22 years old. A summa cum laude, fresh from finishing an Ateneo education. App-maker, designer and manager. In love with technology.
It sounds like the description for a 20-something off to take the corporate business world by storm and conquer it.
Instead, it’s the bio of a smart girl who chose to work for a humble start-up. Meet Joan Magno.
Working for the future
In March of 2014, Joan graduated with a degree in Management Information Systems from the Ateneo de Manila University, one of the top schools in the Philippines. A little over two months later, she took a job at Kalibrr and hasn’t looked back since.
For someone with almost unlimited opportunities on her plate, choosing to work in a start-up was a bold move. Joan says that her desire to learn as much as she could about the industry decided it for her.
Looking ahead at a future where she would run her own technology company, Joan wanted to take advantage of the learning and networking opportunities being in a place like Kalibrr had to offer. A little less than a year into the job, she says she’s already gotten much more than that.
As a Product Manager at Kalibrr, Joan acts as the bridge between business analysis and what you see on the site. She speaks with Kalibrr’s client companies and collaborates with the back end teams to make sure Kalibrr is a product that delivers value. Like any user-centered website, Kalibrr isn’t static. It keeps on changing so that it can become even more helpful to you and to the companies it serves. Joan's job is to identify opportunities for Kalibrr to be better, plan how to do it, then organize the product team to make it happen.
The job is as all-encompassing as it seems. In her stay there, Joan has learned to fulfill the tasks of a leader – communicate, innovate, follow through.
Everyday, she communicates with all kinds of people (investors, stakeholders, designers, developers, clients, users). It’s never a stale day. And whether the discussion is about closing a deal or suggestions on a new feature for the site, her job demands she understand what was said and what wasn’t being said and use all that information to innovate the product. The follow through comes in her other role as the leader of Kalibrr’s design and engineering team. What’s even better about all of this? Learning it in the energetic environment that only a start-up can have.
“You don’t get a lot of opportunity to be part of something that grows.”
Joan says one of the draws of working in a start-up like Kalibrr is that you get to interact with everyone and more than that, you get to collaborate. Having been an intern for a multinational company, she observed that in a corporation the everyday culture isn’t as dynamic – you work through lunch and talking mostly consists of conversations on the company’s messaging application.
Another thing she wasn’t a fan of: your job description in corporations is usually what will be the sole in and out of your days there. At Kalibrr, the company’s small but growing numbers calls Joan and the rest of the team to stretch beyond the given job descriptions and learn new skills. Joan says the synergy is rewarding and the lack of bureaucracy, even more so. If you see a problem or something that needs to get done, you don’t have to wait for it to go through so many channels. Earlier on, Joan saw Kalibrr’s need for an accounts team to handle its clients. Almost immediately, she was given the trust to create a team and do what had to be done.
It was a choice between working a desk job to make rich people richer or becoming part of the Kalibrr tribe where everyone had equal ownership in the group’s success. Joan can definitely say she’s in the tribe 100 percent.
Outside of all of the above, if you ask her today why you shouldn’t close your doors to working in a start-up, she would point to the people. Working in a start-up surrounds you with the best people – the people who have the smarts, the drive, and the bravery to build something from the ground up.
What’s worth the risk?
Gaining the business experience and unlocking achievements like closing sales deals are just some of the things Kalibrr has given Joan. But what keeps her staying in a small company? Joan says it’s knowing that at Kalibrr, they get to help people build a livelihood. Seeing that her everyday work is of service and getting to talk to the people who use Kalibrr is her favorite part of the job.
In Joan's words, the reward is “creating something you know helps other people.”