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We’re excited to announce that Prachi Gupta has joined the team as the head of engineering, where she is responsible for strategically growing the team to support Discord’s core product, infrastructure, and security systems as the service continues to expand.

She most recently served as Head of Engineering for LinkedIn’s Feed, where she led the R&D teams for the feed, sharing, and homepage teams.

She is an active supporter of diversity in STEM, co-founded LinkedIn’s Women in Technology initiative, and an alumnus board member of Women’s Audio Mission. She was named one of the most powerful female engineers by Business Insider in 2018.

I sat down with her to hear a bit more about her initial thoughts about Discord.

Tell us about yourself and what you’ve done before joining Discord.

If we want to start from the very beginning, I grew up in India and ended up getting my Master’s degree in computer applications from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya in Indore.

I spent most of my early career building data infrastructure solutions before moving to the Bay Area in 2007 to join Garmin and work on their fitness devices for a couple of years.

After about two years at Garmin, I began my decade-long career at Linkedin. I started as a software engineer and grew to lead the engineering teams in charge of LinkedIn’s homepage, feed, ad serving, sharing, and follow ecosystems. I’ve loved my time at LinkedIn and learned a huge amount there — I’m excited to bring that experience to Discord now.

What drew you to Discord? Is there anything in particular you’re excited to work on?

What drew me to Discord was the team’s dedication to bringing people together to talk, which resonates with my personal passion. I was also attracted to the fantastic confluence of people and products that Jason and Stan have built in only 5 years.

Today, Discord’s purpose of giving everyone the power to create belonging in their life is more meaningful than ever. Finding alternatives for having meaningful conversations with friends, meeting people with shared interests, and generally staying in touch with those who matter to us is increasingly more relevant in today’s world.

Discord is embracing its ambition to be the place for communities of all shapes and sizes. It’s both inspiring and exhilarating, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of realizing this purpose.

Some of the projects I’m looking forward to taking on are bringing in entry-level talent, furthering our commitment to diversity, and scaling the team and processes to support future growth. There are already 100 million users every month who love Discord partly because of how reliable our tech is. We want to grow Discord in a way that’s inclusive of all our new users but also continue to invest in reliability and performance as our top priority. I’m excited to build the right team to do that.

You’ve been with us for one month. What are your initial impressions? Any surprises?

The company culture is phenomenal and has made onboarding extremely smooth. Everybody I’ve met at Discord is excited to be here and very approachable.

The ubiquitous focus on Discord’s mission and strong desire to see it succeed is so contagious, I think I might bleed blurple already! Discord’s way of working lends itself really well to the remote work environment we are all in right now — it’s hard to believe Discord wasn’t built as a remote company!

Our day to day work is carried out almost exclusively on Discord itself. The various text and voice channels keep our work organized, and everyone in the company is accessible practically instantaneously. It’s a great way to get to know the product inside out!

Starting a new job during a global pandemic doesn’t seem like the best idea, but Discord has made it smoother than expected. I am grateful for the support we receive for ergonomic home office setups and the generous desk funds. New employee integration is very thoughtful and really geared to infusing everyone with the culture and values everyone shares at Discord. I’ve felt welcome and instantly at home with my new work family.

What is your approach to building teams and to hiring?

I am passionate about creating teams that build delightful products together — teams where each employee’s experience motivates and inspires them. I want the time they spend on my teams to be the best experience in their careers.

I truly believe that can only be the case if there is a real diversity of thought, perspective, and experience on teams — that’s the only way to have strong and creative teams. So I always look for ways to identify and support diverse talent. I look forward to partnering closely with my colleagues, and the various teams across Discord to continue making it an inclusive, diverse, and nurturing place for all employees.

Many of Discord’s hiring practices reflect these principles, but I’m excited to help strengthen them starting at the entry- and internship levels, and help the company develop career re-entry programs.

You co-founded LinkedIn’s Women in Technology initiative and served on the board of Women’s Audio Mission — how can Discord, and tech at large, become more diverse organizations where women and people of color thrive?

This is certainly a topic that’s close to my heart. In some ways, I believe I’ve benefitted from growing up and starting my career outside of the U.S. While I haven’t experienced it directly, the disparity in career outcomes based on race and gender in the tech industry might be more pronounced in the U.S. as compared to the rest of the world.

For most of my early career, I was usually the only female engineer in the room. However, I didn’t feel my opportunities were any different or more constrained than my peers. In fact, I worked part-time for a startup while studying for my Master’s degree and by the time I graduated, I was leading teams of more experienced engineers.

When I think about supporting women and people of color in technology I think of it as replicating that experience. It starts all the way from introducing someone to technology and doing it in a way that makes it accessible and achievable for them. Then progresses to giving them opportunities to compete and learn, and finally finding them a place in the industry that can challenge and support them.

I’m proud to support programs and organizations that work along this spectrum like WAM (Women’s Audio Mission), that introduces young girls from underserved communities to science through music production, along with Technovation Girls, who work to bring together girls from high schools and teach them how to code, build an app and compete with peers, and the State Department’s TechWomen program that pairs international leaders with mentors to help boost their careers.

I personally believe that now is the best time for the tech industry to come together and find solutions that will lead us to a future where gender and racial parity will become the norm. As an industry, we need to do more than just shifting the pie distribution and invest in growing the pie itself.

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