Volusion is what it is because of the people who work within its four walls. So we thought we’d tell you more about some of those people. What makes them tick? Why do they come to work each day? And what do they look forward to doing when they leave the office? In this Employee Spotlight series, you’ll get a glimpse at one featured employee each month. This month, we talked to our Senior Product Manager, Jonathan Turfboer.
What do you do here at Volusion?
I am a Senior Product Manager. My job is all about setting the strategy for our products and services. I spend my days learning about the needs of our customers, our partners and other teams within Volusion, then working with our development teams to build the things that will be most impactful.
How did you get into the field?
It was kind of an accident, honestly. I started out in school as a mechanical engineer, then through some good connections and (in hindsight) bad decisions, ended up as a co-founder of a startup. That experience gave me the opportunity to learn a little bit about a LOT of things.
A few jobs later, I found myself working next to a product manager and realized that the broad knowledge that I had built up over time — the ability I had developed to understand and communicate with everyone from customers to database engineers, and my natural inclination to want to solve problems — make up a pretty good set of qualifications to become a PM. So, I sort of just started doing the job and eventually convinced someone that they should give me the title officially. :)
What’s the most challenging thing about your job?
Prioritizing, for sure. There are so many opinions from so many really great people, requests from customers, reports from industry experts, decisions made by competitors, requirements from partners, etc. etc. — the list goes on for days.
It's my job as a PM to be constantly weighing all of those things and pinpointing what's most important and what's going to have the biggest impact on the success of our customers.
It's my job as a PM to be constantly weighing all of those things and pinpointing what's most important and what's going to have the biggest impact on the success of our customers. We obviously can't do it all, especially not all at once, and making those decisions and finding the right way to communicate them to all of those parties is challenging.
What are you most proud of in your career? What about outside of your career?
This may be a cheesy answer, but I'm pretty darn proud of the fact that I've gotten to this point in my career without any related formal education. I've kind of just figured it out on my own along the way (and am continuing to do so every day), and have had the opportunity to do some really impactful things. I've been a part of designing international money movement systems, building experiences to help first-time credit card users make more informed, responsible decisions with their money, and had the opportunity to share insights with and influence the mindsets of C-level execs of Fortune 500 companies.
I'm pretty darn proud of the fact that I've gotten to this point in my career without any related formal education.
Outside of my career, I'm proud of a lot of things, but at the moment, I'm the most proud of my vegetable garden. I put a ton of energy into building a huge cedar planter, packing it with (what I hoped was) the right mix of soils and compost and nutrients, and we have more tomatoes and basil and sage than we know what to do with! I feel like there's nothing more satisfying than eating a meal made from the results of your own hard work and patience.
What do you love most about Volusion?
The people. First off, the ones that I work with every day — I've never worked with a more energizing group of people who have really made me feel at home at Volusion.
Then second, our customers. They are all working so hard to do amazing things, and it is really inspiring. They make me want to work extra hard myself to make Volusion an amazing platform, because I can feel like I played a small part in every successful new business that launches with us.
What’s the first thing you do when you get off work?
I let my two crazy yellow labs out into the yard, throw the ball with them, and my wife and I laugh at how ridiculous they are. I spend a lot of my day indoors, in front of a computer screen, so I love spend as much of my evenings as I can outside and disconnected.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My favorite hobby is woodworking. I can throw on some headphones and get lost for hours in working on a piece of furniture, making custom picture frames for my wife's amazing paintings or hand-carving spoons. I also love working on my project car (a 1971 Triumph TR6), playing guitar and reading books about airplane crashes (sometimes while flying on airplanes; I get a lot of weird looks from people).
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I've done some mildly adventurous things here and there, but I'd probably say the craziest thing I've ever done was to pile into a minivan with three of my friends to drive from Virginia to New York City and immediately back, simply because we really wanted some good pizza and were annoyed with the mediocrity of the pizza options in our town.
Where are you going on your next vacation?
Well...my wife and I are expecting our first baby in early August, so we probably don't have much vacationing in our near future, other than a quick trip to Baton Rouge for a baby shower. If we COULD schedule a big vacation right now, we'd be on our way to Bali, probably by way of Japan for a few days.
If you could open an online store, what would you sell?
I have been very gradually prepping an online store to sell my woodworking wares! I'm excited to have a way to justify spending time on my hobby. I just need to stop using my site to test new features for V2 so I can actually launch it!