An Expat Living the Dream in Dallas Office

Joao Carlos Campos | Manager, Lodging Operations in Dallas, TX

Joao Carlos Campos smilingAfter a year and a half working for Expedia out of Sao Paulo office, I had the pleasure of being relocated to the US to work with the Dallas team. Other than getting used to a dishwasher and picking up a new favorite brand of soap and olive oil, I knew I would have way more new things ahead of me. Like a great friend told me once: it’s the pleasure of doing things for the first time. But I would never imagine what a type of experience that it would become.

One of Expedia Group’s Guiding Principles is to Be Open and Honest. Writing about being open and honest is not an easy task. My intent here would be to share how this principle helped me grow professionally and as a person.

As an expatriate, I needed to get used to new rules, new regulations, new ways of behavior, and new ways of communication. Learning was something that became part of my daily routine. In the office, I felt I was living in a side universe: new metrics, new concepts, new team, new colleagues. And again, I needed to learn. I realized that the best way to learn would be asking questions. Even when I did not want to sound stupid or naïve. I just needed to ask.

A few times I did not ask. A few times I wanted to show no vulnerability. And it was so wrong. I made mistakes with my team. I made mistakes with my boss. But what I did best was to accept, work on a fix, learn, and move on.

Being open and honest showed me that it’s okay not to know how a metric is calculated. It showed me that it’s okay not to know how a heater or A/C works. Being honest taught me that building trust it is hard but it cannot be done under a Superman cape. Being vulnerable just makes of you a better person and pushes you to live a real life, both in and out of work.

If you get that “I-have-no-idea-of-what-you-are-talking-about” look in your face while talking to your more experienced peers, let me tell you that it’s OKAY! Just ask what you need to. Do not pretend you know it all. With time, you see that this genuine behavior helps to build relationships.

At this point, I’m really thankful to the generous boss (and “grand-boss”) I have. I’m so thankful to the understanding team of associates I have. And also, very thankful to the great colleagues and friends I made since I started my new life.

My biggest and most legit advice: Be open. Be honest. Be transparent. It’s so worthy!!!

Celebrating Education in Tech: DojoCon 2018

Every year the CoderDojo community gathers for their global conference, DojoCon, and this year the event will take place in Kilkenny, Ireland. The CoderDojo foundation reviews bids submitted by clubs around the world and selects one of the clubs to host the conference. On behalf of her local club in Kilkenny, Expedia Group’s Margaret Ahearne put through a proposal and her submission was successful. She and the team in Kilkenny CoderDojo have spent the last 12 months planning a bumper weekend.

DojoCon 2018 is a celebration of education in tech and will have representation from over 14 different countries. On Saturday, October 20th delegates can sit and watch the main stage speakers, which will cover topics from virtual reality, game design, inclusion in tech, augmented reality, and women in STEM. Representing Expedia Group on the main stage will include Kristy Nicholas, who will be sitting on a Women in Tech panel. Nasreen AbdulJaleel and Connor Culleton will share the stage with Dr. Norah Patten, who is currently training to be Ireland’s first person in space, to discuss travel tech from global travel to outer space.

There are also 5 workshops covering design, creativity, coding, community inclusion, and robotics. Teachers and CoderDojo volunteers will leave the conference with the tools to educate and support their students.

From the get-go, it was non-negotiable to have 50% female representation of speakers and presenters, and the DojoCon team are proud to have lived up to this promise. Making technology accessible to all children was also a key, so having Nasreen and Connor representing the Expedia Group accessibility efforts was an ideal fit.

The conference will end with a hackathon on the Sunday for 7 – 17-year-olds.

Perfectly in line with what Expedia Group stands for, it was a no-brainer for us to get behind DojoCon and support the initiative as the main sponsor. Expedia Group is proud to have employees worldwide volunteering and mentoring in CoderDojo clubs.

The full DojoCon program can be viewed here.

Expedia’s Makers

Expedia’s Makers | Engineering Lodging Shop

The Lodging Shopping product & engineering team are responsible for solving customer problems for lodging search, refine, and details. This includes the services that power the web/native experience and the user interface to web browsers on mobile, tablet and desktop. Surthi Samraj, Daman Kauer, Dineth Mendis, Scott Horn, and George Saliba are all apart of this team and worked together to write this blog post for you.

Working for a large multinational travel company brings a lot of opportunities. Even before your first day, you dream of making the next disruptive piece of technology that will change the way people see and experience the world. If you’ve worked at any large company before though, you’d know this is far from reality. The experience is akin to that of a small cog in a complex machine. Everyone stakes a claim to their cog and innovation becomes a challenge.

Recently, we have been actively looking to change the way we work. We recognized that in order to bring our customers to the next frontier of travel innovation, we needed to reinvigorate the love we all possessed for travel and using technology to make it more fun.

We embarked on a journey, a road trip, to change our web technology stack. Like most road trips, we expected a few surprises – delights and disappointments. But beyond just making a great one-off experience, we wanted to have a more lasting impact on the culture of our whole team and group. We also realized we could no longer think of ourselves as siloed disciplines that sit on a factory floor, doing the same thing over and over. We needed to alter our frame of mind and collectively identify ourselves as Makers.

The simple term was very elegantly described by the late Mr. Steve Jobs:

Maker = Thinker + Doer

In order to execute as a true Maker, we used our (Expedia’s) Guiding Principles and set about transforming our process. Makers of all disciplines (Engineers, User Experience, Product, Analytics, etc. ) and varying levels of experience needed to feel empowered to think about travelers’ challenges and solve them together. We also acknowledged the need to fail quickly with a minimum blast radius so we could try over and over again, learning and standing on the shoulders of giants who learn from their mistakes. All this to ensure that we’d have a culture that protects our makers in their journey.

The changes we adopted were fundamental, and key to the success of our journey. To distinguish from our previous, more traditional agile teams, we adopted the name ‘squads’ (borrowed from something similar at Spotify).

  1. All squads have a well-defined traveler challenge they are trying to solve and that is aligned with the company’s broader strategy.
  2. Each squad is autonomous and cross-disciplined based on the need to solve travelers’ challenge.
  3. Squads spend time understanding their problem and inspecting data.
  4. Members of a squad work together, like kindergarteners in the Marshmallow Experiments, to do their best to solve it in a constrained amount of time.
  5. If solutions require new expertise, squads may recruit other makers or trade with other squads.

To provide a healthy environment for makers, we knew we had to be super nimble, iterating both processes and development work to have the best outcome. By organizing around traveler challenges instead of adding features to services and products, we knew we could deliver the right outcomes – ones that truly matter to our travelers.

Our team of makers are around the globe, this includes five countries and more than six time zones. Having autonomous squads in this environment ensures our makers learn from a diverse set of cultures and approaches. It also brings us closer to understanding what is to be a local traveler – delivering familiar, memorable experiences.

Our journey has just reached its one year mark, and we really starting to see the impact. From highly engaged makers who are always thinking about travelers to our improved technical stacks with some really exciting set of technologies (ReactJS, GraphQL and the like).

But we’re not done yet! This is, in fact, just the beginning.

The organic manner of our growth keeps us going. It is as human as the people who are part of it. We constantly make mistakes, correct them, evolve to be better and more relevant. The entire team is dedicated to learning and creating, and are focused on solving problems based on our values.

What began as an effort with 20 people is now an everyday affair for roughly 200. That spark was enough to begin inspiring adoption by other parts of the group. As they join us at the helm of change and growth this is a very exhilarating time to go through a renewed sense of ownership and ultimately rediscover our love for travel and our customers.

Why don’t you join us? Come, be a maker at Expedia Group!

Career Check-In with Leslie Ekas

Leslie Ekas | Vice President, Financial Systems & Core Transaction Services (FCTS) in Bellevue, WA

What does your typical workday look like?

Meetings, meetings, and meetings. I coordinate with FCTS partners and customers to ensure we are moving forward and I work with my team to understand our work and ensure the teams have what they need. I also work with other eCommerce Platform (eCP) leaders to help move the eCP 2020 initiatives forward.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

I enjoy Expedia Group’s (EG) dedication and enthusiasm to enable our customers to travel. I appreciate that Mark Okerstrom is open and honest with us about our business and opens the door for us to be a part of the solution.

What makes your team unique?

We manage the financial events and operations for EG so we have the unique opportunity to deeply understand and see first-hand how our business works. We are constantly making sure we understand the best technical ways to ensure our business runs consistently, at scale, and with high quality. 

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

During my time in Global Customer Operations (GCO), our technology teams learned how to work in an agile way to be very responsive to the most critical business needs. It was really exciting to be a part of that transformation.

Who has influenced you the most?

Lots of people influence me but I learned so much from my parents. My father taught me to how to stay calm and work through problems, no matter how large they got. My mother taught me to be positive and make the most out of any situation.

How and where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration all over the place. Recently, we had a team demo of new technology that was challenged by the audience. We figured out that we were designing systems to work the way they are currently working. Through the discussion and getting feedback from the audience, we were able to challenge the status quo. Figuring out how to get better is inspiring.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

Once I was able to ask for feedback and act on it, I discovered people truly want you to get better and will support you. 

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

Try a job opportunity that you don’t know you can achieve.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

I went on a Safari in southern Africa. I am fortunate enough to have had amazing vacations but Africa definitely stands out the most. I am a nature lover and conservationist, so experiencing wildlife at a distance helped me to understand what a gift we have if we protect it.

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

Long walks at the beach or in the mountains. No mechanical noises.

Landing my dream job and the magic of giving it away

Marnie Weber | Sr. Technical Product Manager in Bellevue, WA

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.  Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.’ – Maya Angelou

Ms. Angelou had it right of course.  As did Kahlil Gibran who said, “work is love made visible.”  I live by these ideals because I believe that people who love what they do are less likely to start wars, starve babies, or shoot teenagers.  They’re too busy being happy.

Loving what you do sounds awesome – but only one-third of us are highly engaged[i] in our work.  Businesses love the idea of high engagement because it’s linked to high performance.  And individuals want to be highly engaged because it leads to rewards and recognition.  But neither really know what to do to increase engagement.  They haven’t made the love connection.

As a child, I was a performer.  I made up skits, sang along with my parents’ LPs, danced, did gymnastics and was a cheerleader.  I performed in the two school plays that were produced by my tiny High School. I loved being on stage and, thus, I wanted to be an actress when I grew up.  But when I grew up I studied computer science.  I enjoyed programming and was good at it – and I didn’t want to be a starving artist.  My dream of performance was put away.

Computer science was the way to go in the late- 80s.  I won an internship at Microsoft in 1988 and stayed for a long time, pursuing a variety of jobs and learning, learning, learning.  Sometimes I really loved my work, sometimes I didn’t and by 2011 I was ready to do something different, more meaningful, something with more love in it.  I decided to leave Microsoft and start a coaching and facilitation practice because, as a leader, I was good at those things and they made me happy.

But before I started out on my own…

I was a bit underutilized during the last few months of my Microsoft career, so I decided to get a jump on my new role by developing a career planning workshop just for the fun of it.  I offered it to any group within my organization who was interested, and several teams took me up on it.  My love of performance was rekindled as I engaged my audience and I felt fulfilled by their positive response.

Shortly after I started my business,I was contacted by Adobe about designing and facilitating a series of career planning workshops. I hadn’t advertised or contacted Adobe, so I was a bit surprised.  It turned out that the Marketing VP who contacted me had taken my free Microsoft workshop and had chosen her new career at Adobe based on her learning from it.

How serendipitous.

For the next couple of years, I worked as a coach and facilitator and I co-curated TEDxSeattle 2013.  I learned more about coaching and facilitation and I gained interesting insights about storytelling, but I wasn’t making ends meet doing what I loved.  After much soul-searching (and with two children readying for university), I reached out to Strong-Bridge Consulting and they graciously brought me onboard as a consultant.

When I first started consulting, I was placed almost exclusively in project management roles.  I was good at project and program management, but they weren’t my dream gigs.  To be happy and super productive I knew I needed to bring more love to my work, so I found ways to incorporate workshops and coaching into my project management roles.  My clients loved the creativity and unique results I was able to bring with these additional, often complementary, services.  I was happy and Strong-Bridge was super supportive.

Over time, the mix of work I was awarded shifted more toward facilitation until I was hired by Expedia Group to teach an engineering team how to use storytelling techniques to improve their written and verbal communications.  I had the luxury of six months to deliver training and coaching for each team member such that they would be able to present their best TED-like talk.  This engagement was 100% facilitation, coaching, and storytelling, and was unlike any I had done before.  I felt excited to go to work almost every day and noticed that I was making an even greater impact than I had before.

And then… my work got noticed by the group’s Vice President and shortly thereafter I was hired by Expedia Group to do MY DREAM JOB!  I am grateful every day that I get to do the work I absolutely love.

It all started with me giving away the work I loved to do the most.

I believe the shifts in the type of work I do happened because I didn’t wait to be paid for what I love to do.  Rather, I brought love to my work and more work that I loved followed.

If you are less than highly engaged and want to feel more love in your work, try bringing what you love to your work.  Do you love coding, but that’s not your job?  Create a helpful app for the team.  You long to work in a nonprofit but feel stuck in the corporate world?  Enlist and lead a group of volunteers in a charitable activity.

You get the idea.

[i] Gallup, State of the Workplace Report 2017

Commemorate The Milestone of Happy’s Journey

Happy Chow | Recruiter in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I am in my fourth year with Expedia… it hasn’t been a long journey but it hasn’t been short either!

I started my role at Expedia Group as Lodging Partner Associate and then I made my move to the Talent Acquisition (TA) team after 2 years. I started as a Recruitment Coordinator for 6 months, was an Associate Recruiter for 10 months, and then I was promoted to a Recruiter, my current role.

I am now working with a group of very talented people – my team and my manager are super supportive and both play a very important role in my achievements. They continue to give me the motivation I need and a clear direction on where I should go and what I should achieve next. All of the compliments, acknowledgments, and awards allow me to know myself better – there is no limitation to my personal development here at Expedia Group. At the end of the day, I feel great that all of my hard work is being recognized and rewarded.

Why do I love working at Expedia Group? I like to see us doing meaningful things, bringing the world within reach, and achieving the ‘Best Places to Work’ awards. I have been enjoying every single day when I come to work – the culture is upbeat, our leadership is transparent and clear on direction, and we are a very well-organized, process-oriented company. We have awesome work-life balance too!

All of our Expedia brands and the working environment makes our people proud be part of it – and I’m proud to be a part of Expedia Group.
Throughout the years, we have come across lots of changes, challenges, and opportunities. We enjoy every moment when we are able to break through and see that our company is in the right direction, continuing to be at the forefront.

We are a company that puts people first, encourages transparency, and shows appreciation. We have a very diverse environment but we act as one team to achieve the same goal. Being a global company, there are a lot of opportunities to work with others team and regions.

Anyone that comes with the right energy and ambition, will find unlimited career and personal progression.


Be Open and Honest. Be Humble.

Isabelle James | Lodging Partner Associate I in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

“The Expedia Group Guiding Principles defines our culture, and describes how we will collectively realize our Vision, Purpose and Strategic Imperatives.” The fact that the principles are applied to all Expedia Group employees worldwide already makes us a family — a huge family tree with full-blown diversity. How amazing is that?!

The ones that I live by are the combination of “Be Open and Honest” and “Be Humble”. I find these two principles somewhat similar and are in need of each other just like how hours need minutes and months need days. If you find yourself being humble, then you’ll find yourself being open and honest. Same as if you find yourself being open and honest, you’ll somehow find yourself being humble. Now, these works both ways — when we stay open to our partners they become humble and if partners are open and honest to us, we almost automatically become humble.

I am a Lodging Partner Associate 1 and I am supporting the Australian Market but based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Handling partners on the phone is a daily challenge to my team as the Australian market is known to be the hardest. In all honesty, I find them rather challenging than difficult. When I am open and honest while staying humble, partners tend to find it comforting and they try to match the tone, in that way we have quite a pleasant conversation but of course, easier said than done. There are partners who can be a little bit hard on us. Our Hotel Partners sometimes tend to forget that we are partners in business and it is important we keep in mind that we are indeed business partners.

I keep my conversations professionally open and I stay honest with the partners, willing to answer any questions they have in mind and willing to reach all ends to find a definite answer. (Pro Tip: My goal is to ensure they don’t call me back for the same inquiry.) Remain humble at all times when it comes to sharing some tips with the partners. They may ask some advise like, “What do you think if I named my rooms like this?” or “How much of a discount do you think I should give for this promotion?”. Of course, you don’t give them a ridicule answer. You be humble with the answers and be confident with your tone.

In my Life at Expedia, the main key to providing excellent customer service is by being open and honest; and staying humble. I hope this read up boosts your spirit as much as it does to me!

Common Tools & Services equals Developer Collaboration which in turn empowers Productivity!

Tammy Stockton | Sr Product Manager in Bellevue

As a Sr. Product Manager of Developer Collaboration and Productivity for Expedia’s IT organization, I’ve been participating in a Common Tools & Services initiative. But, lets back up about a year. In 2017, I had the opportunity to sit down with Technology Leaders across Expedia Group. In these discussions, I listened and they talked, mostly about developer pain points within their pipelines and processes.  I was noticing some real themes here:

  • Lack of transparency across development teams
  • No common development tools
  • Lack of a centralized pipeline
  • Development teams are siloed and want to collaborate
  • Developers want to focus on building great Expedia products

These common themes uncovered a common problem which led to a common solution… Developer Collaboration & Productivity via Common Tools & Services. As a developer, collaboration and productivity were the primary themes here. After doing some analysis, there was also some underlying redundancy. Decentralized development tools incur redundant costs. Costs like:

  • Infrastructure costs
  • Administrative costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • costs, costs, costs

Well, with a blessing and the support of Expedia Group leadership, this led me on a mission to provide the best in class development tools that facilitate collaboration and productivity via Common Tools & Services for thousands of Expedia developers. Let’s consolidate…One Team, Group First!

Welcome Artifactory, Same but Better

You have to start somewhere and Artifactory was the test for consolidation to improve developer collaboration and productivity. After all, Artifatory is the same but better! Right? Having many flavors of “Binary Repository Managers” at Expedia, I and a few Engineers rolled out and have been successfully paving the way to consolidating development teams, providing common tools, and reducing redundancy and overhead costs.

Hello Github Enterprise – Goodbye Bitbucket

They say, “Coders Gonna Code” and with Expedia Group developers operating out of a variety of source code instances, with different tree structures and limited access across these instances, they do code… but they lack collaboration, and in turn, this impedes productivity. By means of persistence and facilitating the collaboration of a group of influential Tech leaders across Expedia, we collaborated on a plan for consolidation onto a single Github Enterprise for Expedia Group. This was a task I was not super confident about at first. In fact, for quite some time the “Octocat” haunted me in my sleep. Well, I’m excited to say we are well on our way to closing the gap on siloed development practices.

A Continuous Delivery Pipeline

It was a “build your own” world with a variety of home-grown solutions that lacked speed, transparency, quality, and compliance controls. A group of us from Expedia’s eCommerce Platform group conducted some working sessions with key technology folks supporting their own flavor of a Delivery Pipeline, and after much debate and testing, we landed on a solution right under our noses. As Brand Expedia Group’s Cloud Acceleration team had been supporting a very mature pipeline “Kumo” (which means “Spider (nature’s preeminent Web builder) and Cloud”). It was a no-brainer that we should engage this team on adoption and testing application deployment.

The adoption of Kumo across Expedia Group is a win/win as Kumo does also facilitate common tools & services which leads to developer collaboration, and in the end, we have happy, productive developers.

Now, this is a theme I can get onboard with! I’ve got to go now as I have much more work to do to continuously improve Expedia Group’s Developer collaboration and productivity. Stay tuned for more on Common Tools & Services at Expedia Group.

Career Check-In with Logan Scott

Logan Scott | Vice President, Human Resources in Bellevue, WA

What does your typical workday look like?

While the content of my days varies quite a bit, I do a couple things consistently every day. I lead a globally dispersed team and partner with internal stakeholders across the globe so I spend a lot of time in video-conference meetings connecting with these folks and working on a variety of topics. I also block a certain amount of time every day to allow myself the freedom to think and generally just get stuff done.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

There are so many things that I enjoy about working at Expedia Group so it is hard to name just one. I’m fortunate to be a part of a company where I feel connected to our purpose and get to play in an industry (travel) that I absolutely love. At the same time, I have the opportunity to play in a lot of different spaces, am constantly faced with meaningful work challenges, and work with so many great team members that share the same passion.

What makes your team unique?

There are so many things that make my team unique. We’re spread across the globe, comprised of numerous nationalities, have a mix of personalities and perspectives, etc. We also unite around opportunities to make our team and our business even better while having a lot of fun in the process. Given that we are so globally dispersed, it makes the time when we can collectively gather that much more meaningful.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I like to think that it hasn’t happened yet and it is something that I’ll relentlessly pursue until I retire. If forced to answer,  I’m most proud of some of the development risks I’ve taken on people over the years and seeing how those individuals have continued to grow their careers.  I like to think that I played an impactful part of that growth and maybe helped them achieve something they didn’t initially think they could do, but they did it. And they deserve the success and recognition for those achievements.

Who has influenced you the most?

This might sound lame or like an easy answer, but it has been my family and close friends. We all need truth-tellers in our lives and messengers of that truth that we trust. No one knows you likely your family and close friends so this is the group that both influences me the most and means the most to me.

How and where do you find inspiration?

I’m a firm believer that you need to find inspiration and challenge in a 360-degree way, including from within. Surrounding yourself with a group of people that constantly challenge you to be better and call you out in the moments where you clearly aren’t at your best is critical. I live with a life philosophy of “don’t demand more of others than you are willing to expect of yourself”. You have to constantly raise the bar and stretch your limits.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

I was fortunate to have a wonderful family support system growing up and parents that just wanted me to do my best. It didn’t matter if I failed, as long as I was confident I put my best effort in and learned in the process. I also love to work out and there is a saying that “if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying hard enough.” You won’t get stronger by doing a bunch of things that you can already do with ease. You have to push yourself beyond your capability in order to grow beyond current limitations.

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

Construct your perspective on where you want to take your career but be open to experiences that you hadn’t considered. You tend to grow most when you’re uncomfortable – so be comfortable being uncomfortable.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

For my wife’s 30th birthday, I surprised her with a 2-week trip to Italy which was long overdue and a place she had wanted to visit for her entire life since a lot of her family is from Italy. Surprising her and experiencing so many new things together was absolutely amazing. And who doesn’t like 2 weeks away from work?!? 🙂

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

I’m terrible at picking just one thing so I’ll name two. Living in the Pacific Northwest means you have a lot of great opportunities to explore. I love escaping to either the mountains & lakes or visiting wine country and indulging in delicious food and wine.

Life at Expedia launches blog

This week we launched as a way of sharing our story and showcasing why we love working for Expedia Group.

This blog is for everyone. We want to share valuable information and experiences with you while also giving you an inside scoop on the problems we’re trying to solve.

What makes us different? Expedia employees are passionate about travel and love working for a company that is dedicated to bringing the world within reach. Our goal is to provide you with stories and experiences that are relevant and meaningful to you.

As you can see, the Life at Expedia blog is live, so we encourage you to take a look around. We’re here to write about our experiences, the innovations we’re working on, and other things we find interesting and motivating. Come see why we love working for Expedia Group!