) has to offer :)
Hey @iynna! Congratulations on getting your MBA and thank you so much for the kind words. To start, some mantras that I've always lived by are the following: - work on something that I love or am passionate about - this can be seen across all the places I've been from Disney to Instagram and everywhere in between. I was a big fan of what they were doing and wanted to help them make it even greater!- build relationships at work - i mentioned earlier that we spend so much of our lives at work - these are social settings and we are social creatures! The relationships we build at work go a long way and you never know when you need to call upon someone whose path you crossed in the past. - if you're not having fun anymore, it's time to move on - again we spend so much time here and it should be fun and fulfilling and if it's not, then it's just not worth your time - you'll find that place where it is! I'd tell my late 20s/30 self to be passionate and continue dreaming - every day is a learning lesson and every role you take, prepares you for the next so keep focused. I'd also tell myself to check in regularly on how I'm feeling and max out on PTO every year! Those breaks are so important to make sure you continue to show your best self. For Lacubvie, I'd love to just continue to grow my following on IG/TT at @lacubvie and get feedback on my content at The more I hear from you, the more I can continue to deliver and grow this brand. Finally, we are so excited to be going back to Europe after a 3yr hiatus. We'll be in Paris, Brittany, and then Copenhagen! Very much looking forward to it!! <3
What an amazing answer! I vehemently. agree with these mantras and have personally lived your first one :) Love the advice for late 20s, for some reasons, at 30 we are a bit more settled in our careers but it is not the end of it at all! And will definitely be following lacubvie :) I shot you a note perhaps we can catchup for coffee in the city!Lastly have so much fun in Europe, very jealous but stoked for you!
Hello, @suenacita1 thank you for taking the time to answer the questions. Congratulations on your new venture. I just launched a website for early registration for my menstrual tracking app(regular/irregular/chronic problems). I would like to know how to reach out to early adopters who will spread the word. What I've done so far - I sent messages to friends/relatives on messaging groups some have signed in, and some did share it in their circles. I roped in one influencer to share the story. All in all the numbers are quite less. I would like to change it. website:
hey @kalpanac! Congratulations on the launch of Kynd. Your GTM (go to market) strategy should include a wide net I believe across a few platforms. There are standard things you can do like SEO optimization and even paid placement. However, you should also create a social presence and start to regularly post content across social platforms. It might be valuable to create a 1 month committed content plan across these platforms so you can gain some traction with consistency. Go where the community is - most likely you'll want to dig in to see where your users would tend to "hang out" online. In addition, go on other community apps to share your launch and why they should sign up. Another recommendation I have is to be upfront with folks on data privacy and how your website plans to protect that for this specific type of tracking. Hoping this gives you a few things to work with. Please keep me posted on how it goes and best of luck!
@suenacita1 thank you so much for the input. They are so useful. I will surely keep you posted on the progress. Thank you for this.
Hi Swati, I would love to hear about your challenges as a mom of 3 and starting your own business. Thanks a ton for taking the time to share your experiences.
hey @silviyamiteva! Thank you for the question. I'd say the biggest challenge with 3 kids and starting my own business is evolving time management. Every few weeks there are different milestones and events happening with the children that I need to account for and work through/around. For example, right now is the end of school for my oldest so I'm focusing on her last few days and ensuring she has all she needs. My life is very much scheduled right now from the moment I wake up to bedtime. This allows me to stay organized and more effectively context switch. I review my plan for the next day, the night before so I can mentally prepare myself and not get too overwhelmed. Finally, it really does take a village and I lean into others where I can for help including my partner, our childcare, family, and friends.
thanks a ton for your response Swati
Hi swati, thanks so much for sharing! I’m very amazed by your diverse experience in different companies and markets, from news publishing to sports and social media. How were you able to translate skillsets across the platforms, both technical and non-technical? And what do you think are the top 1-2 that’s most transferable and help you navigate different companies/industries?Also, hope you enjoy your trip to Europe!
Hi there @yihuang! Thanks for this question - I feel like it's really important to call out transferrable skills across different companies. On the technical side, these skills include building systems and the understanding of how to scale architectures, being able to weigh using one tech stack vs. another, and the various models for planning, executing, and launching software projects. On the non-technical side, the types and ways of communicating across different mediums are very transferrable. These skills also include negotiating with different stakeholders and members of your team, working through conflict and difficult situations, and sharing feedback. I would say the 2 most transferrable include understanding how to build systems at scale (technical) and working through conflict/difficult situations.
Hi Swati!!! Congratulations for all you accomplishments and career!!! 💫😃I don't do engineering, I do SEO but I'm amazed by your career.I made a bug career move a month ago, I moved from Spain to the United States to continue growing my career.Despite I have seven years of experience, it's like I have to begin again here. Do you have any recommendations to help me succeed? Thank you so much and congrats again on your accomplishments 👏👏👏😉
Hey @anaseo - what an exciting moment in life for you moving from Spain to the US. Early in my career I moved across country to Seattle, WA and it opened up amazing opportunities for me which led me on a path to where I am today. There are a lot of valuable skills you've most likely gained over the past 7 years that can be transferrable anywhere so please don't feel like you're starting over. Skills such as working with different functions, types of requirements, as well as communication and how you've communicate over different mediums go a long way. Lean into those skills as you transition to this next stage of your career. You'll see that they go a long way. Also I realized a few years ago that it's ok for our careers to not be a straight ladder. That often times they resemble a jungle gym. and you need to make different moves for the next one. I love this analogy because it's so very true! Best of luck with it all. I'd love to hear how it evolves.
Thank you so much for your words!!
Hi Swati,Your experience is quite inspiring. I picked some areas of shared interest, including food, advocacy... Your move to start your own company is a great one. From your experience, how likely is it for a mother like you who has worked in non-technical areas for over two decades to transition to technical areas? What can be done to achieve this? Thanks
Thank you for the question @nonyeaghaji! I think any transition whether it's from tech to non-tech or vice versa is completely doable if you have the right toolset. This starts with putting together a plan on what tools you need and then working through that list to obtain them. These tools could include everything from mentors/people to lean on to taking courses and even working on side projects. It's a mindset shift and once you have that, I found the plan and tools start to fall into place. That's how I felt when I envisioned wanting to start Lacubvie. Once I had it in focus, building the plan became clearer and more obtainable. There are lots of tools for that plan building as well! I used Notion to get myself a bit more organized. It's been really useful!