Ashley has been working for Brightspot since March 2010.
To kick off 2018, Rose went on the record with Ashley Krauss, a product manager who has spent the past 8 years at Brightspot and has watched the company grow from 25 employees to over 150. During their conversation, Rose and Ashley talk about how Brightspot has changed over this time, dive into her role as a product manager and some of her favorite projects, and how her minor in Spanish is helping on a current project.
You've been at Brightspot for almost eight years. What initially brought you here? How have you seen the company evolve over time?
I was working at AOL and had just started getting my feet wet learning about the internet, when my boss, Ping, left for Brightspot. Moving to Brightspot seemed like a great opportunity to continue working with her and gain more experience at a smaller company.
As Brightspot has grown, it has been able to keep its cool vibe and personality. We've built better processes and no longer re-invent the wheel for every project. Learning to be smarter about saving time and energy has allowed us to focus on new endeavors instead of doing the same things over and over. The company has also added a lot of great, young, eager talent that is a huge part of who we are.
Can you tell me more about your role as a Product Manager at Brightspot? What does a typical day looks like?
A typical day starts with a bunch of stand ups to check in with our teams to make sure they are focused on the right priorities and answer any open questions they may have. My day also involves talking to my clients to keep them up to date on the status of our progress. Making sure all of my projects stay on track requires a lot of communication.
How do you think you have grown professionally during your time at Brightspot?
When I started, I didn't know much about web development. I had no idea how much work went into managing and delivering web properties. I've also grown by learning how to speak the language of technology much better. I have learned to juggle multiple responsibilities and better manage my time. Through experiences with QA, publishing, and working with developers I have also become more well-rounded professionally.
You have worked on a ton of different projects for a handful of clients. Does any one project stand out as your favorite? Why?
One project I hold special is VetStreet which was the first time I wrote requirements and was able to see a project through from beginning to launch. I learned a lot but also made a lot of mistakes that ultimately helped me grow.
In general, being able to implement features in our platform and be a voice for our customers to build solutions that we can streamline for multiple clients is exciting because of the long-term impact on both the product and the company.
What characteristics are most important to making you successful at your job?
Honesty and a willingness to have hard conversations with co-workers and customers are most important. You have to be able to communicate when things aren't going as planned. Attention to detail is also vital in delivering the right solutions.
How do you think Brightspot best benefits our clients?
I can speak from experience because I have worked with a lot of different publishing platforms from an editorial perspective. Brightspot is a simple, easy-to-use tool without unnecessary bells and whistles. We have had 16 year-old interns, who don't know how to publish anything, pick up the platform in less then one day. It's a perfect blend of being flexible, easy to use, and customizable to meet the needs of each client.
I read that you know Spanish. Where did you learn it? How fluent are you?
I started speaking Spanish when I was in the 3rd grade. My school had a teacher come in and teach us the basics. I continued with it in middle school and high school, then minored in it in college. At one point I was pretty fluent but haven't used it much recently. I'm excited to start using my Spanish skills on the Televisa project and become more fluent again.
In July 2015, you traveled to Los Angeles with 9 other Brightspot employees to volunteer for the Special Olympics World Games. What did you learn from that experience?
I learned how amazing Special Olympics is as an organization. The incredible people who are part of it and the events they pull off were beautiful to see. It doesn't matter what challenges you face, if you keep your eye on the prize you can do anything. It was an amazing experience for me and I enjoyed going with you, Rose!
Besides the people, what is your favorite part of working for Brightspot?
My favorite part of working here is that there is never a dull moment. There is always something to do and I am always learning. I am valued here and my opinions are heard. I can use my experience to help customers and new colleagues.
What are you favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
I really like animals. I like to spend time with my dog and cat. I love to paint. Also, I have 5 nieces and nephews, who I love to hang out with in my free time.
Where would you go in a time machine?
I would probably go back to the 60's and 70's. I figure that since I am a little bit of a hippy, it would be fun to experience the music and fashion of that era.