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Own Your Career Podcast — Growing into Leading: Meet Richa Gandhi

Own Your Career Podcast — Growing into Leading: Meet Richa Gandhi

Published 12-04-23

Submitted by GoDaddy

Richa Gandhi, Software developer for GoDaddy.

Originally published on GoDaddy Life

Listen to the Podcast, here! Transcription provided, below.

Janelle (Host): Hello, and welcome to the Own Your Career Podcast. My name is Janelle Jordan and I’m a Program Manager on our Talent, Performance and Engagement team, and I am so excited to be here with you. Throughout this series, you will hear inspiring interviews with employees who have achieved career growth at GoDaddy through internal promotions and movement. In addition, you will hear tips, best practices, and advice to support your career journey. Career management is necessary for a successful journey, and we hope you’ll walk away ready to own your career. Thanks for spending time with us today. Now let’s jump into the career spotlight with our guest. I’m here today with Richa Gandhi, who is a Software Development Manager in DRI here at GoDaddy. Hi, Richa. Welcome to the podcast.

Richa (Guest): Hey, thank you.

Janelle: Let’s get to know you quickly. Can you share with us a little bit about who you are outside the office?

Richa: Sure. Yeah. So I’m Richa Gandhi. I live here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I’m a mom to two girls, so I really enjoy spending time with them outside work. We love to travel. We do a lot of road trips. More recently, we did a road trip all during spring break all the way from Iowa, taking various stops to Florida and back. So that’s a lot of fun — traveling. Other things that bring me joy is reading, and now that my daughter is in first grade and she started enjoying reading too, so we keep taking our trips to the library, bringing in a lot of books for both of us and having our reading time together. That’s been really fun.

Janelle: You said Florida, and I have to ask, did you go to Disney?

Richa: No, not this time. We’ve been to Disney before, but this time we went to a different part of Florida — Destin, Florida. Yes, that was really fun. So we stopped in New Orleans for a little bit and then Memphis for a little bit and then went to Florida, spent a few days there and then came back.

Janelle: They must be super well behaved if your family likes to road trip. Be very well behaved little girls.

Richa: Yes. They give each other company and they’re good together, so I hear from my friends too, so yes.

Janelle: That’s wonderful. I like road tripping with my girls too, but my three daughters just bicker a lot. It makes it hard to be stuck in the car with them sometimes.

Richa: I know. I mean, we have those moments too, but then yeah, we keep them engaged with various things.

Janelle: That is so fun. Well, thank you for sharing with us about who you are outside of GoDaddy. So let’s start with our first question for the listeners. Can you share with us an overview of what your career journey has looked like here at GoDaddy or including before GoDaddy and any internal movement that you’ve had?

Richa: Yeah, sure. So I started at GoDaddy straight out of college, right after completing my masters here at University of Iowa back in 2015. I did have some previous experience back home in India, about three years. This has been my first job in the US. I started as a Front-End Developer on the Domains org. So, did a lot of work on the Domains Control DCC team, working with the UI for the domain controller customer facing UI. And then I moved around a little bit, finding my interest, became a Full Stack Developer, and then finally I got settled into being a Backend Developer. So, I’ve been doing a lot of backend development for DCC Domains org. ****From there, in the past few years, I have transitioned into becoming a Technical Lead, so I’m still working with Domains org. However, I’ve been leading a bunch of projects, so I’ve been leading all the way from up to five to six engineers that I work with. So I get to work with a lot of Product Owners and Product Program Managers and all various stakeholders on different teams and then do the requirement analysis phase of the whole project and then see to it being delivered all the way from the inception to out in production. So that’s been a really amazing journey. And during that journey, I also understood myself better as someone who’s interested in people management. So, since I really enjoyed that whole aspect of leading a project other than my technical work. So I kind of started the conversation with my manager and director that I do want to move into people management just a few months back. Actually, I have transitioned into an Engineering Manager role now, and I’m working with a different team, but it’s still in the Domains org, and I absolutely love it. It’s just been a few months so far, but I really enjoy my new role as much, or even more actually, than my technical job that I’ve been doing so far.

Janelle: Thank you so much for sharing. So, a couple of questions. As I was listening to your career journey here at GoDaddy. One, I want to confirm you’ve been in the domain space, the DRI space, the whole time. Is that true? That’s amazing. But and held a variety of roles. So you shared at the very beginning, you came in and you floated around and changed roles and did different types of work, Front-End, Backend, to kind of see what you liked and where you fit. Tell me, was that part of the culture of the DRI team, or is that GoDaddy’s culture, or was that more just you wanting to better understand how to apply your knowledge in the workplace and figure out what worked and what you enjoyed most? Was that like you or was that kind of just the culture of the team?

Richa Gandhi shown with her husband and two children at the Grand Canyon.

Richa: I think it’s kind of an overall GoDaddy culture. Everybody gets to move around if they want and explore different options. But I think I was also very fortunate to have a good first manager. She kind of encouraged me to, if I wasn’t enjoying it so much, I could try out different things. And she gave me basically the opportunity to do that. Yeah, she supported it and encouraged it, which makes it easier.

Janelle: And then you also shared that leading teams, especially those cross functional projects, really helped you, I guess, kind of set a fire to becoming a people leader. Can you just share what are some of the things that you did to prepare?

Richa: Yeah, sure. I mean, once I realized that this is something that I want to do, I first made my intentions known. I told my manager and also my director about it during a skip level. I also asked for more responsibilities proactively. I took up mentees whom I was mentoring. So that was really helpful because one on one is another thing that you do once you become a people’s manager. So I started mentoring. I took up more responsibilities in terms of just coordinating things for my team, speaking with the stakeholders team, and getting stuff resolved. And I think that kind of showcased to my manager that, yes, she is ready to take on this next role.

Janelle: Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense. Thank you so much for sharing. So let’s dig in a little bit more with our second question. You are in Engineering or Software Development. Can you share with us what advice do you have for someone who might be new to your industry or field or area here at GoDaddy?

Richa: So, I feel like if you’re joining new like I was when you’re right out of college, there are two buckets of things that you should be focusing on. And I wish I got this advice sooner. So one would be your technical aspects of the job and one is all the guidance that you can get. So if I speak about technical aspects, I feel like we don’t give enough importance to unit testing when we are in school and at work. When we are coding, unit testing is really important. So the sooner you understand that and build that skill, it’s really helpful. The second thing is to be always learning. As a Software Developer, I think there are so many new technologies coming up all the time. It’s a very good idea to always be learning and reading and increasing your skills. And while doing that, it’s actually nice to figure out your learning style because a lot of people love to just read books and learn from that or take up some courses. And just a side note on that, GoDaddy actually has amazing programs for both of these. You can buy books and get them reimbursed if needed. And also there is PluralSight and certification options and stuff. So you can always be growing and improving on your technical skills. And thirdly, you should always build a very strong foundation because as a Developer, whatever language you’re planning to use, or just in general software development algorithms, you should have a good foundation to build up on top of that. Sometimes people just start working. Once you have that strong foundation, it’s always really easy to build up on top of it. This is the technical side of things. I also feel like in terms of just growing and maneuvering your career, it’s important that you always ask a lot of questions, especially when you’re in your early career. One of my Seniors used to always say there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers. So never ever hesitate to ask a question, especially when you’re new in a role. You feel like what if this is a silly question or something? You should always just ask question and keep learning as much as you can. And other thing kind of similar to asking questions is ask for help. Because a lot of times you do want to debug stuff on your own and figure out the solution on your own. Yes! but if you feel like you’re just stuck on it for a really long time, you should not not ask for help. So ask for help if needed. And the third one is get yourself a mentor. And this one is, I think, really important, especially in your early career. And I wish I did this sooner than later, but I feel mentor plays such a big role in your career growth. So when you’re new, they kind of can help you guide what steps you should take to progress your career, or just general small things that you can learn from them. It’s easy to get a mentor. You don’t have to go out, just someone in the company you admire, you look up to, you can just slack them or email them and just ask them if they can be your mentor and have weekly or biweekly meetings with them and just learn from them.

Richa Gandhi's two daughters shown near a pond holding hands.

Janelle: Thank you so much for sharing all of this wisdom. There is a lot to unpack here. So I had some thoughts as you were sharing your advice. First, I want to say thank you for shouting out that GoDaddy has a lot of tools and resources for growing and learning and staying engaged in the know and what’s going on and having the technical aptitude that you need to have, even if it’s just something as, like, upskilling and testing or something, for example, that you shared or what’s going on in the industry. So thank you for shouting out that GoDaddy does provide this. But I guess one of my questions off the cuff is just for you. What’s your favorite way, what’s your preferred way of staying up to date in the industry and making sure that you’re staying ahead of what’s going on?

Richa: I know I said that I love reading books but I think when it comes to software, I actually prefer doing small courses so I keep going to Pluralsight and updating myself with some latest things that’s come up. They would do a small course there, or even Coursera or Khan Academy. There are so many different resources available and also reading blogs. I love reading technical blogs. I think those really help going to stack overflow, reading some stuff over there and also have subscribed to a few blogs which kind of keep sending you emails about the latest updates on certain technologies. So, I think those all have been my go tos.

Janelle: Agree. I think in any department or area, you want to continue to be the subject matter expert. And to continue, I mean, it’s changing constantly. If you look at just like, the state of AI and how it’s progressed at GoDaddy in the last four weeks is just an indication of how quickly and rapidly things are changing in the tech, then, you know, they make it really easy subscribing, and I get those too. I’m in the field of HR and employee experience, so I just subscribe to the webinars and the newsletters, and if I can read one every week, that I know that I’m digesting something that’s really relevant to what I do here at GoDaddy and allows me to stay a little up to date. So great feedback there. I think your tips were really good around having a growth mindset all the time, asking questions. It’s so important, especially early on in your career. I agree. I think I was so afraid or I felt like I needed to come across as knowing more than I did, and that’s so silly. Asking for help. No, it’s just brilliant. And then your last one about getting a mentor, which I think is just so critical and really top of mind for a lot of folks here at GoDaddy. Do you have a mentor today?

Richa: I do, yes. I mean, I have had a mentor for some time, and recently when I switched roles, I got myself a new mentor, a level up. So I actually recently did a talk on this transitioning from Individual Contributor to People Manager and I feel like especially when it comes to getting a mentor, for me at least, this is what I feel works the best is getting a mentor a level up. Because, say, I’m an Engineering Manager. My mentor is someone who’s a director. They can guide me as to what steps I need to take to move up the next role. However, if I get a mentor who’s all the way to, say, VP or CTO, they’ll give me some good advice, but it might not be relevant right now. For me, I’ll level up as someone who has paved the way themselves and will have really relevant advice and experience, even maybe even more tactical.

Janelle: Yeah, that completely makes a lot of sense. Okay, so thank you for sharing all of that. That’s really awesome for our listeners to hear. So let’s transition to our third question. What is one piece of advice that you would share with someone who’s currently preparing to be a leader here at GoDaddy?

Richa: I think when it comes to leadership, other than all the things that you need to know about your job, soft skills play a very big role. Having that emotional intelligence to understand people is really important. So I feel like working on those soft skills is one thing that you should focus on, but also, like I said previously, just put yourself out there, take on more responsibilities, try to showcase that. Yes, you’re ready to get into leadership, talk to your managers, work with your mentor to get that guidance. So it’s kind of a lot of things that I already talked about, but I think the most important of all of them would be soft skills. Because you’re working with your people all the time, you want them to succeed. And a good manager or good leader basically can make or break it. So if you have those right set of soft skills, you have that good time management skills, you can see the broader picture, you can create a good roadmap for your team, you can provide them what they need, also unblock them whenever needed. So these all skills come from that emotional intelligence because you’re working with different personalities. So just understanding what works for one of them, but maybe doesn’t work for other. Working on your soft skills and just getting better at that can play a big role when it comes to leadership.

Richa Gandhi and her husband enjoying a night out.

Janelle: I think people focus a lot on getting the work done and doing the work and doing the work well and getting outcomes and results. But you’re saying in your experience, growing into a people leader is preparing yourself for leading the actual people part of it, the people doing the work and really investing in that and how you’re leading those people and how you’re making sure that they are able to do the best that they can do. Can you share with us, Richa, How did you learn that? How did you realize having an emotional intelligence and this part of your work was going to be the most impactful or one of the most impactful parts of leading people?

Richa: I think it started way back because right when I joined GoDaddy as a level one here, I got involved into ERGs (Employee Resource Groups) as a lead or some form of leadership role on those and I feel like it was because of those skills, maybe I had inherently a little bit, I was able to connect with people, understand their issues and help them resolve. I was even invited to go to multiple university recruitment fairs because I think the leaders on those ERGs saw that in me and then the way I connected with the people I interviewed. Also, another thing is that through my journey here at GoDaddy, we have performance reviews and joining forces always comes up as my strongest value. I think it’s just because of me paying that extra attention on making sure how the person I’m interacting with is feeling or just making sure that they are getting what they are asking for and just listening rather than just trying to just get my ideas across. So I think all those help me grow in this direction and I feel it has been helpful so far in my role too.

Janelle: Absolutely, yeah. Thank you for sharing, especially the point around for our listeners, leveraging your strength. So throughout those performance reviews, really taking it as an opportunity to listen and learn more about what you’re really good at. And if you don’t know, if you’re not getting that type of feedback, make sure that you’re asking not about just growing in your opportunities, but it’s also about knowing what you’re really good at and what comes naturally and then for you leveraging that and knowing, okay, well, I’m really good at connecting with people, and I know that from my experience that a lot can come from that — a lot good can come from being able to connect with people, especially if you want to lead people and lead teams. And so, yeah, I think that’s just really great advice for folks that are listening. Is there anything else that you wanted to share around preparing to be a people leader?

Richa: There’s a lot of different aspects actually, which go into it. And like I was saying, I did recently do a talk for GDWIT transitioning from an Individual Contributor to an Engineering Manager in which I kind of go into details about how do you analyze yourself first if you’re ready to jump into leadership or taking that next step. And there are certain points that you can think about for that. Like do I actually enjoy communication with different teams? Do I like to work with deadlines? Do I focus on the finer details or do I like to work with broader pictures? So there are a lot of things that you can analyze yourself on to set up that stage that yes, you are ready, and then start showcasing those.

Janelle: Fantastic. And you said this was a and I actually saw a communication around this, but this was a talk that you gave as part of the GDWIT ERG. Yes. Okay, so folks can navigate to our GDWIT ERG page on SharePoint and or the Slack Channel and they would be able to find that conversation there.

Richa: yes!

Janelle: So our last question. What is a common myth about your job, department or field of expertise?

Richa: I mean, I don’t know if it’s like it’s really a myth, but I feel like whenever someone’s thinking about Software Development or coders, they think someone who’s, like, coding in a silo, like a geek or a nerd. Yeah, but I want to say that that’s absolutely not true. I mean, there are certain times we might be doing that, but a lot of times, Software Development has got to do a lot with solving problems. So we are analyzing things. We are designing systems, we are coming up with algorithms that can work in the most performant way, and then we are also figuring out how to solve a customer problem or introduce a new feature to a customer, working with Product Managers on that, architecting various systems, collaborating, communicating. So there’s a lot that goes on in Software Development, and it’s just not like sitting down there and coding. So I think that’s one of the most common things.

Janelle: I think that’s a big one. I definitely know that there’s probably this vision of a person by themselves not on any phone calls, not on any team meetings, never on Zoom, completely introverted. And that is not the case. But the nature of the job is to collaborate and brainstorm and to problem solve, and that requires traditionally talking to people. Right? So that was a very good share. So thank you so much, Richa, for spending time with us today on the podcast and sharing your personal career story with our listeners. Can you share with everyone the best way to reach you if they would like to connect, ask additional questions, learn a little bit more about some of the things that you share, or for just networking or mentoring.

Richa: I’m always active on Slack most of the time. Active on Slack so they can easily Slack me. Also available on LinkedIn. If they want to connect outside GoDaddy or just send me an email here at GoDaddy. It’s just Absolutely love to connect with anyone who wants to.

Janelle: Wonderful. Thank you so much for being here with us today. And thank you to everyone else for listening to the Own Your Career Podcast. We aim to inspire, motivate, and empower our employees to meet and achieve their professional goals. If you’re interested in being a guest on a future episode of the podcast, please visit the MyCareer Portal Career Spotlight page and complete the interest form. While you’re there, check out the many resources and articles available and reach out to us with any feedback, questions, or ideas. We would love to hear from you. Thank you, Richa, again for being on the podcast, and everyone have a great day. Thank you.

Richa: Thank you for having me.

Are you enjoying this series and want to know more about life at GoDaddy? Check out our GoDaddy Life social pages! Follow us to meet our team, learn more about our culture (Teams, ERGs, Locations), careers, and so much more. You’re more than just your day job, so come propel your career with us.

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