1. Hi, Lauren. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?
I’ve always loved language. Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed reading, writing, speaking, debating, and languages – pretty much anything with words. It didn’t surprise me that I ended up thriving in the conversational AI space, even though the path to get there wasn’t clear from the beginning. Much of what I get to think about each day is how we can help teams make human-machine interactions in natural language better.
My journey in Conversational AI officially started in 2017 as an AI Consultant at IBM. There I worked on my first-ever conversational AI interface, a Pepper Robot. My task was to enable Pepper to answer questions about our workplace, and of course enable some cheeky office chat.
Since then, I focused primarily on conversational interfaces in enterprise settings, and worked on projects in the banking, telecommunications and the public sector with clients in the UK and Germany. This allowed me to take on many roles within the conversational AI team: I’ve been a conversational AI analyst, builder, designer, tester, and project lead.
Recently, I had a career shift when I left the consulting world and joined Rasa as a product marketer/evangelist. I initially started following Rasa because they were introducing new, cutting edge ways to manage dialogue in conversational interfaces, and I wanted in. Now, I get to do more than build conversational interfaces to exact specifications, I get to be a part of the future of the industry.
2. Take us through a typical day as a Senior Product Marketing Manager. What types of projects do you work on?
One of the things I love about my job is that no day is ever the same, and there is much to learn. However, there are a couple core jobs that a Product Marketing Manager (PMM) usually cycles through:
- Positioning and messaging
- Product launches & releases
- Competitive & market intelligence research
- Sales enablement
- Content planning & creation
- Analyst Relations
- Public speaking/webinar moderation
3. Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?
I come from a team sports and coaching background (lacrosse is my sport of choice), so I always enjoy managing launches and releases for new products because it really is a full team effort. It is the one moment where nearly every department of Rasa comes together to see a new product out the door. It can also be such an encouraging moment for the whole product team when we can create some buzz in the market and customers or community members tell us they are excited to try out our newest capabilities.
4. What’s an important problem you’re solving at Rasa?
One of the most challenging things I am working on now is how we can continually position ourselves and our products in the conversational AI market in the midst of disruptive (but exciting!) technological change. It is an truly pivotal moment to be working on conversational interfaces since the market is developing rapidly and the interest continues to grow.
5. How would you describe Rasa in three words?
Clever, Curious, and International.
6. How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?
Like many at Rasa, I work 100% remote. Since Rasa is set up as a remote-first company, I believe that we are all very good at leveraging the benefits, and working around the drawbacks of remote work. One of the things that helps me stay connected is our Slack guidelines. At Rasa, collaboration happens in open channels. This is really helpful as a product marketer - since I get to work with a lot of different teams, poking around our open Slack channels it is a great way for me to stay on top of the latest without joining every meeting.
We do however have a growing remote “Munich Office” presence now which includes Eric, a Pre-Sales Engineer with a lovely dog named Benson, Marlene, my newest colleague in the PMM Team, and myself. We are looking forward to hosting some Rasa colleagues at Oktoberfest this month.
7. What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?
Rasa is truly an international company, and is one of the most special environments I have ever worked in. When you go to a Rasa Offsite and sit down at a table to share a meal with your colleagues, it feels like an international summit – everyone has a seat at the table and, and when we last checked in our annual DEI survey, we hailed from 16 different countries.
Additionally, I think a really interesting fact about our company is that nearly half of us are expats. I think this results in a built-in desire to engage diverse perspectives and appreciate the different lived experiences of others. I see this carry over to our working lives as well in the way we communicate and support each other, and in the way we can resiliently take on change and new ways of working.
8. How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?
Rasa is the first start-up I have ever worked at, and I think what is so interesting about this work environment is that startups behave a bit like a microcosm of a much larger company. The outcome is that, in addition to your own job role, you have the chance to discover and learn about the roles of other colleagues since you have more contact and visibility with each function.
When I was working as a consultant at a much larger company, I would have never had the chance to have a casual chat with a finance leader, or learn about the type of jobs the infrasec team takes on. For my own career development, this has been helpful by allowing me to better discover the boundaries of my own role, and how I can be most useful at any given moment. The longer I work in Product Marketing, the more I realize this role can have notoriously blurred boundaries so it is good to continually reassert your role in the context of what your company and your colleagues need in that moment.
9. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned lately?
I am learning German, and in this language many nouns are very descriptive compound words. I recently discovered that if you break down the compound word for “lightbulb” in German - “Glühbirne” - the words mean “Glowing Pear” which I find very cute. Every so often I realize I learned a word in German before I understood what all the composite words mean, and then years later I get to have a nice glowing pear moment.
10. What’s the best career advice you’ve received?
My Dad always told me, “don’t ask, don’t get” followed up by “the worst thing they can do is say no”. You miss opportunities if you don’t ask for them, and a little rejection along the way is part of the journey to the next yes.
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