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Lauren Henry

Lauren Henry

Lauren is VP of Engineering at Tide - a fintech.

  • Location: London, UK 

  • Title: VP of Engineering 

  • Company name: Tide 

  • Sector: FinTech 

  • University degree: B.A. International Business

How does your usual day look like?

I start my day with meditation and daily reflection. A couple days a week, I’ll walk down Regent’s Canal for a morning yoga class. Starting the day with quiet time helps me stay focused, balanced, and make more measured decisions.

The work day begins with a quick scan of Slack and email, I try to organise my calendar by specific focus topics. For example, Mondays are kick off the week days, Tuesdays are organisational updates, Fridays are 1/1’s and skip levels. This helps me stay prepared for each day by having a rhythm to the week.

Regardless of the focus of the day, I primarily spend my time balancing tactical and strategic topics. I’m checking how projects are progressing, helping teams unblock issues, and thinking about what’s coming next and how I can set my teams up for success.

I’m trying to be better about ending the day at a specific time instead of when I feel I’ve finished all my tasks, currently the goal is 6pm. I’ll end the day by reviewing my calendar for the following day to make sure there are no surprises. The best days end with a walk in the park and a home cooked meal. I set my phone to ‘Do Not Disturb’ after 9pm and try to stay away from it. I’ll end the day by reading a library book and some meditation before bed. I’m currently reading The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder.

What are the things you like the most about your job?

No two days are the same. There are always new challenges to face, complexities to manage, issues to resolve. It keeps me on my toes!

What are some of the skills you utilise the most in your day-to-day at work?

Communication and decision making. My teams span three separate engineering verticals with different goals and dependencies. They need consistent direction on our strategy and their progress needs the right level of visibility across the organisation. Each day has a steady stream of escalations or issues requiring a decision. I've learned that it really is a skill to be able to make the call.

What’s more important: mindset or talent and why?

Mindset. To effectively lead you need to be flexible. My mindset is to focus on the things I can influence and to lead through others. I've previously tried to lead through my talent (of being good at doing specific things) and it held me back from scaling because it all depended on me.

What was the toughest career decision you ever made?

Taking a leap of faith and moving my family, and dog, to the UK for my career.

Growth and impact were important aspects to me of career development and I had the opportunity to do both by moving from Chicago to London to work in FinTech. To make a big move for my career was one of the scariest things I’ve done, but has had the biggest payoff.

What is something you had to learn to become better at your work?

To be more structured with my time and to say no. If my calendar doesn’t reflect my goals for the week, then I will have a hard time meeting them. If I don’t say no to work that can be done by someone else, I’m losing an opportunity to upskill, delegate the work, and scale myself.

How did you get to become a VP of Engineering?

It’s been a balance of developing my skill set, investing in my network, and finding the right executive sponsorship along the way.

I’ve spent my career in software development. While not the most common progression for engineering leaders, it’s been a natural evolution for me from project management, to product management, and then into engineering management. Being a VP of Engineering means I need to know how to get things done, be strategically minded on product development, and have the right level of context to guide senior staff engineers on how to unblock their teams.

I have an incredible network of brilliant and inspiring women who give great advice. They challenge me with different perspectives and can objectively call out blank spots I might be missing.

Building credibility with executive leaders means someone is advocating for me when I’m not in the room. This has been essential for promotions and getting the opportunity to take on big new projects that have been game changers in my career.

If you could give a younger woman one piece of advice (it can be anything) - what would you say to them?

  1. Don’t put anything on your resume that you wouldn’t want to do in the future

  2. If you’re having a tough conversation, write out the talking points beforehand so you stick to your guns if you start to get nervous

  3. Before taking a new role, do your homework on salary and advocate for yourself - there are very few opportunities in your career, and they’re normally at the start of a new company, to get a competitive salary

What makes you gracefullyBOLD?

Making brave choices, taking leaps of faith, empowering others.

How do you spend your weekend or downtimes?

Nothing helps me switch off ‘work mode’ better than connection. I prioritise spending time with my family and dog, friends, or being in nature. I love to travel long distances for a great bakery and cup of coffee, cook a fresh meal, take a walk in one of my favourite parks, or go to a museum.

How do you deal with stress and build resilience?

Over the past 6 months I’ve been extremely stressed with landing a big organisational target. Meditation has helped a lot in giving me more of a pause when things start feeling chaotic. I keep my calendar organised and try to manage my own goals into short, almost daily, increments to not get overwhelmed. I also seek perspective from inside and outside my organisation to help me right size my own.

What would have been your alternative career path or University degree?

Dermatology or Sustainable Farming

What are you currently learning or what’s one of the last things you learnt?

Giving more frequent constructive feedback. Kim Scott’s Radical Candor is an all time favourite for managing people but it has been a learned skill and something that requires consistency. I’ve found as reporting lines change and my role evolves, I need to stay on top of this.

Who is a (female) professional that inspired you along your career journey?

Christine Sandman Stone. She has been my mentor through multiple phases of my career. I have adopted so many valuable skills from her, it’s hard to pick just one.

A few that stand out:

Prep interview questions with note cards, practice with someone who can give you feedback and until you can walk into an interview with confident and concise responses

Don’t let them see you sweat, even when you’re struggling and a program isn’t going well, stay confident and lead with determination. People will follow you if they believe in you.

Manage your stakeholders, be strategic in handling senior leaders who are challenging, always be seen as positive, proactive, and problem solving.

What would you do if you were not afraid?

I keep an eye on what makes me afraid almost daily. Some recent examples that come to mind: speaking up in a meeting with tough stakeholders, saying yes to a webinar, realising I jumped to conclusions on a solution that was being presented to me and I was wrong.

I think it’s important to be aware of what the fear looks like and to choose to move through it anyways. If I wait to be 100% confident or unafraid, most opportunities will pass me by.

What’s the one question we didn’t ask you, but you’d like to answer?

Question: What's the name of your dog?

Answer: Ziggy, Golden Retriever, 5 years old, cancer sun (just like his mom)

The previous interviewee left a question for you...

Question: What’s one thing you would have told your younger self at the beginning of your career?

Answer: Don't be in such a rush. You have your whole career ahead of you. There's a lot to learn along the way.

One word answers & quick fire round. Let's go!

  • Your superpower: Transforming complicated engineering initiatives into something that is easy to understand and valuable to an organisation

  • Favourite restaurant: Lula Cafe, Chicago

  • Favourite fashion brand: Toteme

  • Favourite beauty product: SPF :-)

  • Favourite perfume: Dipytque Doson

  • Book recommendation: Whereabouts Jhumpa Lahiri

  • Next holiday destination: South of France beach holiday

  • Your hobby: Spending time with my dog, photography

  • Favourite mantra: "Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s own courage."

  • Who inspires you? Women who help other women

  • Tea or Coffee: Coffee

  • Red wine or White wine: Neither

  • Morning bird or Night owl: Wake up late, go to bed early! ;-)

  • Cat person or Dog person: Dog

Thank you Lauren for sharing your journey & wisdom with us!

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