Life at Yahoo

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noelia fernandez arroyo

Noelia, Head of Audience, EMEA

Posted: 31st of August, 2011

Career Profile: Noelia Fernandez Arroyo

Posted March 21, 2011
What’s the best way to build a terrific career? There isn’t a simple answer to this question, but a number of Yahoos have discovered their own keys to career success. Learn what advice they have to offer in our new Yahoo Career Profile series.  Noelia Fernandez Arroyo, head of editorial and content for Yahoo EMEA, was recruited nearly 13 years ago to set up the new Yahoo Spain property. Since then she’s had a variety of roles and currently works in the European HQ in Rolle, Switzerland.

Why do you stay at Yahoo!?
It’s a combination of various things. I strongly believe in entrepreneurship and one of the things I love doing –and that I think that I’m good at –is defining new opportunities and creating an atmosphere where people can flourish and make something happen. Yahoo! is the perfect place if you have the spirit of an entrepreneur because it gives you the room to explore and to bring things to reality. I also strongly believe that in Yahoo you can be a leader and also be yourself.  Because I started early in my country – early on the Internet and at a young age - I became a role model for female leadership. I have feminine values that I use a lot in my day to day – like empathy, building relationships and emotional connections and I think it’s great that women in the company feel they can grow as much as they want. The only limits are those we set for ourselves.

Can you talk about a specific scenario that created an extraordinary career experience for you?
I was recruited in Pamplona in September 1998 as a senior producer to launch the Yahoo Spain property. I moved to Madrid, and we launched the site on November 11. It was very much a Yahoo experience- lots of action, tight deadlines and a great team of people.  We had set up media interviews for the morning of November 11, so we had to be ready. We pushed the button at 3 a.m. that morning!
 What have been some of the key good fit opportunities for you over the last 12.5 years?
One great opportunity came a little over than 3 years ago. I suggested an idea about content and programming to the European leaders and that was the seed for the editorial and programming team in Europe. This business didn’t exist before. The tasks existed in separate departments but we needed a different way to look at it. I thought creating a single team was the most effective way of using the talent we have in the region and being more aligned with the Yahoo strategy So I started that by myself and found a group of people who could help me to make it a reality. Right now it’s a huge success, and now that the company is really focusing on content and editorial it has amplified the impact that my team has.

Why do you think our career development philosophy of finding the intersection between what you love and Yahoo!’s mission is such a good match for who Yahoo is –
Yahoo! is a place that allows you to become yourself in a very complete way – as a person and also as a professional.  Of course I’m not saying that it’s easy – it takes a lot of discipline and a lot of hard work but Yahoo  has a great atmosphere and it allows you to be who you want, and create the impact that you want to without putting barriers in your way. My progress has happened absolutely without following  a necessarily traditional career progression. The roles I’ve had have developed from my own ideas and passion for improving the business and managers who were there to listen and ensure we could develop both of those - Yahoo offers the opportunity to turn those ideas into reality.

What examples of the career development philosophy do you see in EMEA?
Whether I’ve been in Madrid, or Barcelona or London and now Switzerland, I’ve always had opportunities to go to training that helps you to become more aware of who you are, both as a person and as a professional.  I find the more I get to know about myself, the more I get to know about the impact that I make on the business, and the better I’m able to identify those opportunities. The training is available to everyone at Yahoo and we recently launched a program impacting most of Yahoo!’s managers. Everyone goes to the same program relating to goals, alignment, culture and accountability. That’s huge! When your colleagues all do that, you kind of take it for granted - but when I sit with my friends I find that other companies don’t always offer that kind of training.

What should others know about career development at Yahoo!?
Firstly, you have to be accountable for and deliver what you’re responsible for.   Then you have to be willing to progress and make and impact and, subject to what’s going on in your life, to give 150%.  But the big question is what you want to do.  I’ve found that in Yahoo it’s much more up to you to decide on your next career move than in other companies.  You have to start by trying to understand what you want to do, what you love doing that you’re really good at.  Then you’re in a position to have a great conversation with your manager around how your manager can help you to create more impact. If you have these conversations, then your manager also has the opportunity to tell you about roles they think would be a perfect fit for you. You have to listen, to pay attention to what you’re good at, and ask yourself what you want to do about it.

What’s the next step for you?
Between the world of content, the science and technology that Yahoo has, our becoming more and more of a global company, and figuring out great solutions for mobile and tablet users I could do so many things!  But, first, I really need to make sure my team is successful. We’ve have a great couple of years and  I want to make sure  we’re at place we need to be and then focus on how we can make this 10 times bigger or more successful. I sat down recently with my team leads and took a piece of paper to draw what the business should look like 3 or 4 years from now. Now I have to abstract myself a little from that and ask myself how we can make that happen.  So I don’t know exactly -- but I do know it will be fun. Fun is one of the core values of Yahoo - and you need to live it!
youtube video

Opening Eyes to Accessibility

Posted: 7th of June, 2013
Victor Tsaran is one of those people who leaves people with a long lasting impression. He grew up in a Ukrainian orphanage and is now a talented computer engineer in the U.S. He’s an accomplished musician and songwriter. And he also happens to be blind.

Victor runs Yahoo!’s accessibility program. He helps make it easy for people with all kinds of disabilities to use our sites. When I first met Victor, I had the same naïve reaction most people have – dumbfounded by how he could crank open his laptop and be fully self-sufficient reading email and surfing the web. That’s because I was clueless about all the remarkable ways that people with disabilities use technology.

Victor’s made it his mission to educate our designers and engineers, helping change their assumptions that accessibility somehow requires sacrifice or compromise. On the contrary, Victor argues that accessible design is better for everyone. Just as curb-cuts were designed for wheelchairs, they’re also a great convenience for strollers, luggage and shopping carts, right?

But driving the point home sometimes means making someone walk a mile in his moccasins. Enter the Yahoo Accessibility Lab, which has been toured by more than 75 product teams to date. It’s filled with a wide array of assistive technologies – screen readers, onscreen keyboards, interactive Braille displays, etc. When Yahoos arrive, they’re told they’ve just had a stroke and can’t type with their fingers. They’re given a rubber ball and asked to type their name. Um… Next, they’re fully paralyzed. “OK, try to send an email.” Uh… After they’re introduced to the technology solutions, they watch videos of disabled people in action.

All this leaves developers making accessibility a goal before they write their first line of code. It’s why anybody can access rich features and tools on products like Yahoo Sports, My Yahoo!, Yahoo Finance, Yahoo News, Yahoo Search, Yahoo Messenger for the iPhone. It’s why third-party websites that are inaccessible in their own right are now entirely accessible via the new “favorites” area on the Yahoo Homepage. Victor has helped Yahoo make enormous strides since joining us four years ago, but there’s still more to come.

We spent some time following Victor with a video camera to not only understand his work, but to appreciate his daily experience. Commuting by train. Playing guitar. Making lunch with his wife Karo Caran, a fellow student from the Overbrook School for the Blind. We watched as sighted people had their first awkward interactions with him. He laughs when he describes how often people raise their hands when he asks questions during his new hire orientation briefings. Well-meaning commuters sometimes escort him to the wheelchair zone on the train platform. It took me a while to realize he’s not offended by questions like “Did you see my email?”

Spend any amount of time with Victor and you realize that his blindness doesn’t really make him all that different from anyone else – except that his computer talks to him. Really, really fast.