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Unlocking Empowered, Self-Sufficient Teams: A Deep Dive into 'First Team' Strategies

with Monica Bajaj

January 30, 2024

ABOUT MONICA BAJAJ

Monica is currently VP of Engineering at Okta where she leads the Developer Experience portfolio for Customer Identity Cloud (CIAM). She is responsible for building a frictionless developer experience for Consumer and SaaS Apps thus securing billions of logins every month. Her expertise spans technology, operations, global expansion, and product launch in areas such as Consumer/Enterprise, Infrastructure, Business Intelligence, DevOps, and Security. She has taken products into the global market by launching localization and globalization programs delivering multi-million dollar growth.

Previously she has held senior engineering leadership positions at Workday, Perforce, Network Appliance, and UKG. She holds a Masters in Computer Science from IIT Mumbai. Monica is an active supporter of diversity in STEM, has launched several Women in Technology initiatives, and is now an exec sponsor for Women at Okta. When not obsessing over technology, she can be found spending time with Boy Scouts, enjoying hiking, and supporting the cause of mentorship and uplifting women and young girls.

"The first team concept was launched at my level and then I went through this journey and I realized like, 'Oh, this is very powerful.' First, it was confusing that I need to put my team aside and take my peers as my first priority, but then I became more curious and then I was intrigued by the results and I'm like, 'Oh, this is so powerful. I need to put this in my own organization.' So I started with my directs like, 'Hey, we have studied about this. We did a whole session and walk them through some real examples. That's where it was like, 'Oh, we need to implement this and see it.'”

- Monica Bajaj   


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SHOW NOTES:

  • Defining the “first team” concept & three characteristics that lead to success (3:22)
  • How applying a first team approach impacts relationships (6:05)
  • Why adopting these principles improved the quality, trust & maturity of eng teams (8:30)
  • What conditions were met to set up the relationship between teams (12:09)
  • Nuances of incorporating a first team approach at different levels of your org (13:48)
  • How the first team facilitates faster pivoting as new priorities arise (16:31)
  • First team frameworks for successfully & quickly onboarding new teams (19:08)
  • An example of this concept applied to an architecture context (20:20)
  • Why “first teams” support / encourage bottoms-up initiatives (23:47)
  • Strategies for leadership to implement first teams @ different levels of their org (27:38)
  • Recommendations for regaining cohesiveness as a first team (29:17)
  • Rapid fire questions (31:28)

LINKS AND RESOURCES


This episode wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our incredible production team:

Patrick Gallagher - Producer & Co-Host

Jerry Li - Co-Host

Noah Olberding - Associate Producer, Audio & Video Editor https://www.linkedin.com/in/noah-olberding/

Dan Overheim - Audio Engineer, Dan’s also an avid 3D printer - https://www.bnd3d.com/

Ellie Coggins Angus - Copywriter, Check out her other work at https://elliecoggins.com/about/

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