Charlotte Philippe | Meta
Crash test dummies that were built only in male form, sunscreen and skincare products tested predominantly on white skin and also a detection software used in hand dryers that wouldn’t work with darker skin because the product was only tested on developers who had fair skin. These are just a few examples and one of the many, many reasons ED&I is extremely important in the tech industry. As far as we have come in this industry - this is just a reminder of how far we have got to go...
This week's Women Rocker is Charlotte Philippe, Head of Engineering at Meta who feels so passionately about women in tech - the small amount of time she gets to herself at work she dedicates to mentoring women across Meta internationally. Charlotte's worked on some incredible projects in her career and is of the mindset that "if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Keep going, keep trying, if you don’t try, you’ll never know the answer."
So give her story a read and go and do that thing that scares you today...
HEY CHARLOTTE! THANKS FOR SHARING YOUR STORY WITH US. LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING – HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INTO THE
When I studied electrical engineering, I particularly liked the software courses as they enabled you to create an end-to-end product that would actually work. I enjoyed the fact that I could build it, ship it, and get it directly in front of people, bringing them value. When I went to university, I particularly enjoyed applied sciences, and courses like physics that explained how things actually worked. I did a 2nd master's in Artificial Intelligence in the UK
(Imperial College London) and decided to stay and work in London, which ultimately led me to the consulting space. With consulting, what I loved was the ability to learn about different industries and new tech stacks with each project – and building end-to-end software. This fast-tracked the experience you can get as a Software Engineer. We were agile from the start. Very early on, I had the opportunity to take on roles as the team and tech lead. Those tech skills, leadership skills and client-facing skills led to my current role at Meta. (Agile, wide tech stack, customer-centric, leadership skills).
WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?
I worked on many different projects across the public and private sectors that I am proud of, notably the UK HMRC tax platform, which is built to simplify people’s lives. One particular project comes to mind, as, to create and deliver it, I brought together business acumen and technical skills. In Meta, anticipating the shift coming to the Metaverse before it was announced, and observing the demand from advertisers that my team works with to leverage technologies like AR to connect them with their customers, I set on to create and launch ads for Instagram AR (Augmented Reality) effects with the goal of bringing brands closer to their customers by letting them ‘explore’ the brand’s products in AR (for example letting you try glasses or try on lipstick colours before buying them). During a hackathon, I put together a team to deliver an MVP (minimum viable product) that we released a couple of months later as a product, generating demand with advertisers and millions for Meta. And we formed an entirely new product team to support this area of work.
This was a huge success that I am particularly proud of, bringing to life something that benefits customers, brands, & Meta equally.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHERS WHO WANT TO GO INTO THE SAME CAREER?
Choose your first experience quite carefully. Dare to defy – everyone has imposter syndrome. Be bold – if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Keep going, keep trying, if you don’t try, you’ll never know the answer.
WHAT AREA OF D&I ARE YOU MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT AND WHY?
Women in tech, but also complete ethnic diversity. Meta opened my mind to hiring diversity and I’m very grateful for that. I remember an example to illustrate this: a detection software used in a hand dryer at another company wouldn’t work with darker skin because the product was only tested on developers who had fair skin. This illustrates the value of a diverse team, able to bring in different perspectives and make sure what we build is relevant to our diverse society. It’s easy to hire people like you because it’s easy to get along with them. It’s an additional effort to think outside the box. Using my experience, I hope I can really help promote women in tech.
I actually mentor women across meta internationally. Building on my own expertise, I help them grow in both tech and business skills. This is something unique that’s important. Women will be very competent on the technical side, but sometimes question their growth, their presentation skills, their leadership skills, etc. I’m grateful my mentorship helps women in tech address the areas that help them grow in their careers.
FAVOURITE MANTRA/QUOTE YOU LIVE BY?
In French: Pour obtenir ce qu'on a jamais eu, il faut tenter ce qu'on a jamais fais. Which translates roughly to: To get what you never had, you must try what you never did.
Thanks Charlotte, you rock 🤘
Interview by Andrew Delsol