“I love being a manager because it stretches a different skill set on helping the team achieve a common goal and guiding individual designers along the way in their projects and career paths,” said Ada Lau, Senior Manager, UX Design at Audible.
Ada began her career in 2016 at Audible as a visual designer before transitioning into UX. She also served as an individual contributor, after working as a contractor for one year, prior to transitioning into the managerial track in fall 2020. Today, Ada manages two UX designers on the Audible Acquisition and Accounts team.
“I have always liked working with people, helping them grow and gaining experience in managing a team,” she said. “When the opportunity came up, I vocalized my intentions and advocated for myself.”
One of the aspects of Audible that appeals most to Ada is its focus on relationships, as evidenced by its People Principles. “We design products that benefit millions of people, bring stories to life and connect listeners to creators,” she said. “Knowing I get to work with incredibly talented colleagues every day is what gets me excited to dive into work.”
“Throughout the pandemic, we are all activating our caring for each other because it is no easy task to be working from home with our spouse, homeschooling the kids, and juggling work,” she added. “Work hours seem to be longer because we are juggling so much, we may have cut back commute hours but now we have virtual meeting fatigue because we lost the in-person meeting opportunities. It’s important to be empathic to our colleagues and be kind to ourselves. We are all figuring this out together.”
Despite being the only designer in the UX org based in Seattle, Ada has cultivated strong relationships with the company and her colleagues. Audible provides plenty of opportunities for social connections, including a hackathon, holiday celebrations and organization-wide brainstorming to allow cross-functional teams to get together.
“When we start to know each other personally, it makes work not just work but a place where we care and help each other,” she said.
Valuing employees, customers and the community
Ada also appreciates how much Audible values its employees — as much as it values its customers. “To this day, Audible continues to demonstrate its values by putting words into actions,” she said.
Ada points to Audible’s contributions to the surrounding community in its Newark, NJ headquarters, pointing to its efforts to serve up hope with Newark Working Kitchens during the COVID pandemic. The company worked with 30 local restaurants to provide almost one million nutritious meals to residents in need throughout the city. This effort helps sustain those restaurants and community members most in need through the crisis.
“Audible’s culture is to give back locally whenever we can, while building products that can benefit customers globally,” Ada said.
This care extends to customers, too. According to Ada, Audible takes customers’ feedback seriously, reading and listening to their comments. For example, in response to a request for making the player more accessible to listen to while commuting, the company rolled out a ‘Car Mode’ player in just three months.
Audible is also very supportive of its employees’ careers. Ada points to the company’s yearly tuition reimbursement, which employees can use to spend on conferences or programs. She, for one, has taken a product management course and is currently taking several courses developed by Amazon, Audible’s parent company, on how to be an effective manager.
Audible has also been incredibly supportive to its employees during the pandemic. Not everyone was equipped to work at home, so the company provided each employee with an allowance to purchase the equipment they needed. They also offered mental wellness days, two additional weeks of time off and resources for coping with anxiety, stress and isolation.
“I felt taken care of not just by my immediate team but the company as well,” Ada said.
Audible has also announced a hub + home hybrid working model after the pandemic, meaning employees have the choice to split their time between working from home and the office.
Another means of support is the voice memos the company receives from its CEO, updating employees, for example, on their progress against goals, products and the company’s perspective in light of social events such as Black Lives Matter protests and the Asian-American hate crimes.
“Audible provided safe spaces and resources for individuals to talk and express their feelings with so much turmoil happening in the past year,” Ada said.
Moving on up
Ada has also received support from excellent mentors, who have given her guidance and autonomy and “challenged me to exceed my capabilities.”
Additionally, she’s been offered advice that has propelled her in her career, including to have perspective and to show up.
“We all bring different experiences and knowledge to the table,” Ada explained. “Often, we feel reluctant to speak up because of the audience or imposter syndrome. But the truth is, we all want to see each other succeed. By voicing your perspective regardless of your title, you empower yourself to have a voice and to be heard. By showing up, I mean literally to show up — to show up is to give yourself a chance to experience new conversations and to make new relationships.”
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