10 Questions with Shupin Mao, Effectively-being tech lead | by shelly

Shupin Mao is a Senior Software Engineer at Facebook. During her last four years with the company, Shupin helped multiple teams and gained experience on Instagram and Facebook, including the Instagram Well-being team. Here she shares what brought her to engineering, favorite moments, lessons and much more.

As Did you become an engineer?

While working on course projects during my studies, I felt the passion for solving coding problems that was the main motivation for applying for an engineering position after graduation. After joining Facebook, I was still motivated to solve practical problems and learn new skills / knowledge every day, which confirmed my career choice.

What was your first programming language?

C was my first programming language when I was in school. Objective-C was my first programming language while working full time on Facebook.

What Do you listen while you work

All kinds of piano songs that can help me stay focused. For example, Ghibli’s relaxing piano pieces are good.

What Do you do this when you get stuck on a problem?

I usually take a short walk to the nearest takeaway and look for snacks. I feel like walking and eating can help me think better.

Say us about your favorite Instagram project?

  • My favorite project on Instagram was the work we did with the Facebook Community Integrity team on combating drug and firearms sales. It was one of our first projects in collaboration with this team. The project itself was exciting: we introduced a new model technology for machine learning and brought several models into production.
  • The part I appreciated the most was the amazing experience of working across different teams, including cross-functional partners like Privacy, Policy and Legal.

What makes working at Instagram unique?

  • Instagram has fewer engineers compared to Facebook (the app) and at the same time is responsible for a product that is just as important as other FB products. Hence, it is quite common for Instagram engineers to be responsible for a large amount of work.
  • Instagram has a flatter administrative structure. There are more ways to communicate or present directly with organizational leaders. Due to the larger scope and the more direct / transparent communication, I feel more responsible and fulfilling my projects and my work.

As Would you describe the engineering culture on Instagram?

  • We really appreciated the user experience and privacy. We took the experiences of all users very seriously. Many projects were driven by user reports or feedback. We also worked very closely with law, politics and data protection. Every project or product change must be discussed and reviewed extremely carefully by these experts.
  • On our team, we have 20% of our time to deal with ad hoc or unexpected problems.
  • A very respectful and supportive work environment. We really appreciate the “be the ally” culture in our organization. I personally benefit a lot and also contribute to this valuable culture in my daily work.
  • A data-driven approach. We really appreciated the data analysis in Instagram. Most projects have very analytical goals. We closely followed the measurement data in our daily work.
  • Fun and optimistic and positive working atmosphere. The people here are very good at making work fun. You can hear many funny stories or jokes during Q&A or meetings. Even in the intense times, you can still see people making fun of each other and encouraging each other (the work was still completed with high efficiency and quality).

What makes you excited about coming to work every day?

Exciting projects and brilliant colleagues.

Your favorite restaurant in town?

Lots of chinese restaurants 🙂

What do you like to eat in the office?

Strawberry-flavored pocky

What’s your favorite Instagram account?

@kuviabear, I like following cute Kuvia’s sweet everyday life!

Tell us about your happiest day on Instagram.

  • To be honest, it’s hard to decide which day was the happiest on Instagram. I still remember the first day when I walked into our building and sat with my team. I was so impressed with all of the decorations in the building including the cute view of the corner from my desk.
  • I also remember all the relaxing casual conversations that took place during or after happy hours in the micro kitchen, so many funny jokes and laughs.
  • And there are also intense but exciting days near the deadlines when everyone was fighting for the same goal in such a short amount of time. I remember how excited and excited the whole team was when we reached our goal or when the projects started.

What’s one of the best things you learned on Instagram?

I have gained a lot of valuable experience in the coordination and collaboration between teams / roles in Instagram. I’d say Instagram is possibly the best example of how engineers and cross-functional team members like product, legal, and privacy professionals work together across the enterprise. And my team has a lot of cross-team partners, most of whom are remote. The projects I’ve been working on gave me many great opportunities to learn how to work closely and smoothly with different teams and people.

What is your desk configuration like?

A monitor and an Apple Mac Pro (I got it for iOS development and should probably return it now ?).

What was your favorite offsite?

Wellbeing team outside of Clay By The Bay. We had a great day learning and practicing clay work. And my favorite part was that we got our “work” as a result: P.

If you would like to learn more about this work or would like to join one of our engineering teams, please visit our careers page, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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