Speaker Spotlight: Monika Smyczek
Today we're talking with Monika Smyczek, Director of Product Management at WebMD.
Monika is a seasoned product leader and recovering entrepreneur who loves collaborating with smart people to build useful things.
She has spent the last 10 years developing innovative and award-winning consumer products in healthcare, e-commerce, education and arts sectors.
She partners with Jennifer Fields to host the podcast Black Mama, White Mama. In every episode, they have honest conversations about the intersection of race and parenting.
We wanted to give you a sneak peek into who she is, what has led to her success and what she is most proud of.
Tell us something about you not in your bio...
I’m a big fan of comics and graphic novels, and have co-created several comics anthologies.
What attracted you to your current industry and role?
There is an urgent need to make healthcare more accessible to everyone, and to ensure not only equal access but also equal positive outcomes.
What tools or resources have you used that have been crucial to your success?
Even during non-pandemic times, I struggle with creating space and time for thinking about longer-term goals, and reflecting on whether the course of my life is moving me toward or away from those goals. Two resources that have helped immensely are: 1) my annual planning exercise and 2) my accountability group.
Once a year, I use a worksheet to reflect on the year that’s passed and open up space in my mind to think about my goals for the year ahead. I tweak this template based on how I’m feeling in that year, but using it helps move me from “to dos” to thinking strategically about the changes that need to be made and the impact I want to have in the coming year, and how I need to adjust my day-to-day in order to support those goals. I then break those goals and actions into monthly lists in Trello, and review those every month to see if I’m track. Trello has also been an invaluable tool – I use it for everything from task management at work to completing my master’s thesis to meal planning.
My accountability group helps me stay accountable to these bigger goals, which is especially important after the clear and organized plan I’ve created for the year disintegrates in the crush of daily life.
What is your proudest achievement?
It’s a tie between co-founding the business I ran before joining WebMD, and starting Black Mama White Mama with my co-creator Jennifer Fields. Taking an idea and making it into something real is thrilling, and collaborating with smart, inspiring people to build things that people find useful is deeply satisfying.
What do you think needs to happen or have you seen done successfully in the past to create an inclusive workplace/corporate culture?
I think most companies are still figuring this out, but investing real resources (e.g. hiring dedicated leaders and team members) into inclusion is a good first step.
Want to join the conversation with Monika? We thought so!
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