Carnegie Mellon University

Integrated Innovation Institute

Engineering + Design + Business

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Alumni Spotlight - Impacting the Organization as an Internal PM

Melody Her (MIIPS '20) creates magic behind-the-curtain as a PM at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution where she improves the internal systems that power its streaming ecosystem.

By Mary Kilcoyne

An insatiable curiosity, a penchant for problem solving, and a love of learning are often hallmarks of graduates from the Integrated Innovation Institute so it's not too surprising that Melody Her (MIIPS '20) embodies them all (and in abundance).

A California native, Her grew up in Taiwan and had envisioned a career in finance. She majored in money and banking as an undergraduate and, thereafter, joined the finance department of Granite River Labs Inc.

Then opportunity knocked: The company’s product line was moving from India to Taiwan and in need of a product manager.

Her stepped up, learning about product roadmaps and lifecycles on the fly but often wondering if she was doing it right.

“It was all going well, but I was still worried. After a few years, I wanted a more structured way to learn about product management and to improve my PM skills and abilities. That’s when I found the MIIPS program,” Her said.

“Business is my profession by training, and engineering and design are my passions. MIIPS combined all the areas that I’m interested in into one program, which is amazing. It ticked all the boxes. Plus, it helped me strengthen my product management skill set and further launch my career in that trajectory.”

 In May 2020, Her graduated into a disheartening job market fueled by the pandemic’s uncertainty.

“I was pretty fortunate though because I was still in my interview process. I knew that I just needed to try harder, keep the faith, and that good things would come,” Her recalled.

Three months later, Her’s efforts and perseverance paid off: She joined S&P Global Platts as a product manager for internal systems.

“When people initially think about ‘product management,’ it’s typically the customer-facing products that you use daily and not the backend internal systems. And that was the case for me at first too,” Her said.

“If you make the internal systems great, you're helping the whole organization to achieve its goals faster and easier. It may not be perceived as ‘sexy’, but it is a way to magnify your impact at the organizational level. That’s how I look at it.”

Within a couple years at S&P, Her realized that she was ready to move beyond the financial realm and experience a different industry. “Internal systems” supplanted “finance” as the new connecting thread of her career tapestry.

Now, as a Product Manager for Internal Systems at Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Her sits between content creation and customer-facing platforms like Disney+ or Hulu.

“I’m not managing one specific product. It's more like I’m managing an ecosystem of the systems and how they are connected.  So I focus on mostly digital product distribution and its datasets. ‘Internal systems’ entails managing those datasets, which is what makes it possible to deliver content to our end customers,” Her said.

Before & After: How MIIPS Changed Melody

💪 A confidence boost - both in her decisions and her communications with stakeholders.

👀 “I didn’t know what ‘user-centric design’ meant before. MIIPS emphasizes how important the user is, which helped me to shift my mindset to think from a user’s perspective,” Her said.

🌎 Fluency built from collaborating across backgrounds and disciplines. “Working closely with engineers, designers, and even others like me who came from a business background helped me to learn how they think – to get into their minds and to stand in their shoes. That whole experience has already proven helpful,” Her reflected.

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