With nearly seven years under her belt at NextRoll, Julia Panopoulos has had the opportunity to see a clear career path, and shape it to her advantage along the way. As a Senior Product Manager for AdRoll, a business unit of NextRoll, Julia leads the Customer Experience Team. Her journey to date has helped her foster empathy, humility, and patience – a skill set she values highly inside and out of the workplace.

How has your career progressed at NextRoll?

I’ve had a lot of different roles at the company, and the common thread between them all has been a focus on the self-service experience. My very first job was in the AdRoll Business Unit on the Customer Support team answering inquiries via email, live chat, and phone calls. We eventually outsourced that team, so I ended up spending a lot of time scaling and automating tasks we did, as well as training the new reps abroad. From there, I moved into an operations role where my main focus was on supporting Product and Data projects. I got to attend sprint planning sessions with engineers and work alongside different Product Managers on their launches. It was my first real glimpse into the Product world. After a series of side projects and ultimately a leap of faith, I landed a role on the Product Team where I’ve been for the past two years.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy taking complex problems and making them more digestible for people. My role is very focused on making our platform more self-service, and everything my team and I do is with that lens in mind. I often think about “teaching a man to fish” with any product experience or user story I’m solving for. The thing I most enjoy is probably doing usability tests with Product Design. It’s really interesting to see how the brain works; something that might be obvious to you could be incredibly confusing to someone else. It’s very enlightening and has taught me a whole new skill set of observing, listening, and iterating, which has been helpful in both my professional and personal life.

What’s been your favorite project at NextRoll?

Overhauling the self-service onboarding experience in our AdRoll application. It was a passion project of mine that I was investigating on the side, when I was on the Business Operations team. I saw a problem in the platform that I thought could be solved with product changes, so I spent a lot of time creating a presentation backed by data and got it in front of the right people. It’s what ultimately catapulted me onto the Product team.

If you could switch your job with anyone else at NextRoll, who would it be and why?

If I could switch jobs with anyone else it would be with me, back to my very first role on the Customer Support team. People rarely contact Support to let them know how great things are going, rather there’s usually a problem. I strongly believe working in a customer-facing role breeds empathy, customer centricity, humility, patience, and ultimately helps you deeply understand your end-user better – all important things for any Product Manager!

What does ambition mean to you?

Ambition is a personal trait that drives you to reach higher and is fueled by your determination, grit, and confidence. Throughout my career, I found myself mulling over trying to move into different departments and in hindsight I should have gone for it sooner, but I don’t think my confidence was quite there yet. You can have really big goals and a really strong work ethic but you also need to have the self-confidence to “go for it,” which is something I still have to remind myself of!

How do you want to leave the working world for women in 20 years?

Flourishing! There are unique hardships and bias women have to face in the workplace, but my hope is they wane so there’s an even playing field. I hope the number of women in leadership and technical roles grows, so it’s not such an anomaly to see a woman in those circles.

Feeling ambitious? Learn how we empower women here at NextRoll and help them thrive in their careers.