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Balancing the Grind with Hannah Siwik, Global Product Strategy Manager at Vrbo

Hannah Siwik is the Global Product Strategy Manager at Vrbo, an American vacation rental online marketplace part of the Expedia Group.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I graduated from Georgia Tech in 2016 with a degree in Business Administration and a curiosity to explore industries. As such, I began my career as a consultant for Deloitte Consulting and got to dip my toe into a variety of industries and project types.

I liked the exploration that consulting offered me, but I wanted to transfer my skill set to a singular company and dive deeper. I joined a consumer products company soon after called Newell Brands in their Transformation Office, working on post-acquisition strategy and optimization.

My final role at Newell Brands before departing before business school was as a Trade Strategy Manager working with key B2B accounts like Walmart and Target.

I made the decision to go get my MBA after knowing I wanted to pivot industries and strengthen my career opportunities. It was the best two years of personal and professional growth I could have asked for.

Post-MBA, I aligned myself to the technology industry and the product function. I am now pursuing that alignment as a Product Strategy Manager at Vrbo, part of Expedia Group, in Austin, TX.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As a Product Strategy Manager, it is my job to be the voice of the customer to the product and the voice of the product to the customer. I spend my day working with a variety of internal and external stakeholders across nearly every part of the product life cycle (from discovery to launch to monitor).

A recent workday for me was filled with: program team meetings for the products that I own, spending time outlining Go To Market plan for upcoming product release, drafting research questions for discovery on a new product concept we were working on, and then several 1:1s with product managers and business leads.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes! I work remotely 100% of the time right now, but there is an office 20 minutes away from me that I’m able to go into when it is convenient. It is wonderful for me to have this option — my dog likes that I’m home with her every day too!

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance is important to me, but it often gets a bad reputation for meaning “slacking”. I pride myself on being a strong contributor in my role during my normal business hours; there are days that I work longer hours and times where I need to work an occasional evening.

However, I communicate personal obligations to my team in advance and respect my own boundaries and time limits to ensure an appropriate work-life balance. I also like to work out in the morning or during lunch to improve my productivity – my team is respectful of this time.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

As mentioned above, I work out each day to improve my mental clarity and productivity. I also make time to go outside for 5 – 10 minutes once or twice a day to get fresh air and sunlight; this greatly helps boost my mood and refocus. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I love the Snacks Daily and How I Built This podcasts – they keep me in the loop of what’s going on and inspire me. I also am in a book club where we meet monthly and rotate genres- this month we are reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah, but next month it will be something completely different!

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I can’t live without my Activity app on my iPhone, my airfryer, and my dog (she is not a product, but still can’t live without her!).

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

I would love to read one from a male perspective who takes on more of the household burden. I feel many of the current narratives are from a female perspective, but it would be interesting to hear from an alternative viewpoint on how gender roles need not apply in the work-life balance and family dynamic. 

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I have to continuously recenter myself on living in the moment within my career instead of always thinking about what’s next. Since I graduated from college, I have been focused on milestone after milestone, but I want to just enjoy this current role and learn all I can from it.

Learning to live in the moment and be present with where you are (while still learning as much as you can to set your future self up for success) is a skill that I am working towards strengthening.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.