Austin Fairchild has been working at Brightspot since August 2019
Rose chats with product manager Austin Fairchild about his professional and personal growth during his time here at Brightspot.
How long have you worked at Brightspot? What brought you here?
I have worked at Brightspot for two years. I was at a career fair at James Madison University and had looked at Brightspot in advance to prepare for the fair. I was especially attracted to the mission and the values of the company. I approached Parker Ramsdell and we hit it off. We talked about Brightspot, the people and the different community-service projects, and it got me really excited. I went for an interview and the rest is history.
I saw you started your career as a quality assurance engineer. How does this experience in QA benefit you as a product manager?
I think the first year and half at Brightspot in QA helped me in many ways as a product manager. First, it gave me time to learn the CMS in depth. Second, it helped me to learn the development life cycle and process. Third, I got to work with other great product managers and see how they worked. Working in QA on so many different projects, with so many different product managers, gave me the opportunity learn different styles and approaches to product management. Lastly, in QA, I developed an attention for detail that is critical in my new role and gives me a unique perspective.
What about product management made you interested in making that career change?
The biggest thing is that I wanted to have a more interactive role with the customer and further develop and use my communication skills. I also wanted to feel more ownership over the product, and handle the additional responsibilities that come with delivering for our customers.
I saw that you had a big launch in July for About Amazon Australia. Congratulations! Can you tell me a little bit more about this project and the work we are doing?
The work I am doing right now is the process of transitioning older international websites for Amazon to a new, updated and improved About Amazon platform. This launch for Australia was transitioning its Day One blog and all of the content into an updated, clean and clear site. It's a massive improvement for the international customers and it's been great to see their excitement to launch their properties.
How do you feel that you have grown professionally since starting at Brightspot?
My growth at Brightspot has been monumental. I came out of college with no experience, but with extremely high expectations for myself and my career. Brightspot has allowed me to fulfill those expectations and has given me the opportunity to run a team. My communication and interpersonal skills have flourished. My problem solving abilities have skyrocketed, too.
In January 2020, you traveled to Aspen with other Brightspot employees to ski at the sixth annual Special Olympics X Games and you have been part of our Aldrin Elementary School mentorship program. What have those experiences meant to you?
I think the biggest takeaway is that there is always an opportunity for you to get involved and make someone's life better even with the smallest of actions. Whether it's cheering your heart out for someone like Daina Shilts while she's reaching for the gold at the X Games or being an outlet for a student to talk to, you can make an impact. I mentored a student at Aldrin during the past school year and we developed a great relationship. I was an outlet for her to vent and pushed her to do her best at school even when she didn't want to do it. It's great knowing that the small day-to-day actions that all of us can take have huge impact on the people we're helping.
What advice would you give a recent graduate getting ready to start their career?
My advice is to be confident and ask as many questions as you need to. Have trust in yourself and know that others are available to support you. Accept the help!
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
The values of the company. David and Lisa established those values at the company's founding and we continue to operate by them. They are not just for show. Employees love those values and put them on display every day.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
In the summertime I love to fish, canoe and camp. In the winter I enjoy snowboarding and recently I have been exploring painting. I'm not very good but I'm working on it! Oh, I also love plants! I have a bunch of house plants.
Is there a television show that you've watched recently that you would recommended?
The show Ragnarok on Netflix. It's a Norwegian show about Norse mythology. It's a really cool take on the story of Thor and Loki in modern times. I would highly recommend it!