Missa Gray is a Sr. Manager on one of our dedicated Client Success Teams here at aytm, and has been with the company for nearly five years! We were so excited to get a chance to catch up with them and talk about Studio Ghibli, cats, and keys to spreading joy in a virtual workplace. We hope you enjoy the conversation as much as we did!
First, let’s start with what you do here at aytm
I am a Sr. Manager for a dedicated client success team. Our team works closely with the account managers and client researchers to further DIY enablement—so we help clients learn to navigate, understand, utilize, and master all the awesome features aytm’s platform has to offer. Everyone learns a bit differently, so we do everything from one on one training calls to instructional emails, vidyards, and even larger group demos. We also perform partial services like preflight checks, survey optimization, and some post-fielding platform guidance.
What makes aytm a great place to work?
To sum it up? Opportunities, trust, mentorship, and personal and professional growth.
The biggest thing that has contributed to my career development at aytm is having managers and mentors that believe in me and give me opportunities to learn and grow. I feel that having women in leadership roles plays a big part of that. I feel seen and valued here in ways that I simply was not at other companies.
The other big thing is flexibility. At aytm, we are people—not productivity machines. We’re allowed to have off days where we’re not feeling 100%. Sometimes you’ll need to take a couple hours for an important life admin task, and that’s not frowned upon here. I can be a real human with ups and downs. Being able to prioritize myself makes it sustainable to show up fully and kick ass at work.
How do you balance your career and personal life at aytm?
Boundaries. Unlearning hustle culture. Knowing that my intrinsic value is not tied to productivity.
I think it’s important to get comfortable with saying “no,” or even “I’ll look at this tomorrow.” I keep the phone on “do not disturb” and trust the team to handle things when I’m on PTO. I also realize that working for a genuinely remote company is fundamentally different—so it helps to develop rituals or routines to replace a commute and to make space and time for rest and unregulated joy.
Can you tell us more about rituals to replace the commute?
For me, I want the first thing I do today to be something that I truly want to do. That may be playing a game on my phone. That may be spending some QT with my cats. It may be making a breakfast sandwich. Anything that I’m excited about doing.
Editor’s note: At this point in the conversation, Missa and I talked about scaling the ingredients of a breakfast sandwich based on the kind of morning we’re having. Quiet Tuesday? Get yourself buttery sourdough. Hectic Thursday? You’re gonna need some egg and cheese on an everything bagel.
What’s something you’re passionate about?
Vulnerable honesty, accommodating different learning styles, genuine expressions of gratitude, the interconnectedness of all things, and being kind to yourself.
The number one priority in life is protecting my peace. If an aspect of life is not sustainable to protect my joy within, then I make changes to make it possible. That’s because I believe that when you genuinely feel joy, you bring joy to the people around you. And I want to be a light. The ripple effect of your energy is real, so I prioritize the positive and stay mindful of the energy that I put out into the world.
How do you channel that passion into your work at aytm?
I know first-hand what a difference feeling valued makes in my day-to-day work and my career as a whole. I want my teammates to flourish and thrive, so it’s important to me that I make them feel valued and provide a safe space for them to speak openly about their challenges.
In that same vein, it’s so very important to be mindful of how you speak to yourself. You need to be gentle and patient with yourself before you can fully sit in that vulnerable state with someone else. How we treat ourselves is the precursor to how we treat others.
Furthermore, I think it’s important we understand that progress isn't linear and that failure is instrumental to learning. For this reason, it’s important that we don't invalidate our hard feelings or beat ourselves up when we make a mistake. Instead, we should sit with our turmoil, invite it to have tea, and listen to what it has to teach us.
“No mud, no lotus.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
Beautiful. What’s something about you that might surprise people?
I’m hella introverted. I would rather stay at home playing video games in pajamas with my cats than go to a social event.
I have 11 tattoos. My very first tattoo is a cartoony portrait of my cat, Banksy. I have a matching tattoo with my mom (jasmine flowers), a matching tattoo with my best friend (a cat wrapped around a wine glass), and a coordinated tattoo with my sister (Totoro and soot sprites).
I went to school for biology (got my bachelor’s from UCF). I wanted to work in conservation and rehabilitation—specifically animal conservation and rehabilitation. My life goal was to save a species from the brink of extinction, like the California condor or Galapagos tortoise. I spent about a year interning—and then volunteering—at a wildlife refuge back in Florida. I miss working with animals but I don’t miss how emotionally taxing it is.
What originally inspired that love of animals?
So I actually grew up (half of the time) on a hobby farm with more types of pets than I can list: Ponies, horses, cats, dogs, chickens, goats, pigs, parrots, and snakes, just to name a few... Animal stewardship has always been a big part of my life.
I also think my love of animals came from my Dad. We would spend a lot of time with the cats, watching Studio Ghibli films together, and I think that was a big source of inspiration. Studio Ghibli films incorporate so many themes about the sacred value of nature and the mystical realities that can exist in any given forest. That reverence for nature definitely rubbed off on me. Those films also taught me that whatever is going on in your life, the way through it is within you. They also taught me to tune in to and nurture my inner child.
Which aytm Core Value is your favorite and why?
Empathy! Treating people like people is what makes aytm so awesome. Our client interactions are personable, not scripted. Our team dynamics are genuine, not prescribed.
In the description of that core value it states that we “create a safe, caring, friendly space that supports and celebrates everyone.” This means I can embrace what makes me me. And when you’re able to show up as your full self, you are able to grow as your full self.
What advice would you give someone just starting out at aytm?
Unlearn hustle culture. It just isn’t sustainable and you were hired for your mind and your talent, not your capacity for busy work.
Dive into the latest feature release and use it as the foundation of your knowledge growth. The fact is, aytm has so many cool things to offer, and it can be overwhelming deciding where to start. But this is a great place to begin.
Be sure to ask plenty of questions. The only dumb questions are the ones you don’t ask.
And most of all, be kind!