Ambitious Women Spotlight Series – Meet Jessica Lawlor

Seven years strong at NextRoll, Jessica Lawlor is a Senior Product Manager on the Core Team. Her journey into the world of tech has been slightly unconventional. After studying Psychology at the University College Dublin (UCD) and earning her Masters in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology, she trained as an assistant psychologist. At the same time, she worked in the International Office in UCD, where she was involved in a project to overhaul the international office website. It was there where her creativity mixed with the elements of management started to shape her career path, and she decided to pursue these passions with an opportunity at NextRoll.

How has your career grown at NextRoll? 

It’s been quite the journey! I started at NextRoll on the Customer Support Team in Dublin (known as Customer Delight team back then). This was the perfect role for me, as I was new to the ad tech industry. From answering queries to live chatting with our customers, I learned a huge amount very quickly. At the time, we didn’t have a policy team and a lot of customer queries centered around the ad approval process and website content eligibility. A colleague in San Francisco and I began tracking these queries and identified that we could have an improved customer experience with a dedicated team. From here, the NextRoll Policy team was born. This was an amazing opportunity for me in my career where I learned so much from managing a vendor team in India to partnering with our legal team on drafting new policies and regulations for the company. This role ultimately paved the way for me to move into a people management position as Head of Global Policy. Enhancing the customer experience had always been an area I’d gravitated towards, and I knew for quite some time that product was where I’d like to be. I was fortunate to have very supportive colleagues and an advocate on the product leadership team who encouraged me to pursue projects in this area, which ultimately enabled me to move into the product management world where I am now!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s hard to pick one thing! I love that no two days are the same in this role. In one week alone, I could be writing a new product spec, gathering customer feedback, developing our product vision, strategy, and roadmap, or working with design and engineering to ship a new product. Added to that, I also get to work side-by-side with the best engineers, product managers, and designers, but also a lot of my role is self-driven and I find that balance very enjoyable. Ultimately, everything I’m working on is aimed at making products or processes better, and that is hugely rewarding when a new product is released to see a direct impact on customer experience. 

What does ambition mean to you?

I think ambition is a very personal concept and so unique to each individual’s circumstances and what they’re trying to achieve. For me, ambition is about setting tangible goals and reaching them through hard work and determination. It’s not just about marking a goal as accomplished or completing a project though. I’m definitely driven by intrinsic motivators, and I like to know that I’ve made a positive difference or added value to something that I’ve worked on. While it’s always great to be recognized and rewarded with a new job title, or pay rise, ambition to me is being able to work on projects that I genuinely am curious and passionate about and there is a sense of purpose to what I’m doing. It’s also about stepping outside of my comfort zone and being more vocal about what I want or need in order to succeed. This is not something that comes naturally to me, but as I’ve grown in my career I’ve gained more confidence in navigating. 

How do you maintain balance between work and life?

Working from home for the last year due to COVID restrictions has given me the chance to re-establish my daily routine and enabled me to integrate my interests more into my day-to-day life rather than having a strict separation. I love being outdoors and near nature, so I try to go to the park or sea for a walk in the morning before I begin work. Throughout the day I like to have at least one thing to look forward to on a personal level, a nice coffee or breakfast, going for a cycle at lunch, or catching up with a friend. This gives me a sense of fulfillment and balance throughout the day. I think it’s important to still maintain boundaries, such as not checking emails after a certain time or turning off Slack notifications, which also gives me a chance to refresh mentally in the evenings. Having hobbies outside of the workplace also helps with this balance. I really enjoy cooking, baking, yoga, being outdoors, traveling, reading and writing fiction and poetry, and all of these give me a chance to engage my mind in something non-work related. 

What words do you live by?

I’m a firm believer in what’s meant for you won’t pass you by. At the time a disappointment or perceived failure might seem like a knock back. But often I find after enough time has passed and I reflect on it, this disappointment will have caused me to pursue a different path or try something new and ultimately provided an opportunity for growth and learning. Trusting that everything is happening as it’s meant to and not comparing myself to anyone else’s journey keeps me focused and grateful on a day-to-day basis.

Who’s a woman that inspires you and why?

One woman who I’ve been inspired by over the years is Serena Williams. I’m a big tennis fan and have loved following her success and seeing the dedication and drive she brings to her profession. She’s set so many records in tennis (way too many to list!) and has also been an advocate for women, equality, and body positivity, which is hugely inspiring. One quote that I especially like from her is: The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up.

Feeling ambitious? Learn how we empower women here at NextRoll and help them thrive in their careers.