As you might have read, we’re growing the Fusion tech & product team in 2015. Today we’d like to introduce you to one of our colleagues, Keith Kropski, who acts as tough, yet flexible, glue between all of Fusion’s moving parts.
Who are you, and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Keith Kropski, Product Manager for Fusion.
For the last year and a half, I’ve:
- Tracked down requirements for designers and developers.
- Fielded requests from editorial, business, and other departments.
- Trained editors on new technology.
- Supported sales initiatives.
- Helped provide feasible development timelines.
- Analyzed user data.
… and everything in between.
This past September, I spent two weeks working with and training editorial in preparation for our transition from a proprietary content management system to WordPress. With our launch of our soccer site for the World Cup in June, I helped QA and test our live blogging feature to ensure that it functioned to expectation, and was easily embeddable on partner sites. Back in August, I project managed the fusion.net portion of a multi-platform sales campaign with Legendary Films.
It’s hard to pinpoint a single thing that I enjoy most, but from start to finish, I’ve always loved working with our editorial staff on fixed-scope projects, such as the CMS migration. When hard work and preparation can make the lives of a 100+ editorial staffers easier, it’s a pretty sweet feeling.
I’ve also naturally gravitated towards analytics. I enjoy seeing how different product decisions affect user behavior. Without that initial data, it’s impossible to quantify improvements. In general, it may sound cliche, but I try to spend time wisely, getting to know a little bit about everything, and then strategically choose the things that will best help achieve our product goals. It’s always a work in progress.
What’s your preferred hardware and software setup?
- MacBook Pro (it’s not THAT heavy in a backpack).
- Modestly sized secondary screen (let’s not get too carried away now).
- Honestly, any cheap mouse does the trick – I feel handcuffed without one though.
- Sony studio headphones to block out distractions.
- Virtually every common phone and tablet to use for QA testing.
- Slack for chat.
- Spotify for tunes (at work and on the train).
- Huboard for better visual project management of Github issues.
- Google Docs for virtually everything.
How do you consume media? Any favorite formats or publications?
Upon waking up, after making sure there wasn’t a firestorm on the site overnight, I like to browse Twitter for a minute or two before hopping out of bed. Every morning, religiously, I listen to news radio in the shower – it’s a nice way to get an overview of news, weather, commuter info, financial news, etc before really diving into anything heavily digital. Listening to radio, podcasts, audio books, etc is a nice way give our eyes a break, and let us take in our surrounding environment.
For industry-related news/opinion, I’m a fan of Digiday, Fastcodedesign, The Next Web, and Medium’s Tech Section. I’ve really grown to love Medium’s format and presentation – some of the most helpful product management tips and tricks have come from Medium contributors. I also find a good deal of general news through Mic, I’m a fan of the overall visual presentation and the editorial tone.
For leisure, I am a sports fan, so yes, I am part of a shrinking minority of people who actually pay for cable. As sports programming continues to evolve, I’m sure I’ll give up cable entirely. I’m also a huge fan of Shark Tank and Parks and Recreation.
What excites you most about what’s coming next at Fusion?
From a macro-perspective: we have two parent companies who fully support our ever-changing, sometimes eye-raising, and chaotic culture. ABC/Disney and Univision approach Fusion not as a hybrid network between both, but rather something different and unconventional. I know I sound like an HR rep when I say this, but I really feel we’ve hired great people, and have embraced a working culture that has supported employees’ lives instead of the traditional 9-5 work schedule.
From a tech and product team perspective: It’s the tightest workflow set up that I’ve ever been a part of. We preach ownership of projects, and our system is such that everyone on the team can be in the know on projects that we’re working on – if help is needed, you don’t have to waste time explaining how you got to where you are. We have an internal blog where ideas and long term plans are shared, where anybody can contribute, allowing us to save Github for actionable items. Everything we do is time-stamped for reference later, meaning that if you need to run out for 3 hours during the day to do something, you can pick up right where you left off. It’s considerably easier than trying to track down dozens of two sentence comments in email threads.
Overall, having been here since before the site/network launched, it’s great to see a growing tech, UX, and product team take shape. I’m fully confident that fusion.net will continue to be usable, reliable, and truly responsive to any device or environment given the changing landscape. I also believe that in due time we’ll start to develop blue ocean products that we can truly set industry trends with. I’m not sure what those will be or how they will operate, but that’s the beauty of our industry. Can’t wait for what the future holds!