In this episode I spoke with Juan Lopez Marcano, Software Engineer at Uber. Juan has been at Fortune 100 companies, startups and Silicon Valley Unicorns like Uber. In this conversation we spoke about his strategy, the in-demand skills he has developed, how he preps for technical interviews, salary negotiation techniques and the 3M framework to define whether an opportunity is for you or not.
One of the most interesting takeaways from this conversation was the 3 Ms framework Juan uses to evaluate career opportunities. 1st M stands for Making: What are you building?, What kind of technologies are you using? What is the purpose behind it? ,the 2nd M stands for Management: What is your Boss like? What is the Team like? Is it a healthy environment where you can thrive? And the 3rd M stands for Money: Are you being compensated fairly for your effort? Does your compensation track the market? What other perks besides Money does your company offer?
Join in as we cover the taboo of talking about salaries, how to overcome the fear of negotiating and strategies that Juan has used to be successful at technical interviews and finding the right job for his skills.
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Podcast Show notes:
- 01:15 – Welcoming Juan López Marcano
- 01:30 – About Juan in Silicon Valley and his thoughts on salaries, compensations, and underpaid vicious cycle “The taboo talking about salaries”
ABOUT JUAN AND THE TABOO OF TALKING ABOUT SALARIES
Juan started his professional journey at Intel. Once he had finished his internship, he received a return offer from the manager, and after having gone through salary negotiations and playing it risky he started his new role as a Software Manager. There is a taboo in Silicon Valley’s hispanic community about salaries and how much they get paid. They create a vicious cycle where they are underpaid and get used to it, either because they are afraid or feel uncomfortable talking about it. Nobody should be frightened. Juan talks about salaries with most non hispanic friends and they both know how much money each other makes, it is the only way to make sure they do not get underpaid. “Don’t be the first person making money in your team, be number two. Number one will get laid off if there is a budget cut”
- 05:26 – Juan’s risky salary request when getting a return offer from manager at Intel
- 10:56 – Jumping from Intel to number 43 startup at Cloudminds – Approaching job search process and process meeting 3 Ms
- 14:52 – Interview process at different companies while having a full time job
INTERVIEWS AND THEIR PROCESS WHILE HAVING A FULLTIME JOB
With a fulltime job at Intel, Juan was going through interviews with Cloudminds, Magically and Facebook in search of a strong management team and leadership. All companies used coding interviews that consisted in a phone screen and a coaching platform, and if everything went fine he would go all day, needing Intel’s permission to take the day off. The interviews lasted in between 4 to 6 hours and he had to be prepared to solve problems on the whiteboard which he enjoyed very much. He would take a month, after work and on weekends, getting prepared with the help of different tools, platforms and mark interviews with friends.
- 22:35 – First money offer after having gone through whole interview process
- 25:59 – About Juan at CloudMinds and the time spent there
- 33:07 – After six months at CloudMinds and getting to IMVU
- 35:31 – IMVU and their social virtual reality 3D avatar platform main product
IMVU – MAKING MONEY AND HELP OTHERS MAKE MONEY TOO
Imvu is a avatar-based social network, that makes money and helps others make money too. Their main product is a social virtual 3D avatar platform, and have as well, 3D assets that people can make and sell. They have a huge number of items on sale, and each time one is sold, Imvu takes a cut out of it.
- 37:17 – About Juan’s favourite IMVU perks and the time he spent there
- 39:29 – Why Uber?
FINDING A SUITE SPOT AT UBER
Juan got several calls from different companies through Linkedin and Uber was one of them. After having past the interview rounds, he decided to scrutinize them all and was in search now of his 3Ms. Juan felt very interested in Uber, he was interested in their team hiring process and their breakthroughs in machine learning. He considered they had the most awesome open source machine learning tools in the world and a team that focussed in production and found solutions to problems that nobody else was able to, serving 100MM users at the same time. Having accomplished and found his first M, Juan went in search of the other two, and had a successful lunch meeting with the managing director and his boss where he was able to negotiate and learn more about their culture. “Juan found his suite spot”
- 47:26 – From Intel to Uber Juan has duplicated his salary. What number for job satisfaction?
- 49:11 – Last words and advice to young professionals
- Sharing and talking about how much you earn with others can ensure you are not underpaid
- “Not be the first person making money in your team, be number two. Number one will get laid off if there is a budget cut”
- An advantage is to negotiate a high base salary , and not count on RSUs
- When getting a job, think of a 3 M process (1st what you are going to be making and if you are happy with it, 2nd will you be happy with the management and direction, and 3rd money) and try to find the suite spot where they intersect
- Immigrants are more comfortable managing uncertainty and switching cultures
- “You will have a leg up above other candidates if you are involved in maths”
- Machine interviews are math heavy
- Always have honest conversations with managers to see what expectations are; constructive conversation and competency checklist
- Competency checklist is a great tool when doing salary negotiations
- “If you are getting a promotion, think of what has got you there and keep on executing” “No time for impostor syndrome”
- “Keep on playing”
- “If I am invited to sit at this table it is because my opinion is valued”
- “Make sure your schedule doesn’t have time for negative things”
- When looking for your first job, don’t necessarily pick a company or a grand, pick a manager
- As you move on, the more impact you have on your team, the more you have to scrutinize them
- If you are going to have impact beyond your team, try and scrutinize your organization
- If you are going to be “super senior”and make a lot of impact with a lot of people, make sure you assess before hand what those interactors are going to be like before you take the offer”
- “You have to have a courtship period”
- “Cracking the coding interview” book written by Gayle Laakmann Mcdowell, book recommended to help go through an interview process
- Pramp – platform to practice interview with friends
- LeetCode – platform to help you enhance your skills, expand your knowledge and prepare for technical interviews.
- Geeks for Geeks – a computer science portal for geeks recommended by Juan
- Coursera – online learning platform with open online courses recommended by Juan; favourite course is the one dictated by Andrew Ng
- WeeChat – free and open-source Internet Relay Chat client
- Second Life – online virtual world; competition to IMVU
- “Ready Player One” book written by Ernest Cline
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