Our VP of engineering for the developer platform, Rukmini Reddy, joined Slack in July 2020, right in the thick of the pandemic. She hit the ground running, quickly applying her experience to connect with her team remotely, building trust and establishing clarity on how they would move forward together. We sat down with Reddy to get to know her a bit better.
“This is an incredible moment in time for Slack, and it’s energizing to be here. With the shift to remote work, the platform has never been more relevant.”
Why did you join Slack?
I have loved Slack and been a user for five years, and once used my personal credit card to pay for my entire organization to use Slack because I knew it was worth it. I truly believe in this company, and in our values of empathy, courtesy, thriving, craftsmanship, playfulness and solidarity.
My career as a developer, coupled with more than 15 years of enterprise experience and a background of scaling engineering teams, has prepared me to help drive Slack toward becoming the engagement layer of choice for enterprise software.
Slack really gets it in regard to championing and driving the systemic change that’s needed in tech. We started doing diversity reports five years ago, when the company was still very small. Our leaders knew that if they didn’t prioritize it early, it would be harder to improve later on. And you can’t improve what you can’t measure.
Our most recent report showed that globally, women make up around 45% of our workforce, and in the U.S., around 14% of our workforce is composed of people from one or more underrepresented racial and/or ethnic backgrounds. These numbers showed slight improvements from the previous year, but not enough. Part of our effort to do better includes our employee resource groups (ERGs), [nonprofits] Raheem and Year Up, and [the Slack sponsorship program Rising Tides.
“It’s potentially career-defining to work on a product that end users and developers rely on and build for all day, every day.”
What has it been like to work at Slack?
This is an incredible moment in time for Slack, and it’s energizing to be here. With the shift to remote work, the platform has never been more relevant. Slack was built for this and is in a unique position to lead. We are the ultimate category creator, so it’s pretty exciting!
The open nature of Slack sets us apart, and I really appreciate that we have a singular focus on and passion for collaboration. The platform really has a multiplier effect on anyone’s software.
More specifically, I appreciate the camaraderie and team building at Slack, especially since I joined during the pandemic.
- Every Thursday we have a “victory lap” in the
#team-platformSlack channel, where we share kudos and celebrate each other’s success on a thread called “awesome sauce time.”
- Our well-being and culture is prioritized with a variety of perks, flexible time off and random gifts (like a jigsaw puzzle of our most-used emoji).
- Every month the entire company gets one collective Friday off, called “Fri-yays.” Since everyone has the same day off, no one has to worry about getting DMs or working double time to catch up on Monday.
“It’s so fun to work on complex technical challenges at such scale, all in service of making work more productive and pleasant at the world’s largest organizations.”
Why do you think platform engineering is the most exciting part of Slack?
Slack is the only channel-based messaging platform that connects all your tools in one place. We are an open platform for integrations, which allows you to configure and customize your own unique work needs without switching contexts.
No matter what tools you use, where you’re working from or on what device, we want it all to work seamlessly with Slack. When you can easily access everything and share information, that drives team productivity.
Looking forward, the next generation of our platform is Slack’s vision for the event-driven enterprise, and to be the “central nervous system” for businesses everywhere.
Behind the scenes, we’re focused on radically improving the experience of installing and using apps in Slack, as well as simplifying the development process for Slack app developers. It’s exciting stuff and we can’t wait to unveil more soon.
How do you balance work and life in a remote environment?
Like most parents, I’ve been homeschooling my kids (7-year-old twin boys) while working. That brings its own unique challenges, from frozen Zoom meetings to midday science experiments that involve making slime from scratch.
I joined Slack during the pandemic, and count myself among the “remote natives.” I’ve never even met my boss—Cal Henderson, our co-founder and CTO—in person. The thing is, I’m not alone: The engineering department grew 20% in 2020!
So, what was onboarding like, you might ask?
- A new hire cohort channel where we set up our development environment and completed our first pull request to Slack’s codebase, learned to work through engineering onboarding exercises and had an Ask Me Anything session with our co-founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield.
- To stay in sync, I had daily meetings with both Cal and Steve Wood, our VP of product for the developer platform. I still have 15-minute check-ins with Steve.
- My team even created an emoji to welcome me to the company!
How do you describe your job to a distant relative or neighbor?
I tell them I work at a super fun place with smart, humble and empathetic humans, building a product that I use all day and love. It’s a product that makes work simpler for millions all around the world. And I get to use emoji all day!
Want to work with Rukmini?
I would encourage all who are interested to check out our current openings and join me on this exciting journey. If it’s any indication of the vibe here at Slack, we recently had a llama from Prairie Patch Farm make a special guest appearance during a platform team all-hands. Earl was a big hit!