x

Leading a team to help connect the world

“Can you imagine living in a world without the internet? It’s become such a vital part of life for many of us that it’s difficult to think about what it was like before we got online. We recently had major power outages across Tel Aviv and the first thing that struck me was not having access to the internet,” Limor Z. an Engineering Manager on the Express Wi-Fi team recalls. “My experience reinspired me to think about my work more holistically, and it reminded me of how critical our mission to bring connectivity to communities all over the world truly is.”

Bringing people closer together is at the heart of the work Limor and her team do each day. Wanting to learn more about what inspires them, how they solve challenges at scale, and what leadership means to Limor, we asked her a few questions about her work within the Facebook Connectivity organisation.

 

Your team is helping bring the internet to people around the world, empowering some to get online for the first time. What inspires you most about the work you’re doing at Facebook?

After more than 17 years in engineering, building different products from different domains, I feel fortunate that at Facebook I am able to work on projects and products I’m truly passionate about.

I considered applying to Facebook for a year before I actually sent my resume, and during that time, I heard a lot of great things about the engineering culture at the company. I was told that team members are encouraged to pursue work that’s important to them, and that there is a “bottom up” culture. I thought working at Facebook was a dream I couldn’t reach. I was so curious to see if what I heard was true.

Now that I work on the Express Wi-Fi team, I have that opportunity to contribute to something that means so much to me一bringing internet access to more communities around the world. Our team built a cloud platform and offers it to Internet Service Providers and Mobile Operators that are looking to deploy large scale Wi-Fi networks and successfully operate these over time. The platform includes multiple monetisation and analytics capabilities intended to ensure the operator can successfully run the business and bring more people online. People’s lives change once they’re able to connect, and I’m inspired knowing that our work is helping bring the world closer together by removing barriers to internet access across the globe.

 

You mention having the opportunity to work on projects you care deeply about and how that enables your team to make a meaningful impact. Is there anything else that makes the Facebook office in Tel Aviv a unique place to work?

I’ve lived and worked in Israel my whole life, but it wasn’t until I joined Facebook that I experienced such an open and supportive culture. Our Tel Aviv beautiful office is designed in a way that encourages collaboration, ad-hoc brainstorms and focus areas. It doesn’t matter which team or organisation you’re part of, everyone knows each other and it feels like family. There’s a mentality here that we can work with anyone and achieve anything together.

In Tel Aviv, we are building many new and important products that are core to what we do at Facebook. Examples include Facebook and Instagram Lite which allows users with low-end devices to connect to our main platforms, Shops, which makes it easy for businesses to set up a single online store for customers to access on both Facebook and Instagram, and Novi, a new digital wallet for the network, a new global payment system built on innovative blockchain technology.

While we collaborate cross-functionally with other organisations, we try to work as autonomously as possible and move quickly to get things done, something I really appreciate.

Everyone in Tel Aviv brings their perspective to the table, and we value different opinions. I’m proud to work in an environment where everyone is encouraged to be their authentic selves, and the people I work with motivate and inspire me every day with new ideas, initiatives and never-ending will to drive real impact.

 

What makes your approach to leadership unique? How do you champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace?

I often think about how my actions as a leader not only affect me, but the people I work with. I strive to be approachable, show vulnerability, and really listen to my team, since they are so smart and talented. It’s all about the people. People on the team, people that we collaborate with, people who use our products. My role is to understand people, their motivations, their passions, and the most important problems they want to overcome. The holy grail is when I am helping my team to work on things they are both passionate about and are also truly impactful for people who use Facebook products.

As for diversity and inclusion, this is an ongoing journey. I hope to see more women in senior positions in the industry, especially senior engineers and engineering managers. I believe that any woman in a senior position is setting an example for other women, showing that this path is open for them and they can succeed. I’ve mentored many women throughout the years, and really encouraged them to continue growing their careers forward and not let their fears block them.

During 2020, while we were all working from home, I established a community for women leaders in our Tel Aviv office. Recognising we all have common challenges, this community was designed to empower women managers to share and lean on each other. I also initiated a special programme for the women managers, focused specifically on our career development and self-growth.

Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace is a never-ending effort. It requires awareness, care, and attention. It is something I truly care about and I see how Facebook has integrated into its culture. We tend to say at Facebook that we are only 1% done. It keeps us humble and motivated to continue the hard work.