Welcome to the latest installment of edX Insider, where we take you behind the scenes at edX HQ. Today we chat with Farhanah, Engineering Manager, Sustaining & Escalations, about the things that make edX unique, what inspired her to pursue an engineering career, the best course she’s ever taken, and more.
Name: Farhanah Sheets
Department/role: Engineering Manager, Sustaining & Escalations
Hometown: Singapore / Beaver Falls, PA
Favorite food: Nasi Lemak / Chilli, Cheese, & Onion Hot Dogs from the Brighton Hot Dog Shoppe
What do you think makes working at edX unique?
The people. People that come to edX are those that generally want to help promote learning through the world. This means that they are happy helping others to learn and will answer any questions that folks may have. We have study groups where edXers teach about different technologies, office hours where you can meet with different teams to ask them specific questions, and even Lightning Talks where people can share their insight on any topic they are knowledgeable in. One of my favorite mottos is “ask questions” so working with others that also ask questions and continuously are trying to learn is something that I think is really special.
What inspired you to pursue a career in engineering?
When I was creating my course schedule early in high school, my older brother noticed that my school offered Computer Science courses. Having a love for technology himself, he encouraged me to sign up for the classes. By my senior year of high school I was Co-President of our CS Club as well as a varsity cheerleader. I enjoyed the logical thought process and problem solving that working in CS needed, and it felt like I was solving a puzzle with each new task.
What top 3 traits do you look for in an employee?
This is a tough one because when working with a team, each person will bring their own unique traits that come together to make the team stronger. Building a team is like solving a jigsaw puzzle; you nee d to find all of the pieces that will come together to complete the puzzle and that means not all of the pieces will be the same. I believe a transferable skill across teams is a willingness to continue learning to seek answers. Reaching out and asking questions is another great skill for personal growth, especially when working in larger companies when it’s more difficult to know everyone very well.
What’s the best course you’ve ever taken?
The course that comes to mind is Comedy taught by Jeff Aziz at the University of Pittsburgh while I was an undergrad. Dr. Aziz is a great teacher who turned a random elective during my final semester into one of my favorite courses in my four years at school. It was a larger class, however we would always have a group discussion that allowed people to share their different perspectives. We wouldn’t all share the same views on topics, but we were able to have an open dialogue where we could respectfully learn from others in the classroom. As a non-English major I was intimidated to speak up in the course, but Dr. Aziz created an environment where everyone would participate. Similar to other courses that I remember, it wasn’t the course content that made the course memorable but the teacher that made all of the difference.
One thing your colleagues may not know about you?
I moved to the US when I was 5. Between the ages of 5-11, I spent my summer vacations in Singapore visiting with my mom’s side of my family. My mom was 1 out of 12 siblings and I have around 30 first cousins from Singapore. I have two older brothers, and my eldest brother has lived in Singapore for my whole life. I love going over to Singapore to visit the many family members there and eat the delicious food. Unfortunately, the long, expensive flight along with the time difference make that a tough trip to make often. I can understand some Malay and when I’m around my overseas family my “Singlish” accent comes out of hiding. I consider it my second home and ever since I was a kid, I have wished that teleportation could exist so that I could get there more easily.
02 Jul 2019