Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I grew up in San Antonio, Texas. I was a goofy, nerdy, outgoing kind of kid. My teachers said I was smart but had a tendency to distract the other children in class.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I was an English major, and fresh out of college I did a few different jobs (tutoring, waiting tables, selling event tickets) until I landed a more permanent position as a library assistant in the reference department of a college library. I loved that job because it rewarded my curiosity and I got to work directly with the public.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I started working in tech as a customer support agent. I got really valuable experience solving problems in a hands-on way.
As my career progressed, I took on projects that allowed me to really deeply understand customer analytics. Soon I became a people manager, and that led to opportunities to manage other teams beyond customer support. Saying ‘yes’ to those opportunities, even when I felt only 75% ready for them, was critical.
After over a decade in ed tech, I branched out into health tech/insurtech at a Series A company, where I started leading Customer Success and still work today. We saw rapid growth, and I had a chance to work with a really talented leadership team who are as invested in coaching as they are in the success of the business.
That led to an opportunity I wasn’t expecting, to move into Product leadership. Ultimately the chance to learn something new and be challenged was really appealing, and I made the transition.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
Today I lead a product team, which means getting to work with all parts of the business in an end-to-end way, from product research and discovery, to development and execution. A big part of the job is developing a team of product managers and designers. I also get to work closely with the CEO and other members of the leadership team to set the product vision and strategy.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
Growing up, I never expected to work in technology at all! As a kid, I wanted to either write for SNL or drive a yellow taxi cab. I did wind up living in New York City, though…
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
Culture is critical: if you are curious, try to find a workplace where you will be surrounded by other curious people. If you are ambitious, you’ll be happier at a company that attracts motivated people who set a high bar for themselves (and you). Pick the people you want to work with and for, versus the job description.
You can never have enough feedback, from your champions, and from the people you find it hardest to work with. Great coaches are hard to find, so if you get lucky enough to work with one, keep in touch, even if one of you moves on to another company.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
I’d say the most important skills are communication, ability to execute, people development, and strategic thinking.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s the most challenging?
You’re always learning to overturn your assumptions and think again in product, as you get new data all the time from users and the market. That’s both interesting and challenging.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Honestly, the moments that stick out for me are the ones when colleagues I had the privilege to work with (and in some cases hire) hit their personal and career milestones, like getting their dream job in Paris, or marrying and buying a house.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I’m a big reader, especially of novels. Living in New York City, there’s no shortage of museums and concerts. I really crave travel, and try to take at least two big trips a year.
How do you manage stress?
The cinema is where I’m happiest, so I go to the movies if I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also find that walking my dog in the park helps me reset when I’m drained.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
Two cups of coffee in the morning. And at least two cups of tea in the afternoon.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
I would recommend Sum, a book of short stories by David Eagleman, to just about everyone. It’s imaginative, thought-provoking, and short!
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?Don’t worry so much about what your first job out of college is– and don’t worry about changing lanes frequently early in your career. Go for breadth versus depth, and don’t be afraid of risks.
Another way to say that, for the more practical readers, is that prospective employers care less about whether you have deep experience in specific areas and more about your mindset and transferable skills.