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[personal profile] wintergr3y
Short form: I'm going to be a Community Manager for Google's mobile products!

Long form: read on...

For the last several years, my job in Google's Consumer Operations department has been a sort of user-focused product specialist. Basically I sat at the point midway between Google's users and the people who develop and maintain Google's products. I gathered feedback from the public and digested that into insights the developers could use. And when users needed to understand what the developers were up to -- because the product had a new feature or there was a bug that needed explaining -- I translated that back out to the world.

The skills to do this required a generalist. Over the years I've answered email, written and edited help center content, blueprinted help centers, designed contact flows, built troubleshooters, posted in forums, scoured third-party websites for customer insights, coordinated with the Public Relations and Marketing departments, analyzed products for potential abuse vectors, consulted with lawyers, implemented surveys, policed for content that violates the Terms of Service, written reports, given input into product design, and a gazillion other tasks. When I sat in product meetings, I'd be the guy the room would turn to ask, "What would our users think of this?"

During my several years with the company, I've done this for enough products that I'm starting to loose track. My first and longest love was Google Web Search, but I've also worked on a lot of others including Orkut, Google Finance, Google Reader, Google Video, iGoogle, the Nexus One launch, Chrome OS, and most recently some things that haven't been announced yet.

Our team is building out some new specializations, and I'm taking advantage of this to totally change things up. My process of arriving at that decision wasn't easy. As this specialization process started unfolding my manager asked me which roles I was interested in, and I of course mentioned the Product Specialist gig that I'm already doing. But I also mentioned that I'm interested in the new Community Manager role. My manager passed this on to the rest of our managerial team, and immediately got some very interested pings back. It's nice to be wanted!

When I came into work a couple of Mondays ago, it immediately became apparent that our timeline for rolling out these specializations had been accelerated and I basically needed to make a decision immediately. Further, our managers really thought I'd be great in the Community Manager role and were advising me to switch. This had me scrambling for a couple of days learning what the new job would entail, what my career path would be over the short, medium, and long term, what my place would be in the teams that were interested in me, and basically soul-searching about what I wanted to do with myself.

What would I be getting myself into? After all, Google's been participating in conversations with the community for years and years, and my own department has been a big part of that for a long time now. What I would get to do is a lot more of that than's currently possible. Spend hours each day in our own forums as well as out in the great fan sites, possibly blogging and tweeting, maybe running live events, etc. Talking to people, listening to people, evangelizing, communicating.

Ordinarily I'd take weeks to agonize over a major decision like this as I became familiar with all of the facts and had time to let it all sink in. I didn't have weeks, only days, but I did get all the facts. Once I recognized that, and had weighed all the pros and cons of staying on the path I was on vs. switching, I realized that I could make the decision immediately and then let it all sink in later. Ultimately it's why I took this job in the first place years ago: because I love communicating with people about technology. So I took the plunge.

And what a plunge it is! I'll be a Community Manager for Google's mobile product suite. I'm diving into the universe of Google's mobile products, and I'm going to put myself out there in the world to participate in the global conversation about the massive effect mobile computing is having on lives. The Android operating system is obviously a big part of that conversation, but so are other great products like the iPhone and iPad, as well as the services that run on mobile devices like mapping, email, SMS, and entertainment. I can't wait to get started!

Why am I joining the mobile team? Well I stood in line on launch day for the first iPhone, and quickly realized what a game-changer smartphones are. I stood in line on launch day again for the iPhone 3G. When the Nexus One came out I fully switched over to Android as my phone OS of choice. As much as I've lusted after a tablet I haven't picked up an iPad yet because I knew Android-based tablets were on the horizon, and I'm absolutely salivating at integrating the Motorola Xoom into my life when it comes out in a few weeks.

So mobile world, I look forward to joining the conversation soon!

PS - We're hiring! All departments at Google, including my own, are expanding. If you're interested check out our jobs page. If you're reading this and you're a friend of mine, DON'T submit your resume on your own. Go through me or another Googler you're friends with and we'll be happy to help -- it makes a difference.
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September 2011

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