Expedia Group Is Not A Travel Company, We’re A Technology Company Dealing In Travel

Kate Bascombe | Software Development Engineer II in Brisbane, Australia

A great manager of mine once explained to me the difference between a ‘Travel Company’ and a ‘Technology Company that deals in Travel’.

He used a pizza metaphor to help illustrate, comparing Pizza Hut and Dominos. Pizza Hut is a fine company offering pizza to their customers. Domino’s is a technology company that uses technology to offer their product to their customer, and that product happens to be pizza. See the difference?

Dominos Pizza memeWhile Pizza Hut cooks and delivers pizza as they’ve always done, Domino’s has invested in technology such as Google Glasses for the pizza makers, drones for delivery, GPS tracking for the drivers, and I’m sure much more. Pizza Hut is a pizza company, but Domino’s is a technology company that sells pizza! That’s one key difference to why Domino’s dominates the market while Pizza Hut is falling behind.

So why am I talking about pizza? Well, it’s the same principle for Travel.

I’m here to share with you the benefits of working for Expedia Group, a company that truly does value technology and the engineers who keep us relevant in today’s tech-driven world.

Expedia Group is a company who understands the value of technology and that it’s not only good for the company but it’s good for the employees as well. As an engineer at Expedia Group, I know my contributions are listened to, valued, and are making a difference to ‘help people go places’.

Expedia Group listens when an employee has an idea they want to try. The annual 3-day Hackathons are a great avenue to propose an innovative idea and have it implemented. This year, myself and a couple of co-workers had our Hackathon project make it to the finals, and even though the idea didn’t win, the grand prize ($3,000 travel award by the way) encouraged us to develop the idea further, run it in an A/B Test, and share our learnings. And we did.

Toy Story meme about Innovation "There's a whole ne world out there. Don't be afraid to explore it."This was literally an idea 3 engineers came up with over lunch, decided to develop, test in production, and release to all our users (if it was a winner). How much more empowered to innovate can you get?

And this is not just once a year during Hackathon, we’re encouraged to bring our ideas to the table every single day. The work we do as engineers is not handed down from a Product Manager somewhere up the line. We work with Product, UX, Analytics, and Engineering throughout the lifecycle of an idea.

It’s our ideas and execution that are valued, not our job titles. I’ve contributed to content strategies, UX design, data analyzation, and product development, and my ideas have been welcomed in each discipline as an equal no matter my skillset or background.

I’ve seen co-workers send a quick message to our CEO because they had an opinion on a topic they wanted to talk about. Expedia Group treats feedback as a gift and welcomes it with open arms at all levels and across disciplines.

Those are a few of the cultural benefits of working in a company that values people in technology. But what about the tangible benefits?

Because Expedia Group values technology so highly, we try our best to attract the best talent in the technology industry. As a female in my early 30’s working in Australia, the standout benefits and perks to me are:

  • Annual Travel allowance, this year helping me attend my brother’s wedding in Hawaii
  • Health Insurance, not normally offered in Australia
  • Annual Wellness allowance, helping me build out a quality home gym
  • Free coffees, teas, fruit, breakfast foods, and snacks any time in the office
  • Friday drinks with catered food
  • Flexible work hours
  • Ability to work from home, I choose to work from home at least one day every week
  • Day Of Caring volunteer days
  • Competitive Salary
  • Stock options
  • Annual bonus, always appreciated in the after Christmas period
  • Access to training and conferences, even internationally
  • Top-of-the-range computing equipment, I love my Macbook Pro!
  • Creative and inspiring office fit-outs

Web designer wearing no pants says "So, you want to be a web designer like me. Is it because you like my work?" Other man says "No, it's because I don't want to wear pants to work."You can see a full list of the benefits we offer on https://lifeatexpedia.com/ with many more in-depth benefits aimed at everyone.

Expedia Group makes the effort to attract talented people with benefits, small and large. These are becoming the norm in the Tech Industry. Engineers should accept that we earn and deserve these benefits because of the bottom-line we generate… and Expedia Group recognizes that.

At the end of the day, I want to feel appreciated by the company I dedicate my time and efforts to. I’m not going to say that’s all the compensation I need but it’s a big one 😉

So let me ask you, is the company you work for a ‘pizza’ company or a Technology Company that sells ‘pizza’? Which one would you prefer to work for?

Career Check-In with Elin Mendola

Elin Mendola | Senior Market Manager in Sweden

Elin Mendola posing with a group of people outside in the sunWhat does your typical workday look like?

I’m an early starter so I’m usually the first one in the office. Knowing that coffee is a big part in the office, I always load the coffee machine so that it’s ready when the team starts their day. From there, all my days are different – but the one thing they all have in common is that I spend a lot of time with my team, coaching and supporting them.  I also spend time going through and analyzing numbers and results making sure we are pacing at the right speed compared to our goals.

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

I believe that the core values and culture within the company is very grounded and this is what makes the company so great. The constant change and the opportunity to grow and develop has been very important to me. I like that I have the opportunity to put myself into new situations and keep developing. I love working with people and to see them grow in their role and grow into new roles.

What makes your team unique?

Within my team, there is such a great commitment and cooperativeness from everyone. The team travels a lot but we stay in contact during the weeks and check in with each other often. We cheer each other on when it’s going really well and support each other on the tougher days. I see the support and the great communication my team members have with each other when reaching out for help or support. We also have a great time together both at work and outside of work.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Being that I am more of an introvert, I was a little bit stuck with this question… so I asked my husband. He said, “Raising two kids (one actual kid and one adult kid) while working full time”. Not the first thing that came to my mind, but we had a good laugh about it.

One of my greatest accomplishments came from when I was working at a hotel in Stockholm as a Sales and Marketing Manager. I accepted this role with some hesitation, not being convinced I would be able to do a great job. Imposter Syndrome definitely crept into my thoughts. Well, I decided to make it a mission to not only prove to myself that I could do this job but also do it excellently. When targets where given, I set up goals and steps for myself on how I was going to reach those targets.

After implementing short-term and long-term goals, I found myself consistently meeting or exceeding monthly and annual sales targets. I achieved sales growth in excess of market growth by at least four percentage points each year and I increased the number of room nights on corporate agreements by 12% during my first year with the hotel.

Who has influenced you the most?

I would say my husband who decided to not move on to be a partner at a big company but instead started as CFO for an e-commerce start-up company. Looking back on my career and the choices I have made for the last eight years, he has been very encouraging and supportive in my decisions. For many years, I was of the belief that you need to be 100% ready for a role and be able to know how to do that role. I remember when I applied for one specific job as a Sales and Marketing Manager that I doubted myself throughout the interview process. Even when I was offered the job, I wasn’t sure I was going to live up to the expectations of the company. But my husband believed in me and reminded me that I had the qualifications to learn and master this job. I took it, and as it turns out, I was really good at it! He has always pushed me a little bit outside my comfort zone and made me more comfortable with taking on new challenges.

How and where do you find inspiration?

This question really got me thinking. For me, finding inspiration is a continuous path. I don’t tend to search or look for inspiration, it’s just a part of my daily life. I find inspiration from different people, my family, podcasts, books, yoga, and meditation. This summer I read a lot of books and listened to podcasts. I think what is important when finding inspiration is having an open mind.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

I think we are wired to view a failure as something negative. Embracing failure does not come easy and I think it’s something you learn over the years. I grew up spending a lot of time in the stable with my horse and was very competitive from a young age, so I competed in show jumping. Being competitive, I went in with the mindset that I was going to win or at least do a flawless round. Did I win all the time and did I do it flawlessly? Of course not. I failed so many times both on training and in the competitions. I had a little bit of a temper as well and was not happy with my results all the time. I remember talking to my trainer and she said to me that failure is a stepping stone to success. If you learn to embrace the mistakes you make on the track and look at how you can be better, you will be successful. It took me a while to accept failure as something positive and to turn it around to something useful in my development.

This summer I listened to a podcast called Master of Scales where Reid Hoffman (Co-founder of LinkedIn) interviewed Barry Diller. In this interview, he said,

“If a person is not learning on the job, that means he simply can’t do his job”.

Failure is a part of learning and I believe that good things come from failure if you just acknowledge it and grow from it. I believe that failure teaches you things that nothing else can teach you.

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

If you don’t love what you are doing, leave it. We spend too much time at work and we do our best when we love what we are doing. Life is too short. Another advice is that sometimes we get blinded and caught up with needing or deserving a promotion/new title. I would say that they only way up on the career ladder might not be a step up, it might be a lateral move or even backward.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

I’ve had a lot of great vacations over the years. The one that is really memorable is the one I made with my husband and friends to San Francisco and Sonoma Valley in California during the summer of 2011. We started in San Francisco for a couple of days doing some of the stuff you need to do as a first-time visitor (Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and Golden Gate Park). Then we headed up to Sonoma Valley. We stayed at different vineyards during the first week in Sonoma and enjoyed great wine and food. One place that we really loved was Healdsburg. It became so memorable that we decided to get married there 2 years later.

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

Spending time with my family. Going to the countryside outside Stockholm to a place that has activities for kids, great food, and a spa. There are a lot of great options just a short drive from Stockholm.

Expedia Group’s Month of Giving: Changing people’s lives

Wan Nur Farihin Wan Rosli | Lodging Partner Associate II in Kula Lumpur, Malaysia

“Non nobis solum nati sumus.
(Not for ourselves alone are we born.)”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Nongovernmental organization called Positive Living Community (PLC).I have always believed that by simply helping others it can boost up your mood. I have also always believed that we are living – not just for ourselves but for others.

At Expedia Group, I have found the best platform to do exactly that. I have been on the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) committee for almost a year now and there is not a single day that I find mundane. From trying to promote conserving energy at the office to encouraging recycling, or even switching the snacks at the pantry from individual packaging to where we keep snacks in jars.

Last month, Expedia Group held the annual Month of Giving and Day of Caring. I would love to share how the CSR committee offered an opportunity for Expedians to spend their Sunday with elderly men living with HIV. They are being cared for by an amazing nongovernmental organization called Positive Living Community (PLC).

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Volunteering at a nongovernmental organization called Positive Living Community (PLC).It was inspiring to see a group of people who voluntarily run this place and care for this group of people who have been rejected by their families or have become displaced due to their illness. The thing that touched my heart the most was to see how all these men work together to maintain their houses by cleaning, cooking, looking after their backyard tea garden, and taking care of a small lake where they rear ducks and goats. We were informed that they sell the tea leaves in an effort to self-sustain their organization while the ducks and goats are there to cater food for themselves.

Volunteers smile for group photo with residentsAs an organization that has almost MYR 20, 000 monthly operational cost, PLC has been surviving only on voluntary donations and a small portion of profit from the health tea plant (Orthosiphon aristatus). I sensed a lot of love and sincerity from the residents, volunteers, and managers. Our group of 30 people from the Kuala Lumpur office came by a chartered bus and helped them by clearing out their tea garden for the day. We also went to visit a few of the houses where disabled residents were staying at and listened to their life stories. At the end of the day, the visit ended with a closing speech by the organization’s manager, Sabina Arokia. Sabina mentioned how we have helped a lot in clearing out their garden and how happy the residents were to have visitors who listened to their stories and interacted with them.

Volunteers pose for photo with sombrero hatsExpedia Group supports charity and volunteer work to help vulnerable groups, social movements, and/or environmental causes by matching our donations and volunteer hours. In one day, we were able to make a substantial difference, both in our volunteer hours and the money that Expedia Group donated to the organization. I am excited to see what our future plans in the CSR committee are to help this organization more!

sombrero hatAlthough a day seemed too short to be visiting this place, we returned to the office late that evening feeling satisfied and excited to do more with our lives. We hope that with our meager effort in helping and visiting them, we made a change in their lives.

In the end, it felt amazing to bring smiles to people’s face.

Three principles to apply in your professional journey

Adriana Segovia | Area Manager, LPS in Cancun, Mexico

Employees posing in front of MEXICO signOver my professional career, I have taken several professional development courses and received advice from many people but there’s nothing more important than these three fundamentals I have learned: 1) Be now the person you aspire to be, 2) Challenge the Status Quo, and 3) Own your Career.

Adriana Segovia posing with coworkersI have worked in the Travel industry for about 6 years before joining a group of entrepreneurs in one of the first Online Travel Agency (OTA) in Mexico. This adventure took me to be part of the founding team and the first female General Manager (GM) for PriceTravel.com, a Mexican Online Travel Agent specialized in Domestic Travelers.

Years later, I met Expedia. During the recruitment process, one of the recurring questions from my interviews was “Why would you move from being a GM with people management and projects responsibilities into an individual contributor role?” My response was always simple “I want to be part of Expedia”.

I joined Expedia Group as a Market Coordinator for the Mexico and Central America markets in the Cancun, Mexico office in 2006. Cancun had been the first office opened in Latin America in 2004. At the time, we had only 8 people handling the Latin America Region, including a Director, Market Managers and a Market Coordinator.  Since then, the LATAM team has grown to 16 offices in 8 countries (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, DR, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico) and 157 market management members. In these 12 years, I’ve had roles in Mexico, Central America, and South America markets and relocated twice with my family.  As result of my performance, I have been awarded Latin America Market Coordinator of the Year in 2008, Market Manager of the Year in 2013, and Area Manager of the Year in 2016. My newest project is Area Manager of Regional Chains for Latin America Resorts and I love it!

Adriana Segovia posing with large group of employeesHere are the three principles I have applied during my career at Expedia Group. These fundamentals were instrumental in me receiving numerous awards and being promoted on four separate occasions:

1) Be now the person you aspire to be

  • Don’t wait to be promoted to take ownership. If there’s a role you’re interested in, ask your manager how you can start developing skills to prepare you for that role.
  • Do raise your hand and be proactive. Participate in projects and build best practices.
  • Don’t limit your network to your market or region. Surround yourself by great people.
  • Do the best version of you. Persevere and be a team player who is honest, respectful, humble, and positive. Work hard and have fun.

2) Challenge the Status Quo

  • Don’t assume all is correct and there is no room for improvement or change. Take risks.
  • Do raise the question for how a current process can be improved or executed faster.
  • Don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from your mistakes.
  • Do evolve, adapt, and embrace change. Don’t stay in the past.
  • Don’t accept “No” for an answer. Don’t let people tell you it’s not possible.

3) Own your Career

  • Don’t expect your manager to tell you what your development plan is. YOU control your professional and personal growth.
  • Do define where you want to be and how you plan to achieve it.
  • Do use many sources available to work on improving your competencies. For example, LinkedIn Learnings and Ted Ideas are great resources.

Adriana Segovia and coworkers in Halloween costumes. Expedia gives you the opportunity to keep learning all the time, which is why I love working here. Challenge yourself and you will amaze yourself with what you can accomplish. It’s contagious too! I am surrounded by super smart people with the best attitude, which brings out the best in me and could bring out the best in you too.

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.