Why These 5 Seattle Product Managers Love the Tech Life

by Quinten Dol
August 13, 2019

What motivates a successful product manager?

Well, judging from our interviews with PMs at these local tech companies, it seems they draw inspiration from all over the place — watching customers adopt their projects en masse, the ever-changing nature of the work, a happy sense of loyalty to one’s colleagues and a company’s overall mission were just some of the answers we heard.

These interviews offer a rare glimpse into how these five Seattle tech companies work, and the culture they cultivate around their respective missions. Oh, and each is looking for new people — so read on to see where you might fit. 

 

getty images seattle tech product managers
photo via getty images

Getty’s Seattle employees build and manage one of the world’s biggest creators and distributors of photography, videos and multimedia through brands like iStock and Thinkstock. The company also has its own API solutions, helping customers build applications using Getty’s imagery, search and download tools; and a media management system to help businesses keep their digital assets in one place.

Product Managers Matt Dahlgren and Karissa Liloc love the variety that comes with working at their organization. 

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at your company?

Dahlgren: Content creation and licensing is a complex business requiring Getty Images’ product managers to wear multiple hats — customer liaison, problem solver, operational expert and thought leader. I enjoy the variety, and like being able to flex different muscles over the course of a day. Plus, there’s always something new going on around here. I’m always working with new people on new projects with new and unexpected challenges. I’m not joking when I say that I’ve never looked at my watch around 2 p.m. and thought, “this day is dragging.”

 

Getty Images has increasingly focused on representing people more broadly and in a global sense...”

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on there that got you excited to come to work every day. What did you enjoy about the project?

Liloc: I’m especially proud of the work being done on our “Contributor by Getty Images” mobile app. Working on the app has been a great opportunity to collaborate and partner with engineers, designers and teams sitting on the content and contributor side of the business. At its core, the app enables creative photographers to upload, add metadata and submit content in a quick, streamlined workflow. That alone is exciting to work on, but the app is also a new channel helping us communicate with our contributors and keep them informed at the same time. Over the last several years, Getty Images has increasingly focused on representing people more broadly and in a global sense, acknowledging our ability to positively influence how people of various genders, ethnicities and ages are both seen and represented. By having a hand in the development of this app, I get to be a small part of that incredible effort — which is exciting and makes me proud to come to work each day.

 

karat seattle tech startup
photo via karat

Organizations hire engineers to write code and solve complex problems — but in a rapidly growing startup, many engineers find their time increasingly tied up in job interviews with potential colleagues. Karat lets companies outsource their engineering interviews by connecting candidates with its network of interview engineers and predictive software, thereby accelerating the hiring process.

Product Manager Irena Lam took us through the first product she ever helped build from start to finish. 

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at your company?

At the end of the day, people and purpose are my biggest motivators. At Karat we have some of the most talented and down-to-earth people I have ever met. They encourage me and challenge me on a daily basis, and I’m incredibly thankful for them. Our purpose is also a huge factor for me. Interviews connect people with opportunity, so we strive to make each technical interview as predictive, fair and enjoyable as possible. We do this through our amazing community of interview engineers, who bring empathy and connection to tens of thousands of interviews. I'm so proud to work with them.

 

While the majority of launches in my career were iterative improvements for existing products, this was truly from the ground up...”

Tell us about a project you've worked on there that got you excited to come to work everyday. What did you enjoy about the project?

We just launched a new product for Karat interview engineers and candidates to collaborate together in real time. For me, the end-to-end process was exciting. We brainstormed, brutally prioritized, tested with users and obsessively monitored and prioritized feedback. While the majority of launches in my career were iterative improvements for existing products, this was truly from the ground up, and involved folks all across the company for support and perspective. I feel lucky to have been a part of it with a team who cares deeply about the impact on our users.

 

hiya seattle tech startup product management
photo via hiya

Hiya stands on the front lines of the battle against the scourge of robocallers and spam. The company maintains a global database of comprehensive caller profiles, offering users useful information about who is calling them, and helps blacklist and block bad actors. Hiya works with some of the biggest carriers in the world — including Samsung, AT&T and T-Mobile — and is currently in use by around 90 million users worldwide.

Senior Product Manager Nate Irish and Director of Product Management Jonathan Nelson outlined how their work has a direct impact on users’ lives. 

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at your company?

Irish: The thing I enjoy most about working at Hiya is the focus on outcomes rather than outputs. Working hard for the sake of reporting a list of release notes longer than your arm is meaningless if they don’t add up to a greater goal. Keeping an end in mind — and working toward that end — means our hard work provides a measurable benefit to customers and the business.

 

We are constantly exploring ways to use data in new ways...”

Tell us about a project you've worked on that got you excited to come to work every day.  What did you enjoy most about this project?

Nelson: We are constantly exploring ways to use data in new ways. I had the opportunity to spearhead a brand new analytics system, something to answer the questions we hadn't even thought to ask yet. It was refreshing to see an unproven but valuable project taken seriously and pushed through to production where it’s still running today!

 

snap! raise seattle tech product management team
photo via snap! raise

Fancy using your coding skills to empower worthwhile causes nationwide? Enter Snap! Raise, a Westlake-based company that puts its fintech tools in the hands of youth sports teams and educational programs. In doing so, the company lets administrators focus on the kids, without spending so much time worrying about the cash.

Senior Director of Product Balin Larson says the company’s evolving technology always pushes him to learn new skills.

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at Snap! Raise

Aside from deeply believing in the mission and impact of Snap! Raise, one of my personal career motivations is a pursuit of constant growth and learning. Being here since the beginning has given me the opportunity to always live just outside of my comfort zone. The environment and pace at which we build requires a constant focus on personal betterment and an ability to adapt quickly. This is how our team assures that we deliver the best possible end product. I learn something new every day, and I’m able to use that knowledge to make a big difference in the communities we serve.

 

I’m consistently humbled by the work ethic and ability of our team...”

Tell us about a project you've worked on there that got you excited to come to work every day. What did you enjoy about the project?

We have spent a significant amount of 2019 building the foundation for the next generation of the Snap! Raise platform. What I have enjoyed most about this experience is being able to see our team take ownership, and craft some truly elegant solutions from the goals we’ve set as a leadership team. I’m consistently humbled by the work ethic and ability of our team, and couldn’t be more excited for the future of our product.

 

seagull scientific product managent tech company
photo via seagull scientific

As supply lines sprawl across continents, it can become mighty hard to keep track of products and components. Since 1985, BarTender by Seagull Scientific has helped businesses in retail, pharmaceuticals, medical device manufacturing and many more industries with the creation, automation and management of their label design and printing. The technology ensures the safety, security, efficiency and compliance of their labeling processes and supply chains.

Senior Program Manager Malcolm Dickson and Program Manager David Brombaugh explained how they find inspiration in their work. 

 

What do you enjoy most about the work you do at your company?

Brombaugh: The people at Seagull are incredible. It’s a very familial atmosphere — people truly care about others. The product and business space is far more interesting than I’d ever considered. Prior to working at Seagull Scientific, I never really thought much about printing. To me, it was just a plain, old, boring “thing you need to do every once in a while.” Since starting here, I have had the opportunity to see the breadth of what printing really is, and how customers use BarTender to solve problems with manufacturing, packaging, labeling and shipping of their products. It opened my eyes to a truly exciting industry that I never knew existed.

 

The iterative process of working with others to learn, develop, review and then get feedback... is quite motivating.”

Tell us about a project you’ve worked on there that got you excited to come to work every day. What did you enjoy about the project?

Dickson: I’m working on new user experiences which is really exciting because you have to learn about specific customer needs across a workflow and then develop improved experiences. The iterative process of working with others to learn, develop, review and then get feedback that results in improved customer experiences is quite motivating. At the end of the day, I’d say it’s the high quality of the people I get to work with — on top of the ability to focus on results — which makes it exciting to come to work every day.

 

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