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How Rowing and Percussion Made Me into a Product Owner

Anika Chatterjee
Product Owner
Chicago, IL
Pronouns: She/Her

Growing up, I loved percussion and rowing. Those passions taught me how to “bridge the gap.” A percussionist is responsible for keeping the rhythm and adding color to the music through unique sounds. A coxswain on a rowing team is responsible for being the coach’s eyes in the boat and adapting a race plan based on real-time feel and execution. In music, I’d work between the conductor and the orchestra. In rowing, between the coach and the rowers. Both of these roles bridge the gap between what needs to be delivered, and the actual resulting performance.

When I graduated college, it came naturally to take my background in information systems and economics, my passion for technology, and my unique ability to bridge the gap, to carve out a career. Now as a product owner in data and analytics, I work at the intersection of engineers, stakeholders, and users, to ensure my teams produce features that add value for Discover.

Bridging those teams requires staying curious and continuously learning. The more I learn, the more I can converse with all sorts of people and understand the world outside my daily life. To me, a part of learning is also “unlearning” and re-shaping the way I think. As technology continues to move at light speed, my ideology must follow just as quickly.

There’s a saying that the upsides of difficult knowledge far outweigh the downsides of blissful ignorance. Less than a year into my career, I experience “learning moments” every day. These moments of discomfort and uncertainty in my day-to-day are actually evidence of my growth. Compared to just over a year ago when I was still in school, I now have a stronger data-driven approach to my thinking. At that time, “the cloud” was just a concept to me, and not something tangible as it now is.

Owning 2 enterprise-level business intelligence tools at Discover has allowed me to guide many data-centered projects, which is ultimately at the center of our digital world. Just as I did as a percussionist and a coxswain, I’ve learned to strategize and more effectively bridge the gaps.

 

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