Anaid Chacón, Product Manager, on finding personal and professional fulfillment at Dropbox
For Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM), from September 15 to October 15, we are highlighting the contributions made by members of the Latinx community in creative fields all over the world, with the theme: “Celebrating Latinx Creative Energy.” Our employee resource group LatinX@ will host activities in our offices that will shine a light on the creative expressions of Latinx and Hispanic figures, celebrate the diversity within the community, and inspire everyone to release their creative energy. In honor of HHM, we’ll be featuring Dropboxers and sharing their stories and what the month means to them.
Q: What is your name, what office do you work out of, and how long have you been at Dropbox?
A: I generally only go by Anaid Chacón. But I have two first names and two last names, as is customary in Mexico. My full name is Águeda Anaid Chacón Hinojos (it doesn’t fit on a credit card, I tried!). I’m based in the SF office, and I’ve been at Dropbox for over five years.
Q: What is your current role at Dropbox?
A: I’m a product manager for the desktop platform, which means that my team builds the technologies used to create and deliver our desktop client. It’s a very interesting job because it requires that I not only consider the needs of our end-users but also those of the development teams at Dropbox.
Q: Anything that you have done/accomplished at Dropbox that you’re proud of? When did you do this? What was the impact?
A: My team created a mechanism that allows teams at Dropbox to ship daily alpha features and functionality to end-users who have opted in. This was a difficult technical problem for desktop software and also something that required a lot of user empathy to ensure we made the process safe and worthy of trust. With this, Dropbox can learn and innovate faster, and highly engaged end-users can more easily give feedback on early-stage bets. Learn more about how we prepared for this in part 1 & part 2.
Q: Have you had transformational or inspirational moments at Dropbox?
A: The most transformational experience at Dropbox has been the opportunity to transition from an engineering background to user-centered positions and then finally to my current role as a product manager. This journey was not planned, and Dropbox has been instrumental in finding what makes me tick by allowing me to explore different positions and ways to make a difference. I finally found it in product management, where I can leverage my technical background and my fascination for multi-faceted problems to make a positive impact on users and the business. The support of the organization and my teams has been key to finding personal and professional fulfillment.
Q: Why did you decide to join Dropbox?
A: The reason was pretty simple: I admired the elegant simplicity of the product and the technical complexity it abstracted away from users. I was fascinated by that. This fascination was taken to the next level when I met some of the people working here. Smart and humble people who were looking to learn and open to sharing. It just seemed like the right place for me.
Q: What did you do before?
A: Before Dropbox, I worked at a few different engineering positions back in Mexico and on the east coast. I interned at a company that designed car instrumentation panels and networks. Then got a job as an embedded software engineer for an auto-parts retailer and saw a number of issues that come with scale. I eventually transitioned to an engineering management role where I worked with different teams responsible for making software for the product and retail lifecycle, from credit back-end systems to point-of-sale and website. It was an interesting experience, but I wanted to broaden my horizons. So I left to go to grad school. That’s where Dropbox found me.
Q: What surprised you most about Dropbox when you joined?
A: To be honest, how down to earth people were. There are so many talented and interesting people working here who are also incredibly approachable, humble, and helpful. After the people, I also experienced a bit of a culture shock from the number of perks a company like Dropbox has. We’re really fortunate.
Q: What does creative energy mean to you?
A: Creative energy for me is connected to my sense of purpose. I feel most energized and creative when I’m working on something that is aligned with my skills, values, and maximizes my impact. It’s the flywheel that comes when you have the time and space to explore ideas, make them come to life, and learn from them to generate more ideas.
Q: How do you unleash your creative energy in your day?
A: By giving myself time to exercise or read something I’m curious about. These two feel like polar opposites, but doing something to take care of myself really helps me looks at situations in a creative way and come up with new ideas.
Q: What are your hobbies? Or what can we find you doing outside of work?
A: I love hiking and camping. I spend so much time around people and computers during work hours that I enjoy immensely being able to grab a backpack and go somewhere where I can spend a day or two with my husband. It brings me joy to have these moments of quiet when I can dial back my problem-solving, analytical mind and just contemplate nature.
Q: Any accomplishments you’re proud of outside of work?
A: I’m a graduate of the Ruta Quetzal program, an academic/adventure program for teenagers sponsored by the Spanish crown and a European bank. I won a spot for the year 2000 edition by writing my first and unpublished historical novel about a Spanish conquistador. It was an amazing experience that forever opened my eyes to how small the world is and planted the seed of perpetual learning, travel, and discovery.
Q: What is something interesting about you that not a lot of people know?
Two silly facts: I’m a huge fan of pygmy goats. They’re crazy, full of energy, and bold. Whenever I have a chance to go to a petting zoo and play with them, I do it.
After I moved to the United States, friends back home discovered that I have a doppelgänger who does ads for Coca-Cola in Mexico. Some of them even thought I had given up on tech and took a different route.
About Hispanic Heritage Month
Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?
A: To me, it is this time to celebrate all the different traditions and countries that come together under the Hispanic denomination. This celebration is tied to a learning experience for me. While I’m familiar with Mexican traditions and history, there is so much I don’t know about other Hispanic countries. Having the opportunity to listen to the different perspectives and challenges in addition to all the things we have in common is very humbling and eye-opening.
Q: If you’re comfortable, do you mind sharing your background?
A: I was born in a city in northern Mexico called Chihuahua. Nothing to do with the dog, I promise. My parents and brother are still back there. I lived and worked in Mexico until I was 27.
I came to the United States for what I thought was going to be a short period for grad school. But then I met my German husband who also thought he was here for a summer. We decided to stay here because it presented the best professional opportunities for both of us, and we’re now in this tricultural journey together: working together to understand America and each other’s background and history. It’s something I never planned for, but has opened my eyes to a lot of things, such as the hardships of immigration and that no matter where we come from, we have more in common than we think.
Q: Are there any past or present-day figures in your life?
A: My family inspires and motivates me in different ways. My dad instilled in me the value of hard work and is the most resilient person I know. My mom is always learning and has a permanently inquisitive mind. My brother is creative and reminds me that I shouldn’t take my self too seriously. In a way, I have a lot of them in me and having them in my life energizes, inspires, and grounds me. They give me a lot, and I try to be better every day to be able to give them back as well.
Q: This year’s theme is about celebrating Latinx creative energy and recognizing the creative contributions from all over Latin America. Do you have a favorite creative?
A: León Larregui, the lead singer of a band Zoé. I was never able to put into words why until I moved to the United States. His band and his music capture pretty well what my experience was growing up in Mexico and being part of the generation that experienced the internet and globalization firsthand. He sings both in English and Spanish and touches on topics that are universally experienced. The music takes influences from modern pop rock, but is also not shy about including sounds from their own country. It’s a testament to how fluid culture and nationality are in a globalized world, and it ultimately captures how I think about my own identity.
Check back soon to meet more Dropboxers. In the meantime visit us at dropbox.com/jobs. Dropbox is growing, grow with us!