Name: Jen Huang
Role: Tech Lead, Sidekick for Business
What are you reading right now? The Count of Monte Cristo
How do you like your coffee? With as much milk and sugar as I can put in it.
Now, on to the good stuff. A few years ago, we started a snapshot series introducing HubSpotters like Paul, Anthony, and Laura. We're back at it and are excited to keep profiling the makers behind HubSpot, starting with Jen. (Her adorable dog and team mascot, Cody, made it to our Q&A session, too. We'll be sharing his valuable insights later on).
How did you get to HubSpot?
I studied computer science with a minor in digital arts at Dartmouth, and worked in New York for about 2 years after school. At the time, I wasn’t thrilled with my job, and my family and a bunch of friends lived in Boston so I was always thinking about moving back. I’m pretty sure I googled “Startups in Boston” and that was how I first found HubSpot. I did some digging and saw they were on a best places to work list and decided to apply. I had never done web development before and had never heard of inbound marketing, so I didn’t have high hopes but figured I could use the interview as practice. Fortunately for me, everything went really smoothly and I had an offer the next day. I really liked the people I had met and the engineering team felt small and collaborative, so I accepted and the whole thing happened pretty quickly from there. Now here we are, four years later.
What’s been your most challenging project at HubSpot?
I’ve worked on a few teams at HubSpot and have had the opportunity to work on some pretty cool projects here. The most challenging was probably when our engineering team made the decision to rewrite the majority of the product, and my team (of two) was tasked with completely re-architecting the analytics pipeline. It was a daunting project for someone who had to wikipedia Hadoop on her first day at HubSpot. We spent the following year overhauling our old analytics pipeline to a brand new stack (Java and HBase) that was able to support our rapidly growing analytics traffic. I learned more in that year than in the entirety of my time at my previous job, and it really cemented how much ownership HubSpot gives each developer.
Tell me a little bit about your team and what it's like working with them.
I really love the people I work with. They are among the smartest people I’ve met, and incredibly helpful. People here want to share their knowledge, and they hold everyone to a high standard which keeps our quality of work high. There’s always somebody willing to brainstorm with you or help you debug something or just explain how their piece of the product works. We have weekly Tech Talks where a developer will share some piece of tech they find interesting, ranging from new frontend frameworks to the inner workings of HBase. That’s been happening since my first week here at HubSpot and it’s incredible that it’s been going on (weekly!) for more than four years.
What’s one thing that you think is unique to building products at HubSpot?
How fast things move here. Deploying code is second nature; you do it so many times a day it feels like business as usual. It’s only when you talk to people at other companies that you realize not every place works like that. To get code to production at my last job, I had to commit my code by Friday, wait for it to get to QA on Monday, and then gradually see it rolled out to production by Thursday. Not only that, everything I did there needed approval, whether it was committing code or ungating people for features. HubSpot on the other hand, gives me complete freedom to make my own decisions with the expectation that I will make mistakes and learn from them.
You’d be surprised at how interesting the problems we solve here are. It’s not just marketing software, it’s marketing software at a pretty large scale so there’s a huge range of cool projects. Take our COS for example, that team is facing a completely different set of challenges than what our Contacts or Analytics team is tackling, and our PaaS team is behind some of the best products I’ve ever used as a developer. No matter what you’re interested in, you will easily find something awesome here to work on.
Last but not least, what’s your favorite part of the Culture Code?
Probably the fact that everyone has a GSD (Get Shit Done) attitude. What’s important here is building product, that’s it. The culture of wanting to build the best product for the customer is pervasive across every team, and there’s an expectation that you’re delivering something cool every day.
I'm afraid we couldn't get to more questions because Jen was busy getting shit done. But if you want to connect with her, say hey in the comments below and stay tuned for our next Mover and Maker profile!