The CTO Who Helps People Around the World Meetup in Person

When I first met Yvette Pasqua at the airy Meetup headquarters in Manhattan, I thought of the William Shakespeare quote: “Though she be but little, she is fierce!” Yvette is direct, passionate and unapologetic in her commitment to inclusion and diversity, just as she is dedicated to building great software that brings people across the globe together to do what they love.

W2: What was your path to the tech space?

The first time I remember writing code was writing a BASIC program in summer camp when I was in elementary school. I remember loving being able to actually make something and see it come to life. When I was in college, I got a part time job doing desktop networking software and hardware installation at the university hospital. I then got another part-time job as a webmaster at the university. I was pre-med at the time, but by my senior year I loved the computer stuff I was doing and decided to try that out when I graduated. My first job was as a QA engineer, writing Visual Basic scripts to certify a big five accounting firm for Y2K.

W2: Describe a diversity or inclusion initiative at Meetup that makes you particularly proud.

Together with our Talent & Culture team, we launched a Women in Tech paid internship this year that we spent a lot of time crafting into a great program. It spans across our web, mobile, core, and data teams, and welcomes women nearing graduation with an opportunity to work on a team alongside engineers at Meetup, learn a lot, and make real impact towards our mission.  Our program also includes grants to help pay for schooling.

W2: What were some of your learnings and key takeaways from the recent brand refresh and mobile product launch at Meetup?

Our biggest learning was that since we had a relatively short beta period without a lot of time for updates before going live, we needed to be ready to quickly respond to user feedback and get app updates out as quickly as possible. This was true from both a design and engineering perspective. From the design side of things, we benefitted from having an expandable product and brand design so that we can iterate quickly, as well as evolve over the long term. From the engineering side, we benefitted from a lot of upfront attention to architecture, modularization, and code quality so that when we needed to make significant changes quickly, we were able to do that without re-architecture or regressions.

W2: What's one thing you love about the culture at Meetup?

I've never worked at a company with a mission that so clearly ties back to clear, positive impact on human lives. Meetup brings people together around the world to do more of what they love and actually talk with one another. It's clear to me that humanity needs this real human connection now more than ever. One thing that keeps us close to our customers as we drive towards this mission are regular organizer lunches attended by the whole company. Our community experience team brings in three diverse Meetup organizers to tell us their story -- why they started their meetup, what their experiences are running it, and what feedback they have. I love this because I always learn something about how we can improve our product and each time I feel so emotionally connected to the positive impact we've had on the organizers's groups and their members lives.

W2: What’s your morning routine?

I'm a mom of a 3.5 year old, so every minute of my morning is packed and involves a lot of patience (of which I'm learning how to have more of). I typically check email and Slack when I first get up to make sure nothing urgent has come in overnight. It's then off to the routine to get myself ready for work and help my wife get our daughter ready for school. I take her to school every morning (about a 20 minute walk in Brooklyn) and I absolutely treasure that time. I then hop on the subway and am at work in less than 30 mins. I am most focused in the mornings and do my best work, so I try to get as much of my own work, planning, and thinking done before meetings start later in the day.

W2: What’s the best productivity hack you’ve found?

I time block my own work and meetings very specifically and am as vocal as I need to be about guarding my time. I make sure meetings are back to back as much as possible so that I have real blocks of time to do work. I view 30 minute openings in my schedule as a waste that are only good for catching up on emails or other tasks that take 10 minutes or less. From noting how I work, I learned that I do my best work in the mornings so I reserve that time for no meetings and schedule almost all of my meetings later on in the day.

W2: What are you reading or listening to right now?

Most of the reading I do is short tech articles and blogs. I get inundated with options for interesting things to read from colleagues and save them to Pocket and read whatever I'm in the mood for whenever I have a free moment. The only books I read these days are to my daughter who loves reading. My favorite one right now is called Secret Code, an inclusive customizable book about a girl who engineers robots. I made one for my daughter that has two moms and we love reading it!

Yvette Pasqua is Chief Technology Officer of Meetup, a company that helps you do more of what you love by making it easy to bring people together around common interests.

About the Interviewer: Elisa Miller-Out is COO of Women 2.0, Co-Founder of PollQ, a polling bot and Managing Partner at Chloe Capital, an early stage investment fund with a focus on women tech entrepreneurs.