Editor's Note: Because Stellar Women in e-Discovery operates on its own publication schedule, you may notice an episode or two missing, or appearing out of order, in our blog coverage of the show. To ensure you don't miss any insights, find Stellar Women in your favorite podcast app and follow along to catch each episode as it airs.
For this special episode of Stellar Women, we brought in some all-stars from Relativity’s own solutions team. Winnie Lai, Walita Jendo, Clare Longworth, and Megan Twibell may work across time zones, but these teammates are always up for helping each other out and staying in communication to foster collaboration throughout their department.
Mila and I chatted with them about everything from why Winnie loves chicken to the many avenues that professionals can pursue in the e-discovery field—and plenty more in between.
Relativity Solutions Specialist
Relativity Solutions Specialist
Relativity Solutions Specialist
Mary Rechtoris: Hey, Stellar Women fans. I'm your host, Mary Rechtoris.
Mila Taylor: And, I'm your co-host, Mila Taylor. Stellar Women shines a light on female leaders making their mark in tech. Today, we are really, really excited to welcome some stellar Relativians from our solutions team. I think a good way to start would be for us all to introduce ourselves with your name, role, and a fun fact.
Megan Twibell: Hey, Mila. I'm Megan Twibell, and I'm a solution specialist. Fun fact—I was camping in Lake Tahoe one summer. Overnight, a bear entered our campground and actually was trying to get into our tent and put a hole in the tent.
Mila Taylor: Biggest fear.
Mary Rechtoris: Did it go away?
Megan Twibell: It actually sat outside the tent for quite a while and you could just hear it breathing. I went over to our neighbor's tent. It's why I haven't gone camping for many years.
Mila Taylor: I don't blame you. Hey, Walita! You're up next.
Walita Jendo: My name's Walita Jendo. I'm a solutions specialist. Also, I’m not going to go camping. That was my biggest fear. My fun fact is I'm into photography. My favorite photo that I've ever taken is actually of the neighborhood of our office in Chicago.
Winnie Lai: My name is Winnie Lai. I'm a solutions specialist based in Hong Kong. Fun facts about me? It could be that I like chicken a lot. And I eat chicken every week and I'm very good at cooking chickens.
Mary Rechtoris: That's low key my favorite fun fact.
Clare Longworth: Hi. My name is Clare Longworth. I am a senior solutions specialist based out in our London office. My fun fact is the one that I used actually when I first introduced myself to Relativity. I create novelty cakes for my kids for their birthdays. The most elaborate one was the Great Wall of China, which had a dragon. But it didn't have people, so I got in trouble for that.
Mary Rechtoris: I think we'll go in reverse order and get a flavor for your experience in the field and e-discovery in general. So, Clare, why don't you kick this off? What excites you about this industry and tech?
Clare Longworth: The fact that we can build software that in theory should make life a lot easier for people in their everyday actions and activities and so forth. That's certainly what drew me to the tech industry in general. Like many people, I didn't mean to fall into e-discovery; it just kind of happened when I was working at BDO at the time. In fact, we were expanding our forensic practice there. It's that ability to, in theory, try to make life a little bit easier for everybody to get them to where they need to be.
Winnie Lai: For me, I started my career in law firms. There were so many lawyers around me and for some reason, they were very reluctant to trust a computer—so they used a lot of paper and did, like, a manual record using Excel spreadsheets. And from then on, I was an administrator in charge of a legal system. I was in the law firms and I was like, “This is the 21st century and you can be modernized with your workflows and be more efficient.”
Walita Jendo: There's no two problems that are similar. Every day, you're facing a new challenge. It keeps you on your toes and makes you think.
Mary Rechtoris: Last but not least, Megan.
Megan Twibell: It's so funny. Until I came to work for Relativity, I never considered that I worked in the tech industry. I can't really say that any longer. But. I think as far as being excited about the tech industry … it’s an industry that is ripe for disruption and change in its culture. That's really exciting in a sense. What we're seeing more and more is that women are taking higher level roles. That, to me, is exciting. Specifically, with the e-discovery, people know and understand the work that I do now. So many years ago, when I would try to explain to people what I did as a project manager in e-discovery, I would get blank stares. I used to tell people that I did other things that weren’t e-discovery. Now, when I tell people that I work in a e-discovery, it's easy enough to say, “We help attorneys share data during the litigation process, like having 30,000 e-mails to read over a weekend’s time.” People get it because there's just so much going on that's newsworthy in the world that is reliant on the sharing of e-mail specifically. It’s easier to say, “We help teams understand large amounts of data in a short amount of time.”
Mila Taylor: Amazing. Thanks everybody for sharing. I think it's definitely interesting how we all got here. The innovation and the change and the fact that you want to help make people's lives easy is a common theme. So, that's cool to see. In your roles, you operate fairly autonomously. What tips do you have for our listeners out there to feel connected to their colleagues and peers when they work in a less collaborative, face-to-face role?
Megan Twibell: I’m doing a couple of things that I like to do within my group. Because we're virtual, I'm doing more reaching out to others for help on projects even where we may not be assigned the project together. I am asking for more feedback along the way before I end up with whatever my deliverable is, and seeking out opportunities to collaborate with other departments in our organization. As an example, we have our training group and then the training group often asks for additional help on their curriculums. Or, the certification group may ask for additional help on the certification exams. I really seek out those opportunities because those experiences have groups of people working together. While our traditional work in the solutions group may be very independent, there's a lot of opportunity out there to work collaboratively with other groups. Sometimes I see something on different Slack channels, or emails are going through our solutions group. Maybe where somebody isn't going to reach out and ask me for help [directly], but I am becoming more and more interested in engaging in the conversation myself. I am just basically butting in just to ask if folks need help merely because it's a way to continue interaction. Maybe that’s something that would happen in the office naturally, but we’re virtual so it doesn’t happen as much. So, I'm trying to do that more.
Mila Taylor: So, working across time zones, how do you stay connected?
Winnie Lai: We can use a lot of different channels to keep together. And that's it. We rely on our team’s efforts to mix together well. With Claire in the UK, and Megan and Walita in Chicago, we still can find some time. It may not always be the most convenient, like this time is my nighttime and it’s early in the morning for you guys. We just need to make an effort. Like my solutions team, they make an effort to meet their Asia colleagues during their nighttime once a month to include us. We are really appreciative of that. For one-to-one connection, sometimes you do need to take initiative. In Slack, you can say, “Hi, how are you doing?” Sometimes, you don’t get an instant response. But you will, unless they hate you, you will definitely get a message, like: “How are you? How’s the US or Paris?”
Mila Taylor: I find that maybe not so much with work, but my family's obviously on the other side of the world in a different time zone. I find that every single morning I wake up to all my different group chats from home. It’s like I had a whole day and I'm catching up on every single thing, so I'm kind of replying like six hours later. But it's fun. I agree. I do the same thing with friends and family at home—messaging throughout the day.
Mary Rechtoris: Clare, you kind of sit in the middle here on the Zoom call in regard to the time zones. Winnie, it's too late there so thanks for joining us. For us here in the Chicago, it's a little earlier. With Clare being in London, you’re suited in that middle position. Can you talk about what tips and tricks you have for working with team members across time zones?
Clare Longworth: Echoing Winnie, for me, it was also interesting during this time of COVID when we were in pure lockdown mode. I have a very small toddler, and I think that like 30 percent of our office has small kids in the toddler range. At one point, it was just easier to get up early and go to bed late and spend my days looking after my child. There is that kind of need for flexibility. It wasn't that I felt pressure to do that in any way, shape, or form. I think Relativity has generally been very, very supportive of parents. But, it's still very hard because you feel guilty about not spending time with your kids. You feel guilty about not doing the normal work hours you would normally do. And, you feel guilty potentially because you feel like you're letting down your colleagues if there is something that they're waiting on or customers are waiting on for you to get back to them about. The other thing is to remember that, in general, Relativity’s whole ethos is about trying to support each other. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. I can’t tell you the number of times that people have, and thank you Megan, stepped up for me on a Friday afternoon because I am just desperate to finish, have dinner for the kids, and just sit and veg out in front of the TV with them—but then I suddenly had one last ticket that came in. People will step up and help you. There’s nothing wrong with saying to people, “Look, I just need assistance with this.” It’s definitely that as well as being flexible. I mean, unfortunately, I think it's a curse and a blessing of our age that we can work almost any hour of the day or night because we're now working from home and we have the technology. But that doesn't mean you should. You should definitely try to keep those boundaries in place. With that flexibility, hopefully you can relieve some of the other stresses that you have in your day.
Megan Twibell: You've never let us down.
Clare Longworth: Thank you.
Mary Rechtoris: I think that's a great point. I think people feel like that, especially working from home, you should almost always be working. It’s in the sense that it’s like, I’m here, I can see my computer, I know I’m getting emails, so let me log on. But it can impede on your ability to be with your family or whatever it is. It is a balancing act.
Clare Longworth: Even though in theory I've got more time in my day, I do feel like I've got less because I feel like, I've got to be at my computer and at my desk all these times of the day. I’ve realized that I've probably done more hours, but I just don't recognize that fact necessarily overall. That's another interesting thing: you should block out time in your calendar to make sure you get up and get away from your machine, have lunch, and chat with your child, your other half, or whatever it is, you know?
Mary Rechtoris: We're going to switch gears a little bit, so I'd love to hear about the best career advice you've either given or received.
Walita Jendo: The best advice that I've actually received is to be honest and tell the truth to clients. Whenever there was an issue, it was best to always tell the truth so that you can build a relationship with the client.
Winnie Lai: Have an open mind to choose your career path. But you need to have a vision of the industry or a company that you believe in. If you believe in the company, ultimately you will have a sense of belonging. When you have a sense of belonging, then you probably will love your work more. When you have an open mind, opportunities come to you, and why not just try it? You might be surprised at your capability.
Mila Taylor: Moving along: What would you say to someone who was considering a career in e-discovery?
Megan Twibell: I think so many of us who have been in the industry for a while, stumbled upon this career path. It's so exciting to talk to people who have actually consciously made the decision to work in e-discovery. There are people out there who are seeing this career path and understand that it is an opportunity to always work. And, you know, it's a job that when you're out in the wild, whether you are working for a law firm or a service provider or a corporation, it's going to be demanding. And there are a lot of expectations about meeting difficult timelines. I think it's an interesting career path that I love. Like from the first [Relativity] Fest that I went to, which wasn't the first but the second Fest, seeing the growth of the community and seeing the folks that have opted into this career path… This is a really long-winded way of saying: Go for it.
Mary Rechtoris: Clare, what about you?
Clare Longworth: From my point of view, I kind of fell into it. I did teach before I ended up in IT. I actually started out with the software development at a much smaller organization. And I really loved that. So, when I came back to working for a software developer after having been out in the industry as it were, I just felt I came home. I certainly enjoyed that more being in the thick of it type situation. What I would say to anyone considering it is that there are just so many avenues that you can go down with this. Like, you know, you can be a hardcore developer, or it could be that you do like the client side of it [where it is more] touchy feely, getting to know people, understanding their problems, and helping them work through to the resolution. And then, you know, [you can] finally get to the end of that case and win it and stuff like that. Or, you could just stand back from all of that and be in the background and just get on and do your job without too much interaction with others if you don't want it. So I think the one thing I would say is that, for people considering it, it just gives you a lot of avenues to explore.
Mary Rechtoris: Claire, Walita, Winnie, and Meagan, thanks so much for joining Mila and myself. It was great to chat with you all.
All: Thank you so much. Bye-bye.
Mary Rechtoris: And for Stellar Women, I'm Mary Rechtoris.
Mila Taylor: And I’m Mila Taylor.
Both: Signing off.