AuditBoard’s Innovate-Hers

AuditBoard Engineering
13 min readApr 25, 2024

Contributors:
Holly Clark, Senior Technical Program Manager
Krystan HuffMenne, Senior Engineer II
Anandita Bose, Senior Software Engineer
Alex Elliott, Senior Staff Engineer
Lisa Backer, Staff Software Engineer

Since 1987, March has been known as Women’s History Month, and has been used to highlight historical contributions made by women. At AuditBoard, while we aim to recognize the importance of celebrating the achievements of women throughout March, we also want to ensure that contributions made by our women engineers are recognized all year long.

The Society of Women Engineers points out that in 2022 only 18% of software developers and 25% of computer and information research scientists in the computer industry were women. These statistics can help us better understand why women engineers do not always receive the kudos or spotlight that they have earned and deserve.

AuditBoard is an intelligent, collaborative, connected risk management platform that has been recognized as one of the top 100 B2B apps worldwide. Much of this success can be attributed to the expertise, insights, creativity, and innovation that our women engineers contribute to both our products and to our culture.

Join us as we place the spotlight on a few of these women who have boldly offered to share their experiences of working in the tech industry with us. In this post, we celebrate and learn from the unique experiences of some of our remarkable women engineers who continue to drive innovation and excellence at AuditBoard!

Krystan HuffMenne
Senior Engineer II (Web Frameworks Team)

AB: Tell us about your journey into engineering and what brought you to AuditBoard.

Krystan: My degrees are not in Computer Science but in Civil Engineering and Architecture. I worked in architecture and urban design for several years, designing places for large tech companies. It turns out that when designing large-scale places for people, there is a whole bunch of data that architects and urban designers need to track. I was in charge of keeping track of this data for my teams and eventually ended up “programming” using Excel, Visual Basic, and Building Information Modeling tools.

At one point, my husband noticed that I’d re-invented the database (with tests!) in an Excel spreadsheet and suggested I try programming. I got hooked very quickly and eventually left architecture to go to a coding bootcamp. During that time, my husband and I started a small company making a tool to help software engineering teams better predict their project completion timelines using Monte Carlo simulations. This project landed me an awesome job at tilde.io working with big players in the EmberJS community like Yehuda Katz, Godfrey Chan, and Peter Wagenet. After six years there, I followed Peter to AuditBoard looking for new challenges, and to work with even more big players in EmberJS!

AB: Would you describe a recent project you worked on and highlight your contributions?

Krystan: As a member of the EmberJS core team, I’ve been helping roll out first class support for TypeScript in Ember as well as Ember’s new single-file component file format (gjs/gts). Some of my contributions to these projects include Ember’s TypeScript Guides and prettier-plugin-ember-template-tag.

AB: How do you maintain a work life balance while working in a demanding field?

Krystan: I have two young kids, so a better question might be “How do you find time to work while maintaining a demanding life?” Lol. When job hunting, I seek out companies that understand and respect the importance of work-life balance. This is non-negotiable for me. AuditBoard has been great about respecting a work life balance.

AB: How do you encourage women to pursue careers in engineering?

Krystan: I’m always offering to mentor adult women who show an interest in trying out programming or changing careers, but so far no one has taken me up on it so I’ve pivoted toward a younger audience. Last week, I spoke at my kid’s elementary school career day about the skills required to be a computer programmer. During my talk, I made sure to show the diversity of programmers throughout history (e.g. Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, the NASA human computers) and also highlighted a few of the women that work at AuditBoard in my presentation.

AB: How does AuditBoard support your professional growth and development?

Krystan: AuditBoard has been very supportive of my open-source contributions, which I find to be essential to my personal professional growth and development.

AB: How important do you find mentorship and networking for women in tech?

Krystan: Networking, mentorship, and advocacy have been fundamental to my career. When I was starting out, I networked my tush off, mostly at meetups. As I’ve grown in my career I now find myself mostly networking via open-source contributions and conferences.

I first met Yehuda Katz at a meetup, and he became my first big advocate; he brought me on at Tilde and was very vocal about promoting me within the Ember community. At Tilde, Godfrey Chan was another very important mentor to me — mostly through pairing and in-depth code reviews. Godfrey taught me how to dig into Ember source code for answers, which led to my first open-source contributions. Peter Wagenet advocated for my hire at AuditBoard and was instrumental during my onboarding period here. Now, at AuditBoard, Chris Thoburn has been a wonderful mentor and advocate, especially getting me up-to-speed on modern EmberData best practices and internals.

Anandita Bose
Senior Software Engineer (Platform Integrations)

AB: Tell us about your journey into engineering and what brought you to AuditBoard.

Anandita: Following the completion of my master’s degree in computer engineering, I embarked on my journey in the industry as an embedded engineer. I’ve always been fascinated by hardware and thoroughly enjoy tinkering with devices like Raspberry Pis. However, driven by a desire to expand my skillset and delve deeper into software engineering, I made the transition to AuditBoard. Here, I saw an opportunity to explore the full spectrum of software development, from backend to frontend. While my heart remains rooted in backend development, I’m eager to embrace the challenges and growth opportunities that come with expanding my expertise across the entire stack.

AB: Share a challenge you have faced while working on a project and how you approached solving it.

Anandita: One of the most significant challenges I encountered upon joining AuditBoard was the sudden departure of my entire team. Just one month into my tenure, both my manager and sole teammate left, leaving me to navigate a crucial project alone. With the pressure of delivering a critical feature to a major client looming overhead, I knew I needed to approach the situation strategically.

My solution was to proactively engage with our customers, setting clear expectations and involving them in the development process every step of the way. Through a series of iterative prototypes and live tests conducted collaboratively with the client, I ensured that the final product aligned precisely with their needs and expectations, mitigating the risk of delivering a solution that ultimately missed the mark.

AB: How do you stay updated with the latest trends and technologies?

Anandita: The path an engineer takes greatly depends on their individual interests and passions. Personally, I’ve always been drawn to the fundamental principles of subjects like physics and mathematics. This innate curiosity drives me to explore a variety of resources, from IEEE Spectrum articles to in-depth books that delve into topics I find intriguing. By staying true to my passions and continuously feeding my intellectual curiosity, I find that relevance naturally follows. When you’re genuinely passionate about what you do, you effortlessly stay abreast of developments and innovations in your field, ensuring your continued relevance and impact.

AB: How do you maintain a work life balance while working in a demanding field?

Anandita: I feel fortunate to share my passion for technology with my husband, and it’s something that continues to ignite lively discussions, even during our vacations in Hawaii. For me, my work isn’t just a job — it’s a source of enjoyment and fulfillment. However, I also recognize the importance of balance. While I’m deeply engaged in my professional pursuits, I make it a priority to take breaks, exercise, and unwind. Currently, my downtime involves immersing myself in the magical world of Harry Potter through re-reading the beloved series.

AB: Describe any obstacles or barriers you have faced as a woman in tech and how you have navigated them.

Anandita: At times, I’ve found myself overlooked for promotions or sidelined in discussions dominated by assertive male voices. In these moments, it’s easy to feel disheartened and consider abandoning my passion for science and technology altogether. Yet, I remind myself that I’m not alone in facing biases — it’s a shared experience for many. Recognizing this, I believe in the power of unity and collective action. It’s crucial to acknowledge that we’re all in this together and to confront bias as a cohesive team. I make a concerted effort to advocate for women engineers, offering support whenever possible and actively speaking out against injustices. By standing together and fostering an environment of solidarity, we can effect positive change and create a more inclusive industry for everyone.

AB: How do you encourage women to pursue careers in engineering?

Anandita: It’s crucial to approach a career in technology with genuine passion and purpose, rather than simply following the trend or chasing high-paying opportunities. Aspiring women engineers should take the time to identify their unique strengths and talents, focusing on areas where they excel rather than trying to be proficient in everything — an impossible feat for anyone. By discovering and nurturing their passions, they can align their career paths with what truly drives them. Every opportunity becomes a chance to deepen their expertise and contribute meaningfully to their chosen field.

Alex Elliott
Senior Staff Engineer

AB: Tell us about your journey into engineering and what brought you to AuditBoard.

Alex: I was lucky to find mentors in my business and computer teachers in High School. After taking the only language course offered (Java) they added several other classes for me to take in following semesters. I took hardware, web development, Visual Basic, and spent the summers managing the computer labs, reimaging machines, and setting up access policies.

I had been running a consultancy for several years when my path led me to consult at AuditBoard. After three months at AuditBoard, it was obvious they had a culture and engineering environment unlike any other I had been a part of previously so decided to join their engineering team as an FTE.

AB: How important do you find mentorship and networking for women in tech?

Alex: While mentorship and networking are monumental to anyone in tech, I strongly encourage it to women who ask me for career advice. I’ve been so lucky to have strong and present mentors along my path that I believe have helped set me apart from my peers.

From a very young age I was able to get advanced hands-on work in the fields of my interest. I had resources nearby that I proactively reached out to and asked questions as I was applying for schools, interviewing for internships, and embarking on my consulting career. Finding a mentor can be as easy as reaching out to someone you look up to, or who is already grounded in a tech career, and asking for support or advice.

Lisa Backer
Staff Software Engineer (Tech lead )

AB: Tell us about your journey into engineering.

Lisa: My journey into engineering was very organic. I was working as an administrative assistant and the CIO of my company needed a new assistant. He approached me about working in his office and his promise to me was that I wouldn’t be an assistant forever, but that he’d ensure that I got training. I was able to begin with some database classes and assist on the job with the web team. Before long I was transferring to the web office and helping with internal application development. His suggestion and sponsorship got me my start.

AB: Would you describe a recent project you worked on and highlight your contributions?

Lisa: I was working with a small cross-functional team within the company to explore some features requested for the financial customers. Our team gathered information about the feature needs from the client and and our product and design teams validated that the feature would be of use to a larger segment of our customers. I then began by writing an engineering design document to outline the technical approach and determined the time needed to deliver the minimum viable product. Next I broke down the technical requirements into stories for our team to tackle. Along with the team, we built the feature and delivered both our minimum product as well as some additional “customer delight” enhancements within the originally stated timeline.

AB: How do you stay updated with the latest trends and technologies?

Lisa: I am subscribed to several newsletters that aggregate blog posts and headlines about the latest in software development trends. I make sure to allow some time each morning for reading articles of interest.

AB: How do you maintain a work life balance while working in a demanding field?

Lisa: One of the techniques I use to enforce boundaries is to limit work to my home office. If I’m on my computer in other areas of the house it is for side projects or personal use. This helps me ensure that I don’t end up bringing my work with me into my personal time. At AuditBoard I have been able to ensure that I have flexibility when needed to manage my appointments at the kids’ schools, volunteer work, etc. I think it’s important to communicate reasonable expectations and then be sure to meet them. This gives employers the trust they need to allow the flexibility individuals need for their own personal balance.

AB: Describe any obstacles or barriers you have faced as a woman in tech and how you have navigated them.

Lisa: I’ve certainly experienced discrimination early in my career. I’ve been told that I wouldn’t be given certain customer contracts because they would involve travel and “I’m sure you want to stay home with your kids”. I was too inexperienced at the time to recognize that as pure discrimination, and only countered that I would be happy to travel and continued to prove myself. Now I would counsel people encountering discrimination like that to immediately document the situation and seek help from their appropriate human resources folks, managers, or trusted mentors. I still experience assumptions that I’m not a technical person to which I simply respond that I’m a staff level engineer and then continue with my work.

AB: How do you encourage women to pursue careers in engineering?

Lisa: The more women see other women engineers as their peers, mentors, teachers, and executives, the less this question will matter. Being visible in this field will help women see engineering as just just another career open for pursuit. To make that happen, we need to support each other and refer each other. We need to be visible on interviewing panels, social media platforms, teaching and mentoring programs, and wherever else there is an opportunity to add our voices to the conversation, pioneering the way for future engineers.

AB: How important is mentorship and networking for women in tech?

Lisa: Mentorship and networking can be helpful for everyone but can be particularly impactful for women in tech because we still have a number of experiences that are not shared with our male counterparts. This requires a different set of skills to navigate. Mentorship and networking also continues to normalize the presence of women in the field by helping to make the accomplishments more visible.

AB: Do you have any advice for women who are considering a career in tech or who are early in their tech careers?

Lisa: If you enjoy tech and want to be an engineer, then go for it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to seek out feedback. Take advantage of every opportunity available whether that is mentorships, training, code reviews, or just a friendly co-worker. Putting yourself out there, while scary at first, gets easier and easier and 1) you’ll learn faster; 2) people will recognize your enthusiasm.

AB: What advice do you have for allies of women in tech and how can companies ensure their women engineers are being well supported?

Lisa: You can have a part in ensuring diverse voices and backgrounds are heard by including folks in the conversation. Don’t assume someone doesn’t want to be involved — ask them, and then ask them again. If you see a decision being made with only one perspective (whether gender, experience, age, race, etc.) ask out loud if there is something the group can do to ensure creative avenues are being explored and suggest adding voices. Same thing goes when forming teams, try to balance the voices on the team so that everyone learns to both express their own views as well as to actively listen to others.

The Exciting Truth

As we reflect on the stories, experiences, and insights shared above, we are inspired to continue celebrating and championing our women engineers, both at AuditBoard and throughout the industry!

In conclusion I leave you with some powerful advice shared from Anandita.

For anyone considering a career in tech or starting out in the field, especially women, it’s crucial to recognize your own worth and capabilities. Far too often, we’re bombarded with messages suggesting we’re not good enough unless we fit a certain mold — whether it’s being more technical, cooperative, or communicative.

But here’s the truth: You are already enough, just as you are. Embrace your unique talents, perspectives, and experiences. Have the confidence to voice your opinions and ideas, knowing that they hold value.

Tech is a dynamic and diverse field that thrives on innovation and collaboration. By believing in yourself and putting your best foot forward, you not only contribute to the tech community but also pave the way for positive change and progress. So, fish off to those self-doubts and societal expectations. Trust in your abilities, pursue your passions, and let your voice be heard. The tech world needs more of your brilliance, authenticity, and determination!

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AuditBoard Engineering

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