3 Things I’ve Learned Since Joining Expedia Group

Becky Waller | Program Manager in Bellevue, WA

Becky Waller smilingI didn’t take a traditional route getting to Expedia Group. I’ve never coded anything. I’m not techy. I didn’t go to business school, nor did I ever think the idea sounded appealing until entering the corporate world.

Before joining the Expedia Group family as a Program Manager for Brand Expedia, I was a high school AP English teacher. At heart, I am a writer and I always will be. But when my career in education began to feel stale, I decided to take a flying leap into the private sector. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to convince people who had grown their entire careers in this world that my skills from public education would translate, but I knew that once I cleared that hurdle, I would be ready to take on the challenge.

I have to be honest – I had a lot of preconceived notions about what life at one of the world’s top travel giants was going to be like. I was right about a few things – namely, that people here LOVE to travel – but many of my ideas were, at best, misinformed.

So, what have I learned since joining this team back in February 2018?

1 ) People here are genuinely good people.

I had seen lots of movies in the 80s and 90s about corporate America. Everyone wore suits and carried briefcases. They were always in a hurry. Every woman wore shoulder pads (okay, maybe that was just in the 80s). People were ruthless and bloodthirsty, and they would stop at nothing to climb their way to the tippy top of the corporate ladder.

It’s not like that. Not even a little. My teammates are more kind, more caring, and more genuine than I would have thought possible. They return with gifts when they go on trips. They bring chocolate chip cookies and cheddar popcorn. When they show up with food to share, they never forget about the people on our team who are gluten-free, or who are vegetarians, or who just don’t like eating vegetables.

It’s been a refreshingly genuine experience coming to work for Expedia Group. I miss my friends that I taught with from my days as a teacher, but the relationships that I’ve built in a short amount of time at Expedia Group have made the career change an incredibly easy and rewarding one.

2 ) Not everyone in leadership here is male.

Again, before I came here my preconceived notions about the corporate world had me envisioning myself as one of only a handful of women swimming upstream against a raging river of Brooks Brothers suits, Louis Vuitton loafers, and male dominant egos.

I was, again, painfully mistaken. First of all, most people wear Star Wars t-shirts. Second, my boss is a fiercely intelligent and highly respected woman who handles herself incredibly well in any conference room. Her boss is a woman who is smart, kind, visionary, and a servant leader. The men in positions of leadership at Expedia Group that I have met are good at what they do, they are there for a reason, and they listen. It isn’t what I expected.

Expedia Group prides itself on its ability to recognize, reward, and promote people for their contributions and for their potential as leaders. A lot of time, the ones who are promoted are women and people of color. This is no accident. I’ve learned that in this world, our leadership at the top recognizes that when we have homogeneous leadership, we suffer from a lack of creativity and a deficit of new and fresh ideas. So to counteract that, they push to diversify leadership. I mean, it’s 2018, right? I think this company has figured that out and is actively working to fight the good fight.

3 ) A work/life balance is not only valued, it’s encouraged.

Becky Waller hikingEnding a 12-year career in teaching meant giving up a lot of time with my family. As a wife and a mother of two young children, I had a lot of soul-searching to do in order to arrive at the decision that I did. I had heard horror stories of promotion-hungry young millennials working 60 and 70 hour weeks and never taking a day of vacation in order to land the title that they were striving for.

That has not been my experience here. People work (I mean, you have to at some point, right?) and they dedicate a portion of their days to the company, but they also take time off and have flexible work schedules. Most people I associate with don’t work on the weekends – unless they want to. They don’t have a boss pressuring them to give up their Saturdays to wrap up a project before Monday. Expedia Group recognizes that it’s employees have families and hobbies and that we enjoy sleeping seven nights a week – sometimes for eight hours even!

When I’m at work, I put forth all my effort to bring about the best results I can for my team and for Brand Expedia. I want to be a high-functioning, high-performing member of an awesome team. But I also do a lot of backpacking and camping during the summer. I managed to take 3 separate backpacking trips with my daughter this past summer, a 10-day road trip down the 101 with my family to break in our new camping trailer, and since my team works from home on Fridays, I get to have breakfast with my kids, drop them at school, and then spend the evening with my daughter in Seattle for her ballet class every Friday.

From the top down, I’ve found life at Expedia Group to be extremely friendly to mothers who value time with their families, and I don’t know if that’s the case for all companies. When I come home in the evenings, I’m not bone-tired. I have energy to spend time with my children and my husband, and I’m happy to dedicate a portion of my life to a company who allows me to dedicate so much of my life to my world outside of work.

Expedia Group embraces web accessibility as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of disabled travelers

Toby Willis | Software Engineer in Test II in Seattle, WA

Did you know there are over 1 Billion people with disabilities in the World?

…that’s like more than 15% of the population. I’m learning these stats because I lost my vision due to a degenerative retina condition known as Leber Congenital Amaurosis. You can also read more about my experience in The Seattle Times and US News & World Report.

I functioned as a sighted person growing up and for the first part of my professional life; working with my hands in a variety of fields from construction to manufacturing and even sold a successful startup industrial maintenance business. I sold that business because my vision had deteriorated to the degree that I was unable to drive, efficiently read print, and QA my employee’s work.

Subsequently, I return to the University to learn a new skill set. That is where I rediscovered tech. I had done some simple programming throughout junior and senior high school but had not thought much about code outside of the simple scripts running on primitive manufacturing equipment I often maintained. I landed a job in the Adaptive Technology Center (ATC) at Middle Tennessee State University where I had enrolled to finish my undergraduate. There, I helped other students with disabilities access information and learn to use assistive devices and software to live more independently.

I decided to pursue a degree in Recording Industry Management being that I am a lifelong musician and already had a degree in music. As my vision got slowly worse and the recording equipment and software got smaller and more complicated, I found it increasingly difficult to be efficient and compete in Nashville where I lived at the time.

Working with other students with disabilities in the ATC gave me valuable insight into the challenges we face as users who depend on assistive technologies to access information and gain an education. My vision was gradually getting worse, and the magnification equipment and software just couldn’t make the print big enough any longer. I began relying on a screen reader application to speak the contents on the screen around this time in my life and started to realize how difficult it is for people with disabilities to be productive and independent in an increasingly digital world. That’s when I pivoted my career toward “Accessibility.”

After working my way up through the University, I took a Director of Student Disability Services at Nashville State Community College. It happened that the college had a large Deaf population which made for a great learning experience for us all in better communication. Later, I took a job at City University of Seattle. That’s how I got to the PNW. Although I enjoyed working with students at the University, I wanted to really dive deep into a problem and make a meaningful contribution. Being that our World was then and still is more and more on the web, I wanted to help solve the problem of web accessibility, or the lack thereof.

In 2014, I heard that Expedia Group was looking for a screen reader user to consult with the Client-side Engineering team to improve the usability of the website and mobile app for customers with disabilities. I jumped at the chance because I love to travel and was never able to independently book a trip using a screen reader. I came on board in August of 2014 and was pleasantly surprised to learn that Expedia Group embraced web accessibility as an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of disabled travelers while making our products better for everyone. We really dug into Inclusive Design practices, good markup and architecture, and building adequate testing protocol. I’m proud to have been a part of creating what I believe is the best eCommerce experiences a screen reader user can find on the web.

I am not disabled, there are only barriers that are more difficult for me to surmount. If we work to remove those barriers, people can live more independently, be more productive and make a more meaningful contribution to society. Disability is the largest minority in the World. Many individuals with disabilities want to participate in society but simply can’t due to the physical and social barriers that exist. Around 50 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed, underemployed, or marginally attached to the workforce. That means there is a huge untapped talent pool waiting to participate in making everyone’s life better.

You can help remove a barrier by opening your mind to disability as diversity, working to overcome the conscious and unconscious disability bias, and make an effort to include someone with a disability in your professional and personal life.

“Diversity is inviting me to the party; inclusion is asking me to dance…” Author unknown (possibly attributable to Verna Myers on Twitter)

Career Check-In with Norman Law

Norman Law | Sr. Director, Global Product Management in Bellevue, WA

Norman Law smilingWhat does your typical workday look like?

Most days, I meet with many of my peers to discuss what our plans are for improving customer experience. Usually, these discussions are around what the major customer pain points are and how we can address them. I also spend time working with my team on their plans and helping them with what I can.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

I really enjoy working in an industry that can make the world a better place. It’s cheesy, but I really love working in travel – I really believe that if we enable more people to travel, we can make the world a much better place. Especially since travel challenges people’s preconceived notions.

What makes your team unique?

My team works on how we provide a great shopping experience for activities and things to do for our customers. We look to find how we can make our customers’ trips more memorable through the things they do on their trip – from visiting popular attractions to fun-guided tours.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

It’s exciting being on a team that has grown the rental car business leaps and bounds from when I first started. I was able to work with a wide range of people to make that happen, and all of it was a true group effort, which has been amazing.

Who has influenced you the most?

A lot of leaders at Expedia Group have had a major influence on my life. Three of the most influential moments were the leaders who 1)  took a chance with hiring me, 2) shaped my product thinking and approach, and 3) shaped my thinking and leadership capabilities. I am forever grateful for their time, advice, and insight they provided.

How and where do you find inspiration?

I do a lot of reading. I read everything from books to blogs and everything in between. I like reading things that challenge my perception of things and get me to think of new approaches.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

Once you realize that the mistake you made wasn’t going to end the world. I think that the realization that no decision is ever going to be 100% successful and that the real fun is figuring out what to do next, is really important.

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

Bias towards learning. It’s OK to make mistakes as long as you’re learning. Look for opportunities to learn or strengthen your skills. When you find you’re not learning anymore, it’s time for a new challenge.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

The trip I took to the south island in New Zealand was one of my favorite vacations. We had the opportunity to explore the beauty of the south island via rental car, which is the best way to experience it. From exploring Christchurch to hanging out in Queenstown (and everything in between) was great. The natural beauty of the island is unmistakable and the people are so friendly. I need to make sure I make it to the north island next time!

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

My favorite weekend getaway is getting together with friends (and family) to enjoy each others’ company and have a place where the kids can play.

Which Guiding Principle is the most important?

Nick Andrews | Senior Director, Market Mangement in Bangkok, Thailand

Nick Andrews and team in BangkokOur Guiding Principles inspire us to do great work every day in Expedia Group, we talk about them a lot and so I’m often asked which Guiding Principle is the most important. In reality, they all are important since together they shape how we work – but there is one Guiding Principle in particular that I hold very close to my heart. We call it ‘One Team, Group First’.

One Team, Group First

Over 2 years ago, when I was managing the Vietnam and the Philippines offices, I saw that there were some really amazing best practices across the world in how to manage our partners. However, our teams were struggling to adopt them and make them a habit, which turned into each country and each team doing things very differently. Don’t get me wrong, our teams were still managing our partners well, but I thought we could go one step further by having one world-class approach for the group that would help us all delight our partners.

So, I worked with various folks in my team to pull together the best practices from different countries into what would be our Gold Standard for Account Management. As we did this we weren’t just trying to optimize for my countries, but instead, we had an eye on all of Expedia Group. We wanted to ensure that if this was rolled out across the company, it would be globally relevant and it would be simple for all teams to digest. This forced us to take on a very different mindset. At first, it wasn’t easy for my team, but they saw why it was so important and boy did they make it happen!

The difference between good and great

As you can imagine, combining so many best practices into one ends up driving the bar very high, but that’s okay. At Expedia Group, we have a team who is driven and engaged, and they want to delight our partners, so they were all up for the challenge! So, we trained my teams on how to deliver the Gold Standard in Account Management and helped them understand why this approach would make the difference between good and great.

Being clear to our market managers on what great looks like was only one piece of the puzzle though. I knew that the only way this was going to become part of our DNA is if we helped the managers. Help them understand how they can coach their teams and upskill them in the Gold Standard delivery. Again, we had to figure out how to not only help my teams drive up the Gold Standard of performance, but if we scaled this globally, how we could help managers everywhere in the company make this work.

We did it of course, and the results of rolling out our Gold Standard – coupled with helping managers be more coachlike – was amazing! Our team was energized and felt they were really growing their skills and helping their partners, which directly impacted and improved our team’s performance. On top of this, this transformational approach was also the springboard for us to build a coaching culture in our teams where giving and receiving feedback is the norm, and where we all relentlessly strive for better.

One of the many great things at Expedia Group is that we are always looking to scale successful initiatives globally. Which is what we have done! And because we had built the whole approach with one eye on being globally relevant, the next phases were super smooth.

Encouraging ideas from everyone and making a difference

Despite the global scale and footprint of Expedia Group, it always amazes me how we continually think and operate like a lean entrepreneurial startup. There are not many companies like Expedia, and certainly, none that I know of that truly encourage great ideas from everyone. If you have an idea that works, the company will look to scale across Expedia Group fast.

One of the many reasons why I’m so inspired to come into work every day is how the Expedia Group culture encourages you to truly make a difference regardless of what role you have or what region you operate in. Of course, I couldn’t have shaped this Gold Standard in Account Management alone. It was only possible because I had the pleasure of working with such an amazing team who wants to make a difference… and they do!

Distributed GraphQL Schemas with NPM Modules

Trevor Livingston | Principal Architect, HomeAway in Austin, TX

Photo of GraphQLHow HomeAway is utilizing npm modules and schema partials to create GraphQL components for self-orchestrating apps and services

HomeAway uses the simplicity and flexibility of GraphQL to insulate applications from change and accelerate UI and API development.

 

For a little over two years, we‘ve been busy replatforming our web applications at HomeAway to Node.js using hapi and React. Last year, we sought to simplify reuse for data fetching and orchestration between our native mobile applications and the many new web applications being developed.

GraphQL lets developers provide data to both web and native experiences while allowing the resolution of how that data is provided to evolve over time, mitigating the impact to the many, many UI components we have developed. This is, in part, is why Facebook developed GraphQL.


Although we were already impressed by the power and simplicity of GraphQL, the typical process of schema creation meant that they were not easy to share between applications unless shared as common services, which introduced a model prone to issues at scale (see Killing BFFs with GraphQL).

Although anyone could have begun adopting GraphQL at any time for their application, we sought to operationalize GraphQL at scale for all of HomeAway. To do this, we wanted to develop tooling that allowed us, among other things, to:

  • Provide support for internal concerns such as logging and metrics.
  • Enable reuse between applications through modules.
  • Enable developers to pick the types of queries they needed for their application.

This led us to the development of a convention we refer to internally as a “GraphQL partial”. While breaking up schemas into multiple files isn’t a new thing, componentizing them requires a little glue.

A GraphQL partial is simply an npm module that exports enough information for us to construct an executable schema with. That means a partial needs to export some types as well as the type resolvers as needed.

A contrived GraphQL partial exampleA contrived GraphQL partial example

You will notice that the query type in this example uses the extend keyword. This is because there will be many partials defining queries or mutations and to allow this, an empty root query and mutation will be provided by our tooling for these type definitions to extend.

Once a partial has been defined, what remains is to declare the partial schemas to use and stitch them together into a single executable schema.


As mentioned earlier, HomeAway uses the hapi framework for building applications. In addition, we use a module for bootstrapping the hapi server through an environment-aware hapi configuration engine called steerage (link).

Example of JSON configuration for steerageExample of JSON configuration for steerage

steerage makes it easy to configure the partials and setup a GraphQL server in a consistent fashion, and once the partials have been specified, they can be stitched together. HomeAway uses Apollo to serve GraphQL, although we wrap it to inject context and accept and merge GraphQL partials.

Apollo also makes some other useful tools, one of which is the makeExecutableSchema in the graphql-tools module.  makeExecutableSchemabrings together type definitions and resolvers into a single schema.

makeExecutableSchema example from Apollo’s graphql-tools documentationmakeExecutableSchema example from Apollo’s graphql-tools documentation

So far, we haven’t done anything particularly different from a well-known pattern for breaking up schemas. The challenge in breaking up schemas really surfaces when you want to publish them as separate modules, especially when it comes to root types.

This brings us back to our use of the extend keyword and the little bit of utility we wrapped on top of the GraphQL server. Our server adds the empty root types and merges the different types and resolvers exported by the partials. Lastly, it uses makeExecutableSchema and passes the result onward. We also use additional tooling to detect type conflicts ahead of time.

Example of merging partials.Example of merging partials.

Adding empty root types.Adding empty root types.

 

The final bit is providing the empty root types for each partial to extend. Rather than provide an entirely empty root type, we use a _null attribute with a no-op resolver to enable merging multiple schemas.

Empty root typesEmpty root types

The result is a simple utility that enables different applications to pick and choose their query capabilities.


Although the capability to build and reuse partials empowers teams to more easily craft schemas for their use cases, there are additional challenges to overcome.

As the number of partials grows, encouraging wide-spread reuse and discouraging redefining existing types can be challenging without good discovery practices, such as collocation of partial modules and excellent documentation.

The GraphiQL IDE presents another challenge. GraphiQL is intended for interacting with a single schema; with many partials this schema can grow very large. This may make it difficult to view all possible partials in a single place.

Shakespeare and Company bookshop
Shakespeare and Company bookshop. Alexandre Duret-LutzCreative Commons

Finally, testing presents additional considerations. Since the partials are separate modules, applications incorporating them may not know how they are resolved upstream. Services, for example, must be accessible or mocked, and this requires discovery of what these upstream services are.


Today GraphQL — and our partials paradigm — has become our de facto standard for UIs to interact with and query data. We use GraphQL in our native mobile applications as well as multiple web applications.

To date, we have used GraphQL primarily to fulfill UI requirements, but we have begun to experiment with GraphQL for our public APIs as well. While REST and Swagger/OpenAPI have been the go-to for public API platforms for years, I believe we will begin to see more and more general purpose APIs developed with GraphQL.

Follow us here for a future post describing our adoption of Apollo 2 and the changes we’re making to make our partials more powerful and composable. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article. See you soon!

Career Check-In with Dorine Rassaian

Dorine Rassaian | Global Product Manager III in Bellevue, WA

Dorine Rassaian in a meadowWhat does your typical workday look like?

Since most of my stakeholders are in other time zones, the first thing I do every morning is read through emails and Slack messages to see if I received anything urgent overnight. The rest of the day is (mostly) spent in meetings to drive our product features forward. For example, I’ll meet with our UX gurus to review wireframes and iterate on them until we have mock-ups we deem ‘ready for development’ or ‘ready for a usability test’. Then I’ll meet with my Engineering team to review the progress we’ve made and scope the resources and time needed to complete the next set of features. Following that, I’ll meet with Marketing to determine to who and how we will communicate these changes, and with my Technical Product Manager to finalize the experimental roll-out plan to market. In-between these meetings, there are usually recurring meetings with the rest of the organization’s Product Managers to drive transparency and cohesion across what we’re working on. Depending on where we are at with a particular feature’s lifecycle, I will also have meetings with Analytics and Finance to review performance and optimize accordingly.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

I’ve been so fortunate to have started my career at Expedia as a summer Intern on the Search Engine Marketing team back in 2011. Ever since that experience, I knew I wanted to pursue a career at Expedia… and I’m still here seven years later! What I’ve enjoyed most is our company’s culture – the energy is infectious; we work for leaders who provide transparency, are incredibly approachable, and value testing our ideas.

What makes your team unique?

As part of the Lodging Partner Product team, we really embody the Expedia Guiding Principal of “Put yourself in the shoes of our customers and partners”, as we work closely with Hoteliers to optimize their property’s listings on our Expedia Group websites. Getting to meet with partners from all over the world sure makes the discovery and research phase of the product lifecycle fun –  a property that may look the same on paper in one geography may have completely different needs than a similar property located across the world.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

After four years on the Search Engine Marketing team, I made a big move over to Product Management on the Data Science team, focusing on revenue management and marketplace optimizations. Not only was I in a new area of the business, but I was also a brand-new Product Manager trying to grasp the new day-to-day of things! After a mere four months in the role, I was asked to participate in our yearly Global Product Organization’s Thunderdome. Imagine a case competition amongst four participants, where you are each given a company to teardown (what are they doing well, what can they improve on, etc.), in a short amount of time. The Thunderdome itself is an event where you get on stage in front of 500+ people, with 10 minutes to convince them that your teardown is the best. That was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I’ve ever done – what a thrill it was to get on stage!

Who has influenced you the most?

Sheryl Sandberg has really inspired me, as she embodies many of the qualities I strive to emulate; being a thought-leader, instilling curiosity & passion, and being a true subject-matter-expert. As she said, “I feel really grateful to the people who encouraged me and helped me develop. Nobody can succeed on their own”, and no truer words have been said in the field of Product Management; without your stakeholders, nothing would get done.

How and where do you find inspiration?

For those of you who are just starting your career as a PM, I highly recommend referring to Roman Pichler’s blog for guidance on how to approach Product Management. I’ve also loved the Women in Product (WIP) community, which has a wealth of resources for PMs in all stages of their career.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

One of the first things I learned was to “fail fast”. We have a strong culture of Test & Learn – if you have a hypothesis, let’s test it and see where it takes us. The faster you iterate, the more you learn and the stronger you become, which also happens to be one of our Expedia Guiding Principles: “Be data driven and business judgment led”.

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

My favorite piece of career advice is to “Be patient enough to learn, but impatient enough to take risks”.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

One of my most memorable trips was to New York – I had the opportunity to meet with our NYC team to solicit their feedback on my team’s product areas (and take in the NYC Expedia office views from the 76th floor of the Empire State Building!), caught a Yankees vs. Red Sox game, and got the best surprise of my life –  getting engaged at the Top of the Rockefeller Center 😊

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

A frequent weekend getaway is driving from Seattle up to Vancouver, British Columbia. They have amazing restaurants, spas and stunning views of the city juxtaposed with the mountains in the background.

Work-Life Balance: Hit by a Bus Theory

Bridie Slater | Recruiter in London, UK

I spent much of my youth living by the ‘You could get hit by a bus tomorrow’ theory. As wonderful as this theory is, reality set in when my dad sat me down and said, “But what happens if you never get hit by a bus?”. It is not that I hadn’t considered surviving more than the next 24 hours, or that I had some ingrained fear of buses, my fear was the impossible task that is achieving work-life balance.

Meme from Mean Girls movie (Regina George being hit by bus)

Growing up, my parents had an average commute time of 10 minutes (and that was cycling), 90% of the time they were both home by 6pm, and not once did I see a laptop or work phone on a family holiday. Yet they both managed, and continue, to prosper in their careers. I know it was rare then, but today that sounds impossible to many of us. So how do we strike a true balance?

I was inspired to write this after hearing Mark Okerstrom answer the question, “What tips would you give for maintaining a work-life balance?”. His answer left me thinking; if the CEO of one of the world’s largest travel platforms can maintain a balance, then so can we.

I have stolen some of the below from Mark’s response (sorry Mark!) but I wanted to share some advice on how it can be achieved.

Go hard, or then go home 

As a wise colleague once said to me,

“When you are here, you are very here. When you go, you are very good at going.”.

Whether it was meant as one or not, I took this as a compliment. Give your all at work, then give your all at home. It is about the quality you give at work not the quantity of time you are there. Eliminate multitasking, the key is being present.

WORK LIFE spelled in scrabble pieces

Aim for an Existential Balance

Unfortunately, the reality of the modern world is that a daily work-life balance is hard to achieve and not always the best option. Instead of aiming to only work ‘9 to 5’, focus on the bigger picture of getting a balance throughout your existence. You will have months in certain roles where you work crazy hours. Don’t get caught up on these months. In other months, do not feel guilty to take time back. Give yourself a reason to take the time back.

Photo of women sitting on desk with win next to the captain '9 to 5'

Trust Yourself

If you are reading this I am assuming you consider yourself a ‘good worker’ and are committed (sometimes too much) to your work. Your employer trusts you to get the job done. So, now it is time to trust yourself to know when it is okay to switch off. You hear so many excuses about managers, stakeholders or colleagues being the cause of a poor work-life balance. Take responsibility, you are in control and only you can change it.

Meme of trust fall

Build Your Boundaries

In relationships, you have boundaries that, if crossed, would damage them. This should be no different for the relationship between your work and your life. Put blockers in place that, no matter what, stay in place. Have constants in your life such as gym classes, days you get a certain train or work from home. Not only does this mean your colleagues will work around them, but it is also a good measure to judge if your work-life balance is getting out of control. Work will always be there tomorrow, friends may not.

Meme saying 'I'm on vacation. We need to have boundaries'

Comprehend Consequences

I have heard on so many occasions the fear in people about losing their jobs. Yet, rarely do people mention the fear of losing elements of their life. The consequences of a poor work-life balance on your personal life can be so much greater. If you were to spend an extra 10 hours a week on seeing friends, doing activities, or sleeping in, do you think your manager would put up with it? Yet we expect our loved ones, our hobbies, and ourselves to be okay with working an extra 10 hours per week. Think about the consequences of putting work first for your family, friends and even your health. Is it worth the risk of damaging any of those?

Quote "For every action, there is a reaction" - Albert Einstein

There will always be the people who want to work their way through life, let them. None of this is revolutionary, and although attempting to have a work-life balance can be a full-time job, it is actually pretty simple. Ask yourself, “If not now, when?” will you put life first.

So hopefully, I will not get hit by a bus tomorrow, but on a serious note, the damage from a poor work-life balance can be nearly as irreversible. And as someone somewhere once said…

“You can always make more money, but you can never make more time”

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Working at HomeAway

Kayla Chance | Employer Brand Digital Media Specialist, HomeAway in Austin, Texas

1. HomeAway is actually part of Expedia Group. By working here, you get the best of both worlds – access to lots of data AND the opportunity to directly impact the vacation rental marketplace.

Employees of Expedia GroupPhoto taken outside of Expedia Group HQ Office

2. Our “Domain Free” Slack channel is the most happening place to be. Employees offer up free lunch and other goodies. It’s always a race to see who can snatch them up first.

Photo of cupcakesPhoto of cookies

3. We’re scientific AND creative. Our UX and Product Design teams practice the creative process of user-led design thinking to continuously improve the HomeAway app and website.

4. We’re very passionate about diversity. Women are represented in leadership across all functions of the company, including Tina Weyand, our Chief Product Officer and Katrina Riehl, Director of Global Data Science.

Photo of HomeAway employeesPhoto of Tina Weyand, Mark Okerstrom, and John Kim

5. With offices around the world, employees frequently pop in to visit HomeAway in other countries to say hi and to take a few photos.

Picture of Golden Doodle dog in HomeAway officeHomeAway employees standing in front of Christmas TreeHomeAway employees eating a meal

6. Giving back to our local communities around the world means a lot to us. Team HomeAway is encouraged to use two paid days a year to get out and spend time with the charity of their choice.

HomeAway employee posing with a childHomeAway employees volunteering

7. We like being active as much as we enjoy coding and creating. HomeAway Runners, HomeAway Hoops, and our cricket team are just a few ways we break a sweat.

HomeAway employees playing volleyballHomeAway employees running marathon

8. No matter which team you’re on, you’ll be implementing tests. We love to test and learn then iterate so there’s always something new happening.

9. Our Penn Field office in Austin houses the Wagon Queen Family Truckster from National Lampoon’s Vacation. It makes for a great Instagram pic!

 

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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Monolith to Micro-service and Beyond…

Anurag Banka | Software Development Engineer II in Gurgaon, India

Anurag Banka smilingIn this post, I would like to give a glimpse of a practical application of micro-service on a monolith product which leads to better team productivity, customer experience, and product scalability.

Monolith are services; which are not easy to scale, hard to maintain, and can become a bottleneck for the growth of the product. Rapidly changing customer demand and business circumstances need a flexible and scalable system where new ideas can be introduced at a fast pace. Most of the monolithic services have a fixed release cycle of bi-weekly or monthly due to the cumbersome nature of testing and tight coupling of the domain.

By breaking a complex monolith architecture into a micro-service architecture, based on the different responsibilities of product, creates a solution for scaling both system and business. Articles from Martine Fowler and Chris Richardson are a great source of learning to bring best of micro-service practice in your domain. A typical transition from monolith to micro-service looks like below.

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

The above statement is very well applicable for monolith service. It’s applicable to all big and small organizations. With a rapidly changing product requirement and team members, it’s a challenge to retain domain knowledge – and existing test framework was never sufficient enough to cover each expects of a system under test.

Micro-services are definitely a solution to a problem faced in monolith but it’s no silver bullet and several challenges occur to reach in a state of micro-services. Some big challenges to face while applying micro-service architectural reform in a billion $ system are

  • Defining testing strategy for a new stack
  • Defining new monitoring methods
  • Ensuring high uptime of a system
  • Collective domain knowledge

Knowing your domain is key to success for breaking any monolith system into Micro-service, but it’s never the case –  you know all your domain and dependencies via any testing framework may cover most of it but some corner cases might be missing.

Known risk can’t be taken for a live running system if you have a slight doubt on your domain understanding or testing suite. Black box testing (shadow testing) is a solution for building a new system in parity with the old one.

A three-front testing framework to ensure parity at upstream, downstream and database can help in building confidence in migration to the new stack. A typical orchestration of such black box testing would look like the below when at every external end parity will be ensured.

Following the above strategy, it was easy to catch approx. 500 bugs in the new stack. Also, the same framework resulted as a bridge between old and new stack for easy migration. It provided both system performance and business performance metrics to measure the success rate of the new system.

Every change for making the system better should be measured in terms of success metrics of the system and some of the metrics we achieved in the last 6 months are:

  • More than 1% improvement in success rate, direct impact on revenue
  • Easy scalability of functionality
  • Easy rollout and rollback, N releases in a day vs once a month release
  • Cloud Native solution
  • Faster and Better customer support

At Expedia Group, we practice in keeping our product as simple as possible. It helps in taking fast business requirement adoption and building an internal open source culture where a team can collaborate and speed up delivery of new ideas.

Every new system comes with a new set of challenges, now you have thousands of services and a ton of data to make a better business decision for new success stories. This is just the beginning of a technology shift, we are on our journey of cloud, machine learning…

Come and join us in our journey of “Bringing the world within reach” through the power of technology.

Career Check-In with Angela Page

Angela Page | e-Commerce Manager, Wotif in Sydney, Australia

Angela Page smilingWhat does your typical workday look like?

What I love about my role is that a typical workday doesn’t exist. In eCommerce, we are responsible for the performance of our point of sale (POS) and interact many teams. As a result, I could spend the day working on test and learn opportunities, developing and implementing our POS strategies, helping the channels drive traffic and conversion, or work through a problem or issue on site to pinpoint what’s happening and then work to get resolved. Prioritization in my role is key.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

Expedia Group has given me such an incredible opportunity to move to different teams and learn new skill sets, into roles with more responsibility, and to new regions. But above all else, I love the people and culture at Expedia Group.

What makes your team unique?

We are a team that wears many hats and touches many teams, yet we have very few buttons that we push. We are the team that is responsible for insights and working with the right teams to act on the opportunities we surface.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

As Area Manager of the Sydney market and after going through the migration with Wotif (a very crazy time that stretched us all), I received the 2015 Area Manager of the Year award in APAC. It was very unexpected but it was a very encouraging moment for me since I was a fairly new people manager at the time.

Who has influenced you the most?

When it comes to how I approach my career, my husband has influenced me the most. I used to struggle to take the time to shut off from work and I would often work around the clock. He has helped me to take a break and rest in the evenings and on weekends – which leaves me refreshed and ready to tackle each day ahead. He also helps me work and pray through each next opportunity. His advice is always sound.

How and where do you find inspiration?

Half the ideas and opportunities I run with came from someone else. I am only one brain, but the collective team (and those in different parts of the organization) have incredible ideas. I am inspired by those around me! We hire well. 😊

How did you learn to embrace failure?

Failing your way to success is such a common cliché but it is so true. Each time I fail, I do a personal post-mortem to outline where I went wrong, what I could have done differently, and the impact of my mistake. My performance has not suffered from the mistakes I have made, but rather has excelled.

Side note: We have great people around us – don’t be afraid to reach out to vet an idea or to get advice if something is not going to plan!

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

Never be afraid to forego moving up (or getting a promotion) to take a lateral move to learn and grow instead. After having been in Lodging Partner Solutions (LPS) for 5 years, I was hungry to learn the demand side of our business. As a result, I am a more well-rounded professional and am excited about what potential opportunities will unfold as a result in the future.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

It’s so hard to pick just one! Last year I scored 7-night package deal in a 4-star hotel to Beijing for my husband and myself for under $1000 AUD (SCORE!!!!!). We explored the city as locals, ate lots of yummy street food, and did a private tour covering untouched parts of the Great Wall of China. Was such a fun week of immersion in a new culture.

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

My favourite weekend getaway is heading to one of the many beautiful coastal beaches north or south of Sydney for a camping weekend. Nothing better on a restful weekend than crystal clear waters and hanging out under the stars.