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Tech Meets Real Estate on Convene’s Product and Engineering Teams

Posted September 10, 2018 By Andrew Littlefield

The tech and product teams at Convene face challenges that not many other engineering teams face—bringing digital products to life in a physical space.

Tackling that challenge is a diverse (and growing) team of experts, with experience in tech, retail, and more. We ask five team members about their role and what they look forward to about working every day at Convene.


What do you do at Convene?

Maggie DavisI’m the Solutions Project Manager, which means I’m wearing a couple different hats as we continue to build out the Convene tech organization, but primarily I run implementation for Elevate, our building management product.

Sandra CruzI’m the Director of Client Solutions. I partner with our landlord customers to bring technology into their buildings that is designed to improve their tenants’ overall experience in these buildings. 

Caroline EnglandI’m the Director of Product Management. I work on defining and validating the consumer digital products built by Convene. I do this by gathering information across the company and by interviewing stakeholders, customers, and end users. I help define what success looks like and work closely with product designers and engineers to build cool stuff.

 Crystal ChienI’m the VP of Engineering. My responsibilities include hiring and managing the engineering team, maintaining our strong culture, overseeing product delivery, removing roadblocks for the team, managing budget, and improving and enforcing good engineering processes and discipline.

Michele AnjosI’m a Director of Business Solutions, working with a talented group of people and coaching them to maximize their potential and become great leaders. We are bringing agile techniques to Convene so that we can evolve the technology practices to the next level, building an enterprise software engineering team that will allow us to improve technical processes, creating modern solutions, and driving a culture of transparency and innovation.


What did you do before coming to Convene?

MDI spent 10 years with Apple, primarily in their B2B segment prior to starting at Beco (acquired by Convene in May 2018).

SCPrior to Convene, I was on the Enterprise Customer Success team at LinkedIn.

CEI was Director of Product Management at Fuzz Productions, a product agency in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I managed a team of 10 product managers and served as an executive sponsor on key projects. We worked on products from the ideation phase to deployment and worked to iterate the products through their lifecycles. I worked on mobile products for Potbelly, Shake Shack and Otis Elevator. 

CCI was a VP of Engineering at Centrify Corporation, a tech startup in the Bay Area.

MAI was a Director, Application Development at Hudson’s Bay Company, working on several products and features for Saks.com, SaksOff5th.com, and mobile-optimized websites. For about nine years I helped build the tech team, influenced the adoption of the Agile development methodology, and a culture of innovation, empowerment, trust, accountability, and “break things, learn from it, and move fast”. Before that, I worked in 5 different large organizations in Brazil, developing software for various industries, including embedded software for Siemens mobile phones.


What is the biggest challenge you are trying to solve in your role?

MD – The biggest challenge that exists for me right now is slowing down to create efficiencies for traditionally manual processes. It sounds boring, but it’s actually a fun problem to solve. 

MAThe biggest challenge I’m trying to solve is to build a scalable team and implement a new generation of solutions (CRM, Inventory Management, etc.) that will help the organization scale faster.


What makes commercial real estate more interesting than other industries you’ve worked in?

SCI started my career as an interior designer designing commercial office spaces, so understanding how to create a layered experience all the way from the built environment to its digital accompaniment is fascinating to me.

CEIt’s a fascinating challenge to add the physical world element into product design. Since every building is different physically and technically, there are so many new things to learn every day.

MAThe increased investment in real estate technology triggers a great momentum on the market and stimulates a new era where tech-enabled players are trying to lead the industry. This scenario pushes companies to be more innovative and run their business more efficiently, which certainly brings exciting and challenging problems to be solved.


How will technology change the buildings we work in in the next 10 years? 

MDI think that automation will be the biggest change we see. My phone will act more like a passport where applications learn my preferences and habits. I think biometric authentication will also be a huge part of how we interact with physical space.

SCEverything from how we enter buildings (e.g. mobile access, facial recognition, etc.) to the work we do as things like AI and machine learning automate routine tasks (freeing us to work on more complex, creative problems) will be affected by technology.

CEHopefully it makes buildings more eco-friendly while improving the daily lives of the tenants within.

CCTechnology will make the buildings we work in become smart buildings. With a tap on an app, you can do everything you need, bring people together, share insights, and make work life more efficient and enjoyable.

MAIt will likely include the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and machine learning technologies to improve physical spaces by understanding customer preferences via data analysis. This technology explosion will allow better customization and personalization of services. Also, with the help of multi-service platforms companies will scale even faster and will be able to fulfill customers’ needs proactively.


How is your team (product/engineering) helping realize Convene’s mission to change the way people work?

MDI think we’re taking traditionally mundane experiences, e.g. badging into an office, getting notified about events, finding a meeting room and attempting to bring some color to how employees interact with physical spaces. While landlords are the companies that invest in the technology, the actual end-user is the office employee and we’re designing with them in mind, which is pretty cool. 

SCAs people who work in an office building, we’re trying to solve our own pain points. What are the things that we wish technology would make easier for us? That’s what we’re trying to build and make available for everyone else.

CEWe are designing, building, testing, and validating the consumer facing products that are attempting to change the way people work.


Why do companies typically have a hard time hiring women in technology, what should they be looking for (outside of technical experience) that they are not considering today?

MDI’ve been in male dominated fields since I graduated college. I think there’s an unfortunate “boys club” mentality that naturally exists in sales and engineering organizations. Companies that focus on the specificities of the job and/or role, and how it impacts the customer (both internally and externally) tend to attract a more diverse demographic. It’s a huge reason why I love Convene.

SCCompanies have a hard time hiring women because they don’t know where to look and how to understand if a candidate is qualified or not. Women tend to undersell themselves and so, to the average recruiter or hiring manager, this will appear as though they are underqualified when in fact that couldn’t be further from the truth most of the time. Also, perception is everything. If I see that a company doesn’t already have women in leadership, I’m less likely to think that I will be successful there. If I think this, other women probably think this too, making it less likely that a company will be able to hire and retain the talent they claim they want.

CCProvide an environment for women to feel safe to voice their opinions without being intimidated. Encourage and allow women to make decision, provide mentorship to help them go through challenging times, and coach them how to handle stress to bring out the best.

MABuild a gender diverse culture. Be inclusive and listen to different points of view. Define clear career paths and support talented employees to the next level. Provide work flexibility and shape a culture of accountability.


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