We dedicate a lot of time at work. Whether it's working for a company or ourselves, we'll spend a large chunk of our lives at a workspace. In this post I'd like to document the various workspaces I've been a part of and some of the lesson I learned while there.
Way Basics (2008 - 2011)
What: Startup company selling eco-friendly storage furniture. I was the first employee.
Responsibility: Operations Manager & Business Development
Workspace: Although I don't have a photo of my workspace, the photo above is from a tradeshow (pseudo workspace) the team attended in Florida. The photo includes (left to right) the CEO, Marketing Manager, and me.
Lessons: This role was my professional MBA. Fresh out of undergrad I was thrust into a fast-paced startup environment where I negotiated contracts, facilitated fulfillment of thousands of orders, and established many of the logistical and operational processes at the company. I shared an office with the founder/CEO who was a great mentor to me. We had many late night product and business discussions that honed my product development and management skills.
What: Quest builds software for IT professionals. It was acquired by Dell in 2012.
Responsibility: Learning Management System Product Owner
Workspace: My workspace evolved over time, but eventually I settled on the two monitor and medicine ball setup. I would swap the ball for a chair every couple hours. I was in the corner of the building so had great natural light throughout the day.
Lessons: My first corporate job. Coming from a startup with less than 10 people to a company with over 1000 employees was a drastic change in work culture. I had my first experience collaborating with engineers in a SCRUM environment here. I collected requirements from stakeholders and wrote my first user stories. During this period I started teaching myself how to code, and was able to apply what I was learning by building some internal web apps for the team. It was here that I also learned that Product Management was a career path I wanted to pursue.
What: Amplify creates software for the K-12 education market. I was part of the literacy assessment team.
Role: Product Owner
Workspace:That was my desk and view during my last two months at Amplify. Can't beat the view of the Manhattan bridge from Dumbo.
Lessons: My first job after relocating from California to New York. This was also my first role that was 100% focused on Product Management through the role of a Product Owner. The team implemented the SCRUM framework and released to production every two weeks. In this role I learned the ins and outs of SCRUM, how to run sprints and manage a backlog. It was a tremendous learning experience that taught me the difference between being Agile and agile.
LightSail Education (2015 - 2017)
What: LightSail is a mobile and web-based application targeted at K-12 students and teachers. It's a digital library where students can discover and read fiction and non-fiction books.
Role: Product Manager
Workspace: My first standing desk workspace. Typically I would stand half the day and sit for the remainder. I used an Ori Stand (unfortunately they closed as of December 15, 2017).
Lessons: This was a challenging yet very rewarding role. I learned a ton and am quite proud of the product that was shipped by the team. The engineering team was all remote which presented communication challenges, but we were able to implement processes that minimized the barrier. I worked on all aspects of building the product. From collecting requirements from users, to creating mockups and writing user stories, to testing the features and writing blog posts about the latest releases. LightSail was well received by our users and an independent study found that students using LightSail experienced 2.5x growth compared to peers not using the product.
Bonus: Current home setup
My current home setup. The minimalist and budget friendly standing desk: Ikea coffee table on top of an Ikea kitchen table. I also use this cushion when I'm standing. The setup is flexible enough where I can easily take the coffee table off and transition to a seated position.