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Day In The Life: Meet Vanity Fair Product Manager Aminata Dia

Estimated reading time ~ 5 min
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Vanity Fair product manager Aminata Dia.

Aminata Dia
Product Manager, Condé Nast's Vanity Fair
New York, NY
Twitter: @Ami_Dia

7:45am: I finally stop hitting the snooze button on my alarm and get out of bed. Checking my email and Slack messages used to be the first thing I did in the morning, though now I wait until after I’ve gotten up, brushed my teeth, and washed my face. The older you get, the more you realize that the world won’t end because you saw an email at 7:59am instead of 7:46am. It’s my version of meditating.

8:15am: I check the weather (you never know what Mother Nature is going to throw at you in New York City) and get dressed for work. In media, you see a wide-range of styles – from traditional business professional attire to relaxed t-shirts and jeans. Because I’m running between different floors and buildings nearly every day, comfort is key. Today I opt for a casual dress with a low heel before starting to scan emails and messages on my phone and checking my calendar to see what meetings I have scheduled for the day.

8:45am: I head out the door with my work bag, gym bag, and umbrella in tow (I’ve succumbed to the fact that commuting in New York City demands a certain level of bag-lady status). After grabbing coffee around the corner from my apartment, I hop on the subway for my 45-minute ride from Brooklyn to downtown Manhattan.

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9:35am: I arrive at 1 World Trade Center – home not only to Vanity Fair, but the whole suite of Condé Nast’s brands (including Vogue, BRIDES, SELF, GQ, WIRED, The New Yorker, and Glamour – where I used to work – to name a few). I grab a yogurt in the café before heading up to my office on the 41st floor. The walls are decorated with large prints of old Vanity Fair covers and legendary photographs, and the big glass windows look out to beautiful views. My desk looks out to the Empire State Building, though depending on which side of the floor you sit on, you can see the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty, the East River and Brooklyn, or the uptown skyline. I start running through my to-do list, which I manage in Google Keep. As a product manager, my role is to keep the ship running by innovating, collaborating, executing, and analyzing all things digital for the magazine. I love my colleagues and the fact that I get to work on innovative products for such an incredible brand.

10:00am: One of our designers messages me on Slack about an updated version of a template. I provide feedback and look forward to checking out the final versions. Since Vanity Fair’s digital products are multifaceted, I get to collaborate with nearly every department in our digital group and teams in other divisions. Email, in-person meetings, and video calls account for a significant chunk of my time throughout the day, but Slack is our go-to for questions, quick reviews, and overall communication between my team. Throughout the day there’s a lot of checking in on messages and answering questions.

10:30am: I check in on the status of some work we’re doing with our Vanity Fair U.K. team to help migrate their content into our content management system. Our international editions tend to operate fairly independently, since they’re run by a different part of the company, but it’s been fun to work with our counterparts across the pond.

11:00am: My first meeting of the day is with our consumer marketing team. We go over a new initiative we’re going to launch within the next month. Product management requires a diverse skillset and an understanding of a lot of areas: development, user experience, analytics, marketing, stakeholder management, emotional intelligence, soft skills, identifying new opportunities, etc. You’re constantly prioritizing, innovating, testing, building, and analyzing. In this meeting, we touch base about strategy, goals, and next steps.

11:30am: I hop into my daily stand-up with the engineering team, where we run through the status of current and upcoming work. We use a digital board (JIRA) to visually track where specific projects stand. I’m lucky to work with some incredible and hilarious engineers. A stand-up doesn’t go by without somebody cracking a joke or two.

12:00pm: I head over to our other building a few blocks away for a one-on-one with my boss. I run him through updates on the status of products and features the team is working on. While he touches all the Condé Nast brands, he used to work specifically on Vanity Fair so he has a lot of great historical knowledge that comes in handy as we talk.

1:00pm: Back at 1WTC, I stop by the cafeteria and order some ramen from the global foods station, which rotates menu options every day. At my desk, I get a Slack message from my ad-ops person about a weird bug in one of our sponsored campaigns, so I make a note to take a look.

1:45pm: I ping Vanity Fair’s communications manager to see if she and the rest of her team are available to discuss the plan for one of our upcoming editorial products. We review a few different roll-out strategies to figure out which one will be the most feasible and produce the greatest impact.

2:00pm: Time to head downstairs for a standing weekly meeting between multiple departments. We’re working on a large, long-term project that touches a lot of groups, so we’ve set up a weekly meeting to sync on progress and changes. Today, our design team is doing a presentation on one piece of the project that will need to be completed ahead of the official launch. We all chime in with feedback and suggestions of additional components to include.

3:30pm: I hold a kick-off session with our engineering and design teams for three upcoming features we’re going to build out. Every year since 1994, Vanity Fair unveils its annual New Establishment List that includes 100 people who are leading the way in innovation across tech, politics, media, finance, etc. It’s a really cool franchise that we’ve done for awhile, but it’s only within the last few years that we’ve launched a corresponding Summit, which features panels with these influential people. The design team presents their initial concepts for each feature and we talk through questions, technical limitations, and scope.

4:30pm: I sync with our site director, an editor, and the design team to discuss the editorial pieces in the works for the product we’re building to house the New Establishment List. Back at my desk, I work on some briefs and documentation for upcoming products and pull analytics to check on the performance of our recently launched interactive Emmys ballot.

6:30pm: I wrap up at work and walk a few blocks to my barre class for an hour-long workout.

8:45pm: I arrive home and take a shower before dinner. Tonight, I’m using groceries I bought earlier in the week to make lemon chicken mixed with veggies, quinoa, and beans. Full disclosure: I’m a terrible cook, so, the simpler the recipe, the better.

10:30pm: After watching a few episodes of Narcos with my boyfriend (we’re obsessed), I skim my phone one last time before putting it away. I get ready for bed and hit the lights!

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