How Curiosity and Passion Lead to a Dream Job and a Dreamforce Keynote Demo

Ayesha Mazumdar says she stumbled upon Salesforce at her college career fair. Yet, as sometimes happens, that stumble ultimately led to a dream job — in this case with Salesforce. From her first computer science class in high school to her position as a Senior UX Engineer at Salesforce, Ayesha has steadfastly followed her curiosity and passion. Ayesha tells us her story.

You have a computer science degree from UCSD. What led you down that path?

It started in high school, where I took my first computer science class. I was hooked from the start. It was challenging, interesting, and completely foreign, yet I felt at home in the computer labs. CS was unlike any other class I’d taken. At the time, I realized I might have finally found a career path for the “real world.” (Read more about Ayesha’s journey in her blog: From UCSD to Salesforce UX.)

You interned on the Engineering Team at Salesforce for two summers during college. What impact did that have on your career journey?

Well, even though the internships were only 12 weeks long, I got an in depth look at what it means to be a software developer and learned that I enjoyed the company, the people, the culture and the work environment. But the work wasn’t quite what I’d pictured myself doing.

But then you joined the UX Team at Salesforce. What brought you there?

During my engineering internships at Salesforce, I discovered that I wanted to change directions and be more involved in the design/creation phase of the development cycle, while still utilizing my computer science skills. After asking my recruiter about more front-end focused developer positions at Salesforce, she introduced me to the User Experience Engineering team, which turned out to be the perfect combination of coding, visual design, and creativity. I knew immediately after talking with the team that it was a perfect fit.

You even take your interest in design and user experience with you on vacation. Tell us a bit about that.

Yes! I love traveling and trying new food. So, I took a vacation in Europe for a few weeks. And, while I was there, I found myself looking at my experience through a user experience lens and decided to conduct a small usability study to better understand what was working and what wasn’t in the world around me. It was an opportunity to observe UX in the real world. It was a lot fun and I blogged about it: 6 times UX Saved and Failed Me While Traveling Abroad.

How does Salesforce help you grow outside of the job?

Salesforce gives me ample opportunity to dedicate my time toward mentoring students and volunteering in my community, which I aim to continue doing throughout my career. Right now, I mentor students at Holberton School. The culture of giving back and volunteering resonates very strongly with my own values.

During your time at Salesforce, what has surprised you the most?

The importance of accessibility and inclusive design has surprised me the most. But I’ve also been impressed with people’s determination to not only do the right thing, but to do it well.

Like many developers, I never learned about accessibility, or even heard the word, while in school. It wasn’t until my second or third week at Salesforce, when someone asked me if I had talked to the accessibility team, that I realized I was missing a whole world of software development knowledge.

I’d never taken the time to consider how people of differing abilities interact with and use software, nor realized just how helpful a well-designed, accessible product can be for all users. After working closely with our accessibility team, I’ve become an advocate for accessibility and inclusive design and helped teach others how to create fully accessible products with all users in mind.

I’m continually impressed by those I work with who help spread the knowledge behind accessibility while advocating for our users, and amazed by our commitment as a company to produce the best products for all our customers.

What is the value or impact of the work that you do at Salesforce?

Being a UX Engineer on the Lightning Design System team is unique because our main goal is to bridge the gap between the engineering organization and the UX organization.

As engineers building the design system for other engineers and designers, we aim to create a common language and set of tools for everyone at Salesforce to use while designing and developing our product. This allows the UX organization, the company, and our partners and customers to create clear and consistent experiences that are accessible, efficient, and beautiful.

I take great pride in knowing that the work I do as part of the UX Engineering team helps make others’ jobs easier, whether that’s by creating patterns for common experiences, like setup or search, or producing accessible components so that accessibility is never overlooked and always prioritized within our product.

 

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Ayesha Mazumdar and her co-worker Ed Ngai present onstage at Dreamforce 2017.

 

Tell us about your proudest moment at Salesforce.

After the MetaMind (an AI startup acquired in 2016) team joined Salesforce, I was asked to help create a prototype demo of their incredible tools that allowed people to create and visualize the process of making a new Image Classifier.

Part way through the project, I learned the demo would be used for Dreamforce ’16, which was incredibly exciting. Little did I realize it meant a demo in the Developer Keynote. I remember sitting in the audience extremely nervous that something would go very wrong with my very live demo.

Luckily, it all went off without a hitch. I was relieved but also incredibly proud of what I had accomplished after only a year at the company. It was my first taste of the large-scale impact I could have as an engineer. And it’s only been better from there.