Nov 06 2023
Problem-solving drives everything this engineering manager does
By Meta Careers
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Growing up in Germany, Maria H., engineering manager, was solving problems for as long as she can remember — starting with the day she realized her primary school didn’t have a newspaper. “My mom helped me write a letter to the school director, asking if I could help create a way to share information,” she smiles. “It didn’t happen because I was in first grade and still learning to write myself, but I’ve always been the kind of person who loves fixing things.”

When Maria interned at Meta during her semester abroad at Columbia University in 2015, she saw an opportunity to solve problems she cared about. “I’m passionate about emerging markets and helping a wide variety of people use technology — which the team I supported was working on. It’s one reason I joined full-time in 2016,” she says. “I was also immediately drawn to the engineering culture at Meta. Everyone is so helpful and open. Every day, I learn from talented people here — that’s what makes Meta feel different from other companies.”

“Engineering at Meta is bottoms-up. Even as an intern, your voice is heard and you can drive change.”

Over her seven years at Meta, Maria has lent her time and technical talents to four organizations: Facebook, emerging markets, the metaverse and now the WhatsApp growth team. “The code base at Meta is enormous, and there are so many challenges for engineers to tackle. As I’ve explored the company, I’ve found it’s impossible to be bored — there’s always something new to learn and do! I moved to WhatsApp because the team is solving a problem I find super interesting.”

Maria and her team are focused on expanding WhatsApp to people in low-connectivity areas, empowering them to connect with family and friends around the world. “Our team does outreach and focuses on education to help people register on WhatsApp,” she explains. “We collaborate with research teams to understand how people across different markets use the product.” Maria’s team also addresses security and integrity concerns across WhatsApp registrations. “We want to ensure the wrong people can’t sign up for WhatsApp. If bad actors can’t sign up, they can’t spam people — it helps keep everyone safe. ”

Maria nurtures her passion for empowering others as a people manager, a role she grew into organically. “I was a senior engineer on the Facebook Videos team and kept suggesting new projects, meeting with engineers and mentoring them,” she shares. “While I had to think about giving up some technical responsibilities— I love coding and going deep to figure things out — I’m so glad I decided to become a manager. My role is still focused on problem-solving, but now I see it as solving different kinds of problems for people.”

Maria is especially proud of helping fuel her team members’ careers and watching them grow, whether it’s gaining confidence or getting a promotion. “I really love my role,” she smiles. “It’s gratifying to adjust my management style for every person on my team — figuring out what they need to thrive. My approach comes down to three things. Empathy: making sure people are okay ahead of team goals. Trust: creating an environment where people have the opportunity to show up and do more. Flexibility: I embrace the Japanese concept Ikigai to pair my team members’ strengths with the world’s needs.”

“When you put people first and encourage diverse perspectives, it builds trust on your team — and that’s the best way to inspire problem-solving.”

Outside of Meta, Maria brings her passion for growth back to her community. “I try to help kids understand what they can do with their lives — especially in tech — if they didn’t have access to opportunity growing up,” she says. “At Meta, I’ve learned connecting with others makes all the difference. My first manager here is still my mentor. People bring the company together, guide your journey and help you solve problems that inspire you.”

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