We have reached the end of our month-long celebration of women in tech. Last but not least, we want to introduce you to Rowena, Product Manager and Team Lead of our Classroom team. Rowena recently joined GoodNotes, bringing with her a strong track record in the EdTech space, having spent 8 years working with Education First. We spoke to Rowena about her experience onboarding with us and she shared some great insight on diversity & inclusion in the workspace.
Hi Rowena! We are appreciate you taking the time to tell us a bit more about yourself and your role as a Product Manager & Team Lead at GoodNotes. We know it’s only been a few weeks since you joined us, but we’d love to hear how your onboarding experience has been so far!
I joined GoodNotes because of an ex-colleague’s referral, who told me all the great things about working here. As a newcomer to a company with a widely dispersed workforce, I am impressed by the level of dedication and attention given to fostering a culture that is both accommodating and welcoming to all employees, regardless of their location.
The company's commitment to ensuring that all employees feel valued and supported has given me a fresh perspective on the future of work. While there is always room for improvement, I cannot help but acknowledge the remarkable strides that have been made in creating a work culture that prioritizes flexibility and inclusivity. I am excited to be a part of a company that puts so much effort into ensuring the well-being and satisfaction of its employees.
Can you tell us more about the team you are leading?
I’m the team lead for the Classroom team. Our primary goal is to design features and tools that empower teachers to become more effective educators. We strive to create solutions that will streamline their workflow, allowing them to focus on what matters most: their students.
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
While working at Education First (EF), I had the opportunity to develop products that played a significant role in driving our division's exceptional 30+% YOY growth for seven years. Additionally, I designed and implemented a solution that enhanced the classroom experience and positively impacted the learning outcomes of our students. It was a rewarding experience to see the positive impact that innovative product development can have on a business and its customers.
How do you think diversity can impact product design and development?
When designing products, it's essential to consider the needs and preferences of the end-users. A diverse team can help bring in a better understanding of the user base and design products that meet their specific needs. Diverse teams can also generate innovative ideas and approaches to problem-solving that may not have been possible with a homogenous group.
What questions do you think tech women should be asking at interviews regarding diversity and inclusion?
In my opinion, one of the greatest challenges facing companies when it comes to DEI is addressing unconscious bias. These biases are often deeply ingrained, developed through years of conditioning at home, school, university, and work. To truly build a culture of inclusion, companies need to take proactive steps to address these biases. One effective approach is to provide ongoing training and education that raises awareness of unconscious bias and equips employees with tools and strategies to mitigate them. I would ask how are unconscious biases addressed and what types of training or education are provided to help employees recognize and mitigate them?
Has anyone ever tried to stop you from learning and developing in your professional life, or have you found the tech sector supportive?
With the rapid advancement of technology, there are abundant resources available to support lifelong learning. It’s great if your organization or sector is supportive but if not, it should never deter you from taking control of your own personal or professional development.
Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?
Feeling anxious or insecure in a new job, especially as a woman, is perfectly normal. We often underestimate our own abilities and qualifications, which can lead to feeling unsure about our fit within an organization. In fact, if you're not experiencing any sense of insecurity, it's possible you're not being challenged enough in your role. When you do feel these insecurities, it's important to remember that you're not alone. Reach out to your peers and colleagues for support and guidance. Organizations that prioritize employee well-being and growth will foster an environment where team members are encouraged to support and learn from one another.
Additionally, it's helpful to recognize and challenge any negative self-talk or imposter syndrome that may be contributing to these insecurities. Remember that you were hired for a reason, and your skills and qualifications have value. Focus on your strengths and seek out opportunities to develop your skills and build your confidence.
Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed?
Starting a new job is an exciting journey filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth. Keeping an open mind and seeking out new experiences can lead to discovering your true passions and interests. In my own career, I began in sales and marketing, tried my hand at various roles and industries before ultimately finding my calling in product development and education. Embrace each step of the journey and use it as a chance to learn and grow.
What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology?
To succeed in your career, it's important to be proactive and take ownership of charting your path. Seek out opportunities to learn and grow, both within and outside of your organization. Seek mentorship - whether it's someone within or outside of your company. A mentor can offer valuable advice, fresh perspectives, and support as you navigate your career path.
Who is a woman you admire/ adore/ want to thank/look up to?
During my career, I've been fortunate to collaborate with numerous extraordinary women. I've had the pleasure of working alongside women who possess extraordinary intelligence, captivating charisma, and inspiring visions. Despite their impressive attributes, each of these women was far from perfect, and each had their own unique flaws. However, what truly set them apart was they understood that they didn't have to be perfect at everything, and instead, they harnessed their unique talents and abilities to inspire and influence those around them.
As women, we often carry an unfair burden of societal expectations to excel in every aspect of our lives and careers. But the exceptional women I had the privilege to work with taught me a valuable lesson - that true success and fulfillment come from focusing on what you excel at and finding ways to make a lasting impact in those areas. I am forever grateful to these women for reminding me that being extraordinary at something is far more valuable than trying to be good at everything.
What is your favorite GoodNotes feature?
Our product has many amazing features, but knowing what’s coming in the pipeline, I have to say my favorite one is yet to come...
Can you see yourself working at GoodNotes?
We're hiring. See our job openings here!