Meet Celia Ma: Biz Ops Manager, Small...
When Celia first heard about Medallia in 2015, she didn’t expect to join the team—and she certainly didn’t expect the course of her life to change after two months on...
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With more than four years of experience at Medallia across multiple teams, Bri Fong is no stranger to change. Below, she talks about her professional past, present, and future; how her teammates got her through tough times; and how playing Ultimate Frisbee informs her work.
Medallia helps companies better serve their customers by making it easy to gather and understand data about their customers’ experiences. From the engineering perspective, we have multiple layers of data-collecting systems that take complex, unorganized feedback and make it immediately available for our end users.
I’m a technical project manager for our Product and Engineering teams. Specifically, I support our end-user apps—how our web portal looks, feels, acts, and reacts—including our mobile apps and the engine behind them. I’ve been in this role for about a year, but I started at Medallia in 2014 as an analyst on the Professional Services team. What drew me here initially was the opportunity to use my coding background while still getting a lot of business exposure and seeing the results of my work in real time. I spent some time as an Engagement Manager in Professional Services, but eventually decided I wanted to work on more technical problems, so I moved to Engineering. For me, it’s been like going from swimming in a pool to swimming in the ocean. I’m learning to code in React Native. I’m learning how strong product and engineering organizations run. I’ve had more exposure to the base code, which I’m now really excited about. I’m addicted to solving problems—the harder they are, the happier I am—and I have lots of opportunities to do that in this role.
When I was in Professional Services, there was a rough period where we were still establishing coding standards and checks, and honestly, if it weren’t for my teammates I wouldn’t still be here. Back in those days, when the app had crashed and I was eating at my desk at 7 p.m., people would walk by and offer to help—even though I know they had dinner waiting at home and their own problems to solve. Medallia tends to attract flexible, intrinsically motivated people who want to do the right thing. That’s why my best friends are here.
I think the most radical change has been how we position all the awesome, smart, diverse people we’ve hired. It was a shift in mentality to see the team itself as Medallia’s unique value proposition, and then to make that value prop work as a global organization, not just in San Mateo, but also in New York, London and around the world as we continue to grow.
We work with a subcontractor based in India, and I was very involved in training their Ahmedabad office. In particular, I’m proud that things now run so efficiently that I once came back from a vacation and a client told me, “Puneet, Roopa, and Orlando took care of us so well, we didn’t even notice you were gone.” To me, that spoke to the value of building strong, diverse teams internally and with partners, especially because these are people I’ve met in person only once or twice. If you can do something from halfway across the world via video chat and messaging, you can do it anywhere.
When I’m in the Bay Area, I spend a lot of time with my family. I also play club Ultimate Frisbee, which I originally got involved in thanks to a fellow Medallian, Mike Weil—though neither of us worked here at the time. I was in college at UCLA and was very lost trying to find the rugby tryouts. I stumbled onto an Ultimate practice and Mike said, “I don’t know where rugby is, but you should join us.” I followed him to the meeting, and I’m still playing 10 years later.
Ultimate takes me all over the country for about eight months of the year, so it’s a big commitment. It wouldn’t work without the support of my girlfriend, my family, my friends, and Medallia. One of my managers here once told me, “Bri, joke all you want about throwing around plastic with your friends, but this is a pillar of who you are and where you want to go.” And it’s true. What I want to do is build great teams, whether that’s in an office or on the field. My experiences in Ultimate absolutely translate to work, and vice versa.
In the short term, there’s a lot going on. We just redesigned our web portal to make it more beautiful, efficient, and most importantly—more accessible. Our core frontline reporting modules now follow the international standards for web accessibility, which is huge. We’re also releasing a new mobile app. We’re launching two new products for our end-user apps in the next three weeks. And in the coming months, I’m working on a project similar to the trainings I did for our partners in Ahmedabad, which is scaling Medallia’s teams in Argentina and Australia. It’s all fantastic.
In the long term, a time may come when I travel less for work, but right now, my personal life can accommodate making these bold moves. I’m getting the opportunity to learn what I like, and what I don’t. I’m interested in the delicate balance of resources, product, and go-to-market strategy. What projects can I enable? How do I unblock these incredible people? If you asked me back when I started at Medallia, I don’t think I would have identified product management as my route. But it’s very much aligned with the two levers I most enjoy pulling, which are what our team can do, and what our product can do. So it’s a great fit right now. Next, who knows?
This story was created in conjunction with Job Portraits, a San Francisco-based creative agency that helps teams scale using culture-focused content.