As chief technology officer for Unearth Technologies, Amy Hutchins thought it would be easy to get women to apply for engineering jobs at her Seattle startup. She wasn’t exactly envisioning herself as a tech pied piper, but figured that seeing a woman in leadership would be a serious draw for female candidates.
“That wasn’t the case,” Hutchins said. “I realized after talking to female technology leaders who have been successful that this is an investment you have to make.”
That means making sure benefits packages are attractive to women and more actively recruiting female applicants.
Hutchins is also chief product officer and co-founder of Unearth, a startup that provides tools for large-scale construction projects, allowing contractors to document their work and collaborate between different aspects of construction.
“As CPO, I’m responsible for plotting our product roadmap and coordinating our dev and design teams to ensure we’re on course. Day-to-day, I decide the direction of the product by weighing customer needs and feedback against the long-term vision of our company to prioritize our limited resources,” Hutchins said. “As a founder, my role creeps into sales, marketing, customer success, office administration and pretty much anything needed to keep a business running.”
Before launching Unearth in 2016, she led product management at Buuteeq, a Seattle-based digital marketing platform for the hospitality industry that was acquired by the Priceline Group in 2014. Prior to jumping into the startup world, she worked at Microsoft for eight years.
“When I went to startup land, I wanted more access to the business side of things,” Hutchins said.
As soon as she started at Buuteeq she was working on a product roadmap, collaborating with developers, implementing features and more. Within three weeks, she’d already shipped a product. Her time frame for going from start to finish on a product had shrunk from years to weeks.
“I was hooked,” Hutchins said. “I knew I would have to stay in startups forever.”
We caught up with Hutchins for this Working Geek, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.
Current location: Seattle. I live in the Ballard neighborhood and work just east of there in Fremont.
Computer types: I do everything on my Macbook Pro. I’m also the office oddball who doesn’t use an additional monitor.
Mobile devices: I recently moved to Google’s Pixel 2, though I’m still disappointed the Windows phone app marketplace didn’t take off; the UX was superior to iOS and Android.
Favorite apps, cloud services and software tools: Work: Intercom. Their product provides incredible active and passive customer insights that serve as the compass for our product roadmap. Home: I like anything that makes my home smarter and improves energy utilization. That includes Nest thermostats and security cams, smart lights and, of course, Alexa.
Describe your workspace. Why does it work for you? Quiet and comfortable are the essential ingredients in my productivity recipe. Our current office has a comfy room with couches intended for people to get a change of scenery by working away from their desks. You can always find me in there with my laptop on my lap, sitting on a couch looking out over Lake Union. I have a desk, but I primarily use it as a location to drop my bag in the morning.
Your best advice for managing everyday work and life? As my career advanced, I found the most important thing I could do to manage my increasing responsibilities with my personal life was to make a schedule and stick with it. Today, that means keeping all my activity on a personal and professional Google Calendar. If it doesn’t make it on the calendar, it doesn’t happen.
Your preferred social network? How do you use it for business/work? I prefer in-person lunches and happy hours over any specific social network. Too many interactions on social media lack the high quality connections that face-to-face meetings facilitate. I use these events to exchange ideas and processes that have worked well for scaling businesses and teams.
In terms of online interactions, I find that my best new professional connections come through direct email. Being in a laggardly industry to adopt new tech, this wasn’t a big surprise.
Current number of unanswered emails in your inbox? Eight. No matter how hard I try, there’s always seems to be a handful of them sitting there.
Number of appointments/meetings on your calendar this week? 27
How do you run meetings? Meetings are expensive when you think of them in terms of how much it’s costing in salary to have those people in a room together and not actively working on a project. So, my first step is deciding whether or not I can cancel the meeting to give everyone their time back. Assuming it’s not cancelled, I lay out the goals for the meeting, provide the data behind them, cover any insights or new information, and then allow time for everyone to react and participate. In the last 10 minutes, I circle the conversation back towards the actionable items needed to accomplish the goals.
Everyday work uniform? Jeans, blazer and loafers.
How do you make time for family? As I mentioned before, I try to schedule it in advance, mark it on my calendar and then make sure we are sharing Google calendars.
Best stress reliever? How do you unplug? My favorite way to wind down is to pour a glass of wine, herd my two cats onto the couch and stream some “Frasier” reruns.
What are you listening to? Janis Joplin, Pearl
Daily reads? Favorite sites and newsletters? Tomasz Tunguz (a venture capitalist at the VC firm Redpoint) consistently provides relevant insights on the tech industry that are actionable for my own business.
Book on your nightstand (or e-reader)? I’m patiently waiting for “The Kingkiller Chronicle Book 3” by Patrick Rothfuss to debut, but in the meantime it’s Stephen King’s “November 22, 1963.”
Night owl or early riser? As long as I get eight hours of sleep at some point, I can do either.
Where do you get your best ideas? My team! I’m surrounded by the most intelligent group of people I could have ever imagined working with, especially my co-founders. They inspire me to work harder and smarter every day.
Whose work style would you want to learn more about or emulate? This would definitely be Elon Musk. His ability to marry vision, humanity and product is incredible.