Carbon Five Roll Call is a blog series introducing you to our team of product managers, designers, and software engineers at Carbon Five. Learn more about us and how we can help support your next project. Meet Grace!
Name: Grace Song
Title: Senior Product Manager
Hometown: Long Island, NY (aka Strong Island), NY 🗽
Carbon Five Office: Santa Monica 🌴
Emoji of choice: 🧋 (size of emoji in proportion to how much I’m craving it heh)
Tell us a little bit about your background and area of expertise:
I’ve led an unconventional path.
I started off playing classical violin at the age of 4. Even though I dragged my feet (almost) every step of the way, I somehow managed to get into the top 1% music school in the country and tried to parlay my competitive violin career into something that sounded cooler… Music Industry, with a minor in Business.
Then Pixar happened. The magic of their innovative 3D animations combined with their emotionally stirring storytelling moved me. It was too late to change my official major, but it didn’t stop me from getting a fun animation internship at Warner Bros. This progressed into a full fledged career, leading creative teams during the pre-production process of animated series.
Eventually, I decided being broke wasn’t glamorous 😅 and an opportunity to do management consulting fell into my lap. For five years, I’ve led cross functional teams on high profiled projects in the sectors of life sciences, education and consumer goods, contributing half a million dollars of additional business to revenue. It was through this entrepreneurial boutique firm I got my start in product. We launched a predictive analytics web app recognized by Gartner from 0 to 1. I’ve been hooked ever since.
I went on to lead mobile development for two consumer facing apps: Touchtunes and Kodak Moments. Both were incredible opportunities to refresh a mature brand, modernize the technology & innovate the user experience. My focus at Touchtunes was boosting awareness of jukeboxes in over 65K venues across North America. We were one of the first partnerships to leverage Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK to launch proximity based messaging to alert consumers there’s a jukebox in a venue they’re in and suggest a song to get the vibe going. At Kodak, I’ve had the privilege of launching a complete native rewrite of the Android app in over 80 countries and iterating on the shopping cart ecommerce experience across all platforms to all time low cart abandonment rates. What a journey it’s been!
A few clients you’ve worked with include:
In the past year and a half at C5, I’ve had the privilege of partnering with:
- Riot Games to create an in house catalog management web platform
- Credijusto to build a brand new iOS & Android app
- Chime to develop a SaaS web platform for dispute management
What’s the coolest thing about Carbon Five?
Carbon Five was the first company I’ve encountered that specifically highlighted psychological safety as one of its top values. It struck a deep chord within me from the get go ever since I stumbled upon an inspirational study at Google called Project Aristotle that highlighted psychological safety as the one common thread among all their high performing teams. I think it’s awesome how intentional Carbon Five is in building a high trust, collaborative team culture by cultivating psychological safety. Every person I’ve met feels like an old friend. I find everyone to be kind, excellent in their respective discipline, accessible, and best of all, enjoy some light hearted humor in the thick of it all. I’ve been humbled by each team I’ve been a part of in the best ways and the people have already left me better.
What advice would you give a younger you with regard to your career in tech?
If I could give myself advice when I started my career as a Product Manager, I’d tell myself to be more patient and really dig deep on the customer’s problem. I wanted to impress others so fast to overcome my initial imposter syndrome that I was hungry to have any kind of impact with the product I was working on. This meant I was willing to take expensive shortcuts and hack my way into getting results. It led to more frustrations and more expensive cycles of iterations. I learned to slow down, to trust the discovery process of focusing on ‘what’s the real problem?’, and to develop equanimity while decomposing the problem into the lightest MVP. Simplicity requires a lot of repetition and repetition unlocks value!
Share one MUST DO recommendation:
If you find yourself in LA, driving in a top down convertible on Pacific Coast Highway from Malibu to Ventura County is a solid 12 out of 10. It’s a 21 mile stretch of scenic beauty along the Pacific Ocean coast, with access to optional stops to hidden beaches like El Matador, the Malibu Pier, and epic hikes. No judgment if you want to do some carpool karaoke while you’re at it. In the words of Maui from Moana… you’re welcome!