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PayPal Product Management Director, Inspiring Leader, and Mom of 2

Moms who code series includes Snap Inc's Sonali Son, Peloton's Helen Park-Wheat, PayPal's Beth Cannon, VMWare's Prafulla Arvind, and Lyft's Rupsha Chaudhuri

This is an excerpt from HackerRank’s Moms Who Code initiative. Read all of the interviews.  

Beth Cannon is the proud mother of two daughters, ages 15 and 17. She’s been with PayPal for 7 years and is the director of product management for the company’s developer experience and core platforms team. Previously, she led the information security and infrastructure engineering teams. Beth is also dedicated to making a difference in her PayPal community. She’s a leader of PayPal’s Women Who Build organization which is part of the company’s employee resource group, Unity where women and men work together to empower women at PayPal. Women Who Build is the pillar that supports women in tech and product.

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1. What do you enjoy the most about your job and what's something you've created at PayPal that you're particularly proud of?

I love PayPal’s purpose of financial inclusion for all and our drive to provide opportunities for everyone to participate in the global economy. PayPal’s community embodies these values through inclusion, collaboration, customer-first, and wellness, and I see people live these values daily at work.

I’m extremely proud of the ways in which I led the change that continues to grow in our security team to enable our developers to produce secure code in the development lifecycle. I’m also extremely proud of what my cohort and I have done with Women Who Build from sponsorship of events focused on future generations, to community events with authors Sally Helgesen and Pratima Rao Gluckman, to internal events around career and inspirational presentations, tech how-tos, product how-tos, and hands-on learning.

2. What do you enjoy the most about being a mom?

The opportunity to nurture, teach, and help another human being to be the best they can be is amazing. Being a working mom with two daughters makes me feel like I’m setting an example that my daughters can do anything they want in any way they want.

3. Did you face any challenges when returning to work after your maternity leave?

They were some of the most heart-wrenching moments I’ve experienced. I cried, I worried, and I talked to the dog, a lot. So many questions were running through my mind. Was I doing the right thing? Should I be home longer with them? What if my decisions “messed them up” for life? What if something happened to them and I wasn’t there?

As I returned to work, each day got easier and I worried less, but I think all parents worry all the time about all the decisions we make, the hours we work, making choices and what our actions and words are teaching our children. At the end of the day, I worry and fret because all I want for my girls is happiness and well-being.

4. How has PayPal helped you overcome those challenges and how has the company supported you as a working mom?

I joined PayPal when my oldest was finishing 4th grade and youngest was finishing 2nd grade. The decision to work for PayPal was big because the distance between my home and the office is far and it’s a long commute. From the beginning, there was flexibility and trust. Flexibility to work from home and flexibility to take care of both family and work. As long as I am performing, I am trusted to do the right thing by the company and the right thing for my family and myself.

Wellness is also one of our core values at PayPal and we take seriously that people need to renew, people need to take care of their families (whatever that looks like) and people need to take care of themselves in addition to the work they produce for PayPal. One of the greatest benefits we have at PayPal is 4-week sabbatical for every 5 years of service. Sabbatical provided me with a greater perspective and a renewed sense of purpose. Happy employees lead to happy customers and great outcomes!

5. HackerRank research has found that women are closing the gender gap in the computer science field and have the in-demand skills that hiring managers are looking for. But, resumes with female-sounding names are less likely to be hired than resumes with male-sounding names even if their resumes are exactly the same. What do you think should be done to change this?

The solution has to be built in at all levels. AI and automated systems screening resumes need to ensure that a name or other identifying traits of any single person isn’t valued in the “picking” of a resume review for the next step – it has to be modeled on skills, experience and communication skills. The recruiting team needs to be aware of unconscious bias and must consider the pipeline and a variety of sources for the pipeline. Measuring the diversity of your candidate pipeline is valuable as it can show where you are and how you may be able to improve that pipeline.

Hiring managers must have clear, defined criteria set of skills classified in advance that sets out what a successful candidate looks like and must consider both soft skills and technical skills that meet the needs of the team and the position. Criteria must be shared with recruiting and interview panels. Interviewers should be required to fill in a rubric that scores the candidate on the criteria and the most qualified candidate should be selected using the scoring from the interview panel.

6. Is there any other advice you’d like to share with other working mothers or women in tech in general?

Perseverance and perspective are key. Know who you are and what you can offer and know that you are the only you there is. Take risks, be okay with stepping into things that aren’t comfortable or something you’ve never done before. Know that no person will ever meet 100% of the qualifications for any given job or task - don’t wait to put yourself out there. Build things that live beyond you and your time. Most of all, work to #inspire others.

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