Meet the Team: Hagar Chen

Meet the Team: Hagar Chen

Hagar Chen, 25, is a young programmer, who lives in central Israel, and has three older brothers. She’s been married for 18 months. When she and her husband began dating, he had just started to study computer science. Hagar found herself looking over his school notes, and discovered that she too was interested in coding. Hagar went on to study computer science and hasn’t looked back since.

She didn’t know much about MyHeritage when she first came in for a job interview.

It happened to be one of the very first places that I was sent to for an interview.

But something at MyHeritage felt different to Hagar from the other companies she visited. She immediately felt connected to our friendly atmosphere and warm, welcoming offices.

Soon Hagar joined MyHeritage and became an integral part of the Research & Development (R&D) Team. She began with the QA team and was responsible for testing new features and products.

Hagar started to look into her own family history after joining us. After an easy search on SuperSearch, she located her maternal ancestors in the US 1940 Census, her great-grandfather’s US military records, and his immigration records from Austria to the US.

U.S. census record from 1930 where Hagar’s great-grandfather (on her mother’s side) Charles Badler is listed.

U.S. census record from 1930 where Hagar’s great-grandfather (on her mother’s side) Charles Badler is listed.

It was unbelievable to find documents about my family, that none of my relatives even knew existed. I was blown away. I learned things that I didn’t know about my great-grandfather. I never knew that he fought in WWII or that his brother-in-law lived with him for many years. I also learned that my great-grandmother was originally from Germany.

There was a significant spike in her family’s interest in genealogy after she joined MyHeritage.

Family members, who never seemed interested before, began adding members to the tree and putting in information. It was a great boost to our tree.

U.S. public record index of Hagar’s maternal grandfather Lester Badler.

U.S. public record index of Hagar’s maternal grandfather Lester Badler.

After 18 months, Hagar moved to the Web Team, part of the R&D Team. She develops parts of the MyHeritage website that our users see and with which they interact.

She tries to develop pages with all of our users in mind.

I always have to think about the different type of users that we have. They may be browsing our website from different devices, and I want them all to have an easy and positive experience.

She has personally worked on the DNA kit ordering pages, making it easier for users to enter their information and complete their DNA order, and ensuring sure their information is passed on correctly. It was exciting to learn more about the field in general, something that the R&D didn’t know about at the beginning, according to Hagar. It’s been a journey that we’ve learned about as we’ve gone along.

The whole process of creating pages for our DNA section has been really exciting. It’s a field that I didn’t know too much about at the very beginning, and it’s really been a learning process. We’ve accomplished so much in such a short time. At MyHeritage, we’re always moving forward and growing and that’s such a great feeling.

Hagar appreciates that the development team at MyHeritage adapts and adopts often. The team is always looking for new technologies and embraces change to improve and innovate for the future.

Some of the big changes that I’ve seen in my five years here are using Angular, making web pages responsive, writing client-side unit tests, changes in automation and code review, and there are so many more. We’re always growing and getting better. When you first begin on the team, you have a mentor, and then you move on to be more independent. There is such a high quality of work on the team, and as big as the company grows, we never let ourselves fall behind, in terms of our technologies, standards, and tools. To me, that’s extremely inspiring.

Hagar has helped organize Meetups for MyHeritage. Some of her favorite company events are the R&D Hackathons, where developers develop ideas and work together to produce a prototype, giving everyone a chance to bring their ideas to light. Features such as the MyHeritage Community and Photo Discoveries were developed at Hackathons by team members.

Hagar’s grandmother Miryam with aunt Ronit (on her father’s side), right after her grandparents emigrated from Iran in 1963.

Hagar’s grandmother Miryam with aunt Ronit (on her father’s side), right after her grandparents emigrated from Iran in 1963.

As a woman developer, Hagar doesn’t see many differences between herself and others on her team.

At the end of the day, all members of the team write code and work together, no matter our gender. There was a short time when I was one of the only female developers, but now we have quite a few women on the team.

Hagar would love to see more emphasis on women in the sciences, beginning at a young age.

There are many new organizations and meetups encouraging women to become involved in sciences, and it’s great to see more and more women getting into STEM fields and working in the industry.

Hagar also enjoys the personal touch of the work we do.

We’re working on products that really make a difference to people’s lives. There’s nothing more personal and more important than families, and that’s what we’re all about.

Hagar’s father, Asher Chen, in first grade c1960.

Hagar’s father, Asher Chen, in first grade c1960.

All of Hagar’s family are thrilled that she’s working for a unique company with such a strong message to do good.

My Dad is really proud of me. Whenever one of MyHeritage’s pro bono projects is in the news, he tells me how incredible the work is that we do.


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  • Mel Estrin

    May 22, 2017

    Great story of Hagar and her discovery of the family past and present , this shows that such fantastic information and innovative ideas come from that massive big country Israel, the dot on the map !!!

  • Suzanne E Colton

    May 23, 2017

    Let me tell you; you may be in the most wonderful position I could ever think of having. I decided to take the plunge and have my DNA done. I saw my results on Mother’s Day around 8 a.m. By 10 a.m. I was talking to my mother for the very first time in my life. I am 63; she is 86. I am traveling from Florida to Schenectady NY on June 16th to lay eyes on my mother for the first time in 63 years. I hope you love the job and if you ever need some help in Florida, let me know.

  • Reuven

    May 24, 2017

    Ya Allah! I had no idea this was an Israeli company. Love it!

  • Deborah D.

    May 24, 2017

    Exciting to see the story of Hagar and so glad for her that she is discovering new family. Also, good to see a female programmer!!! Best wishes to her.

  • Erez Freetall

    June 26, 2017

    Happy to be part of Hagar’s professional heritage, many years before 🙂