We’re continuing on in our “Where are they Now?” series with M&T Sophia Moses (’20)’s conversation with alumnae Cathryn Herbst (’16). Read on to see what life after M&T held for Cathryn.
Sophia: Tell me a little bit about where you work and what your position entails.
Cathryn: I’m a product manager at Gladly, a computer software company based in San Francisco. The culture at Gladly is phenomenal. Since it’s a small company, the community is very tight – like the M&T Community. Similar to M&T, the people at Gladly take ownership of their work and take action. It’s really motivating to work in an environment like this.
Sophia: What’s a typical workday look like for you?
Cathryn: I’m fortunate to have flexible hours, and usually work 9:30 am to 5:30 pm each day. I focus on thinking about how customers use our product. A large part of my work is meeting with clients and different stakeholders to position the product. I listen to how our software is working for clients, and how it’s not. From there, I think about what we can do to improve and better meet client needs.
After hearing client and stakeholder feedback, I bring it to our team. That means on a typical day I’m meeting with a lot of different people. To strategize on positioning our software, I meet with our sales, marketing, and customer success departments. To target functionality, I meet with our software engineers, product team, and executive teams.
Sophia: What’s your favorite part of the workday?
Cathryn: I really enjoy traveling and getting to meet some of our clients. I travel about once a month to meet with current clients and potential clients to pitch products. It’s great to be able to see how our software is helping people and to get ideas on how we can improve.
I also enjoy our brainstorming meetings. After meeting with clients, I come back with problems to be solved and suggestions to be implemented. It’s great to get together with my colleagues to hash out how to tackle issues and ideate on how to incorporate new capabilities.
Sophia: How did M&T help prepare you for where you are today?
Cathryn: M&T taught me was how to prioritize. I use the same methods I did at Penn to get my work done today!
But, the most important thing I gained from M&T was the Community. I loved spending time in the office as a student, strengthening ties with my classmates and the staff. The M&T office is still one of my favorite places at Penn.
Sophia: What advice do you have for those interested in product management?
Cathryn: If you’re interested in the tech industry or product management – go directly. Don’t be swayed by what other people are doing or tempted by the more popular paths. If this is your interest, go for it! And take advantage of the M&T Community when you do. There are a lot more alumni working in tech these days and you should utilize those resources.
My final piece of advice is: be curious! You should always be thinking about how the product you’re working with can be better. Take chances, evaluate results, and move forward from there.
Cathryn Herbst is a 2016 graduate of the M&T Program, holding a BSE in bioengineering and a BS in economics with a concentration in finance and entrepreneurial management. She now lives and works in San Francisco, CA.
About the Interviewer
Sophia Moses is a member of the Class of 2020, majoring in electrical engineering and concentrating in finance and management. After graduation, she plans to go into either banking or management at a tech company. Her favorite thing about the Jerome Fisher Program are her motivated and diverse classmates.