Mar 02 2016

A Day in the Life of an Engineering Manager at Facebook

By Meta Careers
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How much do you know about iOS Development and Mobile Engineering at Facebook? Here's part one of a three part series, featuring stories from Facebook Mobile Engineers. Today we chat with Software Engineer, Lucy Z.

What do you do at Facebook?

I'm a Software Engineer. I started my career at Facebook on the iOS Messenger team and was there 4.5 years. I recently moved teams, and I'm now a part of the K12 Education team which is working to bring personalized learning to schools across the country.

Can you tell us about a mobile project you’ve worked on at Facebook that’s really challenged you and pushed you to be a better engineer?

One project that jumps to mind was when we added the read receipts feature to Messenger. It was a challenging project engineering-wise and product design-wise. We were a small team at the time and I was the main iOS developer. In additional to implementing the feature, I worked with product managers and designers to iterate on the user experience. It was also a feature that was very polarizing. We spent a lot of time to make sure we built something that addressed users' concerns but also added value. As we started to roll it out, we received a lot of positive feedback from users, even the ones who were once skeptical.

What is something most people don't know about working on Facebook Messenger?

A couple of things that come to mind. 1) Some people don’t realize Messenger is like a company within a company that has quite a bit of autonomy. We have the freedom to determine how to execute on our goals. With the breadth of different opportunities in Messenger (ranging on teams focused on monetization, core infra, growth, etc.), we have many different engineering and product challenges. We do more than just work on one feature. If you’re considering a startup environment where you can wear many hats, you can do that on the Messenger team at Facebook. You'll learn how to grow a product, build infrastructure to support it, and work on monetizing the product. 2) A great number of features on Messenger have been spearheaded by an engineer with an idea. There is no limit to what you can achieve when you are passionate about what you do.

Is there a word or phrase that best describes your team culture and why?

“Openness to express”— I most recently worked on a team within Messenger that was responsible for features that let users express themselves in ways beyond just text messaging, so this included Stickers, GIF search, and Messenger Content Platform. Working on these fun features helped to build the culture of our team. We would consistently brainstorm crazy and delightful ways for people to express themselves. Our team had group chats where all people would do is send funny cat GIFs. While it made our team communication more light-hearted, we also realized that these tools really do add a new richness to the way Messenger users can express themselves.

Which one of Facebook’s core values resonates most with you and the way your team works?

“Build Social Value” would be the value that resonates the most. I think Messenger is core to our mission of making the world more open and connected. We are a part of hundreds of millions of peoples' lives and there’s a responsibility that comes with that; some people are using it to send a shower of hearts to their girlfriends, and some are using it to tell their loved ones they are okay after a natural disaster.

When you hear the word “Diversity,” what does that mean to you and how does it apply to what you do here at Facebook?

I think about the millions of people using Messenger and how different they might be from me and also each other. We have to build a product that meets the needs of a lot of different people. In order to do that, I think it’s really important that we also have diversity amongst the people building the product. For example, we had an engineer on the team who had lived in Japan and spoke Japanese. He was a huge champion for our internationalization efforts. If a bug was reported in a different language, he would be outspoken about fixing it. He provided a different perspective and helped make the product better.

How do you think working on Mobile at Facebook is different from other companies?

One thing I noticed is the way we structure many teams differently than others for various reasons. A lot of product teams are cross-platform — ownership will be around a product and feature and therefore we’re able to build cohesive products that can stand on their own on each platform; common decision are made and the process is efficient, with a lot of fluidness. You may see some people are owning features in iOS and Android. You can have a team structure of iOS, Android, and PHP, like a small taskforce on a feature/product, creating more collaboration and communication, which in turn makes the team closer.

If we were to build a new conference room at Facebook and you get to name it, what would the name be?

I have a soft spot for whales of all kinds, I would name it “Narwhal”.

Top 3 apps you use on your phone:

Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Outside of that, Pinterest and Asana.
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