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On the Record with Rose: Catherine Chilton

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Catherine has been working for Brightspot since August 2018.

Rose recently went on the record with Catherine Chilton, a product manager at Brightspot who has lead a variety of projects, most notably Brigham Young University's migration to Brightspot in 2019. During their conversation, they discuss the massive effort behind the BYU project, the traits that have allowed her to excel in her role, and her previous experience volunteering with Girls on the Run.

You started at Brightspot after graduating from the University of Virginia? What brought you here?
I really loved the people and the description of the role. When I interviewed, I was asked to complete a case study creating an app for Coleman, an outdoor equipment brand, and I really enjoyed it. From talking to everyone I met, I was impressed by how nice, down-to-earth, and hard-working they were and thought Brightspot would be a great fit for me.

Can you tell me more about your role as a Product Manager for Brightspot? What does a typical day look like?
I am the go-between for clients and our internal teams. A typical day includes stand-up meetings to check in with developers, see how things are going, and clarify requirements. I also regularly meet with clients to update them on what we are working on and clear up any outstanding questions. A large part of my work is done in JIRA, where I write tickets to define requirements for developers.

In your first year, you have worked on a ton of different projects for a handful of clients, does any one project stand out as your favorite? Why?
BYU would have to be my favorite. It was the first large-scale project that I saw through from start to finish. Over the lifecycle of the project, we will migrate several hundred sites to Brightspot. So far, we have moved a few hundred and each week we launch more and more. There is so much I am constantly learning and the people are really kind and a pleasure to work with.

What traits are most important to making you successful at your job?
Patience, hard work, organization, and having a good attitude. Staying level-headed when problems arise and powering through towards a solution is a key. With so much going on at any given time, it's really important to work hard and stay organized to make sure that everything gets done.

How have you grown professionally since starting your career at Brightspot 16 months ago?
I have learned a lot about effective communication with both clients and internal teams. I have also learned how to focus on solutions instead of problems. I did not come from a computer science background so I have had to pick up a lot of new skills that I had never been exposed to before and expand my technical knowledge.

I read that you did an internship in Spain at the Museo de Historia de Valencia. Can you tell me more about your experience abroad?
I studied abroad in Valencia, Spain and lived with a host family who did not speak any English, so I was fully immersed in Spanish. While I was there, I worked at a history museum. My job wasn't the most exciting but I really enjoyed it. I was responsible for reviewing photos of archaeological sites and cataloging them. I love history so it was fascinating to interact with these European artifacts.

Can you tell me more about your experience about coaching for Girls on the Run? What is the goal of the organization and what did you take away from the experience?
Girls on the Run was my very favorite thing to be involved with in college. It's an incredible organization that focuses on building important life skills for upper-elementary and middle school aged girls. The organization promotes positivity, confidence, social skills, and anti-bullying through running. It helps girls learn how to set and strive towards a goal. Twice a week we would hold practices and integrate team building activities to break down boundaries between different social groups into our workouts. We had important conversations about how to stand up to bullies or how to face other difficult situations. By the end of the season, all of the girls compete in a Celebration 5K that celebrates their growth and achievements.

I did not have the best self-esteem in middle school, but when I joined the track team and started running it made me believe in myself. Being involved with an organization like Girls on the Run that helps provide girls that same self-belief was a really special experience for me.

Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working for Brightspot?
I love my role as a product manager. When I was looking for jobs, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had interned in accounting and realized that wasn't the right fit, so I was looking at consulting and other jobs that would provide me the opportunity to interact regularly with others. I love that my job challenges me and allows me to learn new things every day. I really enjoy working with clients to understand their ideas, see them through to the end, and build something awesome!

What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I love to cook and bake, especially cupcakes and muffins. I love to garden on my balcony, which hasn't been going very well, but maybe next spring I'll have more success. I really enjoy exploring D.C. and traveling to new places.

Where would you go in a time machine?
I have been watching Downton Abbey lately, so I think I would like to go back to the 1920's in England and hangout at a beautiful estate like in the show.

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