Like many of us who saw the Internet become a Thing over the course of our careers, I am an accidental product guy.
I stumbled into a field I love via a circuitous route that led through a decade in journalism. My teams did some award-winning investigative work over the years, and were on the front lines of conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and beyond. As a reporter and editor, I witnessed the emergence of the Web as a disrupting force in media. For me, it provided a new channel to reach people in need of news and information, and to tell stories in new and exciting ways.
By 2008, my interests had expanded far beyond multimedia storytelling, and I began exploring the underlying technology stack that supported our digital publishing efforts, the user experience principles that inform effective Web design, and the digital business models that offer the possibility of a sustainable future to legacy media.
In short, I was becoming a digital product leader -- I just didn't know it yet.
The turning point was when my publisher decided to take a chance on making an ink-stained managing editor her next director of online operations, responsible for all day to day business affairs of the company's new and nascent digital team. I had just enough staff to cover most of the roles that needed filling, with two notable exceptions: Product and project management. I took those duties on myself and never looked back.
Eight years later, I've held product management and user experience roles from individual contributor to the executive level at companies including Gannett Co., Capital One, Total Wine & More, and Strayer University. Along the way, I've led product management and design teams in small- and enterprise-scale Agile software development environments.
I was first exposed to human-centered design methods in 2010, and in the years since I've developed a complementary set of skills in user experience research and design -- with particular emphasis on the use of pen-and-paper sketching as a catalyst for creative thinking and rapid and collaborative experience prototyping with fellow designers, business stakeholders and end users.
The common thread throughout my work at the intersection of product management and UX strategy has been my desire to put the customer's need at the center of the product development process, and I am a passionate advocate for human-centered design.
Today, I'm helping working adults discover, learn more about, and enroll in distance-learning programs with the country's most innovative provider of online higher education, and evangelizing the power of Design Thinking to solve human problems.
I am a product manager. A design thinker. A user experience strategist. And when the mood strikes, a writer and editor.