Career stories: Four engineering careers. One LinkedIn.
October 27, 2022
LinkedIn’s Next Play culture celebrates transformational growth and internal mobility, and engineering leader Shalini is its biggest champion. Based in Silicon Valley, this mom of three walks us through her impactful career journey from our LinkedIn consumer and data teams, then to working on the LinkedIn Sales Solutions team, to now working for LinkedIn Talent Solutions.
Before joining LinkedIn, I worked my way up in Silicon Valley’s consumer software engineering space as a backend (apps) engineer. As my career propelled forward, and I transitioned to managing a team of backend, frontend (UI), and mobile engineers, I really found fulfillment in supporting the engineers around me as we built products together. I quickly realized that management could offer this exciting path of learning and helping engineers grow.
Leveling up with LinkedIn
When I started at LinkedIn in 2015 as a senior engineering manager on the search experience team, I was impressed with how supportive the company culture was to my management style. In my first project, my team retooled the LinkedIn mobile site to give our global user base a better experience, as part of our Consumer Flagship product team.
Then, I was asked to pivot and spearhead the creation of a new data applications team that involved full stack development. Even though building internal tools for engineering was new territory for me, I was eager to learn, and — as I like to say — stumble forward with LinkedIn's support. What initially started as a small team of about 10 has blossomed into 50+ engineers.
Transforming data in Data
My work on the Data team included a site-wide project around changing the way we track events to make our data cleaner and more effective, to be used by both the data science and artificial intelligence (AI) teams. The following video explains how my multi-year project involved extracting the complexity, so when you make one change on one side it brought together product engineering, data science, site-reliability (SRE), analyst and the marketing teams, and how this changed how we think and use data.
LinkedIn is unique where we have both consumer and enterprise products. And I wanted to learn about how it is to build and manage an enterprise software. I explored various roles and products and joined the Sales Navigator team in the LinkedIn Sales Solutions organization. We were about 80-100 engineers that operated as a close-knit small org which was simpler and faster to navigate more like a start-up compared to my previous roles that were part of much larger organizations.
The power of mentors
Transformation and looking ahead are both integral to the collaborative culture here at LinkedIn. When I was planning out my next career move, my managers at LinkedIn were invaluable, giving me the individual attention I needed to progress into my ideal role. As I explored different departments, the mentors I spoke with were generous with their time, advice, and coaching in helping me find the best career fit for me. They truly invested in my career development, ensuring that I found roles I was passionate about and aligned with where I wanted to grow.
Their mentorship was pivotal in landing my latest role as an engineering senior director (see video below) on the LinkedIn Talent Solutions team, where I focus on creating a more equitable and efficient talent marketplace. After the pandemic, skills-based hiring became increasingly valuable to the job search. This is where my role comes into play — my team works on products to build a world where people can be seen by their skills, not just the title or degree.
We build product features such as tools that help companies search for candidates based on skills and to explicitly list skills in job postings, as well as allowing job seekers to clearly compare how their skills match up to a position’s requirements. At LinkedIn, we aim to transform the skills-matching process in the job search, and I am excited about what lies ahead in my career with this team.
Balancing work and family
Through all these career transformations, my team and managers have been incredibly supportive and flexible, as a mom of three. There have been many instances of juggling work and kids especially as school events happen during working hours. However, I have had support from my team and management to balance my time.
One particular instance I remember was when I had a career conversation scheduled with a vice president, and it was right before the play audition for my 5th grader. I had to drive 30 minutes to get there. It was the only time available, so we decided to chat on the phone while I drove to school. Such flexibility and understanding have helped me to integrate my family and work in a balanced way.
Inspiring future engineers
My passion for skills-building led to founding one of my most fulfilling projects to date: LinkedIn’s engineering apprenticeship program, REACH. It’s a multi-year program that helps our engineers uplevel their technical skills in areas from data science, to artificial intelligence (AI), to backend (apps) engineering and user experience.
Per the video below, this started as a grassroots initiative over five years ago and now, the program has now helped over 100 apprentices become part of LinkedIn’s engineering teams. It has been so fulfilling to watch the participants channel their passions into building their future here and I’m proud to have recently celebrated our five year anniversary.
When engineers who are just starting their careers tell me they want to be managers, I always ask about their motivations. I believe a desire to support people should drive that decision, because at the end of the day you remember some of your projects as a manager, but you always remember the people you worked with.
Ask yourself where do you find the most joy? If helping others learn and grow brings you joy, such a role will come more naturally to you. Seek out what brings you joy at work, and your career will follow suit.
Based in Silicon Valley, Shalini is an engineering senior director on our LinkedIn Talent Solutions team. A great example of LinkedIn’s Next Play internal-mobility culture, she also served in consumer and enterprise engineering management roles on our Consumer, Data and LinkedIn Sales Solutions teams. Before joining LinkedIn, she worked for Universal Planet and Sonasoft as a senior software engineer before taking on new engineering leadership roles at eBay as a principal software engineer and product engineering director.
Shalini holds a bachelor’s and master’s in mathematics and computer applications from Banasthali Vidyapith University, and a master’s in computer science from California State University, Hayward. Shalini enjoys spending her free time with her three kids, and helping them learn and grow.
Editor’s note: Considering an engineering/tech career at LinkedIn? In this Career Stories series, you’ll hear first-hand from our engineers and technologists about real life at LinkedIn — including our meaningful work, collaborative culture, and transformational growth. For more on tech careers at LinkedIn, visit: lnkd.in/EngCareers.