In recognition of the upcoming Microsoft Ignite conference and its accompanying “Women in Tech” program, we’re highlighting female engineers at DocuSign who have helped build various DocuSign for Microsoft integrations. Recently, we sat down with DocuSign software engineer on the Microsoft Integrations team, Cristina Cris. She discussed her time at both Microsoft and DocuSign, some of the largest challenges she’s faced in her career, her advice to young people looking to become engineers, and more.

Cristina Cris’ aspirations to become an engineer began at the age of 14: She attended a STEM-oriented high school focused on programming and robotics, and learned her first programming language in 9th grade: C++. She also participated in a programming contest each year in high school — or as she playfully refers to it, “The Olympics for Geeks.” She later went on to graduate with a Master’s in Computer Science and immigrated to the United States for a job offer she couldn’t turn down: Microsoft.

“I really loved the opportunity to work in a company that had the ability to impact the lives and work of millions of people,” said Cris.  She would go on to spend 13 years at Microsoft working on products in Office SharePoint Server, O365.

In January 2015, Cris continued her mission of making an impact on a large-scale by transitioning to DocuSign.

“When I joined DocuSign, we already had extensive coverage of Microsoft products through our integrations. But, partnership is much more than integrations with Microsoft products. Microsoft also has a large set of use cases or scenarios for DocuSign — around 300.”

Cris had worked on productivity tools her entire career, such as Microsoft Office and SharePoint, and was able to continue doing that work at DocuSign. “I love that we are all on a mission to enable people to do more every day and help them realize their potential in a secure and modern way. We take on competition directly and care about our customers. I enjoy having the opportunity to contribute to that — to innovate and to be part of something that matters to millions of people.”  

At DocuSign, Cris worked on integrations for Microsoft SharePoint Online (Office365) and SharePoint on Prem (2013 and 2016 releases). She also tackled a number of new releases for DocuSign for SharePoint Online and DocuSign for SharePoint on Prem. Her objectives were to make the product easier to use through the creation of new features, and improving existing features. “I added logging and monitoring, so now have comprehensive insights into how our customers use DocuSign through integrations and how we can improve our integrations before our customers even need to ask for changes.”

Out of the many integrations with Microsoft, Cris lists SharePoint as her favorite. “I worked in the SharePoint core team, in Microsoft, for almost eight years, both in SharePoint Online and on-prem products. I do have a preference for our SharePoint integrations, mostly because I understand how people use SharePoint, and what’s important to our customers, to get their job done each day.”

Most recently, Cris’ work focuses on integrating the DocuSign experience into SharePoint Workflows. “Our customers are eagerly looking forward to having this functionality available in their SharePoint environments,” she said.

While Cris won’t be attending the Ignite conference live next month she’ll be watching the keynote speech in true digital form on her computer during west coast hours: “It gives us a good idea about what the event sessions are going to focus on and what products we should follow. I look for new products and features from Microsoft that DocuSign can and should integrate. I also look for news on the products that already have DocuSign integrations — such as new features and functionality that have the potential to deliver a better DocuSign experience.”

When asked about the biggest challenges Cris faces at an engineer, she says it’s all about work/life balance.

“There is always a resolve to a technical challenge. But learning how to balance work and family was one of the most complicated challenges I ever had to solve. I have three children from the ages of one to twelve. Making time to be there for my family while having a full-time job is not easy.” While it happened gradually, Cris was able to achieve a steady work-life balance by setting work issues aside when she is home. “It is not a switch, it is a separation that I voluntarily do in my mind many times on my way home from work. Thankfully, DocuSign makes it easy for me to maintain this balance. I have time to do my work, time to learn new technologies that help me propel my career, and time to spend with my family.”

As for young people looking to become engineers themselves?

Cris offers this advice: “Engineering is a great profession for people who like to build things from concept to the finished product. I would say that school and college is a great starting point to educate great engineers, although history has proved that this is not always true (see Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg). One important step young people can take to improve their career would be to find a mentor – somebody who can guide them take the right decisions and help them extend their professional network. A mentor can make a big difference for one’s career, at any point not just for young people.”

Cris also shared her thoughts on what she would like to do most outside of engineering: “If I was not working at DocuSign, I would probably want to do something involving the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They do great things for people, especially children who are less fortunate. Growing up, I saw poverty and hunger and how it impacts children. Some children could not stay in school because they needed to work to feed their families. I was lucky enough to have the support of my families and teachers, and the opportunity to go to school and receive scholarships – so I didn’t have to struggle. I’d like to give something back and help underprivileged children who want to stay in school, study, and build something great in the future.”

As a software engineer, Cris loves what she does. While she says there is always room to grow, she wants to continue being part of the “software as a service in the cloud” revolution. Long-term, she plans to stay up-to-date with new technologies, and continue building products as we progress in the digital world.

Want to learn more about the upcoming Microsoft Ignite conference? Take a look here.