MBA Grad Immerses herself in Photoshop

January 29, 2014

Danielle hiking

Danielle T., an MBA graduate from the Anderson School of Business at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), was looking to make an impact in the tech industry. An ambitious go-getter with experience working at major companies like Intel and Yahoo, Danielle wanted a taste of life in the software space. Upon graduating business school, she had multiple job offers to consider but said that the decision to join Adobe’s MBA Rotation Program as a Photoshop product manager was a no-brainer.

As summer approaches and MBA students all over the U.S. make decisions about their careers, Adobe Life met up with Danielle to learn more about her career journey and why she chose Adobe as her career destination.

Adobe Life: Tell us a little bit about yourself

Danielle T.: I’m a big foodie and I love exploring new cuisines and finding new restaurants. I have three adorable dogs named Peanut, Butter, and Jelly. I warned you that I’m a big food fan. I was born and raised in California. I love the ocean and try to hike whenever I get a chance. We’re just so fortunate to be close to the ocean with amazing trails to explore.

As far as my educational background, I majored in corporate financial management for my undergraduate degree. After working for about five years, I decided to pursue my MBA with a focus in marketing.

Adobe Life: Can you share your career path with us?

DT: Sure. Right after graduating from San Jose State University, I pursued a corporate finance role at Intel supporting the marketing team there. That was when my love for marketing began. I developed a great relationship with the marketing team and I was able to see firsthand how these experts build brands and engaging campaigns. But, I was mostly attracted to the customer aspects of marketing—what customers cared about; what they wanted in the product; and how marketers work with engineering and product teams to make it happen for the customer.

Adobe Life: Why an MBA?

DT: I wanted to learn business and marketing fundamentals. I wanted a deeper dive on how brands are managed and I was also hoping to extend my network at business school.

Adobe Life: Where did you intern during your MBA?

DT: Just before graduating, I interned as a product manager with the mobile group at Yahoo. I was keen on learning about the mobile space and wanted to get a better understanding about the product development side of things and the process of creating features based on customer demands. I was fortunate to get the opportunity to help launch a new navigation feature at Yahoo that summer. At that point, I knew that product management was something I wanted to pursue.

Adobe Life: We know that you had a few job offers when you graduated business school. What made you decide on Adobe?

DT: Adobe has powerful products and a reputable brand. The company was going through a transformation from selling point products to a subscription-based business model. For me, it was the perfect opportunity to understand how this all works and I wanted to be a part of this significant change. You don’t get many opportunities like this in your career.

Besides that, I had the opportunity to dabble in hardware at Intel and the internet space and mobile app development at Yahoo. Joining Adobe and working in the software industry would help round out my experience.

Adobe Life: What are some of the projects that you’re currently working on?

DT: I’m a product manager on the Photoshop team so there’s always something interesting going on. I’m currently working with the team to identify new features for Photoshop based on customer requests, feedback and analyzing customer wants. I was involved with the recent release of Photoshop 14.2, specifically with the Linked Smart Object feature that helps content creators improve collaboration and their workflows by allowing them to use the same object in multiple documents, change it once, and have it updated in every document that has that object in it. We’ve received tons of positive feedback from our customers. It’s great to get almost immediate feedback as soon as you release new features so you can continue iterating to improve them.

Adobe Life: What has been some of the key takeaways for you since you joined Adobe in August last year?

DT: I’ve definitely learned the importance of the product manager role, how embedded we are with the team, and the impact we make. I’m so fortunate to be shadowing the best in the industry—my manager, Pam Clark, and Stephen Nielson, senior product manager on the Photoshop team—as well as the entire Photoshop engineering and experience design team. They’ve shown me the power of working collaboratively across cross-functional teams. For example, we all care about the customer and building a great product; we often work together to meet directly with our customers, collect feedback, and analyze data to build the right features for our customers. We all depend on each other. If there’s one other thing I’ve learned and have a deep appreciation for is something I’ve heard Jackie Lincoln-Owyang, senior engineering manager, say: “Check your ego at the door; everyone has a seat at the table.”

Management on the Photoshop team is excellent. I can’t say enough about them. They’ve been very supportive. I recall one of my first meetings with Pam where she said, “Tell me the skills you want to develop and your interests, and we’ll help get you there.”

Adobe Life: Can you tell us a little about the MBA Rotation Program?

DT: The MBA Rotation Program takes about two years. You get the opportunity to work in different groups and it allows you to learn so many different aspects about the company. The other thing I like about this program is the camaraderie with my other fellow MBAs who are on a similar journey. I love the fact that we’re learning from each other and exchanging ideas.

The Photoshop team is my first rotation. In May, I’ll be making my way to the Education team as a product marketing manager. This will give me a totally different perspective because I’ll be supporting a specific market segment as opposed to a product. After that, I have another rotation opportunity before I get to decide where and what I want to focus on long term.

Adobe Life: What’s something surprising about working at Adobe that you didn’t expect?

DT: I was surprised that teams here are very flexible; they make decisions quickly and go to market fast with new product features. Although Adobe’s a big company, there are many teams that operate like start-ups. We use lean research methodology and agile product development practices, both of which Pam and Jackie are great proponents of, to continue to learn and iterate.

On the personal front, I enjoy the work-life balance. As long as you get your work done and deliver, there’s no micromanaging.

Adobe Life: What is your favorite perk at Adobe?

DT: That’s tough. I have two things that come to mind—the people and the learning opportunities. I’m still relatively new at Adobe but my team has never made me feel that way. I’m free to ask any questions without fear of being judged and I do have a seat at the table. I feel that my opinions count.

The other thing I love is the amount of data that we have and the access to so much research that helps us better understand our customers. The change in Adobe’s business model keeps us all thinking about the value that we need to bring to our customers everyday because we want them coming back.

Adobe Life: What do you have to say to MBA graduates who are considering a career at Adobe?

DT: If you’re looking for a company with great products, a respected brand and good managers to learn from, Adobe’s the place for you. At least, that’s been my experience. The people here are very open and they’re more than happy to help and teach you.

Adobe Life: Do you have any advice for university graduates or interns who are interviewing with Adobe?

DT: The software-as-a-service (SaaS) landscape changes very quickly and Adobe is leading the way. It helps to understand the ever-changing industry and figure out how you can contribute in this SaaS environment.


If you’re a university student or recent graduate, we invite you to explore exciting career opportunities on Adobe’s career site.