Next up on our Meet the Team series, we’re chatting with Luiza Sabirova. She shares with us her winding career journey, the joys of learning, and life at DojoMojo as a Product Manager.
What's your favorite thing about Product Management?
L: You get to talk to people. You're analyzing data, looking for trends, building things, but you’re also working with everyone on the team, collaborating across the org, and driving the product forward.
What qualities make a great Product Manager?
L: Soft skills: communication, collaboration, and the ability to listen. I think people tend to talk about a lot of exciting ideas, but without actively listening you won’t be able to puzzle them together.
What’s inspiring you in life right now?
L: Learning something new is always inspiring. It stimulates my brain. I love going to Barnes & Noble and just seeing all the books. When you can just walk into a bookstore, crack open a random book and learn something new, it’s such a great feeling.
Tell us about your career trajectory. What led you to become a Product Manager?
L: Well, I was supposed to be a developer because I went to engineering school. My brother told me I wouldn’t make it as a developer…I was more than sure that I could do it. He actually owned his own engineering company and ran the school as well. At this school, I was teaching graphic design–the basics, like CorelDRAW and Photoshop. I started looking at all different departments and I ended up in customer service. Then I stepped into sales because I thought salespeople had a wonderful life. While on the sales team, I often found myself helping out the marketing team. Then after some time, I got tired of selling. I moved to Ukraine but was still doing sales at a telecommunications company. Eventually, I came to New York and did not want to sell anymore.
I worked for small organizations and nonprofits when I first moved to the States. It’s amazing to talk to people about their careers and how willing they are to meet for 30 minutes over coffee. I went to 40 informational interviews, learned about digital marketing, and ultimately landed an internship at DojoMojo. As an intern, I was supposed to focus on digital marketing, but at some point, I ended up doing research and gathering data on potential product features. I was naturally good with data and writing specs, and my manager suggested I look into becoming a Product Analyst. At the time, that position didn’t exist, so they created it for me. Over time, the work and responsibilities I took on were more aligned with Product Management, so I ultimately became a Product Manager.
What made you apply to work at DojoMojo?
L: DojoMojo was the first American company that I worked for. I was terrified, at first. I entered the office for the first time and saw people running around, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. It’s a casual environment and an amazing tech company. I was determined to work here. I told my husband that if they don’t hire me I’m just gonna come here and sit. Many people told me that DojoMojo was one of the best companies in terms of culture. I don’t know how we filter new employees, but somehow we get so many amazing people compared to all the companies I previously worked at. The people here leave their egos at the door and I believe that applies to everyone.
What’s the best way to take a rest/decompress?
L: It’s a weird one, but usually taking a course. I enjoy taking classes on fashion, design, and everything related to science. I like when I’m growing my skillset outside of work. It helps me feel more confident as a manager and more knowledgeable. I can use this knowledge with friends, family, or just help to volunteer. I use platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn, and especially enjoy courses from Simon Sinek and Tom Blue.
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
L: It’s a little bit crazy. In the city where I worked in Kazakhstan, my friends and colleagues decided to go biking at night. I ended up in the hospital. At some point along the ride, I fell and felt a crack in my back. I was in the hospital for 24 hours. I couldn’t move my legs. I ultimately turned out fine, but I never could have imagined that happening.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
L: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.” - Henry Ford
You can do whatever you want, you just have to believe in yourself.
What excites you about DojoMojo’s future?
L: I’m excited about all the new features and opportunities for collaboration within our team. When something entirely new comes up, it’s really interesting because everyone at first is kind of lost. I love being in a meeting and watching how naturally someone on the team takes over. Then over time, the conversation starts to overlap and we’re all discussing different angles on how to build this new feature. Right now, the Product Team is very collaborative, everyone is listening to different ideas and I’m so proud of the team. We’re all working together to connect each other’s ideas and build off them.
Now for a few rapid-fire questions:
What’s one thing that no one knows about you?
L: I don’t like ice cream. When people hear that, they think it’s bizarre.
You are stuck on an island, you can pick one food to eat forever without getting tired of it, what would you eat?
L: Salad. Sweetgreen…or maybe sushi.
What’s the weirdest word in the English language?
L: All of them are weird for me! The word weird is weird to me.
Coffee or tea?
L: Tea. Coffee for me is a social outing. I never finish my coffee. I just take one cup of coffee in the morning and that’s it. I’ll drink it to wake up or go out for a break with someone. I don’t know why, but during team outings, I always get coffee. But during the day, I drink lots of tea. Especially English breakfast or Earl Grey with lemon or fruits.