Liz Saling grew up in small, tight-knit communities in eastern-US towns, and added to that years of living, working, and traveling around the globe to discover the beauty the world and its people have to offer. She has nearly 30 years in the tech industry, and has two, wonderful sons with her beloved partner of more 20 years (her husband is a nurse, and the irony of that still catches people off guard, still to this day). She’s honored to be a caregiver to two adults, her mother and her son with cognitive disabilities, and an active member in the communities she lives in. Her faith in God and love of all fuels her to continuously grow and share, as well as reflect and prioritize self-care. As part of GitHub’s Platform leadership team, Liz drives the program to keep its teams and systems healthy as the organization experiences record growth. She’s launched more than a dozen engineering teams and departments in her time through parts of Salesforce, Adobe, and Microsoft, and creates training programs and workshops to reinforce a culture of collaboration and innovation. Her mission is to help women become the best version of themselves in each of their roles, while she strives to find joy in all of hers.
aiming for the trifecta of work-fun-fitness – helping folks find their simple patterns to do that, too
In almost 30 years of working in tech–from consulting in the NY metro area to mid-sized firms in the mountain west of the US to remote-first and globally distributed work in big tech–I’ve often found myself the lone female, and even then recognized the privilege as a cis white one. I’ve had great relationships with colleagues, and just as many not-so-great team fits as the obvious outsider. I’ve often looked for advisors and wanted guidance, and felt it difficult to be able to discuss work _as part of the rest of my life_ with the majority of them who had vastly different roles in life than I do. And it’s just as difficult as it is to find friends outside of work who understand life in tech and balancing being a mom and being active in my community and staying fit as well.
I’m so passionate about all of these things – I want to be strong and active well into my old age. I love helping advance technology because of the opportunities it creates in the world, especially for families who need it like mine. You see, I have a disabled son and am the primary caregiver for my aging mother. Both do relatively well, but it has given me visibility into a world where there’s so much opportunity to help, and what technology does for those individuals and families is amazing. And it’s really rewarding to be one of those individuals who contribute to it, albeit indirectly. Still, as part of having a career in tech, I would find myself having to make tradeoffs and major sacrifices, and then experience all the guilt that accompanies that. I would always joke that so help me, I’m going to figure this out and write a book. (I still make this joke often, and maybe I will some day!)
I did many career stops and starts, where I took some time off work to focus on my special needs son, then I took time away from being a mom to focus on the big project, then took time balancing those, completely foregoing any workout routines and leisure time. But all the while, inching closer to my ultimate goal to attain the work-life-fitness trifecta! Perhaps because I’m stubborn about it, more often than not I muddled through and gained my own experience regarding getting interested in engineering, finding work, figuring out how to advance, and navigating an industry that thrives on growth and disruption. As a cis white female, all along observing others from even more underrepresented backgrounds try to do the same, I’ve seen the industry progress, but still struggle to make room and give back more, or provide a lot of lift. As such, I’ve tried numerous patterns that absolutely do not help me achieve progression and balance, and made it a lifelong objective to discover and share ones I find that do.
Another thing I’m passionate about is finding and keeping faith, and using it at home and at work. I want to help everyone take their turn deciding what’s best, with love and understanding. I aim to help women figure out how to become the best version of themselves in every one of their roles. For women in tech or interested in working in tech, I want to make it possible for us to contribute, and help tech contribute back to our families.
Opinions are my own.
Interests and Values
- All sorts of activities to stay strong and take care of my future self
- A slow flow, with more progression and less fixation
- Thrill rides, from loop-de-loop roller coasters to the wild amusement park of life
- Relaxing – the best of us comes out of having a good amount of unstructured time
- Staying connected, serving and learning with the best (which is everyone)
- Being a present family member
- Work, which anything I’m doing to make an impact on the world
Human User Guide (HUG)
What are some honest, unfiltered things about you?
- I’m a wee bit competitive
- I used to be my biggest critic, and now I’m my biggest fan
- I consciously fight the urge to exaggerate things to myself or others in order to justify my feelings
- I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and worry that some will judge me to be less than the fiercely inclusive and loving and wonderful person that I am because of what they think about that
- I’m 6’1″, red/blue on the TotalSDI spectrum, my love language is quality time, and my superpower is Motivator.
What drives you nuts?
- Feeling ghosted
- Lack of transparency or cooperation
- Rehashing out the same decisions again and again
- It doesn’t bother me when people don’t know, but it really does when they don’t try or don’t care
- Many complaints and little action. Many judgements and little seeking understanding.
What are your quirks?
- I love to be goofy, and think I am funny (not sure how may others share that view)
- Even if I try to cheat or bluff, I’m a dead giveaway. No poker face here.
- I don’t like chocolate or coffee, but I love peanut butter and caffeine – Mio drops ftw
- I like proper spelling and grammar – not that I judge when it isn’t there, but I love when people make it better and get it right
What are some things that people might misunderstand about you that you should clarify?
- I’ve heard that I’m intimidating, so I overcompensate to show up as my true, relationship-valuing self more clearly
- I also have heard that I don’t care as much as I should about this or that – this is plausible, depending on the thing. I’m extremely selective with what I devote my attention and time to.
- I don’t care about the
how as much as I do the
what, and I tend to step in to help the
how when we aren’t getting to the
what. It doesn’t mean I’m stuck to the
how I’m leaning in on though, as long as we’re getting to the
What qualities do you particularly value in your colleagues?
- I love when people want to pair, brainstorm, and try new things out with me
- It’s great when people clarify how much they care about something, so that I can properly give attention to a big deal or not worry about a smaller one as much
- Raising concerns early
What do you wish your colleagues wouldn’t do?
- Put too much weight into roles/titles and set unrealistic expectations because of them
- Gossip and shut others down
- Not trust or invest in others
How can people earn an extra gold star with you?
- Check in on me and on others, see if they can help with anything – build each other up
- Stay focused on the priorities, and queue up the distractions appropriately
- If I’m getting amped up or working too much, remind me to take a break and focus on what’s really important
How do you coach people to do their best work and develop their talents?
- Listen – and ask if they are venting, looking for advice help, or needing intervention, or a safe space to work things out themselves
- Ask a lot of questions, pull their ideas out – I believe they know best
- Celebrate successes, hone what they’re good at
- See what they’re interested in and working on, see if they want me to hold them accountable
- Figure out if they’re comfortable, and if they are, figure out something hard to do and dig in
What’s the best way to communicate with you?
- Outside of work: LinkedIn messages if you don’t know me, MarcoPolo or Text/Call if you do
- At work: GitHub issues/discussions, or Slack for the social stuff – definitely use threads in channels more
- I love to zoom about anything and nothing, and if it’s important I will follow up in writing if you haven’t already
- Fly to Hawaii and meet me for shave ice
What’s the best way to convince you to do something?
- Ask nicely
- Tell me how it will help us or others be more efficient, make money/cut costs, attract customers, or what we’ll learn from it
How do you like to give feedback?
- As quickly and simply as possible, straight up with no drama and lots of respect.
- I’ll give you an observable fact without judgement, tell you the impact I think it could have, and ask for clarifications and/or make a request and/or thank you.
How do you like to get feedback?
- As quickly and simply as possible, straight up with no drama and lots of respect.
- Give me an observable fact without judgement, tell me the impact you think it could have, and ask for clarifications and/or make a request and/or thank me.
- Pretend that you like me while you’re giving it 😄