As vice president of Global Marketing Technology at Seattle’s Expedia, Sandy Anuras is managing a team of 300 employees spread across 15 offices spanning 12 time zones.
Keeping a group that big and diverse pulling in the same direction takes a well-executed, strategic plan.
“One of my big things is setting expectations really clearly,” Anuras said.
She also makes sure that her leaders understand that when they’re juggling a project’s scope, time for completion, budget and quality, that they should prioritize quality. It’s better to do something well the first time, she said, and avoid going back to fix it later. And Anuras makes sure to establish a variety of channels of communication so that everyone stays in the loop.
Once the pieces are in place, “my job is to get out of the way as quickly as possible,” she said.
Anuras has had nearly 12 years at the travel juggernaut to hone her approach. She began in 2004 at Expedia Corporate Travel (later rebranded as Egencia) as a test manager, and worked her way up to a senior director of technology at Expedia. In 2015 she left to take executive roles at two smaller companies, including the Seattle startup Blokable, a tech-driven housing developer with a focus on affordability. In 2019, Anuras returned to Expedia as a VP.
She’s also one of the more than 20 leaders internationally who are part of the Expedia Advisory Council that’s focused on inclusion and diversity. The council, which launched this year, has met once and is working on setting goals and objectives. The group will be looking at issues including how Expedia does recruiting, how to help hiring managers achieve company diversity goals and making sure their definitions of diversity are broad and inclusive.
As a Thai American, Anuras is passionate about supporting racially diverse professional women. She’s active with the Female Founders Alliance and spoke in the fall at The Riveter in Seattle about women of color in the workplace.
Anuras said she has navigated numerous challenges as a technology leader and woman of color. That includes men taking credit for her ideas and needing to prove herself again and again while struggling to get recognition for her successes. She wants women in tech, and particularly underrepresented minorities, to know they’re not alone.
“I want to make myself visible to people,” she said, “and share information that I’ve learned”
We caught up with Anuras for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Seattle
Computer types: 13” MacBook Pro
Mobile devices: iPhone XS
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: I recently started using Timeshifter, an app that helps you tackle jetlag. I travel internationally a lot, both for business and for leisure (my parents live in Bangkok), and it can be hard to get in quality time for a seven-day trip. I found that using Timeshifter reduced my jetlag “hangover” by days! It helped me really enjoy my time with my mom and dad in November.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? I actually don’t have a dedicated desk at Expedia. Our new Interbay campus is all “flex seating,” meaning that teams are assigned to a certain “neighborhood” and we just grab the first open desk we like. We also have seating throughout campus in designated quiet spots, so it’s easy to find places to concentrate that also happen to have a great view of Elliott Bay! I was a little skeptical of flex seating at first, but I have come to really enjoy sitting with different teams each week. Plus, I am mostly in conference rooms during the workday anyway, so an office would be wasted on me.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? I am someone who is very passionate about work. There were times in my life when I was working 80-100 hour weeks, and it burned me out! I’ve now learned that I need to protect my non-negotiable “life” time, so I make sure to schedule it in my calendar and set expectations about my availability. This includes time for working out or rehearsing music. From a tactical standpoint, my husband and I use Google Calendar to manage our schedules (three calendars: one for me, one for him and one for us).
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? LinkedIn for work, mostly to look for contacts and for recruiting. I don’t find the LinkedIn feed to be very useful though.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? 15
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 35
How do you run meetings? I don’t have a one-size-fits-all approach to meetings. It depends on what the goal is, the size of the meeting, how many remote attendees there are, etc. But what’s consistent throughout is that I try to make space for people to contribute their thoughts, guide people toward a solution, and ensure decisions are captured.
Everyday work uniform? Jeans, business casual top, gray wrap.
How do you make time for family? I cherish my time with friends and family, and I am often playing the role of instigator. I will reach out to my friends and plan evenings to meet or things to do around Seattle and will just about always say “yes” when a friend invites me out or throws a party. I am fortunate that my sister and her family are close by in Olympia, so I try to see them often as well.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? Oddly enough, my biggest stress reliever is playing my violin with the Thalia Symphony Orchestra or the SAJE string quartet, an all-woman quartet that I co-founded last year (the acronym is the first letter of each woman’s name). When I play music with others, all my worries slip away. I also love to travel (no surprise!), exploring new places with friends and family, and to play with my dog, DanDan.
What are you listening to? Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony to “practice” for a Thalia Symphony concert on Feb. 15 at Benaroya Hall.
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Skift (a travel news site), Harvard Business Review (HBR) and GeekWire
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo
Night owl or early riser? Early riser, and I sleep 7-8 hours per night. I am generally in bed by 10:30 p.m. assuming nothing crazy is going on at work!
Where do you get your best ideas? I spend a lot of time brainstorming ideas with my husband, Andrew. He is a fantastic technologist and isn’t afraid to push me to think about problems differently.
Whose work style would you like to emulate or learn more about? I am fortunate to know Carolyn Ticknor, former president of HP’s imaging and printing systems division. In the time I’ve spent with her, I’ve learned an incredible amount about global leadership, business operations and product thinking. She is so accomplished and yet still down to earth and humorous! I hope to be a leader of her caliber one day and to continue learning from her how to drive teams to business and technical excellence.