A day in the life of…Karen W (Lead Product Owner)

AsosTechBlog
Mar 9 · 4 min read

This ‘Day in the life of’ series gives you an insight into what a typical day looks like for our women in Tech at ASOS (hint: there isn’t one) and how they started their careers. Hopefully, you take something inspirational away from it.

This one’s about Karen, who’s a Lead Product Owner.

My alarm clock goes off…

Around 7am (my alarm is my toddler singing The Wheels on the Bus at the top of his voice. Once you’ve heard it, it’s very difficult to un-hear!)

I’m responsible for…

The product vision and strategy across the ASOS login and registration journeys. As a Product Owner I get to solve customer problems and uncover new and exciting opportunities for the business, which I love. I talk to customers directly about their shopping habits and experiences and collaborate with loads of different teams across the business to turn great ideas into reality.

I got the job…

Largely by accident! After graduating with a degree in Theology I started working as an Editorial Assistant in a publishing house. Not long into the job, the technology team needed some ‘subject matter experts’ to support the development of a new bibliographic system and I was seconded onto a software development programme for a few months. Despite my initial reticence, I absolutely loved it and never looked back. I had no idea about the complexity of software development and the huge variety of roles available within Technology. I quickly moved into a Business Analyst role and have worked in similar roles for several different companies ever since.

Years before I joined ASOS I used to cycle past the head office in Camden in awe of the amazing building and the buzz that surrounded it. I’ve now been here nearly four years and still get the same buzz walking around!

My typical day looks like…

I definitely spend a lot of time in meetings — whether it’s talking to stakeholders about requirements for new features, building up hypotheses to test with the insights team or working closely with our engineering teams on how to deliver a new idea. I enjoy working with data, so I also spend a lot of time number crunching and trying to better understand customer behaviour to help identify product opportunities.

My lockdown evenings have me…

I’d love to say reading some ancient Greek philosophy or watching a TED talk. But realistically it’s Married at First Sight Australia (or some equivalent trashy TV) or doing some baking, which is a definite passion of mine.

My most memorable moment at ASOS…

Definitely the summer party where Vengaboys performed (can you call it performed??) I love that ASOS value celebrating success and having fun — as well as a bit of late nineties nostalgia.

The best part of my job is…

The variety. There’s so much happening across the business so I’m constantly learning and there is always an opportunity to get involved in something new. There’s also a wonderfully supportive and inclusive working environment so it’s easy to get excited about the next big deliverable.

One new thing I have learnt in the last year…

I’ve learnt that it’s totally manageable to work a four-day week, have a healthy work-life balance and to continue to enjoy and deliver in your role. I was incredibly nervous about returning to work on flexible hours after having my first child, but with the help and support of ASOS and my colleagues it’s been a really positive experience.

My one piece of advice for aspiring women in Tech…

Consider the breadth of roles available to you in Tech. It’s easy to think technology is all about coding but there are so many different opportunities available which require all different kinds of skillsets.

Also, don’t be afraid to put yourself forward for opportunities that excite you — you’ll probably be surprised at how supportive people are.

This International Women’s Day, I #ChooseToChallenge

I #ChooseToChallenge gender stereotypes. I think it’s more important than ever to try and keep an open mind and constantly challenge our own assumptions (as well as the assumptions of others). These individual contributions all massively help towards collective change.

Karen is a Lead Product Owner at ASOS.com. In her spare time, she loves lurking on social media (but never posting), baking up a new concoction, mariachi music and travel.

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