Interview with Amandah Wood

23.08.2016

This time around Frontify spoke with Amandah Wood from Ways We Work - a digital publication “focused on telling stories and getting first-hand accounts of how people do the work they love.” Amandah has a diverse background and from this, has been able to connect with many in the new media, technology, design and entrepreneurial space.

Always an inspiring read, Ways We Work exemplifies Amandah’s commitment to shining the spotlight on others in order to learn and grow. We’re honored to be able to shine the spotlight on her this time around

Did you always have a passion for technology? Where does this come from?

I’ve always been excited for what technology enables us to do. My degree is in New Media so I spent four years working with different technologies in unconventional ways and researching what the impact of technology is on cultures and individuals. It’s incredible to me that even 10 years ago, a project like Ways We Work might not have been possible. Now I’m on a Skype call with someone across the world every week and making these connections that just could not happen before. That’s mind blowing.

Did you start out as a front end developer or was this something that you transitioned into?

I’ve spent most of my career as a jack of all trades kind of person, so no title has ever stuck for very long. My first job out of university was in front-end development and social media marketing simultaneously. It was great to wear two hats I could switch between frequently. Then I tried my hand at doing just front-end development full-time and actually discovered it wasn’t for me. I just have so many ideas and things I’m itching to do, focusing on one thing just isn’t for me. I’m glad I know that now!

Amandah Wood

And what is it that you do now?

Currently, I’m the Editor of Ways We Work, an online publication I founded two years ago focused around telling stories of how people do the work that’s meaningful to them. On a day to day basis my job involves finding people to interview, conducting interviews, writing and editing, contacting sponsors and partners, and thinking of new ways we can grow our content and our audience.

Tell us a bit about Ways We Work.

In my first full-time role out of university I found myself overwhelmed with learning things like the best way to structure my day/week, how to find the best tools to use for certain tasks, and just generally how to be productive and efficient. I wanted to a way to just have open conversations with other professionals about how they were navigating different challenges in their jobs. So I made a list of questions I’d want to ask other people and started sending them over email. Then I posted the responses on Ways We Work and it took off from there.

Now we do the interviews via Skype, feature teams and are working on making the site better all the time. We’ve featured some pretty incredible people, like Deepa Subramaniam the Director of Product for the Hillary for America campaign, Cap Watkins the VP of Design at BuzzFeed, and many, many others. You can see all the interviews here: http://wayswework.io/interviews

We’re looking to feature people who are willing to be open and honest about the work they love, and how they do it. While we’ve interviewed a lot of designers and creatives, we’re open to all kinds of roles: Product Managers, Engineers, CEOs, Founders, Marketers, Writers - mostly folks involved with the digital space in some way.

What is it that you like the most about your current role?

What I love most about my role for Ways We Work is that I get to utilize a ton of different skills, tools and processes to solve problems. It combines all of the things I love to do: design, communication, writing, marketing, and strategizing. If I’m ever feeling burnt out on one aspect of it I can put my focus into something else for a little while. I get to shape the work I’m doing which is incredibly fulfilling.

And the least.

Being the one in the driver’s seat is great when you know where you’re going, but it can be challenging trying to navigate and drive at the same time. That’s the best analogy for it, really. I’ve never done any of what I’m doing currently, so learning can be exciting but it can also be painful and frustrating.

Tell us about Ladies Learning Code and your role with this organization in your local community.

I was the Chapter Lead for Waterloo’s Ladies Learning Code for about a year and a half and it was a really fulfilling position, I feel lucky I was able to be a part of such a great organization. We would host workshops every other month teaching girls and women of all ages how to get started in code and technology careers. While we mostly focused on beginner level HTML and CSS, we held Javascript workshops and Python ones as well.

Software and technology are such a huge part of our world, everyone needs to have a voice in the products that are going impact our lives.

Hop in a time machine. What advice would you give yourself the very first day you entered the industry?

The answers you’re looking for are on the other side of a few failures. I had (and still kind of have) an obsession with knowing how to do something the best way before I even do it. Which is just not an achievable goal. I’m learning to accept that finding out how to do things well just takes doing them terribly a few times.

What do you want to be known for?

Being a great listener and a connector. In a recent interview someone told me that we’re in need of more people who are just great at making connections - between people, thoughts, ideas etc. Sometimes I think my curiosity and empathy are my greatest skills and so I want to use them well. I want to listen, observe and understand and then figure out how I can make connections between the things I learn and share them with others.

Fabienne Klauser
Fabienne Klauser Marketing at Frontify
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