22 Apr 2022 Aspire to Tech: Product Manager at ARYA Health
Career Spotlight – Kelly Kolapak
What is your role? What is your title? Where are you located? How long have you been doing it?
My role at ARYA Health is in product management, and I am a Product Manager – the one and only. I work out of my home office here in Vancouver BC. I joined ARYA Health in February of this year, so I’m pretty new to this position, however I’ve been in the health-tech space for about four years.
What makes your job interesting? What is the most fun? What is the most challenging? How does your role help drive the company’s success?
Working as a product manager in a healthcare environment provides a really interesting opportunity to find solutions for a really wide array of users. You can imagine the needs of a small family doctor versus a large enterprise health organization. They have similar problems to solve, but also a lot of differences, and they use the same software. So being able to support such a wide array of users with the features that we release, without negatively impacting our other users is an interesting challenge and I really appreciate that.
Another thing that makes my job so interesting is solving these problems with such a diverse team. Working with the development team, our QA, client services, marketing, and of course our founders fosters an environment where I’m always learning and growing and seeing perspectives from diverse team, and I find that very interesting.
I’ve always had a passion for healthcare technology and optimization so being able to combine those into one position is pretty much a dream for me. I really enjoy the challenge it brings. It makes the day interesting. I would say the people I work with make it fun. Solving complex problems with the team, despite being remote and working across many time zones, doesn’t stop us it just makes us stronger. I feel inspired working alongside such a talented crew.
The number of hours in a day seems to be my biggest challenge right now. We’re going through some growing pains as a startup. We’re creating and standardizing a lot of our processes, while maintaining our release timelines as best as we can. Naturally, that causes our pace to slow down while we work on solidifying those things and spending time to investing in our future. It’s great, but it can be difficult to balance, as well as communicate with our stakeholders who may not see what’s going on behind the scenes. As a product manager it’s my responsibility to be a connector between our business goals, our development, our processes, as well as marketing and all the other areas of the business. My role is important to balance that stability and growth while retaining our current clientele and growing our clientele in a sustainable way.
What does a typical day look like for you? What do you actually spend your time doing?
I wear a lot of hats in this position, so a typical day for me can be a combination of a lot of things. To start, our development team works in two-week sprint cycles, so it can be very different depending on the day of the week. On average I would say I spend time refining tickets for development, testing features that are being developed, as well as testing and troubleshooting bugs that are reported by our users or our QA team. I also spend some time working with UI/UX designing and writing up those processes I mentioned and researching our competition. So quite a lot, day to day, but I like the flexibility and change of pace that I get to work with.
Tell us about your career history? What was your very first job and how did your career path take you to where you are today?
My very first job was with at Blockbuster Video. It was a great job, and I learned a lot from my role there, but I can’t say it had a direct impact on my career path or that it led me to where I am currently. However, it did teach me that I really liked working collaboratively and it showed me how much fun work can be when you’re with the right people. Additionally, Blockbuster is a great example of a company that didn’t keep up with the times and paid the ultimate price. Blockbuster was a mainstay and then they disappeared. It doesn’t matter how beloved you are by people, if you don’t have a sustainable business model, you are not likely to succeed. That is a lesson that I learned from my experience there.
Where might you go next? What’s your next role? What motivates you for your future career? Will you stay in tech?
Right now, I don’t plan on going anywhere. I feel I am just getting started with ARYA Health and looking forward to seeing how this company grows and this product grows with my influence. It’s an exciting spot to be in. As I grow here, I can imagine myself taking on more responsibilities with growing the team and being more of a leader in product than I am now. I want to continue to challenge and grow myself in this space because I really feel it’s an area that I can flourish in if I take the time to refine some of my skills and abilities here.
Health tech and the healthcare system really motivate me to be in and stay in this field. I will definitely be staying in tech. I truly think it’s the way forward into the future and improving the inefficiencies and problems that we’re experiencing in healthcare and that’s a challenge I enjoy. I like the ability to innovate in this space, and it feels like a wide-open future to go forward and explore and learn, and I think that’s kind of a combination of what motivates me and why I’ll stay in tech.
Any final words of advice, or advice for young people?
For young people – and I might even say for young women getting into tech as well – know your value and own it. Know your value, own it, and get involved. Take opportunities when they are presented and roll with them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes because we all do! That’s how we learn. If you’re not making any mistakes, you probably need a career change, or at least some more career growth to get you in front of more challenges that allow you to make those mistakes and grow professionally and personally.