Finding easy solutions to tough problems: a chat with Ashley Salazar
I’ll be honest: Ashley Salazar can be intimidating. When I first interviewed at ZapLabs, Ashley was one of the many employees I met with that day. As soon as she walked in the room, I knew I was going to have a tough time impressing her. This was her terrain, and it was clear that she held very high standards for the people and company she worked for.
As I sit here, one year later, I realize how wrong I was about my initial impression of Ashley. Sure, she can be fierce on the soccer field, but she’s not scary. And of course she knows her stuff, but that doesn’t even begin to describe her immense knowledge of—and dedication to—Zap. There’s no problem that Ashley won’t tackle head-on, and that’s why we love her.
How long have you been with the company?
“6 years.” Ashley began working back in the ZipRealty days. “It was just two people back then; I worked on consumer products and Colin worked on business products. Now, there’s 17 product managers!
Tell us a little about what you do here.
“I’m the Senior Director of Product Management. I work on product strategy and make sure our product managers are working on the right things. I still work a lot on the consumer product side of Zap— our website and apps. That’s where I started. I’m also involved on a more granular level with product strategy…and keep the product roadmap up-to-date.”
Why do you like what you do?
Unlike most, tough problems don’t keep Ashley up at night; in fact, they’re what motivate her to get out of bed each morning. “I really enjoy solving tough problems, and our problems are always changing because Zap is not static. I like big picture ideas and seeing all of our products interact. Our product influences a lot of people, so it really feels like you’re really making a change. I also get to work with a lot of different folks—it’s great working with such smart people.”
What has been your favorite project so far?
“The most exciting project was building the first version of Zap. We had to figure out everything. It was a crazy time; there was four of us building the platform that would be the foundation of Zap.”
What role does technology play in your life?
“I enjoy reading up on—and building—technology. During my freshman year I worked with a physicist, but it was way too abstract for me. I did some market research and realized I really liked the power of data to influence product decisions, specifically, the ability to apply analytics for practical purposes. So when I graduated, I went into a product management rotational program.”
What do you do for fun?
“I’m really into biking and skiing. I like to work on my own projects; I just started sewing. I love soccer, and HGTV and renovation shows. And gardening. I’m growing peas right now.”
What would your dream home look like?
For Ashley, the perfect home would be a mid-century modern with a really big yard for gardening. “I’m torn between a ranch-style home or one with lots of floors. I love the house in Ex Machina."
What’s your advice for someone looking to start a career in product management?
“Try a product management internship to see if it’s what you like. It will give you exposure to working with different kinds of teams. And be sure to read up on product management and agile processes.
Christine is a Marketing Copywriter at ZapLabs, focused on creating engaging original content such as Community articles, case studies and email campaigns. Christine also manages Zap and ZapLabs’ social media channels, curating news and tips to a growing agent user base and prospective candidates.