Day In The Life: Startup Project Manager, Hillary For America

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Day In The Life: Startup Project Manager, Hillary For America

In the #dayinthelife series, we’re not always talking about long-term roles and jobs. There’s the whole world of project-based work, where you can choose what you want to work on and what projects speak to you in an authentic way. Project based work can take many forms- as an events manager, a marketing manager, and more- today, we’re focused on the role of project manager.
project manager







Enter Patricia Zablah, tech-savvy project manager for startups and media who is passionate about showcasing diversity of all kinds and fostering it in the workplace. She is currently working as a project manager on the campaign Hillary for America, of the Democratic Nominee for President of the United States, Hillary Clinton. (#ImWithHer)!!! I sat down with Paty to talk about what it’s like to work on the campaign and be a part of history. Here are excerpts of our conversation.

  1. What is your official job title for the campaign?

I’m a Digital Organizing Tools Manager

  1. What are you responsible for? In other words, what part of the campaign puzzle do you work on?

I work on the Digital Organizing team, which is the team that works with organizers around the country to help them organize offline with the help of digital tools. The tools are built by our internal tech team, who are awesome! I am responsible for rolling those tools out across the 50 states, training people to use the tools (with the help of our team, of course) and I’m also responsible for gathering feedback for the tech team. Basically, I’m the bridge between the tech team and the people who use the tool, which is a really exciting place to be.

  1. What’s an example of a tool you work with state organizers to roll out?

Organizers are experts at talking to voters and educating people on absentee ballot requests, early voting, etc. All states have different roles around voter registration and absentee ballot requests so we work with states to say oh you want an event or people in your state want to organize an event and have it be on our site. The most important events for people to get involved in the campaign are things like phone banks and canvassing (knocking on people’s doors). One of our tools helps organizers create events, link those events to our site – and make it easy for volunteers to sign up and help us elect Hillary!!

4. Tell me what a typical day is like working on the Hillary Campaign.

9:30am: Walk into work, sometimes after hitting the gym (when I’m feeling enthusiastic) and skim our daily news report that the entire campaign gets. We basically get a summary of how the media is covering the election- the good, the bad and the ugly. Sip my coffee and usually have breakfast at my desk that I bring from home.

10:00am– By this time, our slackbot has already reminded the entire HQ offices how many days we have until election day and our smaller team- the Digital Organizing team- has our daily slack check-in: what are you working on, do you need help? what’s the status?

11:00am – Meet with our HQ State leads who deal directly with our State Directors in our state offices. Talk about the challenges they are facing, what events they are preparing for, successes or problems they are having with our tools and how we can help.

11:45am– stand-up with the tech team. What is everyone working on? What are you struggling with? – Usually pretty quick.

12:15pm– by this time, I am starving so I usually head out to get some Dos Toros with friends at the campaign or sometimes, I bring my own lunch (wellness, remember?).

12:45-2pm– Block off time to work on product spec reviews, answering support emails from users, etc. Consolidating feedback from States in the morning to send to tech team.

2-3pm– Prepare for our Office Hours with users- where I look at what has been happening throughout the week, what could people benefit from us explaining and what new technology has been rolled out that we can share with them.

3-4pm– Office Hours call with ~60-80 organizers at a time using Maestro- a conference software that is incredibly complicated and I still have not mastered.

4-5pm– update user guides based on feedback from call.

5-8:30pm– This time is spent answering more emails, and if it’s Thursday, filling out my weekly report which is due on Friday mornings, slacking (on the Slack app), meeting with Tech team, Analytics team and States teams – sometimes reading our horoscopes to each other and then trying to head home at a reasonable hour to get enough sleep.

*Note: during this whole time, TVs are playing in the background with speeches from both parties, events, news, etc. I have headphones, of course.

5. What do you love about being a project manager for the campaign?

I love this work, first and foremost, because I believe Hillary should be the next President of the United States and I love that I get to have a part in making that happen. I also love working on this side of technology as a project manager, with a more user centric approach as opposed to a more product-based approach- which has been my experience in technology in the past. It is interesting to challenge myself in this way. I love working with a team who has a clear shared goal in mind- there is a clear focus on everyone’s piece of the puzzle to help achieve the measurable goal of “did Hillary win the presidency or not?” I love the direct impact I have and I love the people – everyone supports each other. We work 7 days a week and are under pressure so we all help each other out and support each other.

6. What’s the biggest challenge of working on the campaign?

We work a lot! So that can get challenging when you have to remember to take care of yourself and your family and friends as well. We get free Soulcycle classes because the owner is very supportive of HRC, so that definitely helps! Also, sometimes you have people who aren’t supportive of the campaign and you have to be aware of that in the way you carry yourself out in the world. Mostly in the digital world. It’s frustrating that some people think that when you share something or speak your mind about something related to politics, you are doing it as “part of a job” and not because you believe in it. Would I work here if I didn’t share the values that Hillary is fighting for?