Inside Change with Riley Chang
Tell me about your role at Change.org. What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m an Engineering Manager here at Change.org. Our managers are still very technical, which means I am guiding the team when making architectural decisions, breaking down projects into executable plans, and helping troubleshoot issues that arise. My priority is growing the team’s skills and knowledge to tackle bigger challenges. Being an Engineering Manager at Change means balancing negotiating project expectations and ensuring my reports have opportunities to shine, all while keeping my own skills sharp to lead our organization to better practices through technologies and processes.
What part of this job do you personally find most satisfying? Most challenging?
My favorite part of software development is collaborating with a strong team, where we challenge each other to arrive at the best solution. In this role, I am bringing more opportunities for these larger organization discussions. Moreover, I get to mentor my team to hone this skill, increasing our pool of knowledge brought into solving new, interesting problems. The most challenging part is finding the right balance between managing the team and being able to execute on technical endeavors myself. Being a manager means making sure to be doing work that can best leverage my abilities while giving others the opportunity to grow their skills.
If you could go back five years, what advice would you give yourself?
Five years ago I was still working to find my own identity in a new city. As with many new San Francisco residents, my main connections were through work. Looking back, I would only advise myself to make sure to maintain a healthy balance of work and life. Having relationships with others has helped me get a better perspective of other ventures in the world and made me resolute about exploring other passions such as yoga, language, and travel.
What does Asian Pacific American Heritage Month mean to you? How do you typically observe or celebrate?
Being from Hawai’i, Asian Pacific American Heritage Month is a way to feel connected to home. I often find myself reflecting on the cultural differences between the islands and the Mainland. Food is my strongest bond to my heritage so I try to cook meals that harken back to my childhood to share with my friends here.
What are some cultural traditions you are most proud of?
One of my favorite activities growing up was folding origami: cranes, frogs, boxes, so many amazing shapes out of such simple pieces of paper. We also would have massive gatherings centered around cooking tasty traditional foods like mochi, onigiri, and okonomiyaki. It was great to see how much it bonded the community, including those foreign to the culture. Having so much respect and admiration when sharing my culture really demonstrated the Aloha mentality of the islands.
What’s a cause or social issue that you’re passionate about?
Something that really spoke to me recently was the fight for accessible voting in the United States. I was extremely proud of Hawai’i becoming the fourth State to enact all-mail ballots, especially since voters are demotivated there as the last timezone of the country. With a highly contagious virus forcing more people to isolate, it’s important now more than ever to open access across the country so everyone can feel safe carrying out their civil duties. Sign here to help support this cause!
What’s the last concert you went to?
The last concert I was at was a small Kesha show in San Francisco. It was actually my third time seeing her and it’s always a blast! She picks venues that are smaller so everyone there is close enough to have a good view and exude energy. I was also with some friends that were leaving the city so it was a great farewell memory.