A Fulbright Scholar’s Journey to Adobe

November 4, 2015

Each Adobe employee has their own unique and exciting story of how they ended up at the company. For product manager, Alissa J., her journey took her through a film set in Africa, an HIV research facility, and a business school classroom. What stayed consistent was her passion for technology, collaboration and service to others.

Following the completion of her undergraduate degrees in cross-cultural studies and French, Alissa received a yearlong Fulbright Scholarship, an international grant with the goal to increase mutual understanding and to support peaceful relations between the United States and other countries. The scholarship took her to Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa, to complete a research project in film.

Little did she realize that her research project was the beginning of a deeper involvement in her new community.

“I initially applied to just do a research project related to film, but also ended up teaching four classes in the English program at Ouagadougo University and taking on an interesting side project,” Alissa says as she reminisces on her time as a Fulbright Scholar.

Alissa’s side project was focused on how organizations used media like theater, radio and film to share information and ideas on everything from how to prevent HIV infection to putting together simple re-hydration salts that can save the lives of dehydrated babies.

After returning from a year in Africa, Alissa’s interest in improving the health of communities became her full-time job, and she spent the next six years working in HIV vaccine research.

The next step in Alissa’s journey led her to enroll in the MBA program at University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. During her time as an MBA student, she took an applied strategy course that partnered with local businesses, one of which was Adobe. Groups of MBA students worked beside Adobe employees to gain industry experience. After the course was over, Alissa was asked to come back as an MBA intern for summer. While she was an intern, Alissa performed incredibly, and Adobe asked her to return as a full-time employee after she completed her MBA program.

Alissa recently celebrated her second year as a product manager for the Adobe Anywhere product, a collaborative workflow platform for users of Adobe professional video solutions. She continues to be extremely active in the community. She served as a Community Champion for the Seattle site for two years, and currently mentors college students who are applying to be Fulbright Scholars and helps them increase their chances of receiving grants. Alissa is also heavily involved in a nonprofit organization, Dining for Women, that educates their members on international issues that impact women and girls. She has been leading a local chapter in Seattle for four and a half years and has been a regional leader for three years. Dining for Women has successfully raised more than $4.1 million between the years of 2003 and 2014.

We asked Alissa how she continues to be a successful product manager while giving a significant amount of her time to volunteering work. She said, “One of our Adobe values is to be involved. That isn’t just something that is put up on a poster on the wall; community outreach is something that is encouraged and supported here.”