Sahar Bala


Sahar Bala

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my story

My career journey has been completely non-linear.

I have a degree in International Studies. When graduating college, I imagined myself soon working in the field and saving the world day to day. I packed up, left the city I'd loved for the last 3.5 years, my long term relationship, and everything I'd known on the West coast. I traded it all in for a short stint in Washington DC at a nonprofit organization working in the legal field to represent minority lawyers. But I soon realized that I didn't see a future in this career path. Studying history, politics, foreign policy, and the complex relationships between states was completely different than what I was doing in my day to day at the nonprofit.

So I decided to pack up and come back to San Francisco. With few job prospects offered to me with my International Studies degree in hand, I took a job at Eventbrite, where my now-husband was then interning. The role? The lowest level at the company, Customer Support Representative. My job was to answer phone calls, respond to emails, and assist our customers with the Eventbrite commitment to service. But I quickly excelled, resolving more than 100 phone and email cases per day. I found new ways to help our customers, and I started getting involved with the more advanced cases dealing with bug reports, helping our triage team with reproducing technical issues so that our engineering team could begin work on fixes. I also started developing leadership and training skills through leading the onboarding of 40 temporary hires and then later working in a small team to onboard 3 separate classes of new full time hires to open our brand new Nashville office.

I was then faced with two career paths: leadership and technical development. I loved each for different reasons and had spent a considerable amount of my own spare time developing skills in each, but I felt a bigger opportunity awaited me with the technical side. I had a desire to become a software engineer, but I wasn't sure the timing was right for me to go back to school.

At the same time, I had also devoted time to building relationships in our engineering team. Not too long after, my colleagues in engineering took notice of my technical prowess, and Eventbrite offered me a position of Quality Assurance Engineer. I was being given an engineering position despite my lack of a formal technical degree or training. Eventbrite believed in me and my abilities so much that they were willing to pay me to learn on the job, rather than me having to spend thousands to go back to school or to go through a bootcamp.

With my new role, I was a sponge, absorbing the new knowledge and skills, diving into programming with my new teams, all while still contributing to the engineering team with my customer perspective and empathy. I ended up transforming the way we thought about quality, and as a senior member of the team and later as the QA Manager, I transitioned the company from using our QA engineers for manual QA only to a new Quality Driven Development design with QA at the forefront of building high quality features.

That all ended in October of 2017. More than five years of customer service and quality assurance positions had given me a deep wealth of customer empathy, leadership skills, and a broad spectrum of technical abilities. With a reorganization in the company happening at the same time, the timing suddenly was right for me to get back to what I had set aside so long ago -- the chance to be a software engineer.

I jumped into a full time software engineer role on the Expand Checkout squad at Eventbrite, specializing in the frontend in React and Redux, and continuing to build on my previous knowledge in Python (learned on the job through my QA role).

Most recently, I moved to Seattle, WA, where I'm a software engineer at Convoy, a digital freight marketplace whose mission is to transport the world's goods with endless capacity and zero waste. My team works on building new tools and automating workflows for our Operations teams who ensure that our freight gets to where it needs to be in the most efficient and effective way, while delivering high quality service.

It's been thrilling so far, and I'm incredibly grateful every day that I've been given these incredible opportunities, and for the people who have mentored and inspired me along the way.

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