Individual contributor turned manager: a Senior Product Designer talks growth
Jackie joined our Product Design team as a Senior Product Designer in October 2017. At the moment, she is preparing to transition from individual contributor to manager. We sat down to discuss the moments she deems crucial in her development and her tips for anyone looking to grow.
How has your career progressed and your role changed since you joined GYG?
I initially joined GetYourGuide as a Senior Product Designer on the Native Apps team, which has been a really fun group to work with. Now I’m transitioning away from individual contributor work as I move into a managerial role across all the traveler-facing products (web and native apps). This transition means more involvement in team strategy discussions, technical leadership across products, and hiring and building talent.
What qualities did you develop that were essential to your growth?
One thing I learned was that it’s just as important to communicate when things are going well as it is when they’re going poorly. The need to voice bottlenecks or blockers is obvious, but I didn’t feel that same urgency in communicating the status of projects that were on track which left some of my colleagues in the dark.
Although I knew miscommunication was often the root of many problems, what I needed to learn was that lack of communication was also a form of miscommunication. So when in doubt, it’s always better to over-communicate!
Another thing I’ve learned is the balance between being confident in your competence as well as being honest with both yourself and your colleagues about the areas in which you need improvement. I think the ability to self-reflect goes a long way and gives you the framework you need to own your development.
When you look back at your career at GetYourGuide, is there one moment that stands out as either a particular moment of pride or of challenge that contributed to your growth? Why does this moment stand out?
A highlight that comes to mind was the opportunity to lead the rollout of the rebrand across all our products this past summer. The rollout was a challenge in many ways - the incredibly short timeline, the scope of the work expected, and the daily curveballs that were thrown our way.
While being thrown into the deep end seemed daunting at first, I quickly realized that the autonomy I was entrusted with led to a high degree of motivation in my work. So, I rallied all the teams together, we put in the hours, and we rolled with the punches. In the end, we pulled off more than anticipated and I proved to myself that when presented with a challenge, I can rise to the occasion.
How have your managers or colleagues been instrumental in helping you grow?
Since the beginning, even prior to joining GetYourGuide, my manager (Marlene) and I have always had a really open communication channel. This was really important to me, as we were able to talk about the areas in which I’d like to grow and build myself both personally and professionally. I’ve been really grateful for her ability to not only listen, but to listen and react. I’m a strong believer in growing through challenge with empowerment, and she has been consistently proactive about creating opportunities that are both challenging and aligned with my personal development goals.
I work with a lot of smart cookies - and if I had to choose one thing, I think the best part about it is that often, they ask constructive questions to challenge what’s in front of them. This forces everyone in the discussion to stretch outside of their comfort zone, to think from the lens of different fields of expertise, and to continuously reevaluate and refine their own beliefs. This practice tends to result in better work collectively.
What advice would you give to others looking to progress at GYG or elsewhere?
One concept I’m currently learning is that failure is not always explained by bad decision making. I was reading an article the other day and the author said something refreshingly true - “It’s easy to look at success and attribute it to good decision making, but that statement is also true the other way around.”
While we will never be able to predict the future, we can try to make decisions we don’t regret. By focusing more on the process instead of the outcome, we can feel confident that we are making the right decision given all the information we have at that time. And by doing so, we can mitigate regret - no matter the outcome.
Professionally speaking, it’s good to have a, say, 10 year goal in mind to act as the guiding North Star while knowing this may change and that’s okay.
Ask yourself, where do I want to be in 10 years? Now, work backwards from there.
Is what you’re doing now contributing to the future you desire? Is where you are adding value to what you want out of your life? Is there anything more you should or could be doing? Is there anything getting in the way of what you should be considering?
Only when you start asking yourself these questions and putting some action to your answers will you be able to get out of your own way and become the “best you” you can be!