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On the Record with Rose: Alea Connolly

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Alea has been working for Brightspot since November 2015.

This month, Alea Connolly, a product manager for Brightspot went on the record with Rose. After graduating from JMU, Alea chose to start her career at Brightspot in 2015, and since coming aboard has worked on high-profile projects for Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, and Politico, among others. During their conversation, Alea shares what brought her to Brightspot, how she's grown professionally, and about the unique experience of volunteering at the 2017 Special Olympics World Games in Austria.

You've been working for Brightspot since you graduated from JMU three years ago. What initially brought you here?
When I was looking at jobs, I wanted to be in an innovative and fast-paced environment. I love technology and writing so when I saw the opportunity at Brightspot and read more about our interesting clients and cool editorial technology, Brightspot, it seemed like a great fit. When I interviewed, I met really amazing people and wound up deciding to start my career here.

Can you tell me more about your role as a Product Manager for Brightspot? What does a typical day look like?
As a product manager, I get to talk to everyone. I talk to developers, designers, clients, and content folks. I interact with everyone during the process of building a new website. A typical day for me starts with a stand up with developers to see if they have any questions. After that I'll meet with clients to continue to better understand their needs and make sure we're building what they want. From those conversations, I write requirements and constantly problem solve to deliver what they need.

You have worked on a ton of different projects for a handful of clients, does any one project stand out as your favorite? Why?
This is not a fair question! I love all of the projects I have worked on. Each project presents unique challenges. My current project with Amazon has kept me busy traveling and given me greater insight into how Amazon works, which has been really interesting to learn.

What traits are most important to making you successful at your job?
My commitment to making customers happy, relating to them by living by in their shoes, and always trying to be on the same team as them is most important. Also, communicating, particularly articulating the same information to different audiences, has also proven to be a valuable skill.

How do you think Brightspot best benefits our clients?
Brightspot enables editors to have the power in their hands. If they need to spin up a new landing page for a campaign or publish some crazy article, Brightspot gives them the tools to do it. They don't have to always turn to developers to help create content.

As we discussed earlier, you started at Brightspot directly after college. How have you grown professionally over the past three years?
Professionally, I have learned how different businesses work by being part of their teams. I've seen Amazon, Johnson & Johnson, and Politico up close. I started with a limited tech background, but this experience has exposed me to trends in technology which has kept me thinking creatively.

In March 2017, you traveled to Austria with 10 other Brightspot employees to volunteer for the Special Olympics World Games. What did you learn from that experience?
To be able to think on my toes and respond really quickly to different situations that I wasn't trained on how to handle. We had to work as a team to solve problems every day in order to get things done. We all wore a ton of different hats, very similar to my role as a product manager. More than anything, however, my favorite part of the World Games was seeing the joy of the athletes and their supporters, which made it a truly rewarding opportunity.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part of working for Brightspot?
The projects! I love to come to work and face new challenges every day. If a client wants X, Y, and Z, we want to figure out how to give it to them. There is never a dull moment.

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I am currently reading a lot this summer. I try to paint and draw when I can. I love binging Netflix shows, and I like to cook. Actually, I like to eat more than cook. I like to eat the food other people cook!

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