Today, Nathan Etter starts at Adobe as our VP of Adobe.com Experience. Nathan will help create a unified, best-in-class Adobe web experience that facilitates customer success, drives growth and serves as a showcase for Adobe technology.
Nathan brings a wealth of experience in product management, strategy, design and engineering. He has a passion for identifying product solutions that create great user experiences and exceed customer expectations. He’s a Stanford University alumni and joins us from The Walt Disney Company, where he worked on launching and developing interactive gaming experiences.
We got a chance to sit down with Nathan and learn more about his background, what led him to Adobe and why an octopus is his spirit animal (yes, really).
You studied Biological Sciences at Stanford. How’d you decide to pursue product management?
Even though I was a Bio major, I took as many computer science courses as I could. When I graduated, I applied for jobs in both biotech and technology. Since I was in Silicon Valley, there were so many opportunities in tech that it was the natural route forward. I spent the first 10 years of my career writing a lot of code, but I found that I loved interacting with customers and influencing the future direction of products. Product management offered the perfect blend of technology and customer interaction, and I haven’t looked back since.
Your professional experience spans consumer and enterprise – how do you plan to use this background in your new role?
I’ve worked on some of the largest consumer applications on the market so I know how to design at scale, but I’ve also spent time in the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, going through full sales cycles. This diversity of experience is important because Adobe’s customers span everyone from individual creators to large multinational enterprises, and Adobe.com must deliver experiences that cater to each customer’s unique needs.
What attracted you to Adobe and this role?
I’ve followed Adobe for years and I’ve always admired its products. I’m an amateur photographer so I have a lot of experience with Creative Cloud. But Adobe is not only a technology leader, it’s also leading cultural transformations in things like performance management, serving as an example for other companies looking to do the same. And during my interview process, I appreciated the people I met most – all of whom were warm, welcoming and extremely bright. I would leave every interview thinking about how I wanted to work alongside each person I met. The role excites me because I love designing new ways of doing things and creating new partnerships that have so much potential to positively affect the business and the customer experience.
What do you see as some of the biggest trends that will disrupt digital experiences?
What a monster question! There are so many dramatic changes underway, but artificial intelligence and machine learning stand out. They’re profoundly forcing us to change how we think about building products and delivering experiences to our customers, but we’re still just scratching the surface of what’s possible. I’m taking a few courses now and it’s making me re-think everything I’ve learned. Then there’s also augmented reality, which I think has the potential to really disrupt the way people interact, not just with technology, but with the world and those around them.
Now let’s get into some fun facts about you. What’s one thing that people will be surprised to learn?
When I was studying bio at Stanford, I spent 4 months in Monterey Bay doing my thesis on the local octopuses. This led to two things that may be surprising: I’ve spent more time underwater scuba diving at night than in the daytime because octopuses are nocturnal. And, I no longer eat octopus – I think they’re some of the most fascinating and clever creatures on the planet. I call them my spirit animal.
What was your first job?
Cashier at a movie theater! I sold a lot of popcorn.
If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Teleportation. I love traveling but hate being on planes. If I could be somewhere instantly that’d be amazing.
What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Learn how to tell a good story: I received this advice early on and it’s always stuck with me. It’s so important to communicate your vision and ideas clearly.