April 21, 2022
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol
Welcome back to our Workplace newsletter. The end of mask mandates seems to be spreading across the transit realm, and it’s worrying to many immunocompromised people who have to travel to work. My colleague Lizzy Lawrence wrote about how Uber and Lyft are responding to the recently overturned federal mask mandate, which you can read about in Source Code.
Also, this just in: Apple store employees in Atlanta are unionizing!
Today: The third installment of my calendar series, this time featuring Meta’s new head of Messenger, an inside look at corporate TikTok and how Gen Z feels about pay transparency.
This is the third installment of Protocol’s Calendar Series, where we take you inside a day in the life of some of the world’s biggest tech execs: the meetings on their agenda, how they manage their time, their best productivity hacks and what they prioritize in a busy day. Read the rest of the series.
Loredana Crisan runs one of Meta’s flagship products: Messenger, formerly known as Facebook Chat, which has over a billion users. Newly appointed as of March, Crisan is taking over from the recently departed Stan Chudnovsky. Alongside Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, WhatsApp’s Will Cathcart and Facebook’s Tom Alison, she’s one of four app leads at Meta.
Crisan’s path to the upper echelons of tech was a nontraditional one, to say the least. Born in Romania, she studied piano and music composition and started her career in sound engineering. That influence is still evident in Messenger. Her conference room in Meta’s Menlo Park office is named “Pop Ding!”, the sound that Messenger makes when you get a message, and also a nod to her musical origins.
Crisan and I met this week over Zoom and talked about what it’s like taking meetings in the metaverse, what she looks for in a job candidate and how she sells working at Meta to potential hires.
As with any exec, a portion of her days are spent on recruiting calls. I asked her how she pitches Meta to prospective hires. Her answer? “I just own my story. I believe Meta is a great company, which is why I’ve been here for six years … If you have conviction, convincing people comes from that.”
Her schedule was edited for brevity and clarity.
8-9 a.m. | Do not schedule
I always start my day with a block that is not scheduled, and that’s necessary because we do have teams in London and New York that, by the time I wake up, are actually well into their day or close to ending it. There are certain situations where we would maybe have an 8 a.m. meeting in order to not have issues with work-life balance for those teams. But for the most part, my schedule starts with this block, which I reserve for my family.
My husband and I split responsibilities for our kids. He makes breakfast, and I make school lunches. Once all of that is done, then I actually get a bit of time to look into my emails, look at my calendar.
9:15-10 a.m. | Messenger Q&A [weekly]
We have weeklies with the team that bring the team together. It’s broadcast over our internal system, a version of Messenger Rooms that we broadcast live on Workplace. Something like 300 to 400 employees generally join. It’s nice to be able to connect with the team every week.
We pick a topic that is top of mind for people; maybe it’s operational, or maybe it’s about product strategy and execution, how we’re doing overall. We dive deep into that topic by bringing in experts, who could be internal to the team, or external but still from the company. And we talk about all the questions that are top of mind.
Last one, we talked about our platform and how we’re evolving Messenger overall.
10:05-10:30 a.m. | 1:1 with Susie Lee [weekly]
Susie is our head of design. We talk weekly, and the topics that we might go into could be the health of the team, what’s going on on the People side. It could be execution on projects that are going on there. Or we could go into just product discussions and strategies and be like, “Hey, I’m noticing this trend,” or, “I’m seeing this happening. What about we start mocking up some interactions in this direction?” It’s kind of just spitballing on cool things we could do.
10:35-11 a.m. | Well-Being product deep dive
This is to make a decision on a direction for a product. With Well-Being, that team is looking after safety, for teens, for creators on the platform, integrity, things like misinformation, and also straight-up well-being on the system, making sure that somebody who is at the risk of suicide is connected with the right resources and stuff like that.
Depending on the topic, it might be deciding on some set of controls we want to introduce for people, or how we promote all the controls, and interventions that are already available. And just making sure that we’re informed on what the product is doing at a very deep level. So really looking at words, looking at schedule and execution, all of that.
11:05am-12 p.m. | App leads [weekly]
This is the forum that we have with Chris Cox, who’s our chief product officer, and all of the app leads. So Adam [Mosseri, head of Instagram], Will [Cathcart, head of Whatsapp], Tom [Alison, head of Facebook]. For the most part, we talk about things that have to do with all the apps. So it could be operational stuff like head count and how we’re planning for the next year. Or it could be product. As an example, Messenger works across many of these apps. Avatars are another thing that exists in all of the apps. That’s the last thing we discussed.
What’s really fun about that meeting actually is that we do them in the metaverse. We log into this product called Workrooms. And right now the room that we’re in is this really gorgeous outdoor area by the beach. The waves are coming in, and, depending on where you’re looking, you could see the sea or you could see Adam by your side, talking about stuff. It does feel a lot more personal. You start forming a different sense of presence with people where it feels a bit like you’re at an offsite for an hour or less.
12-12:30 p.m. | Lunch
The amount of time I have for lunch varies. Sometimes it’s a lot quicker, and sometimes it’s actually 45 minutes, in which case I make myself a glorious lunch. I do try to eat. It’s really important to manage your blood sugar and caffeine intake. In my case, the caffeine intake needs to be high. The food I could do without sometimes but it makes a big difference in your day. It’s really important to know that you’re not sacrificing your health, your family, in order to do this job, because that keeps you in a non-burned-out, sustained way.
12:30-1 p.m. | Parent-teacher conference
What’s cool about COVID and working from home is that the flexibility of popping in and out of things is a bit different than it used to be. Before, the parent-teacher conference would take three hours of the day, even though we’re only talking to the teacher for 20 minutes, because it’s getting there, talking, getting back to the office. So I've been really loving the fact that our school also offers these on Zoom.
1:05-1:30 p.m. | Hiring update [biweekly]
Every team has a goal in terms of what they’re trying to hire for the year. We’re looking at a few things: leadership positions that we have open, leads to consider, how I can help. Can I talk to people and make sure that they understand Messenger, the strategy and that it’s clear to them why we want them to join? And then looking broadly at the engineering side, on the design side, across different disciplines: How are we doing? Is our pipeline healthy? Is there anything that we need to do to intervene?
Just having people take out their phone and look at their most important conversations on whatever messaging platform they are in, like just dive in deep into what happens there. And you realize by looking at it that a lot of your life happens through messaging. I think that messaging is like the second screen for everything that we do. For so many people, billions of people in the world, I think it’s pretty clear once they look at their own conversation.
2:05-2:30 p.m. | Project Retrospective follow-up interview [director, UXR]
I obviously help hire leaders for Messenger, but I also help hire leaders for Meta just more generally. This was an interview for the director role that we’re trying to fill not for Messenger.
[As for what I look for in a candidate,] I think it really depends a bit on the role, but I have a couple of things that I ask all the time. One is, “How did you become what you are today?” I call it the origin story. And that generally gives me a lot more of a signal on who a person is than if they gave me their entire work history. It tends to go into their motivations as kids and how their family oriented things towards who they are today. What paths did they choose? What pivots were there in their lives?
One of the things that’s really important to me is to work with people that really care about the outcome we’re trying to produce in the world. I think it’s okay to be ambitious, but if you’re optimizing for anything other than what we’re trying to do together, it’s going to become hard. There’s this conviction that you need to be able to deal with all the things that we’re dealing with every single day. And I found that I click the best with people that stay focused on the outcomes for the world.
2:45-3:30 p.m. | Work time
Some of the things that we need to do could just be emails instead of meetings. So you have to make sure that you read your email, respond and catch up on chats, and then that you have time to write the things that you’re supposed to write. So whether it’s a post for the team announcing something that we’re about to do or a piece about how I’m thinking about the product or what we’ve done, celebrating progress over the last month, there’s quite a bit of writing that we at Messenger prepare, to talk to Mark, to talk to the leaders, so that’s my working time.
3:35-4 p.m. | Women@MSGR [monthly]
I am the executive sponsor for Women@, which is our ERG. It’s talking to the chapter leads about programs that are either in place and how they’re going or new programs that we’d want to develop, how we bring the community together. There are events that we start at Messenger, like happy hours. And then there’s serious things like: How do we empower women to learn how to tell their story or how to negotiate at work? The latter is one of the hardest, if that’s not something that’s core to how you were raised.
4-5 p.m. | MSGR happy hour [weekly]
This is new. We’re basically looking to bring the team together. There are different days at different sites, and I work in Menlo Park, but I also go to our San Francisco office at least every couple of weeks. And so that’s just helping people get to know each other post-pandemic and have a rhythm to their week, where if it’s Thursday at the end of the day, I make it a point to show up and get to know people and talk to them.
5-7 p.m. | Do not schedule
Corporate Natalie. Inside voices. The Corporate Baddie. If you’ve heard of them, you’ve probably spent some time on corporate TikTok, where content creators show what the past couple of years have really been like in the working world. Think awkward Zoom interactions and what it’s like being Black at work. If you’re curious how Gen Z is thinking about the workplace, my colleague Sarah Roach’s profile of some of these accounts is a fun eye-opener.
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Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day, see you Sunday.
Correction: This story was updated to reflect that Loredana Crisan talks about product, not profits, during one of her 1:1s.