This week Tanisha Blakely, Product Development Manager at American Express Publishing, was kind enough to speak with us for a few about her role at Amex. Six degrees of separation was also in full effect, we discovered during this interview that we have worked together in the past. Don’t you just love when that happens?!
[19:00] BW2.0: Hey Tanisha how are you?
[19:00] Tanisha: Hey Angela, I’m good. You?
[19:00] BW2.0: Great!
[19:01] BW2.0: Excited to have you be the 1st female participant in Peeps of the Web
[19:01] Tanisha: I did notice that I would be the first, lol
[19:01] BW2.0: lol
[19:01] BW2.0: yup
[19:01] Tanisha: I’m excited too
[19:02] BW2.0: So tell us a little about your background?
[19:02] Tanisha: Alright, let me start at the beginning
[19:03] Tanisha: I graduated from Columbia College in Chicago from their magazine journalism program. My first job out of college was at a magazine publishing company as an online editor. On the side, I was running my own hip-hop website called Artofhip-hop.com that I started in college my senior year. I left the publishing company, Mediatec, to be the Chicago city manager of a weekly magazine called Rolling Out. I stayed there for a short period and fled to NYC to follow my big media dreams. I landed at VIBE as the online editor. Then from VIBE I went to AOL Black Voices, managing their lifestyle channel.
[19:08] BW2.0: Ok
[19:08] BW2.0: Did you happen to work with Homes of Color Magazine?
[19:08] BW2.0: I think I may have worked with you before, LOL!
[19:08] Tanisha: I did work with them as a content partner
[19:08] Tanisha: HA!
[19:08] Tanisha: We probably did
[19:08] BW2.0: OMG
[19:08] BW2.0: LOL
[19:09] BW2.0: Yes I worked with them to supply all assets to you guys.
[19:09] Tanisha: Were you the one who sent me photos and stories?
[19:09] BW2.0: YES
[19:09] BW2.0: LOL
[19:09] Tanisha: Small world
[19:09] BW2.0: Yes it is
[19:09] Tanisha: So, after I left AOL I stopped working on the editorial side and went to product management.
[19:10] Tanisha: This was a new role for me, but I had launched my own site and launched sites for VIBE, I really enjoy that process.
[19:10] BW2.0: So how did you make that transition?
[19:12] Tanisha: I think New York Magazine liked that I had a magazine web background and I knew how editors thought.
[19:12] Tanisha: Developers and Editors think very differently
[19:12] BW2.0: LOL, yes they do.
[19:12] Tanisha: So, if you can work with both that helps in the product development process when you’re working in a print publishing
[19:14] Tanisha: So… I launched mobile, blogs, worked on some of their fashion products and prototyped their commenting. After that, I landed at American Express Publishing where I now work as the Product Development Manager.
[19:15] Tanisha: So, that’s it.
[19:16] BW2.0: Give us an overview of your role at American Express?
[19:18] Tanisha: I’m the product owner on a project, which means I have to come up with the project plan, write requirements, brainstorm with editors, work with other stakeholders (sales, marketing, finance, etc.)
[19:19] Tanisha: Like a project manager, I take the project thru its lifecycle
[19:19] Tanisha: I’ve been working on the Travel + Leisure website relaunch for the majority of the time that I’ve been at American Express Publishing.
[19:20] BW2.0: That sounds cool
[19:20] BW2.0: How has that experience been?
[19:20] Tanisha: Yeah, there’s definitely not a dull moment
[19:21] Tanisha: Its been fun and challenging. I’m fortunate to work with great people.
[19:21] Tanisha: So when things get stressful, we all can laugh about it or at least try to break the tension if there’s any.
[19:21] BW2.0: Based on your experience with the interview process at American Express, are their any tips you can give our readers who are interested in trying to get in the door there?
[19:26] Tanisha: I think when it comes to online they are looking for people who are team players — collaboration is an important part of our business. Also, it helps to have ideas and not be afraid to voice them.
[19:27] Tanisha: Also, the company’s job site has an abundant list of jobs in various regions of the country.
[19:28] BW2.0: Is it a diverse environment there, internally (both gender and race)?
[19:32] Tanisha: I would say it’s very diverse. There are women developers, project managers and directors. It’s the same for race. And I’m sure you’ve noticed the CEO of American Express is and African American.
[19:32] BW2.0: Absolutely.
[19:32] BW2.0: Was just wondering how it was lower in the ranks.
[19:33] BW2.0: So lets get to some fun questions!
[19:33] Tanisha: LOL
[19:33] BW2.0: What content site do you visit most often?
[19:34] Tanisha: It’s not just because I worked there, but I have to say nymag.com
[19:34] Tanisha: I love their articles, blogs and the comment section is hilarious.
[19:34] BW2.0: What would you say is your favorite Google product?
[19:34] Tanisha: Gmail.
[19:35] BW2.0: Fave pair of shoes that you own right now?
[19:36] Tanisha: I like to think that I have a mean shoe game, but since I moved to NYC and got rid of my car it’s all about comfort. So, I have to say these gold flip flops.
[19:36] Tanisha: I don’t know where I got them, the label has rubbed off
[19:36] Tanisha: LOL
[19:37] BW2.0: LOL
[19:37] BW2.0: What is the best part of your day?
[19:37] Tanisha: The part when I get a deliverable on time and under budget.
[19:37] BW2.0: LOL
[19:38] BW2.0: Ok, last one…
[19:38] BW2.0: Fave gadget of all time?
[19:41] Tanisha: It’s probably weird, since I work in technology, but I’m not really a gadget person. If I had to choose, I would say my camera. There’s nothing special about it, I just like to take pictures. It’s a Samsung. I really would like to upgrade to a Canon.
[19:41] BW2.0: That counts as a gadget ?
[19:41] Tanisha: Oh good!
[19:41] BW2.0: Thank you so much for your time and for participating!
[19:42] Tanisha: Thanks for the invitation, it was fun!
[19:42] BW2.0: My pleasure.