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From Writer to Maker

with Ashley Phillips of Venmo
Oct 04, 2017
Back to Podcasts
From Writer to Maker | 100 PM
From Writer to Maker | 100 PM

Ashley Phillips isn't afraid to ask questions. In fact, it used to be her job.

Working as a journalist in NYC, Phillips accepted her first tech assignment in the late 2000s: to cover the launch of a new product called the iPhone.

In the background a fast-growing startup called Twitter was making headlines. A surge of new Internet tech was barreling toward shore and Phillips caught the wave.

"It was a little bit of an unknown, but everyone that I talked to was just really passionate about what they were doing, and really, really smart. And I think that, in and of itself, is part of what got me inspired to kind of extend my horizons a little bit about what I could do with my career."

And so from ABC News to Nickelodeon, Ashley Phillips got her start in Product Management.

Today Phillips is a Lead PM for Commerce Products at everybody's favorite P2P payment application, Venmo.

We caught up with Ashley at Venmo's office in Chicago to learn about her earliest self-discoveries on the job, and to compare notes about the pleasures and perils of working in startups vs. working in large organizations.

Also covered:

  • Is a startup really the right environment to learn product?
  • Learning to let go of process as you scale
  • A pro secret for eliciting honest customer feedback

Press play below to listen to the full interview.

I think the way that I describe the similarities between the journalist role and the product management role is that, in journalism, you get to ask as many questions as you want, and basically, pick a topic and just learn as much as possible about it. Very similar to some parts of product management where you're just asking questions, asking tons and tons of questions, and it's not just that you have permission, you're pushed to do so." Ashley Phillips, Product at Venmo

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Venmo provides a social way to pay your friends when you owe them money and don't want to deal with cash.
About Chicago

Chicago, on Lake Michigan in Illinois, is among the largest cities in the U.S. Famed for its bold architecture, it has a skyline punctuated by skyscrapers such as the iconic John Hancock Center, 1,451-ft. Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and the neo-Gothic Tribune Tower. The city is also renowned for its museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago with its noted Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.