Elisa Muñoz, Community Lead, ControlHub

Women in Engineering: Where Software Meets Hardware | Olya Royall

Elisa Munoz Headshot
TItle slide with an image of a woman in a circle and the title, “Where software meets hardware.” The ControlHub logo is in the bottom left corner and the words “with Olya Royall” are on the bottom right. The words “Women in Engineering” are written under the photo of the woman. The blue background is an illustration of lines that are supposed to look like invisible network or WiFi signals.

Meet an inspiring woman in the software engineering industry.

Watch as DroneDeploy’s Olya Royall talks with Builder Nation Podcast host Elisa Muñoz about her experience as a woman in the software engineering industry, why it’s important to recruit more women for engineering roles, and shares some sage advice for those in the industry.

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You’ll learn

  • The biggest challenges with being a woman in the industry, according to Olya 

  • Ideas for ways to get more women into the software engineering industry 

  • Why Olya thinks that women make great software engineers 

Who is this for?

Business Leaders


Elisa Munoz Headshot
Elisa Muñoz
Community Lead, ControlHub

Guest speakers

Olya Royall Headshot
Olya Royall
Engineering Manager, DroneDeploy


0:00 hello everyone and welcome to builder

0:02 nation where your favorite engineers

0:04 share their tips and tricks in the

0:06 industry

0:09 [Music]

0:09 [Applause]

0:14 [Music]

0:20 i'm alisa and i get to speak with really

0:22 cool engineering leaders creating real

0:24 change within their fascinating

0:26 companies today as part of our female

0:28 power initiative where we get to know

0:31 inspiring women in the industry i have

0:33 the pleasure to speak with oli ariel

0:35 engineering manager at drone deploy a

0:38 cloud software platform for commercial

0:40 pros hi olia and welcome

0:43 hi thanks for having me and let me give

0:45 you a little bit of context guys oya has

0:47 four years working teams to drive

0:49 product usage and growth and basically

0:52 we're gonna talk about your professional

0:54 background olea your experience as a

0:56 woman in the industry some challenges

0:58 some role differences anything that you

1:01 can share but oh yeah since we have it

1:03 here we have a lot of questions and i'm

1:05 super excited to get to know you so i

1:07 want you to tell me

1:09 what is all like what is being a

1:11 software engineer all about if you can

1:13 tell us a little bit of your experience

1:16 when you start in this industry

1:18 i'll take it back a little bit because i

1:21 have over a decade of experience um in a

1:24 non-inter role i didn't have sort of a

1:28 traditional career path um

1:31 i have spent most of my career working

1:34 in some

1:36 various sales business development and

1:38 operational rules

1:41 and then i

1:43 ventured into biotech briefly

1:47 and i decided it wasn't the right path

1:49 for me

1:50 i

1:51 pivoted into software engineering in

1:53 2016.

1:54 i went to a dev boot camp and

1:59 we gathered sort of a team of close

2:02 classmates and started

2:05 getting into hackathons and just

2:07 building up portfolio and developer

2:09 skills

2:10 and then i landed a job at drone deploy

2:13 in april 2017

2:17 where

2:18 it just felt like the right fit you know

2:21 i never

2:23 had experience sort of the state of flow

2:27 as i did when i first started working as

2:29 an engineer it's

2:31 one of the most frustrating things to be

2:33 an engineer sometimes you're trying to

2:35 solve a problem and you're

2:38 sitting there and it's

2:40 you're just beating your head against

2:42 the wall and then it's suddenly things

2:44 click and it's like a very

2:47 uh

2:48 high highs and low lows

2:51 trying to figure something out

2:54 uh but it's it's very exciting and i

2:57 really enjoy working as an engineer as

3:00 an individual contributor

3:02 initially um it just

3:05 felt like the time would pass by so fast

3:08 um

3:10 you're solving interesting problems

3:12 you're trying to make something work

3:14 it's a very creative endeavor in some

3:16 ways

3:18 so i

3:19 really enjoyed it and i mean i have to

3:21 tell you i did a little bit of research

3:24 in your past experience and i did see a

3:27 lot of recommendations

3:29 from your past teams saying like olia is

3:31 such a big leader and olia knows how to

3:35 how to lead the teams and how to work

3:37 correctly and how to motivate people

3:40 and how do you feel being the leader in

3:42 the industry i still have a bit of an

3:45 imposter syndrome

3:48 uh you know

3:49 i am a senior engineering manager now

3:52 and i manage two teams i manage the

3:54 growth team

3:55 which

3:56 our mission is to help expand existing

3:58 customer base and drive monthly active

4:01 users and basically just drive

4:04 general user engagement

4:06 and now i also manage another team

4:08 that's

4:10 in charge of

4:12 internationalization we're actually

4:14 expanding into

4:15 spanish and portuguese so

4:18 pretty exciting but a completely new

4:21 greenfield project

4:24 so

4:25 it's been really interesting experience

4:28 because i got to build both teams

4:30 basically from the ground up i

4:33 went for managing four people to

4:35 currently managing 12 people and

4:38 some of them are located in poland i

4:41 have a qa engineer who's in the

4:43 netherlands

4:44 and then the rest of the team is spread

4:46 across the united states

4:48 so it's a very interesting challenge

4:51 being a remote manager and trying to

4:54 do only remote activities and figuring

4:59 out ways to communicate across different

5:01 time zones and

5:02 kind of build trust and

5:05 lead the teams but

5:06 we have a lot of support add drone

5:08 deploy because

5:11 initially when you become manager you

5:13 have to go through like a series of

5:16 management leadership training that

5:19 spends everything from how to properly

5:22 coach people how to have good

5:23 one-on-ones how to

5:25 interview people how to

5:28 do feedback all of those really

5:30 essential skills in general this topic

5:33 of psychology and leadership and

5:35 organization and

5:37 how to build good processes in

5:39 engineering is really interesting to me

5:41 so

5:42 i read a lot on my own

5:45 there's a bunch of publications but the

5:48 most

5:49 valuable ones that i found are from

5:51 first round review

5:52 software weed software uh lead weekly

5:56 uh harvard business review and then

5:58 there's this

6:01 kind of like

6:03 cliff notes for business books called

6:05 blinkist you need to figure out how to

6:10 communicate what others need to do in

6:12 such a way that makes sense to everyone

6:15 and how to delegate some of these things

6:18 and how to

6:20 switch your mind shift from

6:23 thinking oh i'm just putting off work to

6:25 somebody else to no i'm actually

6:27 providing opportunities for for

6:29 leadership and growth to others by

6:32 delegating some of these tasks so that i

6:34 could focus on a larger picture

6:37 and

6:38 bigger sort of more longer term

6:39 initiatives the key i think is building

6:42 psychological safety and trust

6:44 i believe in leadership by example and

6:48 enabling

6:49 my p my team

6:51 by providing appropriate tools and

6:53 frameworks and opportunities to them

6:55 give people the knowledge of why they're

6:57 working towards something like why are

6:59 we building something the business

7:01 context i think empowers them

7:04 very much to be able to do the best work

7:06 that they can because they know why

7:08 they're building something and

7:10 how it it helps the company

7:14 to grow and and then

7:16 how it affects them

7:18 if they're just building stuff for the

7:20 sake of building stuff it's really hard

7:22 to keep motivated if you don't know why

7:26 you're doing something

7:27 you don't have much of a purpose totally

7:30 it makes total sense to me i mean

7:32 making sure that you know the why are

7:34 you doing what you're doing how you're

7:36 doing it and especially yeah building

7:39 the trust within your team sounds really

7:41 really important the key to a successful

7:43 team now when it comes to being a woman

7:45 and to be in a directive role and having

7:48 to handle teams you started having like

7:51 five people and now you have 12 people

7:53 and you're working with different sides

7:56 of the organization what do you feel

7:58 that it's the biggest challenge for you

8:00 being a woman in the industry at drone

8:02 deploy i haven't

8:04 felt like it's a challenge

8:06 but you know

8:08 i am

8:10 one of

8:11 the few

8:12 women engineers and i am i'm the only

8:15 engineering manager who's who's a woman

8:19 but i don't

8:20 find it as

8:22 challenging i feel like we have a

8:24 diverse enough background

8:26 on a lot of the team members i don't

8:29 feel excluded

8:31 let's say

8:32 i did earlier on when i was trying to

8:35 kind of push through to

8:37 the leadership role and kind of

8:40 grow in my individual contributor role

8:43 have gotten some pushback and

8:45 a few individuals have expressed concern

8:47 of me not being technical enough

8:50 which kind of cut me pretty deep

8:54 but the majority of my engineering team

8:56 has recognized that i do have good

8:58 problem solving skills and technical

9:00 skills and trusted me to be the mentor

9:02 and the tech lead and eventually promote

9:05 me

9:06 so

9:06 a lot of like a few of these kinds of

9:10 sort of like concerns of me not being

9:12 technical enough

9:13 have gone away just because i've proven

9:16 myself

9:18 and maybe this is the challenge i always

9:20 feel like i have to prove myself and it

9:24 could be my own

9:25 personal

9:26 mental

9:28 challenge but

9:30 maybe it's also a bit part of because i

9:33 feel like i'm the not coming from a

9:36 traditional background in computer

9:38 science but in general overall i feel

9:43 like i'm pretty well supported and i

9:45 don't have to fight an uphill battle

9:49 how do you feel that we can

9:50 get more women in the industry and how

9:52 do you feel that we can make them feel

9:55 secure it's a tough question you know

9:56 that's a million dollar question and

10:00 how do we get them working

10:03 in the industry it's changing the

10:05 landscape and

10:07 kind of

10:08 the type of cultures that you have and

10:11 and drone deployment

10:13 is a really good example of a good

10:16 inclusive and collaborative and

10:18 supportive culture

10:19 maybe

10:20 having

10:21 opportunities at startups

10:23 that provide support for

10:26 for varying different backgrounds the

10:29 research that i've read

10:31 talks about how a lot of women won't

10:34 apply for a job for example if it has a

10:37 very specific

10:39 job description so if you have like

10:42 a thousand different

10:43 requirements

10:45 where really only five of them are

10:47 really important

10:49 maybe don't put the whole kitchen sink

10:51 in your job description

10:53 so that people can

10:55 feel like they are actually qualified to

10:58 apply

10:59 there's a stark difference between how

11:01 men apply to jobs and how women apply to

11:03 jobs

11:05 in terms of

11:06 a lot more under qualified men will

11:08 apply for a job whereas women will only

11:12 apply for a job if they feel like they

11:15 are exactly qualified for all of the

11:17 requirements

11:19 so only put the requirements that are

11:21 truly needed on your job descriptions or

11:24 most of the times it's us who keep like

11:27 putting these barriers you know or

11:30 creating these barriers these mental

11:32 like blocks instead of just saying like

11:35 hey i'm a woman i'm capable i can do it

11:37 i can be a manager of team you know yeah

11:40 engineering is so much more than just

11:42 problem solving it's

11:44 it's very communication driven and women

11:47 are generally pretty good at

11:49 communicating

11:50 we have talked about women in the

11:52 industry you talk about your experience

11:54 and drone deploy what is your everyday

11:57 like routine what is your everyday at

12:00 the company oh it's quite different as

12:03 an engineering manager from when i was

12:06 an individual contributor but

12:08 i have some time in the morning where i

12:11 do planning and kind of map out

12:14 what i need to do and prepare for the

12:16 week i have

12:18 a lot of meetings where um

12:22 i'm part of sort of like team

12:24 discussions so i could have all of the

12:26 context uh and bring it to my team

12:30 i try to protect our time

12:33 as much as possible as i know that even

12:36 15-minute meetings can

12:38 be a total distraction from

12:40 your

12:42 getting into something and trying to

12:43 solve a problem talking about drone

12:46 deploy can you share a success your

12:48 favorite success story from a company

12:50 that started using drone deploy uh my

12:53 favorite success story is

12:55 actually not from a single company but

12:57 uh dronedeploy has a dot org uh arm

13:01 where we work with non-profit

13:03 organizations and it's uh the story that

13:06 i love

13:07 is from the disaster relief efforts uh

13:10 my company has helped out uh during the

13:14 campfire in 2018 and it was one of the

13:17 most devastating fires to that date in

13:21 california

13:23 where over three days

13:26 16 teams of public safety professionals

13:29 from various different

13:31 regions

13:32 had to um

13:35 complete 500 plus drone flights and they

13:38 captured

13:39 a ton of imagery uh surrounding the

13:42 areas that suffered from the fire i

13:43 think was

13:45 um

13:46 the result was 500 gigabytes of drone

13:49 data

13:50 which

13:51 drone deploy helped process and turn

13:53 into

13:56 15 000 acres of high resolution aerial

13:59 maps

14:00 and it was

14:01 enabling um state agencies and the

14:04 public to assist in the recovery efforts

14:07 um

14:08 it it helped

14:10 search and rescue operations it assisted

14:13 the planning

14:15 and the response for potential mudslides

14:17 it helped with relief fund issuance

14:21 and it helped a bunch of the people that

14:23 have lost their homes

14:25 to process the insurance claims so much

14:27 faster because

14:29 they have photographic and aerial

14:31 evidence of um

14:33 of their houses which

14:36 were completely unrecognizable a lot of

14:39 that fires just

14:41 low visibility there was trees that were

14:44 kind of melting together you couldn't

14:46 recognize what the street names were

14:49 anymore and

14:51 i'm just really proud to work for a

14:53 company that enabled such a massive

14:56 effort we had to work through

14:59 the weekend and

15:01 and the next day we delivered 75 maps

15:05 it's like

15:07 we spun up this whole area and um

15:10 it was all like stitched together nicely

15:13 and you not only had a aerial 2d map

15:16 view from the top but there were

15:19 markers with video footage and 360

15:21 footage i think that was that was really

15:24 cool

15:25 and one of my favorite

15:26 stories and how you could use drones for

15:29 good i mean at the end of the day it's

15:31 something that makes you just like you

15:33 said it makes you feel proud of what

15:35 you're working on of your team you know

15:37 like i'm pretty sure those extra hours

15:40 that you worked on the project you were

15:41 like i'm super tired but i feel

15:44 oh overall i feel satisfied i feel proud

15:48 i feel

15:49 thankful of being working for a company

15:51 that not only helps

15:53 clients to solve their necessities but

15:55 also i'm helping people just like you

15:58 said my favorite stories are coming from

16:00 a lot of the non-profit organizations

16:02 that we work with like i said emergency

16:04 response and rescue teams

16:06 there's a lot of companies that use

16:08 drone deploy for forest restoration

16:11 uh there's one really interesting one

16:13 that did a

16:15 mapping of the coral reefs and it's

16:18 quite a different

16:19 challenge than doing ground uh mapping

16:23 but it helps that a lot of the places

16:25 where you have coral reefs the water is

16:27 really clear and still so you could

16:30 actually see under the water pretty well

16:32 and something else i mean last but not

16:34 least i want to ask you any advice that

16:37 you can give to your to our audience the

16:39 engineers ceos managers who are

16:41 listening to this podcast treat your

16:44 people that you work with as human

16:46 beings and they will treat you back as a

16:49 human being and they'll they'll give the

16:51 best that they can

16:53 and trust that they will do the best

16:55 that they can that's the only way to

16:57 work we can no longer treat

17:00 people as

17:01 numbers and employees i mean i'm sure

17:04 it's harder to do at a larger company

17:07 but i feel like most successful

17:09 companies

17:10 not even just in engineering but in

17:12 general treat their people

17:15 well and in return they get people that

17:18 are happy

17:19 people that are loyal and people that

17:21 are giving as best as they can you could

17:24 try to make the most amount of money as

17:26 fast as you possibly can but

17:29 you can't do it without a team and

17:31 i don't know if it should be the goal of

17:34 a company to maximize your profits like

17:37 maximize your people and the profits

17:40 will follow they may not be i don't know

17:42 like a billion less from like your 10

17:45 billions that you're making it as as a

17:48 company it's not going to matter that

17:50 much if you have a workforce that's

17:52 that's happy and continuously supporting

17:54 you the longevity of everyone matters

17:57 more totally totally it doesn't matter

18:00 if you i mean at the end of the day

18:01 you're not gonna be able to make any

18:03 profits if you haven't if you don't have

18:05 a great team or a good team at least or

18:08 if they're not happy if they're not

18:09 motivated the amount of work that they

18:12 will they will build at the end of the

18:13 day it's not going to be

18:15 the same it's not going to be as good

18:17 and you're probably going to have lots

18:18 of turnover and i think most

18:22 people realize that the turnover

18:25 is

18:26 what kills the companies because you're

18:28 constantly having to throw resources at

18:30 hiring people training people and that's

18:33 it's it's difficult it's

18:35 expensive thank you so much for

18:38 this it's not only one advice it's like

18:41 thousands of advices from you

18:43 thank you so much we're super happy to

18:45 have you here and to have the

18:47 opportunity to talk to you and to learn

18:48 from you especially do you have any

18:50 social media handles where can we find

18:52 you i'm on linkedin like uh only a royal

18:56 on linkedin so if you want to find me

18:59 there that's probably the the best way

19:01 um

19:02 i checked that once in a while and i

19:05 tend to respond to people that reach out

19:07 for advice or you know i'm

19:11 one of my favorite parts of the job is

19:13 to to help people

19:15 um grow so you know i

19:18 generally am trying to be responsive to

19:21 people that are looking for advice or um

19:24 asking questions or how they could grow

19:27 in their career i'm happy to help

19:29 oh thank you so much julia thank you for

19:31 your ability

19:32 and remember guys that you can also find

19:35 more information interesting articles

19:38 really interesting interviews like this

19:39 one directly on our website

19:42 controlhub.com

19:43 builder dash nation

19:46 so thank you so much for being a part of

19:47 this community we'll be seeing each

19:49 other we'll be hearing each other soon

19:51 with more stories to share an exciting

19:54 guest to introduce so thank you so much

19:56 olea for your time and we're super lucky

19:59 to have you today thank you so much

20:01 elisa appreciate it

20:04 [Music]

20:11 you

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