Meet Cristina, Director of Engineering

Meet Cristina, Director of Engineering

Life@eyeo, Women in tech, Durrah Taqiah, 04. April 2022

What is your name, job title and how many years have you worked for eyeo? 

Name: Cristina Yenyxe Gonzalez Garcia (we can have very long names in Spain!)

Job title: I am currently Engineering Lead for the Dragons team, which maintains the eyeo ad-filtering integration product on Chromium platforms ABP Chromium SDK. I will soon move to a new role as Director of Engineering for our ad-filtering SDKs and Adblock Browser.

Time: Almost 2 years, since July 2020.

Can you describe your role in two sentences?

I am responsible for ensuring that my team has everything to guarantee their success and that of our partners: the right processes, tools and skills, and understanding of the technical strategy.

Take us through a day in your work life – what happens after the morning coffee/tea?

It’s quite difficult to describe a single routine! I could say there are 3 categories of work, of which I get different combinations every day. There is not as much context switching as it may seem :)

  1. Focused time to go through open technical tasks, prepare a technical proposal or fulfill a people management process or design a session for the team, among others.
  2. Communication work, which normally happens in the background to address lots of small topics. This could be things like eliminating bottlenecks, looking for clarifications of questions cross-unit, or reacting to some sudden event in the team.
  3. Reflection and mid-term planning. Now and then I revisit a prioritized list of non-imminent projects, which helps me not to forget the least prominent ones, check whether they are still relevant, and pick the next one with minimum effort.

What do you like about your job at eyeo?

That there are many ways to feel accomplished as a lead, thanks to the role combining technical and people management responsibilities. One week I may be planning a new milestone with the team, thinking about how to make the development as iterative as possible, and the day after I am helping a team member to decide what to get training on next year. There are so many places in which you can see the impact of your work.

Sometimes it is a much longer process. You challenge small things here and there for weeks, send apparently disconnected messages… and one day you realize the team has reacted to all that input and completely evolved the way they do something. It’s an awesome feeling.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone applying for a similar job at eyeo?

A struggle for many engineering leads, especially at the beginning, is moving away from the immediate satisfaction of working directly with code on a daily basis. And it is tough, I still have the itch sometimes after 7 years! So I continue making technical contributions, just not as high priority or complex as other team members. This also keeps me fully aware of the technical struggles of the team, and feeds into my ability to fix them.

The balance changes depending on the person and what leadership activities they get involved in. Find the balance that works for you ;)

Include a short overview of why you joined and why you’ve stayed.

After previous experiences in the private and public sectors, in big and small organizations, I realized that I much prefer working for those aiming to make a positive change in society through a realistic proposal. Abusive advertising is something that we all struggle with and, knowing that it’s not going away any time soon, eyeo is clearly trying to strike a balance between all the parties involved.

I also love traveling, and being in a remote position has made it possible for me to work from different cities (as much as the pandemic allowed).

What do you love about working at eyeo – beyond your job scope?

I have worked in international companies before, but each team tended to have a “nationality of choice”, due to referrals or because it’s just easier to connect. I love that my team at eyeo has people from 8 countries, learning about the small things that make each unique or that get us closer. Enjoying food usually fits in the latter :)

How much growth/learning/advancement opportunities are there in eyeo?

I think there are plenty of opportunities, as long as someone is willing to be proactive and seize them. The obvious path is gaining more experience at what one already knows, but at some point you’re going to reach your peak, and then what?

One thing I try to emphasize with engineers is that getting involved in more complex systems indirectly helps to grow one’s skill set. Identifying and optimizing interactions is a very interesting puzzle to solve: What are possible conflicts between concurrent changes by 2 team members? How could partners be affected by a feature? How have other eyeo teams implemented something? How does a high-level objective translate into a project plan?

That said, in my time at eyeo, I have seen people make horizontal moves (changing projects or teams) to try new technologies or ways of working. This isn’t something that happens every day, but if someone isn’t happy in a team and has the potential to deliver in others, we can try to accommodate these changes.

And because the next steps one can take aren’t always obvious, in the last months we have built a “career framework” that is very explicit about actions a person can follow, both to grow as a professional and to advance within the company.

What’s one thing you wish you knew about eyeo before working here?

This isn’t unique to eyeo, but remote work is rough sometimes. Building the “team spirit” takes longer than in person, but with some extra effort, you can see it evolving bit by bit.

What’s one good thing that surprised you about eyeo?

The emphasis on having a good work-life balance. I am fortunate enough that previous employers never pushed me to do much overtime, but in certain positions, I would end up working “just a bit longer” because there was always something going on.

That hasn’t really happened to me at eyeo. Having your supervisor explicitly tell you to leave something for tomorrow is something I wish more people could experience.

How would you describe the work environment?

I love how passionate people are about what they do and about getting better at it! Maybe the company’s mission has an influence on this, but I feel that many of us want to build a quality product not just for the sake of it, but because we can see how it benefits our users.

What kind of personality traits thrive in this company? 

Being decisive but also flexible.

A lot of the eyeo people have very good and extensive backgrounds, meaning that they can contribute to advanced conversations, but sometimes also have strong opinions about certain topics.

Having a clear opinion and being decisive is an important trait to drive progress; if everyone was neutral or passive, challenging initiatives would be never pushed forward. But this decisiveness must be communicated in a polite way, not being pushed onto others, and with a willingness to adapt in the face of well-reasoned arguments.