#UnlimitedPlayground: Anna’s Story
Want to know what it’s like to work in an #UnlimitedPlayground? Interested in seeing what kind of career journey you could take if you had the room to challenge yourself and grow? At Ataccama, we want everyone to have the opportunity to try new things and adjust their roles based on their interests and talents. Our colleague, Anna, took full advantage of this when she chose to move from Presales to a new role as a Product Manager. What does she do in her day-to-day work? What challenges does she tackle? Read on to learn more.
What brought you to Ataccama?
“I would have gone through the process just for the sake of completing the pre-interview task because I just had to try it.”
I had an interesting start, actually. I’ve always loved dancing. As a child, I did ballet, then at university, it was historical dance. I decided it was time for something new, so I started doing the Lindy Hop and other swing dances from the 30s and 40s to meet people. I ended up attending quite a few events and met someone who worked in Presales at Ataccama. When I told her about my education (which I was still finishing), she said I sounded like a good candidate for Ataccama and that I should apply when I was ready.
A few months later, I decided to check out the Presales position. It sounded great, so I applied, and was sent a pre-interview task. It was so interesting. So cool. I would have gone through the process just for the sake of completing the task because I just had to try it. I didn’t even know half the questions, but I did it. When I went in for the interview, I really liked everyone I met. And here I am now.
What did you like most about working in Presales?
I get tired of routine. So being able to switch every now and then from installation and configuration to a demo was cool. The different facets of the role were pretty great. I also got the opportunity to work with many people in different departments, from marketing, development, and cloud support to professional services. I really enjoyed getting to know new people and discovering different points of views.
You recently moved to a Product Manager role, how have you been settling in?
It’s quite a new and interesting experience for me. In terms of navigating communication within the team, it’s usually pretty easy simply because we talk practically every day in a stand up, if not even more. Even while working from home, it’s pretty easy because we talk over Zoom and we do it more often.
But there’s also another side of communication with other members of the product team, other product managers, and this can sometimes be challenging. Everyone has a lot of work, so you need to find time and you need to be able to explain what you’re doing because they don’t usually have the context. You also might not have all the background of what they’re doing, so there’s constant work there.
What’s the difference between this type of communication and what you did in Presales?
“As a Product Manager, I also get input from clients and consultants, and based on that information, we prioritize things we’ll be doing with the product.”
I talked to clients and team members when I was in Presales, but this involves talking to way more people and it’s just a different dynamic. This is managing something and there’s a lot more responsibility on me. In terms of managing expectations, telling people what they can expect, or trying to work out with them what we should be working on. As a Product Manager, I also get input from clients and consultants, and based on that information, we prioritize things we’ll be doing with the product.
What are the biggest challenges for you?
Since we’re growing a lot, it’s mainly keeping track of what others are doing. We need to make sure that two teams aren’t doing the same work. I don’t think it’s happened so far, but it could, in theory, since the product management team is growing too. And we just need to make sure we’re aligned, that we don’t end up developing things that contradict each other or don’t work smoothly. Even though one team is developing one thing and another team another thing, they’re interrelated.
This can be quite challenging because you need to allocate time to sync with people. You might not even make any decisions, but just have a chat about what they and you are developing or planning to develop, so everyone can stay in the know. These chats might even be helpful for something further down the road.
How are you coping with a new role now that we’re all working remotely?
Working from home has affected our daily communication, but we can still schedule meetings and have the chats we need. Working from the office doesn’t actually always make it easier to catch a person, anyway. Everyone has a lot on their plates with their own work, so it can be difficult either way. It’s more difficult to build personal connections online though, especially with new people joining that you haven’t met in person.
For me personally, it’s difficult to schedule a meeting with someone I haven’t met yet. This kind of phase, I’d prefer to do offline. I wish we could go to a pub and have a drink. So, from time to time, I ask people if we can just have a chat.
Have there been any surprises for you?
I wouldn’t say that I knew 100% what my responsibilities would be, so I guess there were some surprises and a few difficulties. What surprised me personally was that I finally managed to learn how to give up some part of control and trust that my team knows what they need to do, because I’m (such) a control freak. 😄
I know that my designer is a professional and knows everything she needs to do and we have professionals in developing and testing. It’s actually crazy how our QA people find bugs, sometimes even in product meetings inside the company or while I’m doing a product presentation. It’s just amazing. It feels great to rely on people and they just produce great work.
What have you learned so far?
“It’s great that my colleagues provide tips and tricks or useful frameworks and then I get to “steal” all that knowledge and incorporate it.”
I wasn’t trained to be a Product Manager, so I’ve learned from the experience of other colleagues on how to discover user needs and how to ask clients the right questions to make sure I get something specific and useful from them. It’s great that my colleagues provide tips and tricks or useful frameworks and then I get to “steal” all that knowledge and incorporate it. I’ve learned so much, and I’m still learning, of course.
I’m also learning how complex it is to not only introduce something new to the product but make sure that users know it’s in the product. For example, as a developer, you write a piece of code and add it to the product. Now you have a feature that needs to be documented, communicated to other teams, and included in marketing materials so that clients are actually aware that this shiny, new, amazing thing exists. They can then start using it right away, and if it’s a bit complicated, you would need even more documentation to explain how to use it properly. It’s not always super intuitive, so sometimes it needs to become part of the marketing message because if you don’t talk about it, then for a prospect, it doesn’t exist.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working with my team, the policies team, and our main focus is to help customers track parts of their data or metadata that need to be compliant with either internal or external policies. For example, companies need to follow GDPR and CCPA regulations and ensure that they are compliant. Quite a lot of companies would like to know how to keep better track of sensitive data and make sure they are doing their best to keep it safe. So we’re working in this direction.
What are the plans for the near future?
We’re hoping that we’ll be able to provide a solution to allow our clients to track different kinds of policies that they have in their organization, and it doesn’t matter if those policies are related to data or not. Our goal is to automate certain activities, even if they’re not related to data. Then companies will have a central place to keep this information. Let’s say you have some HR policies or D&I policies, which might not be so easily quantifiable, you can still let all the people in your company know that you have such policies in place and that they are important. That’s what we’re working towards.
What do you do for #ChallengingFun out of the office?
Right now, I’m trying to get back into my dancing routine. I used to be really into cooking during Covid times when I moved to a new apartment where the kitchen was finally completely mine. Of course, I made sourdough bread like everyone else.
I enjoy going for proper hikes. Once I climbed Mount Fuji overnight, that was definitely some #ChallengingFun. If anyone wants to hike with me, I’m here. And I don’t have a car, so if you have a car, I’d love to join. 😀
Inspired by Anna’s Ataccama journey and want to start one of your own? Check out our open positions and apply today!