Engineering managers are builders at heart. Their teams are protecting our community, creating the future of AR/VR experiences, and revolutionizing the way people connect, communicate, and collaborate at work. In our series, ‘Behind the Scenes with an Engineering Manager,’ we’ll introduce you to inspiring Facebook team members and give you an inside look at the work they’re doing and the impact their teams are having around the world.
Meet Irina V., an engineering manager on the Integrity team for WhatsApp in London.
Supporting a safe place for conversation
It's been almost five years since Irina began working at WhatsApp, but she says she is still constantly learning something new. “Our work in the Integrity area is always exciting. We make sure WhatsApp is a safe, reliable, and private place for billions of people to communicate around the world,” Irina explains.
Irina and her team tackle hard problems centered on maintaining WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption, which ensures people’s conversations remain private. “I believe that privacy unites people,” Irina says. “It allows people to communicate freely and without disruption, and empowers them to feel safe to talk about what they want.”
Irina’s team also works to protect people from issues including account compromise and misinformation. These efforts include developing strategies to teach people how to make their accounts more secure, and developing resources to educate the people who use WhatsApp on keeping their information safe.
Building and leading a team
When Irina first joined the team, she worked at WhatsApp’s Menlo Park office. Last year, she had the opportunity to relocate to London to grow the Integrity team. Since then, her role has evolved. “I spent about 50 percent of the past year hiring people and making sure they had what they needed to be successful,” Irina shares. “Now that we’ve built the team, I spend the majority of my time planning for growth, helping team members solve problems, and thinking ahead to what’s next for us.”
The Integrity team’s engineering group is cross-functional, and Irina draws on both system and machine learning engineers to offer insight and deliver the best possible results. She spends time participating in technical and design reviews, and occasionally steps in to code as well. Irina also works closely with team members who focus on other aspects of Integrity, including data science, public policy, content and research, to coordinate efforts and ensure the Integrity team is equipped to achieve broader goals.
“When it comes to managing her team, Irina embraces Facebook's cultural value of acting as a source of support, rather than a superior that gives orders.”
She also helps ensure that team members get to work on projects that interest them, and gives them the space and responsibility to tackle difficult problems. “I try not to micromanage. When people feel ownership over a problem, they feel really motivated to solve it,” Irina says. “We regularly discuss our growth plan and what the team would like to learn more about. We check in every other week to be sure each person has opportunities to learn about and work on the areas they’re interested in.”
Irina hanging out with some of the WhatsApp team (2019)
Finding community that feels like family
Irina appreciates working on large-scale problems with a big company while enjoying the tight-knit culture of the London office. “The London office operates a lot like a startup. It feels like a family,” Irina explains.
Irina describes the Integrity team as open, supportive, and incredibly smart. “At Facebook, everyone has a voice, and the culture is so open,” she says. Since the Integrity team’s early days, Irina has watched her team bond over their genuine commitment to providing people who use WhatsApp with a safe and high-quality platform to communicate. Beyond their work, however, the WhatsApp Integrity team is a very social group, bonding over social events (online at the moment)—including a recent chess tournament—and staying up to date on the latest industry news.
“All the people are great, and that’s one of the reasons I joined WhatsApp,” she beams. “Even my interview felt so fun, and I knew then that I really wanted to work with this team. There are so many different projects and products to work on that it’s easy for anyone to find something they really care about.”
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