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Coffee With: Etsy Product Quality Manager Arylee McSweaney

Estimated reading time ~ 4 min
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Quality assurance manager Arlyee McSweaney helps product teams with new features in development at global commerce platform Etsy.

Arylee McSweaney
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Job: Product Quality Manager, Etsy
Education: B.S. in Computer Science, City College of New York; M.B.A. in Information Systems, Baruch College
Twitter: @adrainbowsend

How did your career begin?

I graduated from college with a degree in computer science and was looking for programming-oriented jobs. The search was intense in that it was during the recession. I relied heavily on job boards and committed myself to a minimum of four hours of job hunting per day, staying motivated by volunteering all over New York City and cooking for friends and family members. I luckily landed a role as a technical writer at a small startup about six weeks after graduation.

And how did you make your way to Etsy?

I was working at a media company called MEC, and I came across a Forbes article about GitHub and Etsy’s work with women in tech. While I hadn’t heard of either company before, I did some research and saw that Etsy had an opening. I applied, and the rest is history.

Arylee McSweaney

Tell us about your role at Etsy today.

I spend the majority of my day coordinating and managing deliverables for my two teams and unblocking challenges that come up as we work. As a product quality manager, I’ve introduced manual testing to help product teams recognize their value, particularly in regards to new features in development. It’s been exciting to help evolve the way we think about testing. My first couple months at Etsy were spent working with different teams and demonstrating the value that a skilled functional tester can bring to new development.

What do you love most about your job?

I love that my work never feels monotonous or routine. I also appreciate that Etsy has a strong culture that prioritizes work-life balance. I worked on my M.B.A. for two years while at Etsy, and I was incredibly grateful at how understanding the company was when it came to supporting me and accommodating my schedule. I’ve also been able to help create a space for Black employees at Etsy to contribute to the company's diversity initiatives.

What advice do you wish you could have given yourself early on in your career?

I would have given myself permission to not feel so afraid of taking risks, and I would also tell my younger self to ask for more with respect to career progression and salary. In the early years of my career, I doubted myself at every turn and took a considerable amount of time to become self assured about my work. Maybe you have experienced this as well, but one day you wake up and realize that your work is great and that you’ve had an impact that people notice. That confidence allows you to speak up and encourage others and can propel you forward in your career.

How do you recharge?

I make time to connect with my colleagues and mentors. It's something I look forward to each day. In order to do my best work, it also helps when I set objectives for the week so that, regardless of what else comes up, I’m committed to the goals I've set.

What's something about you that people might be surprised to learn?

I grew up in Belize and came to the U.S. for college. Since I've been here, I've met two kinds of people: Those who detect my very slight accent, and those who think I was born and raised here. Those who detect my accent tend to be few and far between.

How have certain candidates stood out to you during the hiring process?

I always admire candidates who demonstrate that they've solved a problem for their peers or community. One candidate described to me how the process to adopt a pet was redundant and frustrating. She felt so strongly about it that she made one application portal for pet adoption agencies in her community to remove the element of monotony and repetition from the process.

What have you read that has left a great impact on you?

I am an avid reader of LinkedIn articles and the “knowledge nuggets” they provide, but the book I read several times over while in business school and would definitely recommend is It's Not Luck by Eliyahu M. Goldratt. It packs so many operational, leadership, and business lessons into a very simple tale about a family man who wants the company he works for to succeed. Spoiler alert: He uses a lot of logic trees.

How do you stay confident and motivated?

I began working with a professional coach two years ago, and that has been hugely helpful. At one point, though, I found myself facing a challenge where I had become so reliant on the support from my coach that it almost felt like I was insecure about making decisions without him. We tackled this by defining, framing, and naming the superheroine in me: "Essential Arylee.” She is confident in her quality assurance advocacy and leadership skills. She’s the version of myself who knows what to do and who is poised and prepared for whatever comes

Etsy is a Jopwell partner company.

Images courtesy of Arylee McSweaney

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