Details about Liz Hunt’s work as a product manager for Google are kept tightly under wraps. That’s because she’s working on new products for Google Maps that the Bay Area tech giant isn’t ready to share with the public yet.
“At a high level, I collaborate closely with my business, design, and engineering colleagues to create products that our customers love,” she said.
Hunt works out of Google’s big Seattle campus in the Fremont neighborhood. She’s been working in tech roles for nearly 20 years, including some high-profile gigs, like CTO of Farmstr and mobile engineering manager for Starbucks.
When she’s not working, Hunt likes to unwind underwater. She’s an avid scuba diver and also enjoys other outdoor activities, like sailing and skiing. We caught up with Hunt for this installment of Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current Location: “I’m thrilled to work in our Seattle office. It’s close to home, so I can walk to/from work!”
Computer types: “I chose a Chromebook for work to have the full Google experience and learn a new platform. At home, I use a MacBook — it’s robust enough for my current computing needs and ideal for traveling. For the most part, switching between the two has been easy (sometimes, though, usually early in the morning before my chai has kicked in, I use the wrong keyboard shortcut on one or the other).”
Mobile devices: “I’ve been an iPhone user since the very beginning, my current personal mobile is a 6s. I’ve also recently started using a Pixel (which is far and away my favorite Android device).”
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: “I’ve used and loved a wide variety of different apps and services during my career. Over the years, I’ve found it’s best to be flexible and embrace whatever’s used by my colleagues, so now, of course, it’s G Suite all the way! Since our team is distributed across a few offices, we use Gmail/Hangouts for communication and Drive for collaboration.”
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? “I’m often in meetings, so have a fairly minimal workspace — an adjustable desk (at which I usually sit), a large external monitor (which I’m usually too lazy to plug in), a laptop stand (propped even higher by an ever-so-classy ream of paper), a wireless keyboard/mouse, and a notebook. I’m a big fan of working from one of our office’s many comfy couch/chair spots, even if it’s bad for my posture. No matter where I am, I’ll almost certainly have a sparkling water nearby.”
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? “Prioritization, being nimble, and an awareness of my energy sources/sinks. I never know exactly what my day or week will bring, so have found that what works best for me is to begin with my top life/work priorities then adapt to events and reprioritize as needed. I also now make a conscious effort each day to invest time in activities and people that inspire and energize me in order to better balance out the more draining must-do tasks and chores.”
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? “I’m not super active on any social network but have profiles on all the usual suspects. LinkedIn has been the most useful network for me professionally.”
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? “Unanswered or unread? 9.”
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 26. This is a light post-holiday week, so it’s about half of the usual amount.
How do you run meetings? “Time is precious, so I try to make meetings as efficient and productive as I can (shortening or canceling them whenever possible). Ideally, they’re a time for my colleagues and I to collaborate and/or make decisions. The best meetings start with a clear purpose and agenda, are inclusive so everyone feels comfortable participating, and end with succinct notes and action items.”
Everyday work uniform? “I’m most often in jeans, a sweater or shirt, and a pair of Fluevogs (though I enjoy surprising people occasionally by wearing a skirt or dress).”
How do you make time for family? “I love spending time with my friends, boyfriend, and family so it’s easy to make them a priority in my life. We keep in touch through messaging apps, audio/video calls, and as many in-person gatherings as we can.”
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? “Laughing. Going offline and outdoors. I’m particularly drawn to water in its various forms, so do a lot of sailing, skiing, and scuba diving. I also relax by sprawling on the couch with a good book or TV show.”
What are you listening to? “I don’t often listen to music at the office since I’m usually in meetings, but when I do, I stream KEXP. When I’m working from home, I love listening to a lot of different stuff and tend to sing and/or chair dance along to whatever’s playing. Some of my favorite artists in my personal library are alt-J, Andrew Bird, Bruno Mars, Cat Power, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, and Yeasayer.”
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? “It depends on my mood and what kind of information/entertainment I’m interested in, but The Atlantic, Boing Boing, Digg, New York Times, NPR, and WIRED are usually in the mix.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? “I’m an avid reader, so am constantly downloading a new novel to my Kindle. Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction. I just finished Babylon’s Ashes, the most recent book in the Expanse series. Other favorite authors include Margaret Atwood, Michael Gruber, David Mitchell, and Haruki Murakami. I find new books by asking people… ‘Which book do you wish you hadn’t read so you could have the pleasure of reading it again for the first time?'”
Night owl or early riser? What are your sleep patterns? “Left to my own devices, I’m totally a night owl. However, paradoxically, I find that I have a better life/work balance when I morning shift. Regardless, I function best when I get eight to nine hours of sleep a night.”
Where do you get your best ideas? “Walking outside and brainstorming with colleagues.”
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? “Nobody specific comes to mind at the moment, but I enjoy learning about other people’s work styles and tips-n-tricks.”