Hi there, please tell us a little bit about yourself! Who are you? What do you like to do for fun?
Hi! My name is Aubrey. I was born and raised in Florida by my American mom and Venezuelan dad. 🇺🇸🇻🇪 I studied Marketing and Non-profit Management in in college (Go Knights!). I started off my career in the ad agency world and transitioned to working at Disney about 5 years ago.
Outside of work, I am a dog mom to two insane, but incredibly cute, Australian Shepherds, and I love all things related to music and concerts. (I've been to over 105!) My latest hobbies include jumping off the deep-end into the world of k-pop and k-dramas, and I haven't looked back since. 😂
Can you tell us what you do as a Lead Technical Program Manager for those who are unfamiliar?
I work as a Lead Technical Program Manager on our Design Operations (aka DesignOps) team. DesignOps is relatively new so the easiest way to describe it is that we are focused on optimizing people, processes and programs for our Product Design & Creative team by alleviating bottlenecks and inefficiencies, so that designers have more time to do what the do best: design. My role specifically is to establish measurable processes, operationalize workflows and support cross functional collaboration across our org.
How did you decide to pursue your specific career? What pivotal moments pushed you to where you are now?
Growing up with a software engineer father, I was always interested in tech. He always joked that I learned to start using the computer at age 3 (if you count slamming keys and moving a mouse as "using the computer".)
In college, I decided to pursue Marketing as I figured a business degree could be fairly applicable to any field I wanted to go into, since I wasn't sure just yet. My senior year I honestly sort of just stumbled into the ad agency world through a mutual friend. During my time working in agencies, I worked as an Account Manager, which really allowed my type A Virgo personality to thrive. It also made me realize my love of working on web-based projects from not only a tech perspective, but creative perspective as well. I'm not naturally creative myself, but being able to interact with creatives is something that really gets me jazzed about work.
I then started my career at Disney as Digital Product Operations Manager, which was essentially website account management for the http://DisneyWorld.com website and app. I was in that role for about 4 years and learned so much. However, as I started to think about where I wanted my career to progress, I realized that I really missed being more involved with the design side of tech. I realized my passions intersected by being a part of a DesignOps team as it marries the operational, structured side of work I enjoy with the innovative, wonderful designs our team creates.
What programs & tools do you use everyday for your work?
Smartsheet is something I use heavily in my day to day. It’s a simple, integrated way to track projects across multiple lines of business and organize project files like milestones, deadlines, budgets, meeting notes, etc.
Figma is something I also use in leading working groups with our team, as it’s extremely collaborative and user friendly.
Any advice on how to stand out and get hired for those starting off?
The best advice I can offer is to network. I know it’s not the most unique advice but it has been the most impactful in my career thus far. Establishing connections with those who can mentor and sponsor you will help you create new professional connections or even provide opportunities to just purely learn from other experts in the field. I am a naturally introverted person, but by pushing myself a little outside my comfort zone, it has made a truly significant impact on my career progression!
What are some must-have resources or skills you would recommend for your industry?
WorkLife with Adam Grant (thanks to my wonderful boss for recommending!)
Rosenfeld Media has a ton of amazing DesignOps resources including books, trainings and videos.
Nngroup.com has a lot of very helpful online resources.
What are 3 character traits that would make someone excel in your field?
Organized, compassionate, open-minded
Most satisfying & difficult thing about your job?
• Satisfying: establishing and refining new processes and seeing how they help our creatives in their day-to-day work.
• Difficult: being comfortable in grey areas! This role isn’t black and white or completely straight forward. Embrace the ambiguity of the complex problems you’re trying to solve!
What would you like to say to your younger self?
Have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Imposter syndrome is so real, so don’t be so hard on yourself and have confidence in the hard work you’re putting in!
Best advice you've received/heard?
“Expectations are premeditated resentments.” So don’t expect that you might learn something quickly, make a drastic change within the first week of a new job, etc and then be disappointed in yourself for not achieving these unrealistic expectations. Set realistic, achievable milestones for yourself and be confident that you are incredibly capable!