Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community.
Members of Automattic’s Happiness team have traveled to Southeast Asia three times since last September to meet people in communities across the region. Our goal? To encourage people based in South Asia to apply to join us in supporting WordPress.com, WooCommerce, and Jetpack users.
In January 2018, the Happiness Engineer Hiring team, our Events Team, and Mahangu Weerasinghe, a Happiness team lead, collaborated to take a slightly different approach to recruitment in the region. Automattic is a company that aims to build a diverse and inclusive work environment, yet we’d been seeing significantly lower numbers of women applying from South and Southeast Asia. There are a few efforts in the WordPress community to encourage and empower women to get more involved, and we decided the add our voice by organizing a workshop for women. Our plan was straightforward: a free, one-day workshop to inspire participants to set up an online store for themselves or put their newfound skills to use for clients. We talked about the Membership and Subscription extensions for WooCommerce and the Sensei plugin — invaluable tools for enhancing an online store, setting up recurring payments, and managing memberships.
The first workshop took place in January. We chose Udaipur, India, thanks to its strong WordPress community. We attended WordCamp Udaipur, which was organized by an all-female team, and took the opportunity to staff a booth there while our colleague, Rahul Gupta, gave a presentation about how WordPress helped him put food on the table. The next day, we welcomed 40 women to the workshop, exceeding our expectations and requiring us to bring in extra seats!
After the workshop, we invited the community to join us for networking over tea and chatted again with some of the folks we’d met the day before. While the main focus of our trip was outreach to women, we also wanted to do something for the larger community.
One of the attendees was Digication’s Surbhi Jain, who works on digital literacy and skills in India and runs WordPress workshops for students — including in remote areas — increasing awareness and teaching WordPress hands-on. Surbhi attended our workshop to level up her skills and to network, and she’s been helping us spread the word about our hiring efforts since the event.
From Udaipur we traveled to Mumbai, where we taught an abbreviated version of the workshop to women of the local WordPress meetup community. We invited them to learn about options they could use to turn their online store into a membership site and to create and manage products with recurring payments.
We had such a positive response in India that we decided to try the workshop model in Singapore, a city with a strong technology community. The Happiness Engineer Hiring team, affectionately known as Athena, met up with Leviosa, another Happiness team, to co-host the workshop. Two team members, Kruti Dugade and Rose Pajaroja, led the sessions. Kruti had recently joined Automattic — after attending our visit to the Mumbai WordPress user group in September! Again, we drew from the local WordPress community to find attendees and also reached out to other women-in-tech groups. Just like in India, we had a very positive response.
One of my favorite moments during this trip happened at the networking event directly following the workshop. I was standing in a circle of six women — three young women who worked at a web-design firm together, one woman in her 50s who was running a successful family-powered marketing business, an expat from the US, and me. We chatted for quite a while as they shared the struggles and joys of tech in Singapore. It was fascinating to get a glimpse of their work and lives, and learn about the commonalities and differences in our experiences of navigating both.
Since this series of events, we’ve seen an increase of applicants from the region, both male and female. We’ve already hired two new Automatticians from among the people we met during our trip and hope to welcome more in the months to come.
As we strive to provide world-class support to our customers in South and Southeast Asia, we want our team to reflect as many of the diverse communities across this vast region. If you or someone you know is interested, we’re hiring.
Meeting new WordPress friends in India in Singapore was a wonderful experience. While we don’t currently have plans for similar workshops, we hope to have more opportunities in the future to connect with people from other regions.