JournalJourney

ACCEPTING A ROLE AS COO - A PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE

Part of the press release today reads:

MartianCraft announced today that Jaimee Newberry has been named Chief Operating Officer as part of a broader expansion of their executive management team. Newberry brings with her proven industry leadership and experience gained from advising C-level and senior management teams at startups, agencies, and Fortune 500 darlings. This role culminates a year-long appointment as management consultant and advisor to MartianCraft’s Board of Directors.
"Jaimee has been a key adviser to MartianCraft over the past year. Her impact on our daily operations was immediate and substantial," said Kyle Richter, MartianCraft's CEO. 
(read full press release)

I’m Stoked
As simply as I can say it: I’m excited! 

This role is truly a step forward for me. MartianCraft has their feet firmly planted in the mobile space, with clients of incredible caliber, and a team of impossibly high-quality talent. I’ve seen this team operate with openness and honesty, and I like what I see.

The role demonstrates to me, that I have pushed beyond some personal barriers that I’ve struggled with overcoming in my career path. I am absolutely excited to embark on this journey.

But… Aren’t You a Designer?
I struggled for years at communicating my value to companies, beyond “design”. I realized eventually, a lot of that had to do with getting out of my own way. But things were definitely simpler when I was “a designer” and my actual work involved solving problems that resulted in a digital user interface that I had some direct hand in crafting. In an attempt to remain humble and to shun the ‘inflated titles’ epidemic, I long held the simple title “Designer.” As much as I wanted to believe titles didn’t mean anything, I’ve learned that they absolutely do and sticking with "Designer" had grown into a miscommunication. I respect the skills designers have, and the potential they bring to every table they sit at. I designed a lot of great things using a designer’s core skill set: Problem solving.

I come from a design background. All the way from my drawing and metal sculpture defined art degree (1994-1998) through being an award-winning web designer and agency partner (1998-2009), into mobile application UX (2010-2013). I know design, I love and respect design and designers. I can teach design and, on the personal front, I still practice design. But I haven’t done hands-on visual design for clients since 2009, and I’ve not done hands-on UX work for digital product clients since 2013 when I burned out so badly, I passed the point-of-no-return. 

While I survived burnout, I never fully returned to hands-on design work. Not in the way the world typically expects someone called a “designer” to, anyway. Often the world still thinks of designers as the people who make things look nice. They don’t see us as business people, or problem solvers. Truth is, the good designers are more that than anything else. I’m proud to say my design skills will continue to be useful tools that support every aspect of my life personally and professionally, from organization design through life design.

I’ve always brought a lot of other strengths to the table, strengths that make more sense in the business side of things. Some folks I’ve worked with through the years have seen these things in me. Many saw these skills in me more clearly than I did. I struggled with self-confidence and I fumbled through communicating in diplomatic, yet direct ways. Awareness has kept me constantly chipping away at improving my shortcomings. Experimenting, learning, failing, succeeding, growing.

I have done a lot of work personally to allow myself to stand up and say, “I am good at this.” It’s been hard, I still worry about how cocky it all reads. I still mess up with the wording. Deep down, I KNOW what I am capable of. It’s scary to speak with confidence.

To folks that knew me as “a designer," this role may be a surprising shift from where you imagine I fit, or belong. Those who’ve worked with me in the past 3 years, and maybe even further back, you know this is a role that amplifies what I am truly passionate about, and leverages my strengths and capabilities with vast opportunity for learning and growth along with my contributions. Sometimes it’s hard to see a person any differently than the context from which you first meet them. We all grow, change is inevitable. 

Full Time, Baby!
The decision to join this amazing team in a full-time capacity did not come without careful consideration and nearly a year of having MartianCraft as a dear client.

For the past 3 years, I’ve made quite an effort to define my independence and shift focus drastically away from hands-on product creation into coaching and advising Fortune 500 executives, world-renowned product teams, and individuals. It’s worked out very well. So well, the idea of taking a full-time job anywhere, ever again seemed almost like a joke. It would have to be an insane offer to make me give up what I’d built.

I’ve cherished my independence and have taken great care to live and breathe freedom and play. I’ve experimented constantly and exercised ownership of my time. I’ve chosen to work only with clients with whom I could align both strategically and philosophically. I’ve sought out clients who could understand the ecology and value I can bring to a team, if not pre-defined by a narrow, misunderstood label indicating I was there to make things look nice.

Tons of Gratitude
What sealed the deal for me was not only the ability to continue working remotely from my home and the understanding that I am an independent mother with two young girls. It was not only the amazing, talented and kind individuals that work here or the offer to accept a role that feels like, “Finally, at last, it fits!”

What sealed the deal for me was that working with MartianCraft never once made me feel my gender. From our first conversation about the potential to work together, to agreeing to come aboard full time in the capacity of COO, I’ve simply felt like an empowered human being. I’ve felt listened to and clearly understood, rather than dismissed. I’ve felt elevated, rather than shelved. I’ve felt supported and encouraged, rather than held back. 

Rob Rhyne, Kyle Richter, Jeff LaMarche and the whole team at MartianCraft. Thank you for seeing me.

Rob, I’m sad to see you go. The past months of working side-by-side with you have been refreshing, exciting, hilarious, and straight up delightful. I know you’ll rock it over at the fruit company. I hope you carry an enormous sense of pride in knowing you built something strong enough to continue breathing, building, growing while you reach new heights of your own. You’re like the Johnny Appleseed of MartianCraft. You planted some good seeds, I hope we do you proud and keep those seeds watered, fertilized and growing.

It is a great honor for me to join this team, in this role. I look forward to our future together.

\o/