Learn how professionals in the tech
industry got to where they are today 
and what a day in the life looks like.

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Career Path: Alison Decker, Manager, Product Research and Design at Liberty Mutual Insurance banner image

Career Path: Alison Decker, Manager, Product Research and Design at Liberty Mutual Insurance

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What does the career path and a day in the life look like for the Manager, Product Research and Design at Liberty Mutual Insurance

We interviewed Alison Decker to find out.


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your very first job?

I grew up in Newton, MA next to the border of Waltham, where my Mom has been a nurse for over 35 years and my Dad has been everything from a vitamin designer/ingredient sourcer for forward-thinking nutritional companies, to a personal investor, self-employed construction worker, and Zamboni driver. Both of my parents are lifelong learners who think outside of the “conventional box”. I believe these traits have proven to be wonderful assets for me, but do need to be tempered with purposeful focus, which, can be difficult for a human factors researcher; I tend to see limitless opportunities for how we can better support not only our customers but also essentially, our coworkers and team members.

My first job was at a local ice cream store. I started working at the age of 13 because I wanted a job and went out and got one. I later learned that, legally, I shouldn’t have been allowed to work until I was 14!

Why did you decide to attend Fairfield University and what did you study there?

I decided to attend Fairfield University because of the reputation of its business school, the Dolan School of Business. I wanted to be sure that after spending so much time and money in college, that I would leave with tangible skills. My Dad always said I had a knack for business, and I wanted to learn how to help influence the world for the better, through the lens of business.

Little did I know that Fairfield University highly focuses on ethics across all of its programs. I, fortunately, received an education where we explored the impact of “everyday” business decisions not only through the defined and typical stakeholders, but also through the “forgotten” or extended members of pipelines, such as the employees at vendor companies, or, the local/global environmental impacts of business.

At Dolan, I went into the very small information systems management (IS) program because I saw how tangible, valuable, and real the skills were in that space, and also because the professors were enormously inspiring. The professors and leaders of the IS program had been working with local and global non-profits for years, both in their own time and also through the partnership with the university and students. For just one example, I had the opportunity to travel with members of the IS program to Managua, Nicaragua to work with local business students to help create a more sustainable system to transport pottery from local ceramic designers to a defined market in Washington state. Being able to see such a real impact of technology management, was profound.

After starting your career as a Business Systems Analyst at Liberty Mutual Insurance, how did you make the transition into user experience?  

I made the transition through the relationships that I had built as a Business Systems Analyst and in researching the field and position in advance. At the time, user experience (especially user experience research) was not a popular or well-known field, but I could see that the human-centered information it was providing could become the cornerstone for making not only smart product decisions but also for building short and long-term business strategy. Even though my MBA courses at Bentley University never explicitly addressed it, I saw a pattern emerge across all the course materials over those three years; the influence of information gained from people (when accurate and used correctly) was almost always at the foundation of any successful innovative or strategic business decision from the small, to the industry rocking. It was at that point that I knew I should pursue a full career in user experience, founded in research.

What advice can you share with someone who is looking to pursue a career in user experience?

I would advise them to go for it! However, there is now a lot of interest in user experience, with many programs offering three-month programs to become a UX designer. I not only encourage any learning opportunity, but I would advise those that are interested to think carefully about the breadth of the UX field before perhaps choosing a particular job family that is becoming more saturated. Consider your personal strengths and weaknesses, and try to choose a path within UX that perhaps may not be as ‘popular’, but creates significant strategic value. I still see that User Research is significantly underrepresented in most organizations, and in the future, I would expect even that focusing on human factors psychology would be of enormous value to companies, especially as artificial intelligence progresses.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position at Liberty Mutual Insurance?

As a manager of User Research and Design, I’m responsible for helping to create a positive environment for both the research and design leads, as well as for our stakeholders and products. Creating a positive environment consists of everything from triaging product opportunities to assess fit and impact, to helping create highly flexible yet supportive processes for the teams, to advising on how to reduce bias in research, and assisting design challenges. I also look into how to develop new environments, or programs, for us to partner with. Often, these are internal functions of our 50,000 employee company, such as legal, finance, security, technology, or human resources. Outside of my direct responsibilities, I’ve found the UX Community, which is a grassroots organization that spans across the entire company and takes on important human-centered initiatives. For example, we are hoping to launch our company’s first-ever ‘accessibility design sprint’ intended to spread awareness of the importance and know-how of designing UIs that are accessible across our physical diversities and neurodiversities. This past fall, we hosted the first annual UX Summit and had 100 UX evangelists attend in-person and over 500 attendees online.

Alison Decker Liberty Mutual


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Right now, it’s homemade coffee with a dollop of ice cream. :)

What time do you get into the office?

Somewhere between 7:45-8:30

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

  • Morning: I love exercising in the morning, but it’s tough to get out in the winter at 6 AM for a run in the blustery and cold dark mornings. Sometimes I get lucky and catch a moderately warm and quiet morning and get to see the sun break through the clouds before all of the city bustle picks up.

  • Afternoon: I usually use the afternoons in one of two ways; I’ve either carved out 3 hours of time to focus in on a challenge like a design or research gap in product strategy or training opportunities or, I save the afternoons for smaller 30-minute product check-ins or 1:1s with team members.

  • Evening:  When we have the chance to, cooking dinner with my husband is my favorite part of the day. Fortunately, it’s becoming more of the routine for us!

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I shut it down completely. I tend to work longer days because I prefer to create a clear headspace outside of work. I enjoy what I do and the teams I work with so it can be hard to shut off, which makes it especially important to not log in when I’m off work.

Any productivity hacks?

I’ll let you know as soon as I figure out some for myself! I have always found though that when faced with a seemingly insurmountable challenge, that taking a 20-minute break to walk, stretch, or go for a run, has always helped to provide much-needed perspective and often, answers.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Yelp to find and look at great food in the city, Google Maps to zoom in and out of the world, and Lyft.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

The professional accomplishments that I am proudest of all relate back to the teams and individuals that I work with. Building trust among colleagues and team members that I collaborate with is the most rewarding aspect of what I do. Achieving product success is phenomenal, but there’s nothing better at work than being surrounded by inspired and energized team members. Plus, helping to cultivate this energy and support is a moving target, so there’s always more that can be done to improve it! To that point, I don’t necessarily have one particular professional accomplishment that I am proudest of, but there have been a variety of circumstances where I have stood up for the value of different individual’s unique skill sets, perspectives, experiences, and/or other personal characteristics in ways that have allowed that individual gain a better platform share, utilize, and grow their strengths. I’m particularly proud of those moments.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

This is a tough one! Everyone has a perspective to share, so depending on the challenge, I’ll seek advice from particular people; from interns, to team members, mentors, current and former managers, and well as family and friends who are both in and out of “the corporate” world.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Alison Decker.

About the
Company

At Liberty Mutual, you’ll help lead our digital transformation to deliver immersive and secure experiences for our employees, customers, agents, and brokers using cloud-native tech, scalable microservice architecture, and next-wave software delivery methods.

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Career Path: Okan Okutgen, Channel Operations and Strategy Lead at Formlabs banner image

Career Path: Okan Okutgen, Channel Operations and Strategy Lead at Formlabs

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What does the career path and day in the life look for the Channel Operations and Strategy Lead at Formlabs?

We interviewed Okan Okutgen to find out.


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your very first job?

I was born and brought up in Istanbul, Turkey. I moved to the USA for college and have been living abroad since then. My father studied economics, but runs his own distributor business in Istanbul and provides spare parts to car manufacturing facilities. My mother was an English lecturer at a university, and she is now retired.

My first job was my college internship at Daimler AG (parent company of Mercedes Benz) in Stuttgart, Germany. I was placed there through my university’s “Summer Work Program in Germany.” I was working in the procurement department and had to develop a strategy and plan for procurement of industrial washing machines. The coolest thing about it was that I got to improve my German, and also got to experience a foreign working culture early on.

Why did you decide to study Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton?  It looks like you were very involved in various entrepreneurial efforts on campus. Can you highlight some of the details?

I love solving complex problems and engineering education gives you a distinct way of understanding, dissecting, and solving problems. I picked mechanical engineering because I think it is a fundamental engineering branch that has many broad applications. It does not narrow you down. I studied Aerospace Engineering because I love challenging myself.  I found “being a rocket scientist” pretty fascinating; in one class we designed a microsatellite that would detect new planets and tested our design at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Funny detail – since I was a foreign national, a security guard followed me during our entire stay at NASA, including accompanying me to the bathroom!

I have always been interested in the intersection of engineering/technical solution and business.  I believe a lot of the big problems in the world such as climate change, social inequality etc. can be solved by innovative businesses that make financial sense. Unfortunately – not everyone will be an environmentalist. However, if you build profitable green businesses that are integrated into a capitalist system, you can broaden the number of people who will contribute to a more sustainable life even though they might not be as passionate about the environment.

Princeton was a great environment to explore those interests and to highlight this message. I became involved with, and then served as President of, the Princeton Entrepreneurship Club. This is one of the most active and biggest student clubs on campus. One of my goals as president was to make environmental and social entrepreneurship a more prominent part of our activities such as our annual Business Plan Competition and our ongoing speaker series.

Okan Oktugen

What was your first job out of your undergraduate studies?  

I worked at RED (Recycled Energy Development), which was a small company with a mission to “profitably reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” The mission statement appealed to me since it aligned with my view that big problems can be solved by businesses. At RED we built, owned and operated combined heat and power plants and waste energy recovery plants that would produce highly efficient energy at industrial sites in the USA. In the business development department, I did the techno-financial analysis of various projects and worked on the acquisition of a major industrial park power plant. As part of my role, I had to be able to be down in the weeds of the technical, legal and financial details and marry them, but rise up to see the big picture and help craft deals that met the goals of various stakeholders. I also met one of my mentors Tom Casten, who was the chairman of the company. He has started or led multiple companies in the energy space. He is a published author who was also actively contributing to energy efficiency literature with articles. I was privileged to be part of some of his work.

Why did you decide to return back to school and earn your MBA from HBS?

I still wanted to do more in the intersection of engineering and entrepreneurship. Even in undergraduate, as I was studying engineering, I knew I wanted to go to business school and complement my technical education. Business is definitely not something that you can just learn in school. However, my two years at HBS were very defining for me as I reflected on what kind of a career I want to build and what kind of a leader I want to become. It is a unique place to do that – I was surrounded by diverse classmates who challenged me every day.

What kind of career do you want to build? What kind of leader do you want to become?

My goal is to become a leader who makes a difference in the world. I know it sounds like a cliche recruiting tagline, but it is true. Making a difference has many forms. It ranges from working in companies that have a mission that goes beyond profit, to being a coach and mentor to peers and direct reports every day. I found Clayton Christensen’s quote from his book “How will you measure your life?” very inspiring and eye-opening. He says:

“I used to think that if you cared for other people, you need to study sociology or something like it. But….I [have] concluded, if you want to help other people, be a manager. If done well, management is among the most noble of professions. You are in a position where you have eight or ten hours every day from every person who works for you. You have the opportunity to frame each person’s work so that, at the end of every day, your employees will go home feeling like Diana felt on her good day: living a life filled with motivators.”

What type of management consulting work did you do at Bain & Company?

Bain has a generalist model that focuses on strategy consulting. Given my engineering background and interest, I spent most of my time with IG&S clients (Industrial goods and services), who were more B-2-B and had technical products. I did a variety of projects such as developing a corporate strategy to drive the growth of a facilities management company, redesigning sales & operations planning for the global rental power company and streamlining the procurement efforts of a global EPC (engineering, procurement, and construction) company.

Personally one of the biggest highlights was my role in a pro-bono project as part of the Bain Green Team. We helped a sustainability data company perform more effectively by redesigning their entire operating model: including company structure, accountabilities, governance and ways of working. Our goal was to ensure that every resource and activity in the company is aligned with company strategy and mission, which is to make environmental reporting and risk management part of business decisions.

One of the key learnings from Bain is the ability to quickly ramp up about an industry or function that you are not familiar with and identify the key business levers that would bring the most value to the company whether in growth or operational efficiency. The 80/20 rule is crucial: 80% of the value comes from 20% of the work. It pushes you to do prioritization so that you only focus on the activities that will drive big change and impact, which is very important for every business where time and resources are limited.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position at Formlabs? Why did you join Formlabs?

I joined Formlabs because I was fascinated by Form 2, the most advanced desktop 3D printer ever created and the company culture. I think it is a company full of youth, drive, ambition, and willingness to set new norms in the 3D printing industry. And my time here has proven me that this was the right move for me. Every day I feel satisfied because I am building a company with my colleagues. As a fast-growing company sometimes we do things for the first time or we have to iterate fast based on new information we have. I tackle difficult problems that require trade-offs, quick thinking, flexibility, and creativity. That challenge invigorates me and grows me professionally, which I love.

My role has two hats. I am the Global Channel Operations Lead. Our channel is our network of distributors and resellers that sell Formlabs products around the world. My goal is to make sure this network works effectively and efficiently as we make more Formlabs products accessible to more end users around the globe. This involves project managing sales, marketing, customer support, and operations team globally to ensure products and services are delivered to channel partners efficiently while ensuring a good experience to end users.

I am also the lead for the North America and International Channel Sales team, where we work to grow our top-line revenue in North America, LatAm and ASEAN regions. We recruit and grow the right partners in these regions that not only allow us to hit our aggressive growth goals, but also provide the best customer experience and value to end-users. We want to make sure as many people around the world can have access to our technology and use 3D printing to create things.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

I have one cup of coffee every morning. No more, no less.

What time do you get into the office?

I get in between 8-9 am depending on when my first meeting is. I try to get in about half an hour before my first meeting to just settle in and orient myself before I start the day.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Morning: I work out in the morning. Either I do HIIT (high-intensity interval training) or yoga.

Then I prepare breakfast for me and my wife: Boiled eggs and a breakfast smoothie with berries.

As I get ready, I listen to the Economist (the app has an audio version that reads you the articles).

Then as I am driving to work I talk to my family members on the phones (parents, in-laws, brother). Due to the time difference, it works best when I talk to them in the morning.

I go through my planner to orient myself for the day and prioritize my activities.

I usually have a couple of meetings especially with team members who are in European and Asian time zones.

Afternoon: I have few more meetings and usually have a couple of hours blocked for some alone working time.  

Evening: Early evening I go through my emails, to make sure nothing time-sensitive is pending.

Then I go through my planner and update it accordingly based on that day’s work.

I go home and have dinner with my wife, who is a current student at HBS.

We either go out to meet friends and attend a social school activity or stay in and watch one of our TV shows. We are obsessed with the Crown.

If she has still some school work to do, I do some reading on my own or pick up some work emails.

What time do you head out of the office?

It depends. Usually, I leave between 7-8 pm.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I do log back in as necessary, but I usually prefer powering through and leaving a bit later instead of logging back in. Either way, I make sure I have my family time with my wife. I have dinner with her every night.
 

Any productivity hacks?

I use the weekly planner (not daily!) framework from Stephen R. Covey’s “The 7 Habit of Highly Effective People.” In this planner, you divide all your tasks into 4 quadrants in a 2 by 2 matrix based on importance and urgency. You not only focus on important and urgent tasks but also focus on important and non-urgent tasks. This way you not only firefight but also spend time on what will drive long-term value. Read the book! It is not only for professional life!

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • 7 Minute Workout (by Johnson & Johnson): Great way to exercise and challenge yourself if you have limited time. I do 2-3 cycles of 7 min HIIT.
  • The Economist: I listen to the audio version as I get ready in the mornings. It not only keeps me current with what is happening in the world but oddly calms me down:)
  • Whatsapp: Need to stay in touch with friends and family.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

Working in companies with cultures and missions that excite me such as RED and Formlabs. I am proud to have found companies and roles that appeal to my deeper values and motivate me to perform at my best. I enjoy coming to work every day and I think that is a privilege.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

So many, but first that pops to mind is Elon Musk. I admire him, as he pushes the boundaries and tries to make the world a better place with business.

I call upon my core support network that consists of my wife, close friends, family and my career coach (yes such a thing exists and provided as support by my school to alumni.). My wife is my rock and best friend. She supports and challenges me every day.  

Also, I can admit that I read a lot of professional development and self-help books.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz. Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Okan Oktugen.

About the
Company

Join Formlabs if you want to bring ground-breaking professional 3D printers to the desktop of every designer, engineer, researcher, and artist in the world.

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Career Path: Angela Bassa, Director of Data Science at iRobot banner image

Career Path: Angela Bassa, Director of Data Science at iRobot

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What does the career path and a day in the life look like for the Director of Data Science at iRobot?

We interviewed Angela Bassa to find out.


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your very first job?

I was born and raised in Brazil and moved State-side when I was 14 with my parents when my dad transferred to WV for work. My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a pedagogue - I definitely got a lot of my passion for science and learning from them.

When we first moved to the US, my mother and I weren’t allowed to work based on our visa status. My father has since worked in Mexico, France, and Korea; when I got accepted into MIT he got transferred again, so I’ve been living in a different continent from them ever since I was 17.

After graduating from high school I came to the Boston area for college and have been living here on-and-off for almost 20 years now. My first jobs were college internships where I tried to get a sense of the different kinds of work opportunities that existed for a mathematician. My first one was in the venture arm of a large multinational bank, then I spent a summer in the comptrollership of an aluminum smelting plant. I also spent a semester at the MIT Research Lab of Electronics in the Quantum Information Group where I worked on a project investigating the communication protocols necessary for getting two quantum computers to transfer data packets between each other. For my senior year, I conducted a comparative study of presidential election media coverage, highlighting the disparity between the alleged objectivity and impartiality of newspapers, and their potential subliminal impact as political agents during election campaigns. This “testing of the waters” was invaluable in helping me figure out what to do after graduation.

Angela Bassa with Lego Chewbacca

Why did you decide to study Mathematics at MIT?  Anything that you’d like to highlight from your time at MIT?

I mean, it’s MIT! To be frank, I never thought in a million years that I’d get in. I also didn’t apply to any “safety schools” because I figured that if I didn’t get into any of the ones I did apply to, I’d take some time to prepare for the Brazilian university system’s entrance exams and attend school there. But then the fat MIT envelope arrived (I’m old enough that they still let you know via envelopes back then) and I knew that I had to go there—it had been a dream of mine for a long time. Studying at MIT was amazing, but it was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done; those classes are no joke, and there’s no room for slacking. It took me years to figure out just how uncommon the pace and rigor of MIT classes were.

I remember that I wanted to study computer science or economics when I first got there. There are some classes which all MIT students, whether they major in biology or music, must take—and they are pretty math-heavy. I had taken several advanced math classes in high school and fell in love with the subject even more at the Institute… I remember being conflicted about it, thinking “What am I going to do with a math degree when I graduate?!” But it turned out that the timing was perfect since the data analytic revolution was just around the corner.

What was your first job out of undergrad?  

My first job was as a financial analyst on Wall Street. The finance sector recruits heavily for quants graduating from mathematics degree programs, and I couldn’t really believe that I was going to be working in Manhattan… but it turned out to have been a poor fit for my personality. As with any first job, you’re really paying your dues—so if you don’t enjoy it, the long hours and subject matter can get to you quickly. I worked in the Secured Capital Markets division, which meant that I had to be at the bank when the trading floor got in at 6:30 AM and didn’t leave until the investment bankers wrapped up around 9 PM or 10 PM. I learned a ton, and I’m glad to have had the opportunity to learn about capital structuring, complex deal financings, contract negotiations, etc., but it really wasn’t the kind of career I could see myself investing in for the long term.

I’m jealous… it looks like you spent a year living in the Virgin Islands as a SCUBA instructor, which must have been amazing.  Was that a way to take some time to think about your long-term career goals?  Did you find that experience beneficial?

This closely follows from the previous question: after a year of 100-hour weeks, I decided I needed to “decompress” (pun intended!). I packed up my nest egg and moved to the beautiful Caribbean island of St. Croix where I sold T-shirts for minimum wage while I racked up logged dives to qualify for the open water certifications. After about six months, I had jumped through all the required hoops and became a SCUBA Instructor. I then spent another six months or so as a teacher and dive master. This was definitely meant to be a time for me to recalibrate and figure out what I wanted to do once I rejoined the real world, but I honestly learned more about managing people under stress during this time than at any other “management” course I’ve taken since. Once you’ve had to safely deal with panicked divers who want to bolt to the surface (a very big no-no when you’re breathing pressurized air) or handle an inexperienced mother-daughter pair who could get mightily distressed if they saw that harmless but fierce-looking barracuda right behind them, many other stressful situations in the corporate world become a lot more manageable in comparison.

Angela Bassa, SCUBA

Prior to joining iRobot, you worked in various roles that were focused on working with very large data sets and analytics within industries like healthcare and energy.  How did that experience help you build the foundation for what you are doing today?

Working in such different industries has been very helpful because it has allowed me to become versed in different techniques that I can now use in a cross-disciplinary way. That “cross-pollination” has been a great source of ideas and inspiration for novel approaches to solving data problems. For instance: the work I’ve done analyzing and planning clinical trials has helped me think through A/B tests in software environments, simulating genetic trait introgression in soybeans has been a huge source of inspiration in designing energy efficiency models for building management systems, and so on. I think this has also given me a new perspective in hiring and management: one of the data scientists on our team has a marine biology background, and she often has surprising (to me) insights about robot fleet behavior that she derives from her time researching dolphin pod migration. Knowledge really is all around us and keeping an open mind to identify where seemingly disparate applications could transform an approach is incredibly useful.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position at iRobot and what your Data Science team is working on?

Our core responsibility is to study the behavior of our robot fleet in order to delight our customers and increase our revenue. This work is a combination of pure research as well as developing the tools and infrastructure that allow these scientific inquiries to be assessed quickly and accurately. The questions we ask run the gamut from "What is the reliability of our data collection platform?” to “When do our customers prefer to run their robots and why?”


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

My drink of choice is a large iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts—even if it’s 20 degrees outside! I’m definitely a Bostonian now. I’m also almost seven months pregnant, so it’s decaf for the time being.

What time do you get into the office?

While it’s uncontroversial that “team time” is important, I’m a big believer that focused thinking time is crucial. Instead of wasting time in traffic, I try to take care of the emails in my inbox at home before getting in the car and am usually in the office around 9:30 AM.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Morning: Sleep is non-negotiable. I sleep at least 8 hours a day and am usually up around 7am. I usually hit the road by 8:45 AM. Our team has a daily standup meeting first thing when we catch up on everyone’s goals and progress. Then I’ll usually either have meetings with other teams or informal ones with my team to give feedback or direction on what they’re working on.

Afternoon: I try to set up some time for dedicated thinking in the early afternoons and catch up on reading technical papers, industry news, and emails. I like to check out our team’s analyses and get lost in our dashboards a bit to stay fresh on the latest findings. I also have many meetings with senior leaders across the organization to keep them up-to-date on the status of the fleet and other important metrics.

Evening: I’ll usually leave the office a little before 5pm and wrap up any threads for the day, get to Inbox Zero, and log off completely some 40-60 minutes after I get home. Then it’s time to play with the dog, the cat, have dinner with my family, and enjoy each other’s company.

What time do you head out of the office?

I try to beat the heavy Boston-area traffic in the afternoon as well, so I’ll usually try to head out before the big rush hour traffic in the afternoon. I’ll then put in another hour or so at home to catch up on emails and other tasks, where the only distractions are the dog and the cat. My philosophy is that if the work is getting done and we’re meeting (and often exceeding) expectations, I see no reason to keep office chairs warm given all the VPN luxuries we have available to us in a 21st century tech company. Obviously, there are times when unforeseen needs come up and we have to put in a bit more time in the office, but with good planning and preparation, those are thankfully few and far between.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

Unless there is a very good reason to log back on, I try to stay logged off once I’m done for the day. I seldom feel externally pressured to log back on, but I love what I do—so if the mood strikes and I’m struck with a good idea, I’ll take advantage of the inspiration while it’s there.

Any productivity hacks?

Like I said above, sleep is non-negotiable. This isn’t usually thought of as a productivity hack, but since I’ve gotten fanatical about protecting my eight hours of sleep I have gotten so much more productive and successful professionally! You can’t force your brain to be brilliant, but you definitely can stress it so much that it is unable to come up with any good ideas. However, I have heard that the whole “new parent thing” might have a material impact on this for the next several months. Another thing I’m zealous about is running two miles every weekday. I can’t say I manage to do it every day, but I’m pretty good about doing it at least four days a week.

In terms of more “conventional” productivity hacks, I try to get to Inbox Zero every day. I’ve been doing this for about 10 years. I also always leave my phone on silent and have almost no notifications turned on. The only alerts I get from my phone are calls from my family and calendar notifications.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

1Password, Nuzzle, and Overcast.

I’ve been using 1Password as a password manager since 2006 and cannot imagine living without it. It is the first app that I install on any new device, and it makes me feel a lot safer and saner as I navigate the interwebs.

I have a Twitter account that I use quite a bit because of the strong data community there, but I hate the overwhelming noise that comes with it. To tame things I have hundreds of muted terms that keep the timeline healthy for me. In order to stay up on the conversations, I rely on Nuzzle to aggregate news, articles, and links my network is talking about in a dedicated stream.

I also love listening to podcasts on my commute; Overcast is a great player with tons of useful features like voice boosting and distortion-free silence shortening. If you’re looking for great podcasts to listen to, I really like Linear Digressions, 99% Invisible, Reply All, and Note to Self.

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?

I’ve been incredibly lucky to have many opportunities come across my path that I’ve been able to jump on: it was the honor of a lifetime to fly to Geneva and present at the WHO, it was an amazing distinction to be part of the team that won the 2015 INFORMS Edelman award, and I still can’t quite believe that I have almost 50 patent applications for inventions I’ve been involved in developing. But my proudest accomplishment professionally has been building the Data Science team at iRobot from the ground up, as we’re starting to see the seeds of all that hard work start to bear fruit and impact the whole organization.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

There are so many people whose insight I rely on, I don’t think I can pick just one name. It takes a village and, in alphabetical order (because I couldn’t possibly figure out how to order them in any other way), I am often reaching out to Chris Albon, Husain al-Mohssen, Mara Averick, Ed Cuoco, Ben Kehoe, Jack Kloeber, Hilary Parker, Jason Emory Parker, Mark Potter, Mikhail Popov, Andrew Therriault, and Mona Vernon. This amazing group of people helps me with their expertise in data and data science, math, statistics, analysis, business, management, strategy, and life.

Angela Bassa Keynote Speaking


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Angela Bassa.

About the
Company

iRobot, the leading global consumer robot company, designs and builds robots that empower people to do more.

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Career Path: Rebecca Perry, Engineering Lead - Wayfair Next Research banner image

Career Path: Rebecca Perry, Engineering Lead - Wayfair Next Research

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What does the career path and a day in the life look like for the Engineering Lead at Wayfair's Next Research team?

We interviewed Rebecca Perry to find out.


Career Path

Where did you grow up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your very first job?

I grew up in Concord, MA. My father worked as an attorney specializing in employment relations law, and my mother worked as an economist. My very first job was at Sally Ann’s Bakery in Concord Center. I mostly worked at the cash register, but occasionally got to learn how to make something from Bill Griffin the baker-owner.

Why did you decide to attend Bowdoin and study Physics?

I finished high school knowing that I enjoyed Math and Physics and was also interested in Engineering. I loved Bowdoin’s campus and wanted to spend four years in a small vibrant community before likely spending most of the rest of my life in cities. It helped that at Bowdoin I would get to continue pole vaulting, which I had started in high school.

As for studying physics specifically, it was a summer internship with a physics professor that hooked me. Someone recommended me to Professor Mark Battle who had been away on sabbatical. I am still thankful for Professor Battle and the anonymous person who made this connection for me.

What was your first job out of undergrad?  

I worked as a Data Technician for a wind energy consulting firm. I was attracted to the job by the opportunity to make an impact in clean energy and because it involved lots of data and graphs. I assumed that the role would tick the right boxes to keep me happy as a quantitative person. I quickly learned that the parts of physics that had kept me engaged were not just the numbers and graphs but more importantly the creative and problem-solving aspects. After one year, I moved on to a different job that was a much better fit and led to grad school.

You went back to school to continue your studies at Harvard.  What did you study and did you work on interesting research projects?

My Ph.D. is in Applied Physics (think physics with an engineering bent). I studied the three-dimensional motion of solid plastic spheres so small that thermal motion of a surrounding liquid is enough to move them appreciably. While small, these spheres are actually big enough to see with an optical microscope, and you can actually watch them carry out real random walks just like those used in mathematical modeling! In the course of my research, I learned to code in Python and particularly enjoyed coding for image analysis. Hopefully one day my dissertation research will contribute to leveraging random motion to construct desired tiny structures.

What prompted you to pursue a career in software engineering and how did you land at Wayfair?

I was looking for a role where I would be able to continue writing code to analyze images. I was volunteering at an MGH research lab working with CT scan data when I applied for a data science role at Wayfair. During an initial phone interview, I explained the kinds of three-dimensional problems I hoped to work on and was kicked over to interview for a brand new engineering group, Wayfair Next. As the second member of this fledgling team, I was tasked with evaluating and improving 3D scanning tech and taking on other research and image-oriented projects.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position and any interesting products you are building?

The team has grown, and I now lead the Research team within Wayfair Next. I am responsible for evaluating promising technology for use at Wayfair, supporting my team so that they can make creative connections to solve challenging problems, and identifying research projects with ambitious goals and potential for many smaller secondary wins.

Wayfair Next Team at an escape room
Rebecca (holding the 'Nailed It' sign) with the Wayfair Next team at Escape the Room Boston.

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Typically tea, but what I really love is hot chocolate!

What time do you get into the office?

By 9:30.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Morning: Answering emails, checking on output generated by computers overnight, and making small code modifications based on the output. Each morning, our team of 12 or our subteam of four has a standup meeting to discuss current projects.

Afternoon: I might have a short meeting or two with another team to discuss a project. Outside of these, you’d be able to find me at my desk working on code to improve current projects that we are sending off to production or crafting new engagements to make sure my team always has interesting projects coming in.

Evening: Sometimes at the end of the day, when meetings are over, and people have started going home, I delve into the more research-focused projects that have no predictable timeline for return-on-investment, but could be really exciting if they work out!

What time do you head out of the office?

Between 5:30 and 6:30.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I bring home the parts of work that I actively want to keep thinking about. There’s a great 3D scanning Facebook group that produces a ton of interesting content to read. Preparing for presentations is one thing I find I can only do at home.

Any productivity hacks?

I make a calendar event for anything that needs to get done, even if there is no good reason why it has to be done on that day or at that time.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Google Maps, OpenMBTA, and Lyft. Phones are transportation devices, right?

What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?  

Deploying 3D scanning tech to the two Wayfair photo studios is an accomplishment I am very proud of. I didn’t do anything like that during grad school.

Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?

There is a leader of an adjacent group at Wayfair whom I highly respect and look to as a role model. I also highly value what I have learned from my grad school friends and friends-of-friends who are successful in their careers in software engineering, scientific research, academia, and clinical psychology. I’m thankful for this group of peers who provide outside perspectives on difficult situations and happily bask in each other's successes.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Rebecca Perry.

About the
Company

Join the team reinventing the way the world shops for home.

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Career Path: Maureen Morris, Manager of Enterprise Sales at Quick Base banner image

Career Path: Maureen Morris, Manager of Enterprise Sales at Quick Base

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What does the career path and a day in the life look like for a sales manager at one of Boston's fastest growing tech companies?

We decided to interview Maureen Morris, the Manager of Enterprise Sales at Quick Base, to find out.​

Career Path

Where you grew up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your first job growing up?

I grew up in Milton, MA, as the youngest of four children. My dad worked as a judge (now retired) and my mother stayed at home to raise us. When I entered kindergarten, she made the decision to go to college, she went part time and graduated when I went to 8th grade. It was her work ethic and dedication to family that helped shape my own path as a working mother of five.

All of my siblings followed in my dad's footsteps and became lawyers - one a real estate lawyer, one a liability lawyer and one a criminal lawyer. I was the “black sheep” who went into sales after college.

Where did you attend college and what did you study?

I went to an all girls high school in Hingham and then went on to Seton Hall University in New Jersey.  

I started as a nursing student, but after one year of science and math courses, I knew that it was definitely not for me. My parents were “thrilled” when I called and told them that I was going to take some criminal justice and communication classes. I went on to major in communications and knew that I had found my calling when I got to stand in front of hundreds of students to do my final public speaking exam.

What were some of your first jobs out of college?  

I worked all through college scanning cards in the dorms and tended bar over the summer at The Black Rose, The Purple Shamrock and Jose McIntyre's.

When I graduated, I got my first “real job” at ADP in Boston. I had no idea what I was doing, but I was excited to put on my first suit (it definitely had shoulder pads) and couldn’t wait to tell my friends about all of the glamorous business trips I would be going on.

Reality struck on my first day when my boss told me my first glamorous “trip” would be to Watertown and Arlington. I got to go knock on doors and “sling” payroll solutions. Not exactly what I expected, but that’s where my love affair with sales began.

What were some of the foundation skills that you developed from these early jobs that helped you in what you are doing today?

I look back on my early years in sales can’t believe how much things have changed. I actually used to walk up and down the streets, casually ignoring “no soliciting” signs and convincing business owners to buy from me. I was like a storm that blew in, made some noise, and walked out with a signed contract. There were no laptops or cell phones, so I had carbon copy contracts that I had clients sign before I excitedly ran off to a pay phone to call my boss and say “I got another one!”

I grew up in sales, I worked for some of the most amazing leaders who provided me direction, tough love, and recognition of my accomplishments. I also received some of the best career advice back in those early days. I was told that if I ever wanted to be a sales leader, I had to act like I was one already - not just once in awhile, but every day. Following this advice shaped my career and landed me my first promotion when I was the “first pick” to lead the sales office after my manager got promoted into a new role.  

How did you land your current position as Manager of Enterprise Sales at Quick Base?

This past February my husband and I were taking the kids up to North Conway for our yearly family ski trip. All seven of us, my husband and 5 kids, were packed into the car when the phone rang. I answered, which I very rarely do when kids are around. It was a recruiter following up on a LinkedIn message she had sent me. She jumped in and started telling me about a position for an “experienced sales leader and a really great company.” I listened and did what every mom of five has to do on a long car trip -- pass out Goldfish, pick up sippy cups and mute the phone multiple times to ask my loved ones to “please be quiet.” At the close of the call, I offered to circulate it across my network and check back in a week. The response was clear - “we don’t want someone in your network, we want you.”

Though I was hesitant to leave my current gig and start over with a new leadership team, I had to stay true to myself, practice what I preach, and go check it out. Why not? I agreed to sit with other leaders at Quick Base. It was evident to me immediately that this was a company that valued their employees and invested in their employees’ success as I have always done with my own teams. I was excited to help shape and grow a sales team, be part of something new and put my mark on a fast-paced and growing organization.

After starting, I know that my instincts were spot on! The team and company have exceeded my expectations and I’ve never been so happy and fulfilled in a role.

Maureen Morris with her team out to dinner.
Maureen Morris with her team out to dinner.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position?

At the end of the day, my number one priority is to make sure that every single person on my team is successful.

Sure, I have to attend the regular leadership meetings, pipeline discussions, client events etc. but I try to structure my day around ensuring my main focus is on the team and individuals success.


Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Coffee all day, every day.

What time do you get into the office?

Between 7:30 and 8:00...depends on Route 128’s traffic.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

Morning:

I am up every day by 5:15 am with the help of an alarm clock or my 2 and/or 3-year old (usually the latter). Next, I head downstairs, pop in my first K-Cup and open the daily sales dashboard to check out how the team is trending for the month.

The next hour can go one of two ways - smooth or chaotic. If all goes accordingly, I can hop in and out of the shower, blow dry hair, put on makeup, get dressed and go. Typically, though, things are a bit more hectic. I often spend this time running around with the kids, searching for binkies, dolls, cars or trucks, passing out waffles and juice....the list goes on and on.  

Regardless of how things play out, I am in the car no later than 6:45 am, at Dunkin by 6:50 for my second coffee (this one is extra large) and on my way to the office.

During my drive, I catch up with my husband on the “home life”. I’m lucky to have a husband who manages his work hours so he can be with the kids during the day and coordinates all of the activities - hockey, basketball, LAX, friends houses, camps and the list goes on and on. This is our time to catch up on what’s going on. I also try to chat with my mom at least once or twice a week.

Once I arrive at the office and settle in, I’m typically off to one of my daily meetings. I like to use the mornings to meet one-on-one with my account executives to strategize on deals, role play upcoming meetings or attend calls with their customers.

Afternoon:

Around noon I make it a point to go take a 10-minute walk outside to clear my head.  I make it a point not to look at email during this time. My guilty pleasure is to do a quick check of Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Maureen Morris checking her phone
Maureen Morris checking her phone.

Afterwards, I head back up and most on afternoons I attend meetings with our marketing, customer success, product or finance teams. The culture at Quick Base is one of collaboration and these meetings allow all of us to ensure we are aligned as we all work toward a common goal of building on the success of this amazing company.

Evening:

It’s time for a coffee, a hunt for any kind of chocolate and an attempt to get through some emails before I head out.

What time do you head out of the office?

I try to leave the office by 5:30 so that I can make it home to kiss my 2-year-old goodnight. On my ride home, I make a few work calls to talk through anything my team needs. I prefer to pick up the phone rather than shoot off an email so we can better connect and strategize.

When I arrive home, I put work out of my mind and enjoy the chaos of my family. I know bedtime is just around the corner so I try to savor every minute of it before I tuck them all in and kiss them good night.

Maureen with her family at home
Maureen with her five children at home.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  

I log back in between 9-9:30 and work until about 11:30-12:00 doing follow up and preparing for the next day.

I’m also a firm believer in the importance of learning every day so for the past 18 years, I have made a habit of taking 30 minutes each day read or listen to something that will make me smarter.

Afterwards, I head up to bed with my guilty pleasure: M&M’s, Hershey Kisses, and Twizzlers.  I shut my eyes and do it all over again.

Any productivity hacks?

Waking up early, having my coffee and enjoying quiet time before the day starts has changed my life.  

I live by lists. I make my list for the day the night before. I have to get through the list before I head home for the day. I am flexible with the non-urgent items and I allow myself to move them only if the task does not impact someone else.

I often wake up in the middle of the night with a thought or an idea that I want to share with my family or team so I keep a pad of paper and pen next to me so I don’t forget my thoughts.

Regarding internal meetings, I’m all about delegation. If there is someone else that can relay a message back to me, then make a point of taking turns attending them so we can try and give back time in our days.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

  • EasilyDo: it takes my Quick Base calendar, Google calendar and any events in Gmail and compiles it all into one daily schedule. It also sets reminders, consolidates receipts, and so much more. It puts everything in one place.

  • LinkedIn

  • Outlook groups- for collaborating with my team

Personal: Nordstrom, LittleHoots, and Amazon


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.

Images courtesy of Quick Base and Maureen Morris.

About the
Company

Unlock the potential of your digital operations with Quickbase's no-code platform.

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Career Path: Virginia White, People Operations Lead at Formlabs banner image

Career Path: Virginia White, People Operations Lead at Formlabs

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What does the career path and a day in the life look like for the People Operations Lead at one of Boston's fastest growing tech companies?

We decided to interview, Virginia White - the People Operations Lead at Formlabs, to find out.

Career Path

Where you grew up?  What did you parents do for work?  What was your first job growing up?

I grew up in Houston, Texas. My parents worked in completely different industries. My mother is a database programmer for an enormous technology consulting firm, and my father is a paramedic for the city. Both my parents have been steady in their careers/industries for 30+ years.

The first job I ever had was at the Hyde Park Miniature Museum (in Houston, TX). I worked with the grandson of D.D. Smalley, who originally started the museum in his attic. The museum was resurrected and recreated in the gallery of a bookstore for nine months. I was lucky to work there. I was a ‘docent’ – but not in a traditional sense. I spent my weekends fixing model trains, organizing stamps, cleaning typewriters, and explaining the history behind all the objects. One of the really special things about this place was that all the patrons were allowed to pick everything up and play with it. I spent a lot of time repairing things and I loved the opportunity to talk to everybody that came in the door.

Where did you attend college and what did you study?

I went to the San Francisco Art Institute (S.F.A.I.) and I studied New Genres. The major was mostly focused on conceptual art and new media – but I did spend most of my time doing drawings. I’ve always loved making things with my hands. I still do a little bit of this in my spare time.

What were some of your first jobs out of college?

I never really had that big ‘line’ between college work and post-college work. I started working full-time when I was 17 and never stopped. In my first few years of school, I had a lot of different jobs and cobbled things together – writing tutor, library assistant, I even worked for a bankruptcy trustee for a while. I would do whatever was needed to make things work. After a few years that became stressful, so I decided to find one job and stick with it.

I got a job doing ‘Operations’ (aka everything) at a boutique wholesale-to-retail company, Keena. I started while I was in school, and stayed for 4 years. There were only two other people in the office, including the co-founder, and the rest of the employees were sales reps across the country. We sold high-end consumer gifts and accessories (like hand-silkscreened cards, designer pillows, art books, etc) and worked with companies of all sizes. I worked there for 4 years and I loved it. I got so much exposure to the nuts and bolts of running a business and forged a lot of relationships across the consumer goods industry, many of which I still have.

What were some of the foundation skills that you developed from these early jobs that helped you in what you are doing today?

For a long time, I worked at small companies (and Formlabs was small when I started!) and I learned a ton about general operations and ‘keeping the ship running.’ I was usually working with just 2-3 other people total, usually creatives, and I would be behind the scenes getting things done. I got a lot of experience in sales and working with customers. I also had the opportunity to build out an office twice for two different companies and I gained knowledge of project management. I was definitely a master of none; I enjoyed doing everything I could get my hands on, and I was always willing to take on more responsibilities.

The biggest skill I’ve built from these experiences was working with a variety of people and personalities to get the job done. I’ve always been good at (and enjoyed this) but this shows up in people management, project management, and general execution of everything I do. I spend a lot of my time in 1-1 interactions with employees, talking and debugging if there’s something larger we need to improve. At the size Formlabs is now, I hardly ever am doing something just ‘solo’ – most challenges need more than 1 person to ‘make it happen’ at the right scale.

What brought you to the Boston area?

I was ready to move out of San Francisco – I had been there a long time and I was ready to be challenged more. I had planned to apply to graduate school, but then got connected with Formlabs...

You were an early team member at Formlabs.  What employee number were you and how did you get connected with them?

I was 10 or 11, depending on how you count. I had been working with another technology and design company, Nervous System, that was using 3D printing, so Formlabs was on my radar. However, Formlabs wasn’t much of a company yet. I happened to be doing some consulting for other companies in Industry Lab, where Formlabs used to have their office, so I got an introduction and applied from there. I did have a ‘traditional’ interview process (phone call, face to face interview). I remember feeling that I bombed the phone interview (for Sales & Marketing Lead, something I wasn’t really ‘qualified’ for) and didn’t have good answers to any questions. I spent the next day or two doing research and figuring out what I could have done better. I vaguely remember emailing them begging them to give me another chance in person – and then I arrived very prepared. I had researched the two (!) jobs that I wanted and came with 4 typed pages that included a list of potential customers and a plan for their future office space. I think that interview went well...

Formlabs Sample Parts
Sample parts from a Formlabs 3D Printer

How has your position evolved since joining the company?

My role has (and continues) to change constantly. Every 6-12 months, responsibilities or scale have shifted. I started as ‘Facilities & Operations Lead’ – which was pretty much an office manager role. I thought I was a bit overqualified, but we grew so fast I quickly realized I had no idea what I was doing. I thought, “I had better catch up.” In my first year, I was the ‘first’ person for a lot of roles that are now much bigger teams (customer support, sales, logistics, finance, etc). I always thought I would remain more customer-facing, but at some point, I decided what I really cared about were the people who worked within the company, and I wanted to put my attention there. My work in Operations became more focused on scaling our space and how we take care of the people within it. A few years after that, our team and our people needs had grown, and it made sense to build out a People Operations function as well. I’ve worked across the spectrum of People Operations work, from recruiting to HR – and have just now landed on the part that I really love.

Even though I feel like what I’m doing now in People Operations is ‘new’, I see that I’ve always been focused on these themes, just through a different lens. The real difference is that now this is 100% of my job, not the extra sliver that I’m fitting in on the side.

Virginia (lower right hand corner of the picture frame) is sure fitting in with the rest of the People Ops team.
Virginia (lower right hand corner of the picture frame) with the rest of the People Ops team.

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as People Lead at Formlabs?

While it is not only on my shoulders, I definitely feel responsible for keeping Formlabs a great place to be, as we scale. Right now, that translates into finding and growing employees, and general engagement. That includes recruiting (Formlabs is still growing tremendously, so we are investing a lot of energy into hiring) and the arc of someone’s life-cycle when they are here (onboarding, growth & careers, offboarding).

What I’m doing right now hits the perfect intersection of working on things that cross both people and culture – with the extra challenge of doing it well while we hire like crazy.

Day in the Life

Coffee, tea, or nothing?

Gave up caffeine a few weeks ago, so currently, chamomile tea.

What time do you get into the office?

Between 8 - 10 AM. I prefer to start my working time by 9 AM, but that doesn’t always happen.

Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?

I definitely live by my calendar. I’ve only recently learned to find the right balance between ‘scheduled time’ and ‘available for what comes up’, but that’s definitely been a challenge.

Morning

- Wake up at the last possible minute and head out the door (I’d love to change this habit)

- Eat something at work, we have so much good food here!

- Read, respond, and organize emails, omnifocus, and administrative tasks

- Plan out the two important things I will get done TODAY

- Knock out phone calls

Afternoon

- Remember to eat something for lunch

- Reserved for project time or 1-1 time (as needed)

- Make sure the two important things got DONE

Evening

- Overflow time for reading, responding and organizing emails

- Spend time with my cat and partner OR go to the gym

- Most evenings I also cook dinner

- Clean something (helps me relax)


What time do you head out of the office?

Depends on what time I got there, and what is happening on that day. Almost never around 5 PM. A few days a week I leave by 6, and at least 1 day a week I work later than that. I love to get things done while the office is really quiet, which is usually before 10 AM and after 4 PM.

Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?  Or… how do you decompress at night?

I’ve never been great at shutting it down completely, but I’ve been learning how important this is. I prefer to spend my energy getting things done during the day, so in the evening I can be available for the other people and things in my life that I want to spend time with. That said, if I’m really excited about something, I will just work on it until it’s done, even if that means staying up late. I like to follow the energy and inspiration when I have it, not just structure it all into my day.

I do have a lot of blend between work and personal life – almost all of my closest friends work at Formlabs – so even something like cooking dinner at my place for a crowd might turn into some work-related discussion, and I’m OK with that.

Virginia White and Jory Block
Virginia hanging out (or onto) Jory Block, who also works on the People Operations team at Formlabs.

I’ve also been teaching yoga at Be. since I started working at Formlabs, and I can’t imagine having one without the other. The contrast between the two environments is pretty extreme. Formlabs energizes me and keeps me charged up, Be. slows me down. Yoga has really been my life-raft if didn’t have this practice I wouldn’t even know how to shut things off.

Recently I decided that I wanted to become a ‘runner’ – so I’m slowly working on that.

Any productivity hacks?

I am a huge believer in the David Allen GTD methodologies. I have been practicing these for years, and still feel like an amateur, but I believe my capacity to take on bigger challenges must be related to my ability to stay productive and get important things done.

Focus on TWO important things you want to accomplish every day, and that’s it.

If possible, don’t keep your email open during the day. Email is a complete time-suck, and even if a lot of your work happens via email (like mine), you’ll probably get more done if you check it less frequently. Responding to emails can ‘feel like’ work, but at the end of the day, if I didn’t reserve time for my brain to really work on something non-reactive, I probably didn’t finish one of my important things for the day.

What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?

Omnifocus – I started using omnifocus a few months ago, and now I think I couldn’t live without it. It takes ‘organizing time’ and commitment, but it’s so worth it. I use it for both work and personal life projects.

RescueTime – This app told me how much time I was spending responding to emails and working on my calendar. It was shameful. Made it much easier to change my working habits when I could quantify where my time was going.

Apple Podcast App – I’m so obsessed with podcasts that I’ve read very few books the last few months.

What time do you go to bed?

Between 11 PM - 1 AM. If I’m teaching yoga the next day, I go to bed early. Otherwise, I’m at the whim of my energy levels, which can be pretty unpredictable.


Keith Cline is the Founder of VentureFizz.  Follow him on Twitter: @kcline6.​​

About the
Company

Join Formlabs if you want to bring ground-breaking professional 3D printers to the desktop of every designer, engineer, researcher, and artist in the world.

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