I am an accomplished product leader with over a decade’s experience leading resilient, diverse, remote-first teams.
Update: as of March 30, 2021, I am no longer available for hire.
I will be available for full-time remote work beginning in May 2021. I am open to senior leadership positions as well as challenging individual contributor roles. I place a premium on work that is mission-driven and has a positive social impact.
What I do
Create a compelling, shared vision
I have a storyteller’s knack for defining a vision that everyone wants to work towards, and an organizer’s ability to deliver that vision at all levels and across mediums, so that it’s adopted and reinforced in every meeting, document, project, and plan.
Design for humans
I have more than fifteen years experience building web products for people, with a focus on functional, delightful, and accessible user experiences. I know how to leverage research and analytics to improve an experience and how to align the needs of the business with the needs of the users. I have a mind for systems-thinking, and can direct the design of an underlying data model or architectural pattern as well as a UI—and I understand implicitly how the two intersect.
Manage remote teams
I am an expert in the practice of remote work, having managed remote teams for a decade. I am intimately familiar with remote work’s advantages and its many pitfalls, and can spot at a distance when it’s working well and when it needs adjustment. I understand the unique challenges presented by remote work in a pandemic and have a toolkit of adaptations at the ready.
Promote effective collaboration
I am a generalist, capable of actively participating in conversations and making decisions on topics as varied as UX, typography, editorial strategy, technical infrastructure, community management, business needs, and team health. I can capably translate between the disciplines and facilitate productive conversations among subject-matter experts.
As a manager, I practice servant leadership, aiming to support my team in doing their best work. I deliver clear, direct feedback, and accept the same with grace. I can troubleshoot tricky people problems, create and iterate on a career ladder, recruit and retain exceptional talent, and coach people as they grow into greater responsibility. I place a strong emphasis on building the kinds of teams where people from underrepresented backgrounds can not only succeed, but thrive.
Optimize for clarity
In all mediums—email, Slack, video calls, documents, pull requests, and so on—I communicate clearly, directly, and humanely. I optimize for clarity, with the understanding that if people understand the vision we are working towards, they will find the best route to achieve it. As much as possible, I work in the open, and encourage others to do the same, building the kind of ambient transparency that is required for remote teams to succeed.
Lead through change
I embrace change and believe that being able to adapt and evolve is core to any organization’s success. I can manage up as well as down, providing clear avenues for feedback and iteration. I can advocate for change and problem-solve with peers in other fields and departments. I am a dependable colleague who other people turn to when they need advice—especially during times of crisis. I can build coalitions to get things done that no one person could accomplish alone.
What I’ve done
The COVID Tracking Project, 2021 As an editorial lead with this volunteer organization, I work to publish clear, accessible, and humane analyses about COVID-19 in the US. I will serve the project through its completion in March 2021.
Vox Media, Jul 2014 – Dec 2020 Over nearly seven years at Vox Media—concluding in the role of VP Product—I led the product strategy for Chorus, the leading digital publishing platform behind Vox, Eater, The Verge, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Chalkbeat, and many other publishers. Some highlights of my tenure there include:
- I directed the strategy for dozens of major projects, including a redesign of Chorus’ editorial tools platform, a new customer-facing API, a refactor of our auth and identity systems, the launch of a new headless product, a redesigned video management system, and a new system for scaling up brand identity as the platform expanded to dozens of publishers.
- I managed a team of 15–20 direct reports, including directors, line managers, and individual contributors at all levels in product management, project management, community management, and research.
- I transitioned an internal product into a SaaS business, collaborating with business partners to define the product offering and pricing structure, and growing the business from zero to millions annually.
- I established a new community practice, building a team to handle customer support, user communications, documentation, and training; and I integrated that team into our core product teams so their expertise could play a decisive role in our product strategy.
- And I led a project to draft the inaugural code of conduct for Vox Product, creating a template that would later be adopted company-wide—and beyond.
Editorially, 2012–2014 At Editorially, our mission was to build a suite of tools to support editorial collaboration on the web. As CEO and cofounder, I led fundraising, managed our budget, recruited and led a cross-functional team, and served as head of product. A responsive, accessible web writing tool, Editorially developed a small but passionate following, and was sold to Vox Media in 2014.
A Book Apart, 2008–2013 I cofounded this wildly successful and much-loved small press, editing the first dozen books and building the business from the ground up.
Typekit, 2010-2012 I served as product owner for a redesign of the core Typekit user experience, and established a community management and communications practice, leading up to a successful acquisition by Adobe.
W. W. Norton & Company, 2000–2010 I served in a dozen roles over a decade at this storied independent publisher, concluding with a multi-year stint as creative director and product lead for a major replatform of their web experience, which included building an entirely new data platform for managing their extensive catalogue of books.
What people say
“Not a single day goes by when I don’t somehow think ‘What Would Mandy Do?’ In our work together, I’ve watched Mandy make hard decisions, not just in how products emerge and change, but also in the evolution of the teams that build them. She is equally—and formidably—diligent and skilled as an individual contributor, communicator, and leader of people. As a product thinker, she serves the users of her products with devotion and insight, and those users return that devotion tenfold. She communicates and structures her work in such a way that individual contributors are constantly aware of why they are doing the work, how it relates to the business, and what will happen when that work succeeds. Her product work is clear, inclusive, and infectious. I’ve often said that truly great product managers are storytellers. Mandy is why I say that.” —David Yee, Executive Director of Engineering, New York Times
“Mandy Brown is one of the finest writers, designers, and leaders I’ve ever met. I’ve long been inspired by her ability to distill complex requirements into elegant product designs, and to act as a skilled translation layer between engineering, design, and leadership. What’s more, Mandy has shown time and again that she can build and lead product teams with compassion and clear direction. I consider myself wildly lucky to have worked for her at Vox Media, and alongside her as a cofounder at Editorially.” —Ethan Marcotte, author, Responsive Web Design
“As a leader, Mandy prioritizes the people in her organization, thoughtfully balancing the jobs to be done with the realities of how humans work. She brings people along with strong vision setting, paced outcomes, and clear decisions. The effect of this approach is that people feel oriented, empowered, and motivated—and shit gets done.” —Brandy Porter, VP Product Design, Vox Media
“Mandy is a leader unlike any other. She builds extraordinary teams, products, and organizations, inspiring and supporting those around her to do the same. Simply put, she creates places where people want to work, and leads them in making things that people love to use. She is a force.” —Marie Connelly, Director of Community, Vox Media
“Mandy is a natural leader, supportive manager, and talented communicator. She has the unique ability to synthesize disparate and often competing viewpoints and articulate a clearly defined and sensible path forward. But what makes Mandy truly special is her thoughtfulness and advocacy. She consistently does the right thing and models the behavior she expects everyone to uphold. I’d work for Mandy again in a heartbeat, and any organization she works with is better for her presence.” —Gregg Bernstein, UX research leader and author of Research Practice
“One of the strongest product leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with. Thoughtful, an excellent communicator, and a deeply inclusive leader, Mandy is an addition to any company.” —Melissa Bell, Publisher, Vox Media
I like to work on challenging problems with good people. If that’s you, let’s talk.