The Owl’s Nest: Inside Twilio
At Twilio, diversity is a top priority, including at the Board level. I’m proud that our Board of Directors includes three highly accomplished women who bring key skill sets and unique experiences that are invaluable to Twilio. With their collective product, marketing, operational and corporate governance experience at some of the most successful companies during the last three decades, we are fortunate to have the benefit of their perspectives and learnings as we navigate the challenges that come with scaling a high growth company.
Earlier this year, I had the honor of being selected for the 2019 DirectWomen Board Institute class. The mission of DirectWomen is to increase the representation of women lawyers on corporate boards. DirectWomen identifies, develops, and supports a growing group of accomplished women lawyers who provide the experience, independence and diversity required for good corporate governance.
The work that I and the other members of …
Imagine all of the different people that might speak to a business, all of the different reasons they might do so, all of the different channels they might use, and all of the different experiences they need to have when they get in touch.
Now imagine building a future of communication that enables businesses to respond to all of those needs, in all of those different moments; to deliver experiences that aren’t just good enough, but are brand-enhancing and loyalty-inducing.
To do so, you need engineering skill and technical ability. But you also need imagination and empathy. You need people who can understand each of your customers and each of your customers’ customers and help every organisation find a way to deliver experiences that make a difference. You need people who can help other people imagine what’s possible, in order to help make it possible.
Well, that’s the feat of …
From the beginning, Twilio and SendGrid have both enshrined customer experience in their core values. SendGrid strives to be Humble and exemplify a customer-first mindset. Twilio encourages employees to Wear the customer’s shoes.
We live those values everyday. There’s a hallowed tradition here at Twilio: every Twilion who builds and demos a Twilio powered app earns their red track jacket. Working on an application from a customer’s perspective helps us truly build empathy for our users.
Today, as Twilio and SendGrid celebrated coming together as one company, I had the opportunity to demo my track jacket app. Using building blocks from Twilio and SendGrid I built an SMS responder which also emails a GIF using Python and the microframework Flask.
Let’s look at how it works so you can build your own.
Prerequisites for my SMS and Email Responder
To reproduce my code you’ll first need to …
Apply Now For Twilio’s Software Engineering Apprentice Program
At Twilio, a job applicant is more than just what’s written on their resume. Some may not have much of a resume at all. And according to LaFawn Davis, Twilio’s Global Head of Culture and Inclusion, that's perfectly acceptable, especially with an ever-shrinking pool of new college graduates to fill junior level technical positions. “We aim to remove barriers and find talent where other companies may not be looking," she said.
Evidence of this is Hatch, the company's software engineering apprenticeship program designed to be a bridge to a potential career in tech. Hatch helps Twilio hire and grow exceptional talent from sources that other tech companies may not be considering. That’s especially important for job-seekers in underrepresented groups, those with non-traditional educations, or self-taught developers who might not rise to the top of a traditional candidate search.
Seeking engineers where …
Becoming a software engineer in 2012 not only introduced me to work that would always be interesting, it also tripled my income. That was really empowering.
My new career came with a cold dose of reality, however—there wasn’t really any kind of diversity represented in the technical teams I saw. As I thought about why that was, I wondered why no one had ever pointed out that I might be interested in software engineering. After all, I was the only girl I knew or member of my family who’d taught myself to navigate DOS as an 8-year-old and memorized all the WordPerfect commands. The first time I accessed the internet, I spent hours looking up topics that interested me at the time—mostly Tamagotchis. I picked up some Visual Basic 6 in the .Exe Filers computer club at school, snuck Juno dial-up onto the family computer, and wrestled with HTML to …
Twilio is changing how people feel about going to work and is well on its way to becoming a prime example of a workplace where people can do the best work of their careers, and where diverse talent is not only sought after, it’s embraced and nurtured.
The company has taken its workplace diversity and inclusion commitment a step further by setting some ambitious goals around recruiting, equitable pay and promotions, and cultivating a company-wide sense of belonging. In fact, when Twilio celebrates its 15th anniversary in 2023, it's aiming for every Twilion to feel that they belong.
Twilio believes that having a diverse workforce brings unique ideas to new prototypes. And when employees feel included, not only will exceptional talent come to the company, they’ll be happier and stay longer. “You can spend a lot of money on just recruiting and bringing people through the door; but, if you …
The house lights darkened. Drums began to play from backstage. Strings warmed up the orchestra pit. Suddenly there were the words I had secretly been waiting for. The ones that the average American still gets wrong twenty years later, but loves to unashamedly sing. "Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba." The introduction to the “Circle of Life” was ringing throughout the auditorium.
I found myself in a parade of 750 pounds of silicone rubber fashioned into Zulu costumes, 18-foot giraffes, flocks of birds in the mezzanine and 6-foot elephants walking through the aisles. The entire auditorium became the stage. The floor opened up to expose Pride Rock and Simba's dedication. My inner child awoke. I completely gave in to experiencing "The Lion King" on Broadway.
“Dad, don’t we eat the antelope?
Yes, Simba. But let me explain.
When we die, our bodies become the grass.
The antelopes eat the grass.
So we …
Businesses want to be where their customers are and popular messaging apps are those places today. Facebook Messenger, WeChat, LINE, Viber and other popular messaging apps have already rolled out APIs that businesses can use today. But until very recently, there was one notable holdout—WhatsApp.
More than 1.5 billion people globally use WhatsApp everyday to talk to friends and family as well as for work and collaboration, and in August this year WhatsApp launched the highly anticipated WhatsApp Business API. Businesses have been clamoring for an officially supported way to communicate with WhatsApp users for years now. The excitement is more than justified.
WhatsApp is a unique messaging platform with end-to-end encryption …
There are a few technical interview strategies everyone knows: communicate your thoughts, give yourself time to think, and keep calm. Absent among these, of course, is coming up entirely blank for a question. So when in the interview for an engineering internship my manager asked, “What experience do you have with distributed systems?” I took a deep breath and, cringing a little, replied, “None, yet. But I’m smart and I learn fast, and I’m interested to learn by working in one.” This was true. I’d been curious about the subject for a while, and figuring it wouldn’t hurt to try, had worked up the courage to apply to a role for which I didn’t hit every “ideal qualification” checkbox. (Take that, tech gender gap!) And to my surprise and relief, I moved forward – all the way to San Francisco, to a spot on Twilio’s Cloud Orchestration team.
I had drifted through a broad variety of careers from Retail to Marketing, Professional Rider to Personal Trainer but never quite found the right fit for me. Yet the moment I decided to change career from Pilates teacher to software engineer I knew it was the right decision.
A little bit of context
My father passed away suddenly in 2013 and I was faced with the realisation that life is too short to traverse without purpose.
This caused my whole outlook on life to change, I became more daring and confident whilst becoming more analytical about my own situations.
At the time of my dad’s passing I’d been running a successful Pilates studio from a shed in a friend’s back garden. It could accommodate just four people in each class so with my new-found bravery I seized an opportunity to use my savings and open commercial premises.
I planned to …