Franklin County native and current Roanoke resident, Amanda Smith, has worked in the tech industry for over five years. She’s currently a Product Owner for Qualtrax – a compliance management software company that helps industries prep for audits through custom workflows. Her role centers around communicating between clients and her team of engineers to make various software customizations possible. We asked Amanda some questions to get to know her better:
What do you love most about your work?
There’s a lot I love about working in Product Management, but the problem-solving aspect is what excites me the most. There are layers of critical thinking that go into every product decision. Data and feedback from many different outlets must be combed through before I start to weigh opportunities against each other, and the goals with those opportunities can be vastly different.
First, I figure out how to compare risk mitigation needs against revenue-generating opportunities. I take into consideration how much will have to be invested into accomplishing each individual need. It starts with finding puzzle pieces scattered all over the house. This involves a lot of engagement with internal and external stakeholders, which is another fulfilling part of my role.
As an extrovert with a background in customer service, engaging with people to find solutions to their problems keeps me super energized. Every day is a new challenge and another opportunity to improve the experience for those invested in my organization and product.
What surprised you the most about Qualtrax (work culture, software capabilities, etc.)?
When I started at Qualtrax, I was very impressed with how much emphasis was put on understanding why our work is so important. Everyone has so much passion for providing a tool that helps organizations do good in the world. This attitude hasn’t changed in the 3+ years I’ve been at Qualtrax! When Sales bring in new deals, they take the time to educate the whole company on who the customer is, the impact they have on society, and how Qualtrax is going to help them grow that impact.
In our quarterly kickoffs, there’s always a customer spotlight segment. Along with those more in-depth customer profiles, we all share stories that further highlight the contributions of our customers through our company Slack channel. One customer we worked with had several parts they developed built into the Perseverance Rover that was sent to Mars! It’s been really inspiring to see how the organizations we serve have positively impacted progress during the global pandemic.
I also learned over time that Qualtrax makes a point to be more than a vendor for our customers. I think most software companies make it a priority to give back, but Qualtrax goes above and beyond with small acts of kindness. Things like sending retirement gifts to customers and personally checking in with companies that may have been impacted by natural disasters or other hardships.
Who is your top tech-trendsetter(s) and why?
I recently learned about Dr. Fei-Fei Li, who co-founded AI4ALL. The vision of the non-profit is to increase diversity and inclusion in all aspects of Artificial Intelligence (AI). There are programs for high school and college students, as well as resources for teachers to help educate on AI and the need for diversity considerations.
I’m passionate about the benefits of having more diverse perspectives reflected in all tech teams, so I found her work and the mission of AI4ALL very inspiring. Dr. Li has stated her goal to be to democratize AI “in a way that everybody benefits. Not just a few, or a selected group”.
I think the importance of inclusion and accessibility is greater than some of the advances we’re making in new technologies, like AI.
Tell us something about yourself people may be surprised to learn.
I had no intention of working in software or the tech industry! I went to school for Health Sciences, with the goal of going into Physical Therapy.
When I took a break after undergrad, I got a job doing customer support for Interactive Achievement – an education software company in Roanoke. I fell in love with the culture of the tech industry. It was very much a “work hard, play hard” environment. Everything was fast-paced and challenging in a really good way, and there were always fun things happening. I am so grateful to have stumbled into a career that I enjoy so much! During Amanda’s free time, she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and touring Roanoke’s local breweries to try the latest IPA’s. Amanda is also an active member of WoTech: a networking group that celebrates women and diversity in our region’s growing tech community.