7 Ways HomeAway Celebrated Pride Month

The HomeAway offices are buzzing every June with tons of Pride events. While we strive to make every month just as colorful, our HomeAway Pride Affinity Group just naturally shines brighter during Pride Month. Here are a few ways we celebrated this year:

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1. We hosted one day of the Maven Youth Tech Camp in Austin at our Domain office. Maven Youth Camp works with LGBTQ+ youth to provide a pathway to a tech career. Members from HomeAway Pride volunteered and shared their career stories with Maven campers.

 Maven Youth campers and HomeAway volunteers kicking off the day at the Domain.

Maven Youth campers and HomeAway volunteers kicking off the day at the Domain.

2. The second-annual Startout Hackout Weekend, the only LGTBQ-themed hackout, was held at our Domain office with over 85 attendees from around the world. Hackers got to bond over paddleboarding and happy hour and then dive into the logistics of actually creating a startup.

3. It wouldn’t be Pride Month without rainbow desserts! Layne Box and Gretel Perera cut into a rainbow cake in Austin and Holly Wolford enjoyed colorful cupcakes in Bellevue.  

4. Employees learned fun facts about LGTBQ rights advocates from our office wallboards (TVs that display announcements and news).

5. Our beloved birdhouse in Downtown Austin gets a makeover during Pride Month! It’s hard to miss the rainbow lights when you’re driving to and from the office.

 Photo courtesy of Lenny Tropiano, Fly the Sky Drone Productions

Photo courtesy of Lenny Tropiano, Fly the Sky Drone Productions

6. This year HomeAway walked in the London Pride Parade for the first time! Layne Box, our Talent Acquisition Events Specialist and HomeAway Pride member, flew to London to help make it a success with custom Pride shirts and decorations. 

7. This year we also hosted our first internal “Be Yourself, Be Brave” LGTBQ panel in Austin and London where our employees talked about inclusion in the workplace.

“The Be Brave panel was a rare opportunity to shine a light on a taboo topic in the workplace. Everyone who attended came with an open mind and was eager to learn. While panel questions were personal and tough to discuss at times, I believe we all walked away with a greater understanding of one another and will continue to keep building a more inclusive culture here at HomeAway.” - Juliana Leon, HomeAway Pride Leader

Learn more about the HomeAway Pride Affinity Group and join Team HomeAway in the Austin Pride Parade on August 11!

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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Solving Killer Problems from Customer Support to Product: Tyler’s Career Story

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Tyler’s career trajectory has been anything but ordinary. His first job in tech was at a startup called Glad to Have You in 2012, which was acquired by HomeAway a couple years later. He started in a customer support role helping property managers use and understand our software, but his real passion was in engineering. Solving customer issues and hearing product feedback gave him a taste of problem-solving, but he was ready to think bigger and take his skills to the next level.

 

Q: What was your day-to-day like in customer support at Glad to Have You?

“I was on the phone taking customer calls and sharing the feedback with management. I’ve always had a passion for software development so I’d ask our engineers about how we could implement new tech or solve some of the customer problems I was hearing about. I transformed my role into a more technical customer support position.”

 

Q: Once Glad to Have You was acquired by HomeAway, how did your job change?

“Even though I was a Customer Experience agent my first six months at HomeAway, I spent most of my time testing products and monitoring the service health under the HomeAway Mobile team, basically giving a product a thumbs up or thumbs down depending on if it worked the way it was supposed to. I always thought there was more to the scope of my role though. I think that’s what differentiated me from the other Quality Engineers, I started thinking about the design and becoming aware of the customer’s experience using our product.”

 Tyler and his team at a Product offsite event. 

Tyler and his team at a Product offsite event. 

Q: As a self-taught engineer, what tools did you use to learn the tech skills needed for a product role?

“Brute force ha! It was tough at first to learn on my own since I didn’t go to school for engineering or design, but I had a lot of training from experienced engineers on my team. They would tell me why something did or didn’t work and then they would show me how we could make it better. I did networking architecture, web design, and an online coding academy. I also took advantage of the training courses that HomeAway offers through Lynda.com. I found the real value was in learning about existing products and how HomeAway customers are using them. My philosophy is it doesn’t matter if you take hundreds of coding classes or read books about engineering, your knowledge isn’t valuable until you use it to solve a problem you care about.”

Q: Now you’re solving problems all the time as a Product Manager. How did land your current role on the Product team?

“It was really the willingness of my team to break down what my job was on paper and compare it to the work I was actually doing every day. I became a resource to my teammates and they started coming to me with technical and product questions, even though I was primarily resolving issues as a Quality Engineer. The culture at HomeAway is so forward-thinking, my team recognized that I wanted to think more about the customer’s experience and why the business made certain decisions. So I interviewed for the opening as a Product Manager and got the job, I’ve been on the Product team for six months now! It wouldn’t have been possible without the support from my team. They recognized my strengths and passion for the product to help me get where I am now.”

Q: What’s one project you’re working on?

“I’m focused on the traveler’s stay experience, so from the second a user hits ‘confirm booking’ on the HomeAway website or app, I’m handling things from that point forward. That includes pre-arrival and post-stay information. One problem I’m solving is collecting essential stay information (door codes, parking, directions, etc.) to create a more structured check-in process for travelers. I’d like to figure out a way to make it automated so it’s easier for our owners and travelers. I listen to customer support calls once a month to stay plugged into the problems both travelers and partners are encountering and this was a problem that stood out to me. Travelers have to be able to actually get into the house to enjoy their vacation!”

Q: Has your customer support experience helped you as a product manager?

"My role in customer support allowed me to think about the users in addition to the business needs and what is technically possible. Now, I’m thinking about what value our product brings to the customer. Product managers can sometimes become hyper-focused on business needs to the detriment of the customer. I view things through the lens of what the customer wants in addition to the business needs and I think it results in a better product. There’s a happy medium between being customer-centric and understanding what the business can actually do. I’m proud that I can almost immediately identify how something will impact a customer and our engineering team at the same time."

Q: What’s your advice to people in customer support or a non-technical position who want to transition into a technical position?

“Find a problem that you’re passionate about and find a mentor who’s willing to help you. I wouldn’t be nearly as close to the position I’m in now if I didn’t have those two things.”

 

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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These Interns are Having the Best Summer Ever

Our first group of Partner Success interns recently started in Madrid and London and let’s just say they are in for a wild summer. Ok, maybe not “bachelorette party wild,” but there will definitely be some unique learning opportunities mixed in with travel and other fun events. One of their first assignments was to interview HomeAway President, John Kim, and pick his brain on the future of e-commerce.

Vicky W., a Partner Success Intern in London said, “The interview with JK was truly amazing and inspiring. He is full of knowledge and very open and truthful about the direction that HomeAway is going. It was an honor to meet him and I am convinced there is so much to learn from him.”

Naomi V., in Madrid agreed and added that "it set the tone for the rest of our internship.”

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Louise R. is an intern in London currently finishing her bachelor's degree at the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands.  She said, "It was an amazing opportunity to meet and interview JK. During the interview I got a lot of insight about his strategic view on digital disruption, which is very useful input for my thesis. I really appreciate that he was very open and honest.”

Louise took a risk and accepted the internship without ever visiting London, but she knew it was the right fit.

When asked why she chose an internship in a different country she said, “I really like to be challenged and go after new opportunities, and this internship gives me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone. What I enjoy most about HomeAway is the environment and the culture, it’s not something I’m used to in the traditional finance world.”

 Louise exploring Notting Hill.

Louise exploring Notting Hill.

Louise is a sixth generation jeweler and her family owns a 200-year-old jewelry store back home in Holland. They encouraged her to pursue new experiences outside of the family business and she’s learning a lot about e-commerce at her university and HomeAway.

Even though she just recently started her internship, her public speaking skills are already improving. Just last week Louise flew to Madrid to give a presentation in front of 200 HomeAway employees and she called it “a great achievement!”

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Rafaela F., another Partner Success Intern in Madrid, is fully embracing Openness (one of our core values) and says it’s what makes coming to work so fun.

“What I enjoy most about working at HomeAway are the daily opportunities to improve myself within a motivational and international environment. They provide us with a diverse work structure and besides that, they are truly making it a ‘HomeAway’ from home.”

We love our interns around the world and we can’t wait to share more of their stories with you. Stay tuned for content this summer about the HomeAway Internship Program and HomeAway University!

Are you interested in interning with HomeAway? Visit our careers page to explore open opportunities.

A Weekend in Pittsburgh with NSBE

Our recruiters and engineers just got back from Pittsburgh and they simply can’t stop raving about the 44th Annual National Association of Black Engineers (NSBE) Convention. Team HomeAway returned for a second year to recruit college engineers and share their career stories, but this time around they brought someone extra special.

HomeAway President, John Kim, attended the convention and hosted an invitation-only dinner for a small group of engineering students, allowing them to dig deep and inquire more about life at HomeAway. JK also presented his popular session from SXSW, “Love in the Age of Machine Learning.”

The small, group dinner was the highlight for Team HomeAway and students alike because of the valuable one-on-one time they got to spend together.

 Team HomeAway at dinner in Pittsburgh with NSBE students.

Team HomeAway at dinner in Pittsburgh with NSBE students.

Trey Briggs, Sr. Software Engineer, said, “I enjoyed hearing students talk about their collegiate experiences during dinner and seeing the students` interest in HomeAway rise throughout the night.”

For Dottie Tosan, Partner Success Account Manager, bonding with other Nigerian engineers made the evening extra personal.

The following day at the general session, attendees were hanging on to every word as JK shared personal stories and talked about how love is surprisingly the key ingredient when it comes to a successful career in technology.

Dottie said, “JK’s session was definitely the ‘bomb.’ He gave the audience a lot to think about in terms of where the world is going and how they can stay competitive. Also, I appreciated his humility in staying afterward to interact with the participants, it spoke a lot to his character.”

When asked if they would be excited to attend the NSBE Convention again, it was a unanimous “yes” among Team HomeAway. The authentic connections and passion for engineering made this the ultimate event for our team to meet bright students who are ready for their next opportunity after college.

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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Affinity Group Series: Latin@s at HomeAway

This group isn’t even a year old and their list of appearances and accomplishments is already a mile long. The Latin@s at HomeAway group launched in 2017 under the leadership of Gretel Perera, Jacob Rosales and Miguel Bernal. Gretel Perera, Global Public Relations Manager, shares more about what they have planned for 2018.

  Team HomeAway at the Latinos in Tech event at Google

Team HomeAway at the Latinos in Tech event at Google

Q: How and why was Latin@s at HomeAway founded?

GP: We started the organization in 2017 with a simple goal of connecting the Latino employees working at HomeAway. A few of us connected and we slowly began growing the community through various events and activities. Our core activities are centered around monthly gatherings that include “lunch & learn” sessions and happy hours.

Latin@s at HomeAway now has more than 130 members, representing all areas of the business, including engineering, marketing, sales, human resources and customer support. We have employees from Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Spain, Tejas, Venezuela and the U.S.

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Q: That’s crazy growth for a new group! What were some things the group accomplished in 2017?

GP: Well first, we launched Latin@s at HomeAway! We also hosted two internal happy hours, two lunch & learn sessions, and the first Affinity Group Happy Hour with HomeAway President, John Kim. Our members also volunteered at HomeAway University to recruit more Latino candidates.

Outside of HomeAway, we partnered with 10 tech companies to bring together the Latinos in Tech community in Austin. Mari Rylander, Global Director of Talent Acquisition, participated in several panel discussions, including the inaugural Latinos in Tech event at Indeed during Hispanic Heritage Month. Our group participated in the Latinas in Tech Silicon Valley Summit & Women’s Empowerment Luncheon. One of the coolest things we did last year was host the“Latinos in Tech Austin End-of-Year Fiesta at our Domain office, with 150 participants from 10 tech companies and local non-profits.

Q: What an exciting time to be a Latina at HomeAway! What events do you have planned for 2018?

GP: We will be introducing different activities under our three key areas of focus:

  • Building an inclusive culture

  • Developing a talent pipeline

  • Giving back to the community

We are hosting the Latinitas Game Chica conference at our Domain office on April 28. Marisela Rylander is speaking at another panel, this time at a SXSW event in Austin. We also have more lunch & learns scheduled throughout the year. We recently did one with our Brazilian colleagues to learn more about their country, how HomeAway operates in Brazil, and even some fun Portuguese words—all while enjoying delicious Brazilian cuisine. We hope to get involved in more training workshops, mentorship programs, participate in industry events and give back to the community.

  The HomeAway Brazil team joined us for a meeting and even taught us some Portuguese!

The HomeAway Brazil team joined us for a meeting and even taught us some Portuguese!

Q: What does it mean to you to be a leader of Latin@s at HomeAway?

GP: It’s been exciting to get to know my coworkers, participate in events together, and introduce new people to the organization. I enjoy connecting with our Latino community and building a strong network within HomeAway.

Q: Do you connect with other Latino groups outside of HomeAway?

GP: Yes, we actually started a Latinos in Tech community that includes more than 14 tech companies in Austin. We host events every two months at different offices. The first one was at Indeed in September 2017 during Hispanic Heritage Month, then we hosted the end-of-the-year fiesta in December. We recently met at Dell to share best practices among the tech companies of our Latino Employee Resource Groups.

  Gretel (right) hosting the Latinos in Tech SXSW panel.

Gretel (right) hosting the Latinos in Tech SXSW panel.

Q: How can people get involved with Latin@s at HomeAway and learn more about what the group is doing?

HomeAway employees can find information on our meeting schedule and events on our official Wiki page. If you don’t work at HomeAway, the Life at HomeAway Facebook and Instagram are the best places to find out about upcoming community events.

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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Affinity Group Series: Women in Tech

March is a significant month for women around the world with International Women’s Day on March 8. We have so many innovative and powerful women right here at HomeAway, there’s no better time to shine a light on on the work they are doing for our Women in Tech Affinity Group.

Q: How and why was HomeAway Women in Tech founded?

“I was inspired to start the Women in Tech group at HomeAway while attending my first Grace Hopper Conference in 2016.  Mingling with 15,000 female technologists and leaders under one roof was an incredible experience, especially when I considered that they all had one goal: to empower and help women progress in their careers.

Attending the inspirational keynote sessions at Grace Hopper, I thought to myself: “If not me, then who? If not now, when?” I immediately messaged two of my female colleagues back in Austin and presented the idea of starting a Women in Tech group. That evening, I put together a proposal with a summary of our mission and goals for the group and shared the proposal with our HR team. The next day I set up a monthly meeting schedule and began inviting women at HomeAway. Our main goal was to attract and retain top tech female employees at HomeAway. We also agreed we needed to engage in community efforts for promoting STEM-related activities in schools.”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering

 First HAWIT meeting in Madrid.

First HAWIT meeting in Madrid.

Q: What does it mean to you to be a leader of HAWIT?

“I believe leadership comes from everywhere. All HAWIT members are leaders and responsible for making a difference. Personally, being a leader of HAWIT means having control over the narrative, being positioned in a place where I know I can make an impact, and positively influence and support other women in the technology sector.”

- Denise N., Dir. of Engineering

Q: What’s something you learned since joining the group?

“We started sharing stories during our monthly meetings. Just a few minutes towards the end where you can raise your hand and talk about your career journey or influences in your life. I’ve learned that we have so many women at HomeAway with non-traditional backgrounds or paths to technology. Military spouses, fine arts, women who have climbed out of difficult personal circumstances, and women without traditional engineering degrees. I’ve worked alongside these individuals for several years, but I don’t necessarily know their stories and I think sharing has made me feel more personally connected to the group. The diversity of perspective it brings to the business, our decision making, and our work product is so unique.”

- Abby L., Project Manager, Global Dev Team

 Girls Day at the University of Texas, Austin.

Girls Day at the University of Texas, Austin.

Q: It’s been two years since HAWIT was founded and the group has a huge membership. What was a win for your group in 2017?

“The largest win I can think of is that we are “talking” about issues that affect women at work.  Women feeling comfortable to talk about issues that are at the top of their minds - from asking questions about gender statistics and pay parity to sexual harassment and implicit bias.

We got budget and part of that was to sponsor some amazing women to attend conferences like Society of Women Engineers and Grace Hopper. We also asked and got free sanitary products in the women’s bathrooms!”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering

 International Women’s Day breakfast in London.

International Women’s Day breakfast in London.

Q: What does HAWIT have planned for 2018?

“Our main goal is to go global starting with the EU. We also want to host more meetups and volunteer opportunities for STEM-related outreach projects.”

- Anita D., Sr. Director of Engineering


Q: Do you connect with other Women in Tech groups outside of HomeAway?

“I’m an active member of the Women Who Code organisation. As part of WWC, I run introductory HTML/CSS coding workshops for women of all ages and backgrounds. I believe it’s a big responsibility to teach introductory coding skills, as most students are usually considering pursuing a career in tech but unsure of their ability to do so. My workshop follows an inclusive and empathetic narrative so all students can build the confidence necessary to code!

HAWIT also recently partnered with Next Tech Girls in London where we hosted two young girls for a ‘work experience’ week.”

- Denise N., Director of Engineering

 Denise N. presenting the WWC Coding Workshop.

Denise N. presenting the WWC Coding Workshop.

 Next Tech Girls presenting to the Search Landing Pages team in London.

Next Tech Girls presenting to the Search Landing Pages team in London.

Q: How can everyone learn more about what HAWIT is doing?

"For employees, a great place to start is the wiki page or you can attend one of the monthly meetings. You can also join the discussion or find out about volunteer opportunities on the #hawit slack channel. For non-employees, the Life at HomeAway Facebook and Instagram are the best places to find out about upcoming community events."

- Martta H., Sr. Manager Product Operations

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

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