Product leadership: Katie Madding's life at Adjust
As part of our five-year anniversary celebrations we talked with many Adjusters about their time growing in the company. One of those people was Katie Madding. Katie's been with Adjust for three years - and over time she has grown from Account Manager to Director of Product. We talked about how she's adapted to various different roles in her time at Adjust, and about scaling a new office in San Francisco - a territory far, far away from HQ.
From pretty much the day I joined Adjust I’ve faced two real challenges, both to do with scale. The first; when you’re one of the first in a satellite office, you find that so much information can be missed. The second; by scaling a satellite, information can be lost between you and your growing team.
But a lot of that came after starting as an Account Manager at a young company in a brand new office, half the world away from HQ. I had a lot to learn before I could begin to help clients, and from the start there wasn’t much material I could use to find answers to not only the questions I had, but also for our clients. Being such a new company at the time meant headquarters was small and agile, information was shared by leaning over your neighbor's desk and scribbling new ideas on the back of a napkin, but we didn’t yet have information all in one place.
Fortunately, we have a very unique tech culture. At the time, I had practically no technical background. Slack quickly became my best friend, allowing me to directly ping everyone from Paul (our CTO) to Robert (Head of IT). Rather than getting the typical, "I've got important things to do," everyone, no matter the level, was willing to spend time with me and teach me new concepts. I moved out of the land of tech equals magic, to actually understanding how things work. I no longer needed to ping every single question in a panic because I had the building blocks to solve things myself.
Once I had a base of knowledge, it almost became Ender’s Game, where each new week or month I would try to learn something new. From actually integrating an SDK into my very next level ‘Hello World’ app, to taking Nikola’s (Database Developer) SQL courses for refugees, to getting the best Perl book recommendations, I’m still playing the game.
While I was given the opportunity to learn all these exciting new things, I quickly realized that this information had to be shared. When Joli (Senior Product Specialist) started, she was the second US Account Manager at the time, and I would have hour long sessions running through the concepts I had learned to make sure she grasped them as well. While this worked for a few months, we quickly grew and added on not only more Account and Sales people in the US, but also new satellite offices.
Now Google Docs was my new best friend. With it, we had a way to put the new information each of us was learning into one accessible place. While it definitely made things easier for new team members, it quickly became an overload of information that needed to be managed and aggregated. Was the information in the master document up-to-date and how could we control the quality of the information being added?
While growing out our account management team I really started thinking about, "Okay, how can we create a platform where all of this different information, spanning from client issues, playbooks for different scenarios, and new tech tricks live together?” It wasn’t enough for us to keep creating new Docs - we needed to be accessible, and ready from the start.
That was the beginning of my next role, and the creation of our education platform, ATOM. For the launch Louie (Senior Product Specialist) and I developed a series of courses about our most important topics. These courses included everything from videos and tutorials, to quick quizzes to ensure that everyone fully understood the material. We took the technical knowledge that would help the team on a daily basis and made sure that everyone onboarding at Adjust received this information and knew its applications.
Now, I always hear from Account Managers that it's the most training they've ever received at any of the companies they've worked at. I can’t explain how good this makes me feel. I never wanted anyone new to feel like they couldn’t find an answer to a problem they were facing, and I believe we achieved this with ATOM.
Once ATOM was established, I made a move into the integrations team. As the first Integration Engineer outside of headquarters, I knew I was going to have my hands full. Again Adjust had allowed me to grow into a new and challenging role where, in this case, I quickly got to know my terminal, and new languages that didn’t just consist of email. To be honest, it was a really nice segue from Account Management as I was still directly supporting them, while also trying my hand at something much more technical.
However, my stay in integrations was short - as an official product team began in the summer of 2016. Knowing that product sits at the core of the company, I jumped at the chance to join the new team. With my account management and integrations experience I had a new vantage to bring to our roadmap. Now, as Director of Product, I'm able to shape the product as Adjust grows, something I'm really proud of. Not only that, but I'm all doing it from San Francisco, bringing in a satellite office into shaping the product, with all that we learn from our unique market and what we think and talk about in our office as well.
I’ve gone from someone who had never traveled outside of the US before Adjust, to needing a new passport because all of the pages are full in just three years. Traveling to learn and better understand all of our different markets is my next biggest challenge and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the next three years brings.