Claire Montgomery became fascinated with programming as an 8-year-old on Christmas Day, when she opened an eight-bit personal home computer, the ZX Spectrum. “I copied all the code meticulously, ran the program, and watched the spider go down the screen,” she says. “I was mesmerized.”
As an adult, she went on to earn her master’s degree in computer science at Queen’s University Belfast, which “is where my passion for software engineering was ignited,” she says. There, she built a system that could help veterinarians in Northern Ireland track farm animal vaccinations.
Today, Montgomery is the Director of Software Engineering at Globalization Partners, which helps employers build global teams anywhere in the world. She spoke with The Muse about her growth as a tech leader, how she’s helping make engineering more inclusive, and what she looks for in quality engineering candidates.
What led to your job at Globalization Partners, and how did you know the company would be a good fit?
I was intrigued by the great business proposition: breaking down barriers for people to achieve their full potential by working for global companies while, on the other hand, helping companies hire people anywhere. I had a previous experience where I wanted to hire an engineer who was based in Poland, but I couldn’t due to the lengthy and costly process to set up a legal entity there.
Personally, I was also ready for a new challenge and the opportunity to lead a global team, along with having accountability for an integral part of the GP product was exactly what I was looking for. I knew from the interview process that the company was a good fit.
What are you responsible for in your role as the Director of Software Engineering?
I am responsible for an integral part of the GP Product: billing. The billing leadership team is made up of product, product design, architecture, and engineering leaders. My role is to ensure GP has high-performing engineering teams, working on the right product capabilities and using world-class engineering practices.
To do this, I am responsible for recruiting globally across all engineering roles, from engineers to site leads. I also work closely with the architecture team to ensure the platform is leading edge and built to scale to support the massive growth in customer base; and I collaborate with our product leaders to ensure we are at the forefront of the market.
How would you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style has evolved throughout my career. I have always been very driven to do the right thing by my teams and our customers; however, over the years, this has morphed from being focused on getting a list of tasks completed to ensuring I spend a significant proportion of time listening to engineers and our customers. I’m focused on broadening my perspective by learning to understand other people’s perspectives, too.
I have developed core leadership skills of being driven, open, transparent, and honest to also build on strategy, communication, and listening skills. I am working to coach, inspire, and motivate the engineering teams on both the product and architectural vision. I want to create an environment where individuals and teams are empowered to make decisions and learn.
What has been the secret to your career success, especially in a field where women are often underrepresented?
Early in my career, I realized that this isn’t a career for individuals. Engineering is a team sport. I found that building a network of people, from people I graduated with to new acquaintances or colleagues, helped with my own career development—and it gave me the support and confidence I needed to push my career forward.
Also, be part of the change you want to see. I don’t sit on the sidelines—I encourage an inclusive environment, an environment for everyone to thrive.
You joined Globalization Partners fairly recently. What was the interview process and onboarding experience like?
The process included several interviews, with our CTO, VP of Engineering, and VP of Product. In every interview, I asked lots of questions to understand the role, the improvement opportunities, and the future growth of the company. Every person I met along the way provided consistent responses and GP’s great culture came through.
Onboarding was surprisingly easy. I received my MacBook and all my access details in time for logging in on my first day. I had access to all the systems I needed that first morning, including videos that explained all the areas of the company, acronyms, practices, etc. An onboarding schedule was created for me and meetings had been scheduled with everyone I needed to meet. The same warm, friendly culture continued as I met people from various departments over my first two weeks.
What is a short- and long-term goal you’re currently working on?
My short-term goal is to work closely with the architect and product directors to build strong engineering teams that would continue the phenomenal growth within engineering. That, and creating an environment where our engineers can be successful, both for their own career development and to support the massive business growth.
In the long term, I want to help to build out the GP technical brand by showcasing all the great work of our engineering teams in the tech industry, as well as to deliver highly resilient, scalable, performant, secure, cost-effective, and sustainable solutions for GP—driven by the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Well-Architected Framework.
Why is Globalization Partners an exciting place to work, especially within the field of engineering?
We have an awesome product and architecture team that is driving forward the future of the global employer-of-record market. The GP engineering team is growing at an impressive pace, which provides exciting opportunities to work in the latest modern cloud technologies and solve challenging technical problems that can significantly drive the product forward. World-class engineering practices are key to growing both our team and our product at an astronomical pace.
What do you look for in engineering candidates? What traits and skills do they need to stand out?
Skills and traits that really stand out in engineering candidates are a strong business understanding of the products and systems they are working on, as well as understanding why they are building the product and the impact it can have on the customer and business.
Engineers who stand out most to me are team players and problem solvers with excellent engineering discipline—they’re not just writing code, they are writing products that they are proud of. And they know the value that their work has to the business and customer.
We also want engineers who are thought leaders in their field. If this sounds like you, we have positions available globally at all engineering levels.