Shopify Ecosystem

From Cook To Associate Product Owner: Internal Movement At Recharge

from-cook-to-associate-product-owner:-internal-movement-at-recharge

Along with the ability to form deep bonds with colleagues, the potential for internal movement tops the list of the perks of joining a startup.

In a startup’s early stages, it’s unlikely that formalized processes, concrete roles, or best practices have fully taken shape. In Recharge’s early stages, this was true as well. The ground was fertile, the hats worn were many, and the energy was exhilarating–a rewarding environment for those who are willing to get their hands dirty, grind out solutions to ambiguous problems, and take on a wide range of random responsibilities. 

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have worn and continue to wear many hats at Recharge. My internal mobility at Recharge journey is as follows:

  • Phase 0: Cook at company retreat
  • Phase 1: People Ops systems, general ops, onboarding employees 30-100
  • Phase 2: Assistant to the CEO
  • Phase 3: Dotted line to COO and VP of People Ops
  • Phase 4: Special Projects
  • Phase 5: Associate Product Owner

I suppose going from a cook to an associate product owner isn’t a typical example of internal mobility, but hey, it works! A detailed description of the journey follows.

My #day-one experience with Recharge was as a cook at an early company retreat (30 attendees). I had done private chef gigs in the past, but I had never cooked for 30 people at a time. Although a daunting task, it ended up being one of the most fun and rewarding experiences of my life. Essentially, I was giving hungry people plates of food, helping them find other random things they needed, and filing them into Lyfts to go to the next event.

I was in the business of making things easy for Recharge team members, and I began to understand what #empathy means here. Strong connections with those who would later become integral in my current role were a natural by-product of retreat involvement (looking at you Carms!). The Recharge dynamic was in plain view, and I started to understand other areas in which the company could use some help. 

At the end of the retreat, the CEO and CTO offered me a job which entailed “helping out.” I instantly translated that to “there’s plenty of random stuff we need to figure out operationally, can you help?” Although I didn’t have much tech experience, I was computer savvy and had organizational skills, so I said “Yes, absolutely.”

From there, I was tasked with implementing basic HRIS and ATS systems, running a quasi-functional IT program, organizing an inventory of company swag, and onboarding employees. I had the distinct honor of doing such tasks alongside the Recharge Matriarch, Carme <3. In typical startup fashion, the task of onboarding employees started with a question: “Hey, can you just… handle… onboarding?” Again, the answer was “Yes, absolutely.”

At each phase in my journey, there was an opportunity to dive in and take #ownership of something I didn’t fully grasp nor have experience with. Such opportunities are what make Recharge a special place; competence is rewarded with opportunity. 

With some of the organizational elements in a functional place, I began my role as Assistant to the CEO. I had the unique opportunity to learn as much as I could about Recharge, the ecommerce market, and how our company fits into a lucrative and future-proof ecosystem. In addition to maintenance from the previous phase in my journey, this role started with standard EA duties like calendar/email management and leadership team support.

As my relationship with the CEO grew stronger and I learned more about the business, I started to take on more focused operational projects. The most crucial of which was reporting via dotted line to the COO, with the main task of onboarding the VP of People Operations. My role in implementing early versions of everything HR related put me in a unique position to help the VP transition into department leadership smoothly. 

Once the People Ops department had a leader, with processes in place, I was able to re-focus on directly supporting the CEO. I was tasked with more business research, market research, data analysis, recruiting, and etc: Special Projects. Before taking on special projects, my understanding of Recharge had been mostly limited to the market, operations, business practices, and etc. Once special projects started taking off, I had the opportunity to start learning about our product. This was the most exciting part of my journey, as I got to see how things worked under the hood and how product practices were employed. Learning about the product very much felt like diving into the deep end, with no floatation devices, in a storm. I was inundated with information, technical jargon to learn, and was forced to think in new ways. When I realized how much I had the chance to learn, I was struck with an overwhelming sense of #humility and gratitude.

The most special project of them all was the early build out of a crucial integration with our biggest tech partner. I couldn’t have asked for a more hard-knocks product education! To deepen my new understanding, and as a requirement for my transition into the product team, Recharge granted me continuing education, which I attended during weeknights over the course of 5 months. The leap from special projects to associate product owner was the most difficult, and it required the biggest leap of faith from Recharge leadership. 

Once I had technical education and product experience under my belt, I officially transitioned to the product team as an associate product owner for internal tools. I’m grateful for the opportunity to transition–over years of grinding–from the kitchen into a desirable department in the tech community. I couldn’t be more excited to build the future at Recharge than I am now. 

Recharge has always shown faith in my ability to grow, to take on new challenges, and to deliver results. And, while it may be atypical, my story is just one example of how Recharge supports its employees as they grow. The opportunity to move internally is massive at Recharge; it’s not just some buzz word on our website to attract talent. Recharge Leadership fully believes in investing in the employees–if going from a cook to an associate product owner doesn’t tell that story, then I don’t know what does!

Special thanks to our friends at ReCharge Payments for their insights on this topic.
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