Today, on ‘Expert Speaks‘, we have Christie Chirinos, the Product Manager at Liquid Web – a leader in managed VPS hosting, managed cloud hosting, and dedicated server hosting. They are famous for their fast and high-quality support, known as ‘Heroic Support’.
In this interview, Christie talks about her journey, how challenges motivate her and about her daily life.
We are indeed thankful to Christie, that she could find time to answer our questions with utmost patience, making each of her answers highly useful and effective to our readers.
Tell us something about your background and how exactly did you get involved with WordPress?
Hi, my name is Christie Chirinos. Thanks for interviewing me, it’s fun to reach into the personal details sometimes.
I actually started out my professional life in banking. So, while I was working at the bank and on my MBA, I had a blog on WordPress.com, which I barely used. It’s a long story, but one weekend one of my blog posts went somewhat viral–it got 180,000 views over a day and a ton of comments. That really opened my eyes to the power and reach of WordPress specifically. I started focusing on my blog, then building WordPress websites for clients. Right around this time, I met the person who would eventually become my business partner, and they encouraged me to start going to WordCamps. WordCamps are volunteer-organized WordPress conferences. That’s when I got really deep into WordPress, and eventually, I got a full-time job using WordPress full-time in nonprofit communications. I started working on my WordPress product business around that time, which took about 2 years to really take off. After moving on from my business, I landed at Liquid Web. I’ve been around the WordPress ecosystem and understand the different types of companies pretty well.
Tell us about your experience with Liquid Web?
I’m the Product Manager for Managed WooCommerce here at Nexcess, which is the new brand for our Liquid Web family of managed application solutions. Liquid Web is a pretty cool company to work for–we’re a global sponsor of the WordPress community, and my team is full of well-known and super smart community contributors. Our tagline, “The Most Helpful Humans In Hosting,” is truly seen everywhere in our internal processes. Everyone always goes above and beyond for our customers.
What do you exactly do as a Product Manager of Liquid Web?
Product managers are like the glue between the different departments at a company, bringing together all of the disciplines to move the product upwards. For me, that means I spend all day obsessing over the performance, security, and stability of the stores on our Managed WooCommerce platform, and figuring out ways to make our merchants happier and more profitable.
So, what’s your normal day look like?
Something I really like about product management is that no day looks the same. Some days, I’m looking through feature requests and ideas from colleagues and customers and prioritizing, organizing and giving feedback on the notes. Other days, I’m revising the system I use to organize those requests. A lot of the time, I spend significant chunks of time researching and writing articles, handouts and reports. One thing that is consistent every day is that I spend at least some fraction of my day interacting with customers, whether solving problems, collecting product feedback, or facilitating new sales, all in collaboration with teams across the whole company. Product management is an entrepreneurial job, and I find it really fun.
I read somewhere that you have been building websites since you were 14 and had two online stores when you were 16. That’s a quite young age for this! So, How did you start all this?
Hey, you did your research on me! That’s a real story. To be totally honest, I was just curious, and it wasn’t web development that I was curious about–the web was just the means to an end. The first site I ever built was because I wanted to make extra spending money teaching piano to kids in my neighborhood, and I decided I needed a website to advertise. At 16, I lived near Miami but had fallen in love with a particular kind of artisanal jewelry from my home country of Peru, so I started selling it online. I was also really interested in used books, first selling them on Amazon, and then getting curious about syndication to multiple platforms. I don’t think I ever set out to start making websites, but rather, I was entrepreneurial and curious about artistic + creative things that interested me. I realized that the technological know-how to pursue those things was freely available online thanks to open-source and web publishing communities. I think that’s what I’m doing here today as well, which is why the best part of my job at Liquid Web is seeing all the cool things people are selling using WooCommerce.
What are the projects you are currently working on?
I’m always working on a ton of small things at once, but right now specifically, my attention is on updating and improving our external-facing documentation for our new Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce products on Nexcess.net under the Liquid Web umbrella, tightening the execution and understanding of the suite of value-added bundles that come with each Managed WooCommerce plan (did you know Managed WooCommerce comes bundled with up to $6000/year of additional plugins, themes and app subscriptions?), and improving the visibility of my reporting for our new, lower-cost autoscaling plans on Nexcess.
As far as I know, you worked with different people and companies. So, what have you learned from working in different companies?
I’ve worked in the product (plugin) business, the agency setting, the in-house communications setting, as a freelancer, and now web hosting. I’ve done almost the whole breadth of possible jobs one can do with WordPress! These experiences have each significantly shaped me. Most importantly, being able to imagine the problem from all of those different perspectives has helped me grow in empathy and understanding. When I see a problem, I can imagine how frustrating it felt to be on the other end of that problem–whether it’s in a frustrated support ticket from a website owner, or a question about the capabilities of a plan from someone shopping for web hosting on behalf of a creative agency. I think the breadth of experience makes us powerful, knowledgeable, and it makes us care more. That’s always a good thing.
According to you, what does the future hold for WordPress/WooCommerce?
I think this is such a tough question. I never know what to say. I think we’re going to see continued growth, especially as our relationship to technology evolves to re-prioritize privacy, autonomy, and ownership. Those parts are some of the biggest advantages of WordPress and WooCommerce that folks find once they have become comfortable with the tools. However, right now, most people use WordPress because of its low cost and popularity, then find additional advantages. I think we’re going to see the additional advantages becoming the reason people adopt, as those things become more important to larger groups of people.
How do you unwind yourself after a long day?
I’ve kept it pretty consistent over the years! Music is still a big part of my life, so practicing my instruments helps me unwind, as well as going to see live music. Books are still a big part of my life too and reading makes me happy and better informed–right now I’m reading The Age of Surveillance Capitalism, which likely informed my previous answer. Other than that, the regular suspects: spending time with my friends and family, keeping up with my gym routine, and the occasional glass of great red wine.
What is the motivation behind your success and what advice you want to give people who want to follow your path?
Above all, I think you should do what you love. I think that many people get stuck on ideas of what they “should” be doing–because it’ll be more profitable, more respectable, or some other quality that comes from the outside, not the inside. I’ve learned to stop paying attention to other people’s voices and start paying attention to how I feel when doing different things. What do I get immersed in? What can I do for hours and hours without realizing that time has gone by? Noticing those states of flow, and working on ways to do more of them and less of the things that feel grueling has been the key for me. After all, success ultimately comes from consistency–showing up every day is more powerful than any heroic act of brilliance. You might well be consistent at something that is both easy to be consistent at and makes you happy.
So that’s it. Thanks, Christie for your valuable time and wonderful answers. Hope Christie’s
journey inspires you to do what you love and excel in it! 🙂