San Diego engineers build tech, teams, and legacies

  • Life at Now
  • 2019
  • Johnna Hoff
  • Culture
September 30, 2019

When it comes to engineering talent, the Bay Area often comes to mind. Well-known tech companies employ tens of thousands of engineers and other tech-intensive roles like UX design, data analytics, and more. 

In San Diego—where ServiceNow was founded and maintains a large office, there’s also a significant amount of engineering talent. There’s something else really unique about San Diego: Women make up a large percentage of our engineering team located there. This is something that’s pretty uncommon for tech companies.

Ask any of these women what they love about working at ServiceNow in San Diego; they won’t say the beach. Instead, ServiceNow women engineers will point to the scope of their roles, the scale of the Now Platform®, and the complexity of the technical problems they get to solve. 


Magaly Drant, senior director of engineering operations, calls her role here “a once-in-a lifetime kind of thing.” Magaly was part of an early team that built the Now Platform–which powers every one of our solutions. She feels humbled that her engineering skills helped develop technology that’s used by 75% of the Fortune 500. 

“As an engineer, nothing compares to the opportunity to build something from scratch,” Magaly says. “We went through so many different phases, met with so many customers, and made so many different discoveries when building the platform. To have the institutional knowledge of why things were done a certain way and to be able to continue the growth and development of this dynamic platform motivate me every day.”

As the Now Platform has scaled to thousands of customers around the world, Magaly’s perspective has grown as well. “ServiceNow is growing so fast that it can be easy to get inebriated with our success and push to do more, more, more,” she says. “On the other hand, our growth can lead to being risk-averse, to hold back because we don’t want to make mistakes. But I think the recipe for continued success is in the balance between those two. We have to manage our scale while also continuing to innovate and explore new capabilities.”


While Magaly is a long-time ServiceNow employee, the San Diego office is also home to engineering interns and employees who are earlier in their careers. Take Audrey Moreland. Currently a third-year student at University of California San Diego (UCSD), Audrey is in her second year interning with us in San Diego. She’s studying Cognitive Science with a minor in Computer Science, but her career aspirations aren’t necessarily to go into pure development. Instead she chose the “design and interaction” track for Cognitive Science, an up-and-coming major at UCSD. 

Recently, Audrey led the quality engineering (QE) work on the Now Platform Madrid release–looking for bugs, documenting, and giving feedback to developers on layout and design. She’s also one of a handful of people working on accessibility testing for the ServiceNow mobile offering. 

Audrey values the experience she’s gaining here, and appreciates learning not just technical skills, but how to develop as a leader as well. “I love my team. They’re really cool people,” she says. “They expect me to apply my thinking and voice my ideas. From the start, I got thrown into my internship and then learned as I went. I was really nervous at first, but I quickly realized that as long as you show that you’re hard-working, a fast learner, and that you can adapt well, then you’ll be really valuable to the team, no matter your experience level.”


That type of growth mindset is a staple here that Frankie Thompson, software engineering senior manager, knows very well. Driven by an interest in how systems connect, Frankie used Ashton Tate’s dBASE tools to teach herself software development. It didn’t take long to realize she had a knack for building apps, and with the support of her then-manager and other colleagues, she continued to grow her software skills.

Despite a nontraditional path into the world of engineering, Frankie built a portfolio of experience working across aerospace engineering, combat simulators, and software that alerted first responders to dispatch needs. 

Once she found ServiceNow, Frankie admits she didn’t really understand what the company did, but after her first interview, she loved the atmosphere and connection. “I was ready for a change and ready for a risk,” she says. “That was nine years ago, and my journey here has been incredible. This company is the biggest thing I have ever felt part of. I was here early enough to learn what it takes to build a start-up to the global company we have today.” 

Much like her colleagues who have been here for several years, Frankie’s focus has evolved from pure software into helping develop the next generation of ServiceNow engineers. “When I was younger and building software, when I would start to understand something, it was almost like a buzz. I wouldn’t stop until I got it,” she says. “Now I get that same buzz when I see younger engineers developing their skills. I see when they’re ready for a moonshot. I think that by growing passionate leaders, I’ll make a difference here.”


A large part of what keeps San Diego’s engineers excited about their day-to-day work is the impact they have on customers: those who use the Now Platform and solutions, as well as the developers who create custom applications on top of it.  Director of quality engineering Sangita Pathak manages a global team of about 50 quality engineers, supporting the quality checks for the Now Platform back-end. Her organization works with a number of teams to help ensure consistency from code development through testing, release management, and finally, to general availability. 

“I sign off on the products that some of our largest customers use every day,” says Sangita. “Because of that, the way we run our QE is highly sophisticated. We run it like an engineering org. It’s very atypical for a testing organization to be this technical.” 

Sangita makes sure that her QE team understands computer science fundamentals and has some background in programming. “You have to understand the platform to be able to test it. It’s the core of the ServiceNow ecosystem,” she continues. “The way QE is positioned here is amazing. QE isn’t an afterthought or another stop in the process. It’s very much part of the engineering org, and we’re situated and supported very well. QE has a true voice.” 

Sangita’s team stays close to customers and values the insights and feedback they receive.  

“We’re where rubber meets the road. We get called into customer meetings so we can hear their common problems and develop tests to figure them out. You would think QE is a behind-the-scenes function, but there are intersections when we’re at the forefront and interacting directly with our customers. It’s impressive to see the impact.” 


Customers have been at the core of ServiceNow from its founding. But clearly, it’s not just executives or client directors who maintain those relationships. Understanding how customers use the Now Platform and seeing live use cases inspires our technology teams to keep building new and more advanced features, and often, fix common problems. 

Platform customization and app development is an important differentiator that many customers appreciate. And Jennifer Lee, senior manager for platform persistence, is responsible for making sure the back-end APIs that allow customers and developers to save and retrieve data for their applications are up and running 24/7. Jennifer and her team work to make the APIs as simple as possible for customers and shield the tough communication protocols behind the scenes. 

Jennifer left her role at a previous company to look for a place where she could impact the end user. “At ServiceNow, things are changing. What I do in the code shows up in a customer instance. I build a product, customers use it, and they tell me what they think. That’s rewarding. How much influence you have on a product makes a huge difference.” But, like many employees at ServiceNow feel, the technology is only one piece of the puzzle. People make the difference. “We’re at a stage where what you do with a product matters,” says Jennifer. “But it’s just as important, we have the people to continue to push the technology forward, instead of maintaining the status quo.” 


To find out about more opportunities at ServiceNow, check out our careers page. 


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