Deborah Joyce (Debs) does project management here at aytm and has been with the company for over a year and a half now. Her dedicated care and delightful personality have brought both joy and success to so many projects she’s championed throughout her time here. We were excited to catch up with her and learn a little bit more about what she does both inside and outside aytm. Check it out!
Can you tell us a little bit about what you do here at aytm?
I am the “Go to Market” Project Manager for the Product Strategy team. Any large features come to me post-development, and I’ll help other teams take them to market. My job is to keep all project contributors informed and agile as we work towards the release date—that means making sure we don’t miss anything, that we all know the deliverables, and that everything gets approved. I also work with my colleagues across different departments to promote our project management tools and best practices so that we can make more efficient and collaborative processes.
How did you decide to get into your field?
My background is in design. I studied digital media and technology, which was a mixture of design and coding—none of today's fancy work though, it was DOS and HTML. Eventually, I went from digital to print, product, and spatial design. In my last role, I was head of creative for an in-attraction tourism photography company where I was mostly designing and project managing product (physical), operational processes, and retail spaces within tourism destinations like aquariums, zoos, viewing towers, and the like.
When the pandemic hit, tourism shut down, and I had time to think about the parts of my role that I loved. I came to realize that my favorite part of the job was project managing and problem-solving operational processes issues.
I knew two things:
- I wanted a challenge—a move to a role in tech away from the limitations and restrictions of physical design and production.
- I want to be able to work while traveling in a way that puts me in control of the destinations.
So I was over the moon when an old work colleague now at aytm reached out to share open roles here for project managers!
What’s something you’re passionate about?
It’s so hard to choose one. I love to travel. I’ve lived in places all over the world—the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Dubai, Norway, and currently the US. I also love yoga, art, and the great outdoors—but if I had to name one thing that gets my heart racing, it’s snowboarding. Sure, it’s given me a long list of injuries—fractures, metal plates, dislocations, hematomas, and many concussions—but it makes me smile more than anything else.
In my younger ski bum days I switched from skiing to snowboarding, I ran the ski and snowboard repair shop on The Remarkables ski field in New Zealand. When I was there, I was basically earning about 20c an hour and mostly surviving on trading tune-ups for food and boxes of cider, but I felt fulfilled being on the mountain and meeting so many amazing new people every day.
What kind of snowboarder are you?
As far as my style, I’d say I'm an all-mountain rider—hiking if there is powder, on piste for the cruisy days, and the park if the mountain is busy. When I passed my snowboard teaching certificate, I realized on day one that I didn't have the patience to teach others. That's definitely changed now, and I love helping fellow riders progress. I am also very good at the Apres Ski!
Any crazy stories from the mountain?
My most awkward mountain moment was actually on skis. I got shoved off a cat track (a groomed trail on a slope) by an out-of-control skier, onto a steep face filled with trees. I was launched into a tree and got completely stuck about 15 feet up! A coach from the school had to climb up the tree to help. He eventually unclicked my bindings, which sent me plummeting into the deep snow like a sack of spuds. I had to be dug out! I still cringe now thinking about all the people watching.
What’s a fun fact about you that might surprise people?
During my stint with the tourism photography company, we were doing a shoot from the top of the Shard, London’s tallest building. When we got to the location, our photographer casually mentioned he suffered from acrophobia—and he’d need me to join him up on the top platform just in case he froze. Turns out I was the 28th person ever allowed on this level, outside of the Shard’s maintenance team. In the end, we had a stunning sunrise photoshoot and it was an unbelievable experience. Our photographer did great!
Any other cool experiences on your travels?
This one time we were doing a night install inside the FC Barcelona stadium. At the end of the installation, the sun was just about to rise, and inside the building, tensions were high with the team. I went into the stadium with my laptop to get some work done in the quiet. While I was inside the sun began to rise. So there I was, next to the pitch in Camp Nou as the morning sun poured in. I yelled out, “is anybody else in the stadium!?” No one replied. I yelled again. No reply. And I remember thinking how special it was to be in there alone at such a magical hour.
Oh and I’ve met the King of England (mic drop)!
How do you balance your career and personal life at aytm?
People! Taking time to plan and enjoy adventures, activities, and simple gatherings with friends and family keeps me driven to live life to the fullest. It reminds me every day how important connections and my network of people are.
Another thing that has really helped me is aytm’s attitude towards travel. I feel a level of trust from the company I’ve never experienced at work. It allows me to work flexibly, travel back to the UK to spend time with family, and stay productive without all the unnecessary worry. It’s truly a win-win.
How has aytm helped you in your career development?
aytm gave me the support and tools to enter into a new industry—to learn about market research as an industry and all the interesting nuances in tech development. I was welcomed in, and no one expected me to understand the lingo immediately—no one ever made me feel unknowledgeable or an outsider. In contrast, the teams at aytm have trusted my experience and ideas by allowing me to introduce new processes, new tools, and different ways to manage projects.
Which aytm Core Value is your favorite and why?
Creativity. So often, the idea of creativity is tied to the arts—producing artwork, being a talented musician or dancer, and so on. Many people don’t think they’re creative. But being creative is much bigger than this. It’s a part of human nature. We don’t call it out, but reshuffling a budget, revisualizing a problem, and being an effective communicator—it’s all creativity! You may not be able to sketch out a concept, but you can look at a process that isn’t efficient and create new ways to work and implement tools that instantly have a positive impact on efficiency and effort. Creativity is big-picture thinking and the ability to think outside of the box beyond what is in front of your eyes.
What advice would you give someone just starting out at aytm?
Make time to meet people who won’t be in your normal day-to-day work. Turn on your camera and get to know your new aytm family.