Maria has been working at Brightspot since October 2018
Rose continued her series of remote interviews recently with a conversation with Maria Bishirjian, a product manager who came to Brightspot after working closely with the team and Brightspot platform during her time at Hanley Wood, a longtime Brightspot client. During their conversation, Rose and Maria discussed this transition from being a customer to being an employee, her recent work with AARP, and the changes in the media landscape that she's witnessed throughout her career in the industry.
Prior to coming to Brightspot, you had worked closely with our team and Brightspot while at Hanley Wood. What attracted you to joining Brightspot?
When I was at Hanley Wood, I worked closely with Brightspot on several CMS migrations so I was very familiar with Brightspot and already knew that it was a great platform with lots of flexibility and wide range of uses. Brightspot is especially easy to use for day-to-day editorial workflows and has many features that readily available out-of-the-box that surpass other platforms. Aside from the product, I found the people enjoyable to work with and I was interested in a range of different projects.
In 2019, you played a critical role in a large project with AARP. Can you tell me more about that project and your role on the team?
On AARP I helped migrate a collection of sites from WordPress to Brightspot. The project involved working with different teams at AARP to make sure the new sites were set up very quickly. AARP was making the switch to Brightspot in order to more easily manage its sites with more flexibility and capabilities than WordPress could offer. It was really interesting to connect with the different teams at AARP because each organization had a different set of objectives.
From the Washington City Paper to Hanley Wood to the Washington Post, you have had lots of experience with media organizations. How have you seen the industry evolve over the past 20 years?
Everything has become much faster paced. It has also been fascinating to see how different media types are used to distribute content. In particular, audio is used for story-telling in ways we couldn't imagine in the past.
How do you think Brightspot best benefits our clients?
One of the hallmarks of Brightspot is how easy it is to train users. For someone like me, in a product role, it's easy to get an editor up and running with creating and publishing content in a short period of time. The search capabilities are also really great. Whenever I walk a client through how to use Brightspot's search feature they are always impressed by how easily they can find the content they need.
I saw you started your career in graphic design. How does that experience benefit as you as a product manager?
Even though the technology has changed, I can relate to how much goes into content creation and production, regardless of the medium. Whether it is preparing an image file, editing a story, or producing audio/video, I know how important it is to have tools that are easy to use that allow you to focus on content.
Do you still do any creative projects on the side?
No, not anymore. Hopefully, I will get back into it someday.
Besides the people, what is your favorite part about working at Brightspot?
It's hard not to say the people! The company itself is really interesting to work for because we work for clients across such as a wide range of industries. We have corporate, non-profit, media clients and so many more doing such interesting work. You're never going to get bored at Brightspot! The mission work is also special and unique.
What are your favorite activities or hobbies to do outside of the office?
Nowadays, we're all adjusting to a new normal. I enjoy being outside as much as I can. I've been working on starting a small vegetable garden and am hoping to grow a few things this summer. Wish me luck!
While we are at home physically distancing, do you have any book, television or movie recommendations to share?
I usually read a few books at the same time, mixing non-fiction and fiction. I'd recommend Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyeni. It was a real page turner and the sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance just came out recently.
Where would you go in a time machine? Why?
I like history so I would like to go to the late 1400s in Florence, Italy during the height of the Italian Renaissance. I studied art history in college and would be interested to experience the atmosphere of that time.