Changing Priorities & Making Massive Engineering Pivots with Vivian Shen #62


Juni scaled 2x-3x week-over-week in the 1st month of Covid-19 restrictions. Vivian Shen (Co-Founder & CEO @ Juni Learning) shares why they had to massively shift priorities from growth to internal tooling/operations & how they gained buy-in from their engineering teams throughout the process. Plus you’ll hear about their pitch process to surface innovative ideas, and how the “engineering pod” team structure increases ownership, creativity & directly connects engineering to user impact!


Vivan's experience ranges from strategy development for Fortune 500 companies to building teams from scratch at startups -- and everything in between. Prior to founding Juni in 2017 to satisfy the gap in the education system, Vivian served as the Director of Product at Operator, where she launched multiple products in the US and China. She also spent two years as a Consultant in McKinsey & Company’s Silicon Valley office, working with high-growth tech companies. She began her career as a software engineer at Google.

Vivian has been featured on Forbes’ 30 Under 30, as well as in Fast Company, TechCrunch and Fortune. She holds a B.S in Computer Science from Stanford, with a minor in Creative Writing. Today, she is passionate about helping kids discover and cultivate new interests and skills, empowering them to learn through the power of community and connections.



IDEO Design Thinking Blog with David Kelly -



  • Juni’s Covid pivot: Why they focused on engineering operations & internal tooling (2:19)
  • Making the decision to pivot (4:59)
  • Prioritizing and reallocating engineering resources (8:49)
  • Refocusing the team and getting buy-in (11:01)
  • Dealing with resistance/friction on the company’s direction (13:50)
  • Juni’s pitch process to surface new ideas (17:06)
  • How to leverage end-users to motivate your teams (21:03)
  • Increase ownership and creativity with “Engineering Pods” (26:13)
  • Lessons learned on communicating priorities (28:21)
  • When to revisit your orgs priorities while scaling (32:09)
  • Shifting focus back on growth (34:52)
  • Collaborating in planning meetings with analytics / biz ops & engineering to impact end users (37:10)
  • Rapid Fire Questions (40:13)
  • Takeaways (46:19)


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