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Houzzer Profile: Kia Salehi, Engineering

You may have spotted Kia in our April Fools’ Day spoof, but she isn’t really creating our cryptocurrency. As a full stack engineer on our growth team, Kia builds features that help new users engage with Houzz. When she’s not at work, Kia can be found at her improv comedy class, rock climbing or filling out the latest New York Times crossword puzzle.

What project are you most proud of at Houzz? I’m most proud of my contributions to the new room-centered landing experience for our community. It helps our users to find all of the resources Houzz offers by room, from inspirational photos to home professionals to editorial ideabooks, in one place. I worked on the front-end code, which impacts what the user sees. It’s been very successful helping people to discover new home pros in their area and Houzz Shop products.

Do you typically work on front-end code? As a full stack engineer, my work touches both front-end and back-end code. In some instances, I’ll handle the whole project from the data sets to the UI, but sometimes I’ll work with the team and focus on the front-end. I like that I get to mix it up.

Did you always want to become an engineer? Actually, I originally went to school to become a neuroscientist. Working as a lab manager, I learned how to write code in MatLab to help with analyzing data. I realized I enjoyed that part of the job more than other aspects of my research and decided to make a change. I enrolled in a coding bootcamp and the rest is history.

What attracted you to a career in STEM? My parents were very supportive of my interests in math and science. I went to a women’s college, so it was both powerful and inspiring for me to see every position, across subjects and at every level of prominence, occupied by female leaders.

Do you have any advice for young women considering the STEM field? You don’t have to see something to know that it can be possible. Just because young women may not see as many females in STEM positions, doesn’t mean they can’t be in that role.

What was your first impression of Houzz? When I first visited the office to interview, I was completely taken in by the feel of it. You can tell a company is “all in” on home design when you sit in a conference room decorated like rooms in a home. That level of dedication was really appealing. I was also struck by the fact that most of the people interviewing me had been with Houzz for years. I hadn’t seen that at other companies and I was really impressed.

What do you like most about working here? I work with many teams in my role; it’s very interdisciplinary in that way. For example, I’ll work solo writing code, then I’ll run it through an AB test with a colleague to see how the new feature performs and then meet with the front-end engineers to build a pop-up into the flow. I also like that the work environment is transparent and educational. I’ve benefited from our weekly deep dive into what’s under the hood of our front-end framework.

What is your most productive time of day to write code? Do you have any productivity tips? I’m most productive right before dinner. When I sit on the couch in the lobby, I can really get in the zone. If I ever get in a slump, I remind myself to think about how cool it’ll look when the feature is done.

How do you use Houzz at home? I recently changed rooms in my home and the new space has a different vibe, so I purchased a camomile and lavender wreath from the Houzz Shop. It’s the perfect addition.

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