From Product Manager to Co-founder: Reflections from a Graduate of the First Quantic MBA Class

The following post is by Lindsey Allard (MBA 2016), Co-founder of PlaybookUX, a video-based user feedback solution for B2B companies. 

It was 2015, and I had recently graduated from Dartmouth College with a liberal arts degree. I was looking for a way to gain general business knowledge while working as a product manager, and I came across the Quantic School of Business and Technology MBA. During my time in the program, I loved the courses because I was able to learn useful concepts in a short, quiz-like format that fit with my full-time work schedule. I didn’t have to stare at endless textbook passages. Everything was on my smartphone, and I could constantly test myself to ensure the content was committed to memory.

After my Quantic graduation in 2016, I worked as a product manager at a new company. I was leading a team of developers building SaaS products and mobile apps. Product managers are like “mini CEOs”. You need to know a little about a lot of things, and Quantic helped expand my areas of expertise during this point in my career.

After a few years of working at different start-ups, I decided to take the leap and co-found my user research company PlaybookUX with another Quantic alum, Kristen. User research is the process of getting feedback on things like product usability, pricing model, marketing copy, and concepts. By getting direct feedback from your target demographic, you are able to make better product and business decisions. However, as I know from my time as a product manager, the process of conducting user research has big challenges, like being extremely time-consuming and requiring a lot of manual work. And I didn’t see solutions out there that successfully addressed all the problems.

When developing PlaybookUX we sought to solve three main pain points:

      • It’s time-consuming
      • It’s expensive
      • Finding the right participants is challenging for B2B companies

Here’s how we solve these pain points with PlaybookUX:

      • Our product solicits video-based feedback, so that product owners can remotely conduct research, and then easily store and reference video records, ultimately saving them lots of time.
      • Again on the saving-time front, we do everything from recruiting the right participants, to incentivizing them, transcribing the sessions, and analyzing the videos with A.I. to extract actionable insights.
      • We have an affordable, pay-for-what-you-use pricing model so that customers don’t need to commit to large subscription fees up-front. This expands access to UX research to start-ups, founders, and small business owners. Previously, they were priced out.
      • Our testing participants are verified through LinkedIn so businesses know exactly who they’re speaking to.

During the process of launching my company, I leaned on Quantic lessons. Financial topics were always difficult to wrap my head around, and I was able to successfully price our product and build our business model with that in mind.

On top of the valuable knowledge gained from Quantic, I’ve been able to leverage the student network to get in touch with like-minded product managers. The network is a strong supplement to my undergraduate network.

At PlaybookUX our goal is to make user testing accessible to everyone. At the time of this post, we’ve been launching for a few months. It’s been a great few months—with hundreds of clients using our platform. We’ve had success with UX Researchers and Designers, but our goal is to make research easy for Product Managers. In the future, I plan to lean on the Quantic network for advice on growth hacking to take PlaybookUX to the next level.

Quantic Student Spotlight: Amy Dalton

Quantic students are often initially attracted to the program for its flexibility and affordability, but there’s something deeper at play that draws people in — particularly those of a certain mindset. To truly be successful in the program one must be highly self-motivated, disciplined, and passionate about learning new skills. Amy Dalton, a Quantic Executive MBA student and Senior UX Designer at GE Aviation, has these traits in spades. Like many Quantic students and alumni, Amy’s resume credentials are impressive, yet they don’t convey the full scope of the accomplishments she’s had outside of her “standard” job description.

As a UX designer, Dalton has built her career in a male-dominated field and has placed an emphasis on attracting and empowering other women and girls to enter this line of work. Though she’s been met with obstacles in her own career, she has never stopped advocating for herself and others. From public speaking engagements, mentorship, charity work, and founding an award-winning program for GE Women, Dalton’s drive to improve her career prospects and those of others is something worth acknowledging. 

Dalton is from Toledo, Ohio and studied journalism at Ohio University. However, she was more interested in graphic design and after graduating, decided to pursue user experience (UX), eventually leading to her current position with GE. While her inevitable trajectory doesn’t directly apply to the degree she earned, Dalton said that her background in journalism has been incredibly valuable in her career because “communication and the ability to write well is such an important part of any job you have,” and it allows you to come up with ideas and communicate them clearly and succinctly.

This knack for communication is evident in her multiple public speaking engagements. Dalton was a guest speaker at the 2019 GE Women In Science & Engineering Symposium, the keynote speaker at Early Career Women Collective’s Co-Create Live 2019, and a guest speaker at New Orleans’ FrontEndParty. These experiences not only reaffirm Dalton’s ability to command the attention of a room, they are a testament to the value that her words and actions bring to others. In short — her words of wisdom are in high demand. 

Further proving her leadership abilities, Dalton was the recipient of the 2018 GE Women’s Network Empower and Inspire Award, which recognizes women across the 280,000 person company for outstanding work and engagement that supports the Women’s Network (WN). As a Co-Lead for the WN, Dalton is committed to supporting women in STEM fields. 

“I have a passion for bringing more women and girls into technology because it’s always been a struggle to achieve gender parity in the field,” said Dalton. “I’ve been in it my entire career and there are relatively few women in the field — and for those who are in it, there are a unique set of challenges we face everyday.”

Dalton said that getting more women into STEM fields starts early, “it’s about exposure at a young age to spark their interest in it.” This is why she helped start GE Girls Camp, a week-long free STEM camp for 12-14 year-old girls. During the camp, girls learn to code, are introduced to robotics, and can even learn about cybersecurity and other in-demand sectors of the industry. The importance of early involvement serves as a pathway for young women to envision a career that they may not have otherwise pursued. 

Dalton isn’t just working on opening doors for young minds, she also started a program aimed at empowering women in the GE Women’s Network called Bragging Rights. Dalton initially had the idea to start the program after meeting a few of the GE interns. Even though they were just out of high school, they had accomplished amazing things and few people in the company knew much about them. This experience mirrored another observation Dalton had had — too few women spoke up about their accomplishments in the workplace. This had implications for career progression too, as she learned that women are often less likely to seek acknowledgement for their work than men. In fact, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women. Bragging Rights became a forum to enable and encourage women to openly and proudly share their accomplishments and challenges in life and in their career. These stories have become powerful sources of validation for those sharing them and inspiration for others involved in the program. Bragging Rights, which started at Dalton’s hub in New Orleans, took off and is now available at nine locations and still expanding. Dalton describes the program as “inexpensive but so effective” in its ability to provide women with the opportunity to grow their confidence and learn about each other.

“I think a lot of times women feel isolated and don’t have the natural tendency to put themselves out there as much,” said Dalton. “If we as women band together and understand each other’s skill sets, then we can help each other get promoted and put each other out there. We’re more likely to give kudos and talk about the person sitting next to us, than talk about ourselves. We’re more likely to lift that person up than lift ourselves up.”

Dalton is a natural leader. Prior to working at GE, she spent six years working at Ochsner Health System, where she held a management position for three years. While in this role, Dalton received the highest “employee engagement” score, a figure determined by how her direct reports rated her as a manager. Dalton received a score 20 points higher than the next highest score.

The key to Dalton’s successful management style? A more personal approach. She wanted to learn about the people she managed as much as possible, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. “If you spend enough time getting to know people and listening, really listening, you’re going to understand them enough to guide them,” said Dalton. “I focus so much attention on helping them be better at their jobs.”

This ability to listen, empathize, and understand others is perhaps one reason why Dalton is such a talented UX designer.  “When you understand things from the user perspective and you put importance on that, that’s when your product is going to be successful,” said Dalton. “When I’ve had an awesome product owner, it’s because they put the person first and understood the value of UX.”

In her senior leadership role, Dalton emphasized the need for executives to have, at a minimum, a basic understanding of UX and design. In our digitally-driven world, having the ability to view and build online experiences from the perspective of the customer is essential. Being well-versed across disciplines is one reason Dalton decided to pursue an Executive MBA with Quantic School of Business and Technology. By adding business acumen to her technical expertise, Dalton is positioning herself to take on bigger roles and broaden her invaluable influence on her organization — and if past experiences are any indication, she’s more than ready to take on whatever is next.

A flexible course schedule is something that initially attracted Dalton to Quantic as it allows her to spend more time with her two children.

Quantic MBA Student James Lu Morrissey on Higher Education and Making Forbes 30 Under 30 List

We sat down with 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient–and Quantic School of Business and Technology MBA student–James Lu Morrissey to discuss co-founding Mentor Collective, learning with Quantic, and disrupting the world of higher education.

Quantic learners tend to reflect the platform itself: innovative, disruptive, and equipped with a global scope. Those are just a few of the qualities that have led to three Quantic learners being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 lists in the past two years.

James Lu Morrissey (MBA – August 2018) is a perfect example of this. Lu Morrissey’s personal experiences with international education inspired him to found his company Mentor Collective, an international online mentoring community. Lu Morrissey was born in the United States, but he attended elementary school for a couple years in Taiwan. Moving to a new school can be difficult for any child; moving to a new school in a new country is even more challenging.

Adjusting in school was made easier, however, by joining the school’s sports teams. There, he was mentored by his older teammates, who eased his transition and helped him find his place. At a young age, he began to understand that mentorship was critical to adjusting to and excelling in a new environment.

He also recognized the need for peer mentorship as an undergraduate student at Carleton College. He had several friends from international and diverse backgrounds, and he noticed that many of them had difficulty adjusting to college. There wasn’t always a clear structure like a track team with teammates that could mentor them.

“When adjusting to college, all students are a stranger in a strange land,” Lu Morrissey reflected. “You might be coming from Minnesota to go to NYU. That’s a very foreign experience.”

A lack of personalized support for college students is one of the factors contributing to a college completion crisis, particularly at public universities. According to Forbes, less than 60 percent of students graduate from public institutions in six years or less. Rising tuition and student loan debt coupled with the increasing necessity of a college degree for career advancement, often puts students who do not graduate at a serious disadvantage.

To solve this problem, Lu Morrissey and colleague Jackson Boyer co-founded Mentor Collective. Mentor Collective uses scaleable and transformative mentoring, through a format supported by technology and designed for large-scale application. Mentor Collective achieves this by matching students to mentors who have a similar background.

To that end, Mentor Collective has developed partnerships with more than 50 universities, including Penn State, Johns Hopkins, and Washington University in St. Louis. Through these partnerships, they’ve mentored over 35,000 students, resulting in an up to 9% increase in retention rates and 5x decreased likelihood of academic probation.

Working towards these results has certainly kept Lu Morrissey busy, but he has still found time to pursue a Quantic MBA. While residential MBA programs have a high opportunity cost, Quantic made it possible for Lu Morrissey to “continue running my company day-to-day, while having a flexible option to learn at my own pace.”

Furthermore, Lu Morrissey has found Quantic’s courses are directly applicable to running Mentor Collective. “I can complete a lesson, take what I’ve learned, and use it the very next day at Mentor Collective.”

Lu Morrissey also appreciates the flexibility and global perspective that Quantic offers. He tries to work overseas for two to three weeks every winter, and, with Quantic’s online platform, he doesn’t have to disrupt his learning schedule to travel. “I can do Quantic while traveling in Shanghai and not have any problems with time differences.”

Lu Morrissey also sees both Quantic and Mentor Collective as helping students receive the full value of higher education. Universities, with “massive endowments and very strong brands,” may not feel the urgency or need to innovate “in the same way as many other industries,” Lu Morrissey noted. “And that can come at a big cost to students. If a school is not making an impact on students’ lives, then it’s not fulfilling its promise.”

Like Quantic, Mentor Collective’s team is passionate about the students they reach. Lu Morrissey attributes Mentor Collective’s success rates in large part to his 24 Boston-based employees. Noting that his team is interested in social impact, he emphasized that “something unique happens when you collect a lot of very mission-driven, hungry learners and put them all in the same room.”

Quantic Alumni Network is Live!

Today, we’re proud to introduce Network, a new feature of the Smartly platform built to connect students and alumni around the world.

Today, we’re proud to introduce Network, a new feature of the Quantic platform built to connect Quantic students and alumni around the world. Network is exclusively available to current students and alumni of the Quantic MBA and Executive MBA programs, and we’ve made a special preview available to prospective students.

With Network, students can explore a global map of students and alumni, search by industry and interests, and contact peers safely and easily.

We created Network to enable students to forge real-world connections and discover inspiring peers in the Quantic community. Quantic students work in today’s most exciting industries and at top companies, giving them access to an impressive ecosystem of experienced professionals.

If you’re an aspiring Quantic student, you can sign up for a Quantic account at https://quantic.mba and access a preview. We’re excited to hear your reactions to Network!

Meet Linda, one of Quantic’s experts in probability and statistics

Who says statistics isn’t exciting? Through fun scenarios and images, like the above from Quantic’s Advanced Statistics Inference course, Linda Richard is helping to re-brand statistics for thousands of learners! Linda, one of Quantic’s content creators in the field of probability and statistics, has a background in business and education and currently resides in the Netherlands. She believes that statistics is an important subject to understand because it touches so many disciplines including business, medicine, and foreign policy.

In this post, we catch up with Linda to learn what she’s working on and why she decided to join Quantic.

1. What’s your name, and where are you based?

Linda Richard.

Currently I live in the Netherlands due to my husband’s work. Before that, I lived in Seattle, and before that, New York, North Carolina, and Minnesota!

2. How long have you been writing for Quantic?

About 2 years.

3. What’s your professional and educational background?

I have a Bachelor’s in Math, a Master’s in Operations Research (a field of applied math), and a Master’s in Teaching. I worked in business for almost 10 years before changing careers to teaching. Then I taught high school math in Seattle for 6 years before moving abroad. I keep my fingers in the public education sphere through projects with Washington State and other high school curriculum organizations.

4. How and why did you start writing for Quantic?

When we moved to Europe, I wanted to find work that would allow flexible hours for traveling and other fun living-abroad-activities, but still be part of the education world. Pedago was looking for math content developers, which was right in my wheelhouse.

5. What are some of the courses and subjects that you’ve written about in Quantic?

I’ve written lots of statistics and probability lessons, as well as Excel lessons. Recently I’ve started writing lessons on coding with Python, which is a whole ‘nother challenge!

6. Why do you think it’s important for students to understand statistics?

Statistics is probably the most important field of math that most people will interact with after they finish their schooling. Statistics are used to make decisions on health, education, foreign policy, and of course in business. Stats can so easily be mis-used, intentionally or not, so having a solid knowledge base to question and understand this topic is really critical for workers and citizens.

7. What’s the hardest concept you’ve had to communicate (so far), and what was it like to try and distill it for the Quantic platform?

The probability concepts of Bayes’ Rule and the Law of Total Probability were challenging to communicate. Visual illustrations, concrete real-world examples, and spending prep time building up learners’ intuition on these concepts were the strategies. We focused on conceptual understanding rather than on formula memorization – a formula can always be looked up, but if the foundational understanding isn’t there, no formula can help you! The Law of Total Probability, for example, looks like a fairly incomprehensible, complicated formula at first glance, but it’s really just a weighted average.

8. What do you admire about Quantic learners?

With people’s busy lives, it can be hard to find the motivation and the time to take on education projects. People taking Quantic classes are doing so on their own initiative, to advance their learning and their careers.

9. What do you do to keep your learners in mind?

With my background in teaching, I’ve learned how to monitor my own thinking. When you’re teaching content that you know well, you have to be alert for concepts that seem “obvious,” but only feel that way because you’ve been working with them for a long time. Especially in math–there are a lot of embedded concepts that need to be carefully unpacked for people unfamiliar with the topics.

I also try to incorporate visuals and concrete examples wherever possible, knowing that people have different learning styles. The interactive nature of the Quantic platform of course helps with this too!

10. What’s one of your favorite storylines (or characters) used in one of your courses in Quantic?

For the Advanced Statistical Inference courses, we created a fictional winter sports equipment company. It allowed a lot of room for examples with testing equipment, sampling customer preferences, and analyzing market schemes. Plus, my editor, Ellie, found great images with gorgeous snow-covered mountains, and we were able to have some fun putting our characters in situations involving competitive snowball tournaments!

11. What’s your favorite whimsical or snarky answer message you’ve written in Quantic?

Definitely it’s the Monty Python references in the Python lessons. Some are obvious but some are hidden a bit more deeply! Spam and eggs; hovercrafts full of eels; dead parrots; the possibilities are endless.

12. What’s one of your favorite images used in one of your courses in Quantic?

Two come to mind from the Advanced Statistical Inference course. In this capstone lesson, the scenario is that all the experts on statistics at a company, except for the learner, are out of the office with the flu. All the junior analysts are panicked and looking for help. My editor, Ellie, found/created images which put a smile on my face and hopefully the learner’s too!

6 Steps to a Professional Resume [Free Template!]

An essential list of resume questions we developed to help you showcase your experience, skills, and potential to employers. Plus, a resume template you can download!

Creating a great resume can be daunting: What format looks best? How long should it be? What information should you include?

Below is an essential list of questions we developed for Quantic students and candidates in our career network to help them showcase their experience, skills, and potential to employers. And to make the process even easier, we created this simple, one-page Word template (download here) that follows these recommendations. Copy your information into this template to put your best foot forward in your job search!

1. Is my resume easy to read?
  • Font:
    Use Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Size:
    Use 11 or 12 point font.
  • Margins:
    Use 0.5-1 inch margins on each side.
2. Does my resume tell a clear story and showcase my strengths?
  • Reverse order:
    List experiences in reverse chronological order (most recent position first).
  • Highlight growth:
    List multiple positions for the same employer as individual entries to highlight your progression.
  • Focus on achievements, not descriptions:
    Write concisely and focus on problems you solved, actions you took, and results that followed. Do not describe overall duties. Consider using the following framework: Action verb  + Project (what you did) + Result (what you accomplished).
  • One page per 10 years of work experience:
    For most people, a good rule of thumb is one page per decade of work experience.
3. Do I stand out?
  • Make it personal:
    Include a small “Personal” or “Additional Information” section at the end of your resume. Include language proficiencies, citizenship, service activities, society memberships, or current hobbies. If including interests, be as specific as possible (e.g. “avid Caribbean scuba diver” or “die hard Philly Eagles fan”). Do not repeat information from other sections.
  • Be action-oriented:
    Start each bullet with an action verb, and lead with the most important point.
  • Emphasize outcomes:
    State the outcomes of your work and quantify them when possible.
4. Is my resume error-free and consistent?
  • Format:
    Companies, universities, job titles, and dates should all be formatted the same way. We recommend bolding companies and universities, using italics for titles, and utilizing MMM YYYY–MMM YYYY (e.g. Jun 2015–Jul 2016) for dates.
  • Alignment:
    Spacing between experiences and at the end of bullets should be consistent.
  • Things to avoid:
    Avoid jargon, personal pronouns, objectives or personal statements, photos, and listing “references upon request.”  These just take up space without adding value.
5. Have I proofread my resume?
  • It helps to have a friend or two proofread your resume for you. You can also read your resume backwards to help catch spelling mistakes—start at the last word and use your finger to guide you from one word to the previous. This forces you to isolate each word from its sentence.
6. Is my resume formatted as a PDF?
  • Formatting in Word is variable, so always save your resume as a PDF. This way, the recipient of the resume (your potential employer) will more likely see the resume the way you intended.

Note: This is a general guide that works across many industries and job functions. However, we know that it may not be appropriate for all fields (e.g. design, where the layout also serves as an example of abilities in the field) or experience levels. We hope you find it useful and wish you luck in your job search!

Attachment: Resume Template

Meet our Newest Content Developer

John Riehl, one of Smartly’s newest content creators, is a former Air Force officer and current sailing instructor who knows a thing or two about computers.

John Riehl, one of Quantic’s newest content creators, is a former Air Force officer and current sailing instructor who knows a thing or two about computers. He’s writing a new computer science curriculum for Quantic, scheduled for release in 2018.

In this post, we catch up with John to learn what he’s working on and why he decided to join Quantic. Find out why he believes developers should go back to basics and what distinguishes the Quantic computer science curriculum from others on the market.

1. What’s your name, and where are you based?

John Riehl, and I’m based in Port Charlotte, Florida. It’s about 90 miles south of Tampa, on the Gulf Coast.

2. How long have you been writing for Quantic?

I started in August of 2017. I’m coming up on four months, so I’m still a newbie!

3. What’s your professional and educational background?

I graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BS in Computer Engineering in 1989. I went to school on an ROTC scholarship, so I went on active duty in the Air Force after graduation. I stayed in 26 years, working in a variety of jobs closely related to computer technology—but nothing actually hands-on in terms of building or programming computers. During my time in the Air Force I picked up a Master’s in Computer Engineering along with Master’s Degrees in Air and Space Studies and National Resource Management.

4. How and why did you start writing for Quantic?

After I retired from the Air Force I wanted to get back to my technical roots in computer science. I came across Quantic, and it seemed like the perfect fit—share my knowledge and with the next generation of IT professionals while working from home on a flexible schedule. I appreciated Quantic’s innovative approach to education and was (and am) excited to play a small part in equipping the workforce of tomorrow with the skills they’ll need to succeed.

5. What are some of the subjects that you’ve written about in Quantic?

I’m working on a new curriculum for Quantic—Computer Science. What’s interesting about the course is that we’re striking what I think is a great balance between theoretical underpinnings and practical application. There are a lot of online courses for computer programming, but most of them focus just on the practical aspects—how to arrange instructions in a particular programming language to get a program to run. When it comes time for the learner to expand in a new direction or handle a novel situation they’re not as well-equipped as they would be without some fundamentals under their belt. On the other end of the spectrum is a typical four-year computer science program, which builds an extensive theoretical foundation at the expense of time (and money) getting the student to market, as it were.

6. Why do you think it’s important for students to understand computer science?

It’s not an overstatement to say that IT has fundamentally changed the world we live in. Given its impact, it’s important for those involved with building IT capabilities to get things right. A programmer without the right fundamentals is like a chef who doesn’t know what his or her ingredients taste like. Both can follow a recipe and put something together, but the result might not be very good. In the case of computer programs, it could be very bad indeed. Here’s a story about how not knowing the fundamentals created an unintended result. Imagine if that counter had been for something related to scheduled maintenance on a nuclear reactor.

7. What’s the hardest concept you’ve had to communicate (so far), and what was it like to try and distill it for the Quantic platform?

In general, the toughest part for me has been figuring out what the right level of detail is for a concept. For example, when you talk about digital videos you can range from “a video is a series of still images” to “here are the technical details of each of the over 100 different video compression formats in use today.” Finding what the learner needs to know, narrowing the scope down to the most important elements, and presenting it in a way that doesn’t make it a rote memorization exercise is always a challenge.

8. What do you admire about Quantic learners?

It seems to me that Quantic learners are self-starters who are willing to break with convention to improve their knowledge and marketability. They could “play it safe” by getting the standard college degree. Instead, they see an opportunity to be part of a new approach. Those kinds of people will take that same spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship with them into the marketplace, making things better for all of us.

9. What do you do to keep your learners in mind?

I must confess that I’m still working on this. Too often I’ll assume that a concept is obvious—after all, it’s obvious to me! I rely extensively on the Quantic review process to identify when I’ve leapt too far. I do my best to keep the lessons interesting. Having taken many online courses myself, I’m well aware that it’s very easy to get distracted with email, Facebook, etc. if the material is dry.

10. Anything else you’d like to mention?

I can’t speak for other content developers, but one great side benefit for writing educational content is the learning I do along the way. The process of articulating concepts that I have in my mind forces me to think through them in greater detail than I did when initially learning them. There have been a few times when things I thought I knew turned out to be based on bad assumptions and mental short-cuts that I shouldn’t have been taking. Bottom line—the work is fun and fulfilling from a personal perspective, and rewarding from the perspective of doing something that will have greater benefits down the road.