Podcast Episode 30: Social Justice and Girls in STEM with Connie Chow
On Writing With Purpose, Taking Control of Your Financial Destiny and Building Teams With the Help of Rubber Ducks.

Meet Monica Hirst, Engineering Team Lead at Toast

Monica Hirst is Engineering Team Lead of Payment Processing at Toast. She gave a talk called “Use Your Words – Communication and Engineering” at our March event at the Hatch. Connect with her on Twitter!


How (and when) did you get into your current field or company?
My (now) manager reached out to me around the same time my last company was going through a big reorganization. I had heard of Toast early on when I moved to Boston in 2014, and they seemed like a fun company to work for then, and they seemed to maintain a great culture despite enormous growth in the 2+ years since. Also the role was perfectly suited to my experience in financial services.

What does a typical day look like for you?
Check email and Slack for any important things that may have happened overnight. Update my todo list with today’s goals. Have a couple meetings to plan out future projects and update the status of ongoing ones. I also still do development, so I save the last few hours of my day for whatever I’m working on.

What is the favorite part of your day?
Checking off things on my (handwritten) to-do list in the morning.

What excites you about working in your industry?
There’s always something new to learn!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Fake it ‘til you make it – As uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing it can be to be given a new responsibility, eventually you’ll figure it out and be onto the next thing, so never turn down an opportunity when one materializes.

What is your favorite part of being a woman in STEAM?
You’re noticed. Sure, sometimes that’s a bad thing, but I’ve found that more often than not, it creates opportunities, especially when you knock it out of the park.

What other women inspire you?
Samus Aran – oh wait, you probably want a real-life person. Grace Hopper is definitely an inspiration, as someone who just went in, was good at what she did, and didn’t take nonsense from anyone. I also worked under some very good female engineers at Goldman Sachs, who I learned a lot from.

What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I have a medal from the Buffalo Wing Festival from the ‘Bobbing for wings’ event. It was there I learned not to volunteer for things before you’re told what they are.

What do you geek out about?
Video games. I’ve played them since I was a kid on my parents’ NES, and they are what inspired me to go to college for software engineering. I even tried to major in video game programming but my parents wouldn’t have it. It turned out they were right, (not that I’ll tell them that) and once at college I knew this was the better degree in the long run.