I am obsessed with baseball.* Anyone who knows me can vouch for this. Unfortunately, I blew out my arm throwing when I was 18, which made playing the sport impossible. So I started watching and following professional games. Soon after, my love for our national pastime merged with my love of numbers. I started developing advanced algorithms for my college team. I still do this for fun today — mainly for the Cubs.
Art was always my favorite subject in school. Throughout my education, I had incredible mentors and teachers. During college, I was able to share these lessons with other students while working for a local non-profit called Generation Communication (GenCom, for short). At GenCom, I led high school students in creating social impact projects, such as recycling awareness and anti-smoking posters for other non-profits.
I like solving a problem. To me, this means creating with a purpose. Legos, birdhouses, dinner — the format does not matter. What I enjoy is building and learning something new so that I can build more and learn more.
Teams are important to me. Growing up as an only child, I created “teams” of friends. I was fascinated by people who had backgrounds and strengths that were different from my own. My teams were incredibly diverse. This taught me the importance of building community and helped to develop a strong sense of empathy from an early age.
I have a passion for helping others succeed. It started with my father — he owns his own business and regularly puts in 12-hour days. Even more than his tireless work ethic, I admired his genuine desire to help others and treat people with respect.
My first coach was my grandmother. Her work ethic inspired me to push hard to achieve my goals, from competitive swimming starting when I was 8 years old to putting myself through college. Over the years, I have been blessed to benefit from the guidance of many mentors. Even my husband and two small children are coaches in their own way, keeping me grounded and focused on the right priorities.
My compass is always pointing towards the next goal. Self-learning web development as a kid, becoming the first college graduate in my family, my passion today for mountaineering — I never stop exploring. There is always a more challenging summit to reach, so I like to push myself further and further in all aspects of life.
I love learning about the origins of language and how it shapes communities. Reading the works of people from all different backgrounds provides unlimited perspectives. In college, I took every type of literature, writing, linguistics, grammar, and editing course that I possibly could.
I have always been interested in making, building, or fixing something. This interest led to a variety of summer jobs as I was working through school — from bartending to renovating houses. Each experience served me later on as a product manager. My favorite though, was my summer job working as a ferryman on the Helford River in Cornwall, England. It turned out this role had many parallels to product management.
I have always known that the pursuit of money for money’s sake will ultimately result in unhappiness. My parents taught me these values. The messages were clear — if you value something, work hard, and make informed choices, then you will create opportunities that deliver intrinsic value.
Embrace the unexpected. I suppose my parents instilled this trait in me. In the early 1990s, they moved our family from Poland to the U.S. — sight unseen. I cannot imagine how scary that must have been for them to leave their comfort zone, immerse themselves in a new culture and language, and just roll with it.
Marketing agencies get a bad rap. It can be said that they foster ruthless work environments aimed at one thing: racking up the biggest client spend bill possible. Well, I’m happy to provide a counter to that impression. My agency experience was nothing like that at all.
My first job as a programmer was working with a legacy Visual Basic 6 application. Although VB has always been looked down upon as a programming language, it delivered a fundamental lesson for me.
I was inspired by my parents. Whether they were delivering food after a life event or shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor, helping those in need was part of their daily routine. The example they set led to my lifelong passion for volunteering and mentorship — a passion that led me to Aha!
Building things is my favorite way to learn. Even better when I can build things with people who I can learn a lot from. I took my first programming course in college, which lead to my first Ruby on Rails internship at an analytics aggregation company. That summer, I spent every waking hour learning Rails.