Engineering Manager, Felicity Yan’s journey to a people leader

Felicity is a part of our Women In Tech initiative at Nine. Written by Jess Lawton, Felicity shares her journey and tips as an Engineering Manager.

Felicity Yan’s journey in the technology field spans geographical shifts and professional evolution. Growing up in Queensland, she pursued her education in engineering, initially venturing into electrical engineering and later in her university days shifting to software.

From the outset, Felicity’s motivation for a career in STEM was rooted in a blend of mathematical prowess and a desire for economic stability, influenced by observing her mother’s hard work in challenging financial circumstances. This early goal steered her towards engineering, where she could merge her passion with practicality. Throughout her engineering career, Felicity’s proudest moments were witnessing the tangible results of her work.

One of Felicity’s favourite memories from her early career is working on ticketing systems for buses, as well as the roadside signs that displayed real-time predictions to users using the location data.  It was from this she moved into web development, creating websites that would inform transport staff and end users across NSW. When Felicity joined Nine in 2018, she initially joined as an engineer, immersing herself in the technical intricacies. Later, Felicity shifted into the role of Engineering Manager for various teams and is now leading the AFR Web team.

Initially curious and a little unsure about moving into a people leadership role,  Felicity found satisfaction in the broader impact on people, culture, and processes that came with the role.

Prompted to discuss herself, initially, Felicity defaulted to a response from a few years back. However, upon reflection, she felt compelled to share a more truthful and raw account of her profoundly challenging experiences. In December 2021, she welcomed her son, Tiyam, who, unfortunately, spent the 12 days of his life in the NICU. This, coupled with health complications, the passing of her grandparents and isolation during COVID-19, presented an arduous period.

Facing these multifaceted trials, Felicity’s openness is not for sympathy but to reveal the layers that shape us. She reflects on her ongoing journey of self-discovery, especially following the loss of Tiyam. Despite facing these challenges, Felicity not only acknowledges the supportive community at Nine but also emphasises how the empathetic environment cultivated by her managers, team, and peers played a crucial role in helping her get through these personal challenges. Undeterred by adversities, Felicity’s resilience shines through as she continues to advance her career.

For Felicity, technology’s vastness and collaborative nature stand out as two often overlooked aspects. Additionally, dispelling the stereotype of technology as an isolated field, Felicity emphasises its inherently collaborative and people-centric nature. As an advocate of encouraging young minds into STEM, Felicity highlights the collaborative and impactful nature of technology. She emphasises the satisfaction derived from delivering solutions that people use and emphasises the importance of aligning tech pursuits with personal values.

For those considering a tech career, Felicity advises maintaining an open mindset and a willingness to learn continuously is important. Felicity transitioning from an individual contributor to a manager, outlines the importance of recognising the shift in skills required.

Beyond tech, Felicity’s interests lie in music, with the possibility of a parallel path in the creative world had she not pursued technology. Her parting advice for aspiring tech professionals is to understand their values, stay open to diverse opportunities, and find satisfaction in aligning personal beliefs with career choices.

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