Interviews / Software Engineers & Developers

Balancing the Grind with Faten Healy, Inside Solutions Engineer at GitHub

Faten Healy is an Inside Solutions Engineer at GitHub, working in collaboration with the APAC GitHub team, the developer community and enterprise customers.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

With a passion for software development, I have studied and worked in a variety of roles within this field.

My journey started with the completion of a Masters of Telecommunications Engineering, which laid the foundation for my subsequent roles in mobile app development, technical support, developer and IT consulting, and solutions engineering.

I joined GitHub as an Inside Solutions Engineer in 2017, working with the APAC GitHub team, the developer community and enterprise customers to solve technical problems and enable software developer teams to create their best work, driving innovation through open source.

2) What does a typical day in life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

This year has been all about flexibility. With three kids under the age of six, and COVID-19 restrictions preventing us from having a nanny or grandparents around, my husband (Gavin) and I have had to find ways to share responsibilities.

A typical day usually starts with me waking up the kids to get them ready for school before my husband drops them off at school and childcare. He’s usually back by 8:45 am, which gives us an opportunity to have a small chat over a quick coffee (love my coffee!); and we begin our work from home routine.

We have had to create space for two separate home offices; we tried to share a room but found it didn’t work out due to the conflicting calls we had during the day. 

Whilst it took some time to find a system that works for us, I am very pleased to have a career that is built on the spirit of collaboration, shared by the open source community.

The very foundation of my role is to be across the latest technical updates and offerings that showcase the ways DevOps teams can work together better.

So, whether I am hosting training sessions that are targeted at helping teams embrace security best practices or peering with sales teams on how we can customise offerings for clients, we are applying the very values DevOps teams live by every day. 

The best part of my job is the level of variety – No two days are the same. One day I might be talking to customers, helping the team internally with some technical training, preparing for a presentation, or attending or speaking at an event. 

On most days, my husband will pick up the kids, and I’ll take care of dinner. Luckily, the kids fall asleep by around 7:30 pm, leaving Gavin and I some time to relax and finish off some light work with the TV on in the background (Cobra Kai is our go-to at the moment). I also sometimes get the chance to connect with my colleagues from Europe.  

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Absolutely! With over 70 per cent of employees working remotely, Github has always been flexible and remote-work-friendly for over a decade now and long before the pandemic.

Since GitHub is all about developer collaboration, we operate much like the over 50 million developers on our platform and it’s actually quite common for employees to communicate asynchronously using ‘GitHub Issues’ to work together.

On a more personal note, GitHub offers fantastic parental leave which I truly appreciate.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Be honest and transparent in how you communicate with your colleagues and think empathetically about their situation.

As an example, with remote work often blurring the line between work and private life, now more than ever it is important to be mindful of how our colleagues’ time might be affected when booking meetings.

Being flexible is also key, especially with a work community spread across the world.

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5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Given the unique set of circumstances that we’ve all had to navigate throughout the duration of this year, the concept of work-life balance has never been more topical. The new way of living has nudged us to re-evaluate how we approach the concept.

For me, it starts with prioritisation of what I deem important. In my life, I like to identify what my main goals, responsibilities, and targets are and make time for them. The smaller things can fit in around that.

It’s not a matter of solely focusing on work between Monday-Friday from 9-5 and then fitting in family outside of that. It’s about being realistic and clear about what you can achieve, putting your priorities first. 

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Determination and preparation – try your best and always prepare as best as you can.  When you don’t succeed, use it as a learning experience. 

If you are prepared as best as you can be, and you give something your all, you can hold your head up high at the end of the day. You will succeed, or you will learn and improve. Both are “wins” in my book.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

I enjoy reading biographies about people that I admire in different areas of life.

A book that really resonated with me was the biography of an Italian saint, Rita of Cascia. She overcame many obstacles in her life which would have made others give up, but her determination and perseverance never wavered. These are qualities that I find inspiring.

The biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson provides a great insight into the mind of one of tech’s greatest figures, and How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a great read on how to improve relationships.

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Have a plan and prioritise (I love using ‘GitHub project board’ to help me with this). For me, starting with a short to-do list at the beginning of the day helps me organise my work to get things done.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Do what matters the most, both in your job and life and do your best. And don’t feel bad if you feel like you don’t ‘have it all figured out.’

When you look at your LinkedIn feed or any social media channel for that matter, it can be easy to think that everyone has a perfect work-life balance but in reality, it is a challenge for everyone. It’s not possible to do everything, every day, so focus on what you can do, and do it well.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.