Open Speaker Series: Camille Fournier on Organizational Culture

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Editor’s note: This is a recap from the Open Speaker Series, a regular series of talks held in-house at the Times featuring industry leaders in technology, design, product, organizational culture and leadership.

The Open Speaker Series and Women in Tech recently co-sponsored a conversation with Camille Fournier, founding CTO of Rent the Runway and the author of The Manager’s Path and Ask the CTO. Camille is currently Managing Director of Platform Engineering at Two Sigma.

The discussion centered on three topics — career, management advice and promoting diversity in tech.

Here are five highlights:

  • On learning and leadership: “I think the most important thing new people in tech can do is get comfortable looking dumb. The most important thing that experienced people in tech can do is get comfortable letting people ask dumb questions and not shaming them for asking dumb questions.”
  • On developing a diverse organization: “I found that when I was more flexible in where I looked, I found really amazing talent that had more non-traditional backgrounds, and they were more creative and actually worked better with the product and the team that we needed to build.”
  • On dealing with bureaucracy: “I do encourage always digging in on the bottlenecks and inefficiencies in process, and asking the question and raising the issue and seeing what happens.”
  • On improving technical interviews: “I don’t think that someone has cracked the code of how to give the best, most accurate interview […] I think that questioning, “what are we even looking for?”, in an interview is a good thing to do. I definitely think questioning, “how do we determine who is qualified to interview with us, for which roles?”, is another good thing to do.”
  • On self-improvement: “I am way smarter because I know a hundred people smarter than me that are willing, that I have helped out myself and who can then teach me things in return. Don’t expect to know it or do it all yourself. You’re never going to be able to successfully do it all yourself, but relying on those around you — and being there for those around you — delegating your brain out a little bit. You’d be surprised what people will do if you just ask them nicely.”

Open Speaker Series: Camille Fournier on Organizational Culture was originally published in Times Open on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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