Meet this week’s Humans of Product, Rebecca. A product person as well as a talented sketch note artist. She’s sketched at many exciting events including Leading the Product. Rebecca’s product journey started off like many product people. She was doing product work long before she realised she was a Product person.
“I actually didn’t realise I was a product person. When I was introduced to the community and I realised it was what I actually do, I was able to define my role and from there I’ve kind of found my tribe.
Someone put a Product Owner job ad in front of me and said, would you be interested in this job? And I was like, why would I be interested in that job?
My background is in creating digital workplaces and that sort of stuff. And I grappled for a long time, trying to define my role and the scope of it, and where it fits in with projects. But when I looked closely at the Product Owner ad I went…. “oh, so that’s what I do now”.
Most of the product people that I know work on a customer-facing product, or B2B product or something similar like that.
I am a product person who works on the products that people use within their organisation. And sometimes I feel that’s harder to define because I’ve not really had a job title that clearly says product person despite having been the Product Owner on these projects.”
Now that Rebecca’s got her hands deep in the product world, she has taken some time off to develop her career.
”I just started another undergraduate degree because I like to punish myself. I’m studying a Bachelor of Psychological Science majoring in organisational studies. I would like to be an organisational psychologist.
It’s not really a career change. It’s about growing what I do now. What I do is I work in digital workplace and employee experience. Anything that’s kind of within an organisation, helping to understand how people do their jobs, and then translate that into technology. This can be a Product Owner role. It could be a UX role. It really depends.
But, the organisational psychology bit for me, I see that as an advancement of what I do now. Because I really do love understanding people and helping organisations create an amazing environment for them to be able to thrive. And a lot of what I do you need to be connected strategically. And if you’re not, things don’t work. So, I’ve kind of gone well, how do I get better at making those things work at the strategic level? And organisational psychology is that path for me.”
On top of taking on another degree and starting a new role on November 8, Rebecca is an active member of the Australian Product community,
”I am a longtime sketch note artist at Leading the Product. Prior to lockdown, I was a regular at meetups and that kind of stuff. It’s definitely more difficult to stay connected to the community at the moment.
But, I keep an eye on the boards. I follow a lot of people, read blogs and all that sort of stuff. And I’m hopeful that when things open up a little bit more, I will be able to get back to that in-person connection.
The main thing about not going to a meet up at the moment is I’ve spent all day in front of this screen, and I just don’t want to be in front of it anymore. Ordinarily, I just love going to meetups and reading books, and even just catching up with people.
This week because I’m not working at the moment, I just planned catch ups with people to talk about what we’re doing and our challenges. I find that incredibly valuable.”
She also describes herself as ‘serial hobbyist’ because she gets obsessed and immersed in new activities regularly.
“I kind of get obsessed by things and pick them up, and then go on to the next thing. My free time is a lot of studying, writing, drawing, reading and exercise, but only when I can make it fun like pilates or I tried out ballet recently as well.”
One hobby that grew into something amazing was Rebecca’s love for sketch noting.
”I was sketch noting before I met the product community. And, I have always been part of the Leading the Product crew since it started. So as part of that, I would help out with social media and do the sketch notes for each talk. I have sketched every talk at every Leading the Product conference since 2015.
But when it comes to sketch noting, I don’t just do that for money or to get to conferences. I started out doing it for myself. And I’ve just been really fortunate that it has allowed me to be involved with great events, like Leading the Product and other conferences as well. I love sketch noting and if other people get value from it, then that’s frickin awesome because I also love sharing.”
“I’ve got every almost every sketch that I’ve ever done on my Flickr account. And it reads like an interesting visual journey because I go from paper to digital. You can see where I go from detailed to not detailed and things like that.
I do sketch notes for my university notes and I will spend time on them, because I want to make sure that I’ve articulated the concepts really clearly because I’m going to use them for my study notes.
But if I’m just going along to a conference, I’ll probably put minimal effort in. And when I say minimal effort, I mean minimal preparation time. Whereas if I’m working at a conference, I’ll put in more preparation time.”
Rebecca’s sketching even got her on the telly.
“Back in the day, Fat cat and friends was a TV show and I have my artwork featured on it. I sent some sketches to fat cat and friends and fat cat showed it on TV. I feel like that totally ages me!”
Other than her exciting feature on Fat Cat and Friends, Rebecca wanted to leave us with one piece of advice she reminds herself of regularly.
”I’ve had people tell me different versions of this over the years and I think it’s important to be reminded of it often. I’m a person who’s really invested in their work and what they do, so it’s important to be happy and it’s important to get satisfaction from what you’re doing. If you’re not, ask yourself why and if it’s the right thing you should be doing.”