Engineering and Product

Aria Jones, Product Delivery Manager at Melodics

Wanting to "do music" from a young age has really turned out for Aria Jones, Product Delivery Manager at Melodics.

After studying music and social research, Aria set-off overseas to find a research based job, however after realising that roles in the field she was most interested in were few and far between, she eventually found her way into the tech industry and has not looked back.

We caught up with Aria to learn more about her career journey into product management, what her role entails in the context of a fast-growing Kiwi MusicTech company and why she is loving her time at Melodics. Thanks for sharing your story, Aria.

“I solve puzzles! I help to build computer programs and I help people learn to play music.”

Firstly, how would you explain to a five year old what it is you do?

I solve puzzles! I help to build computer programs and I help people learn to play music.

And for the adults, what does that translate to in regards to your day-to-day?

Listen; absorb; question; ideate; translate; record; repeat :||

Then facilitate the plan and help drive delivery.

As the Product Delivery Manager at Melodics I work to unearth and refine the many, diverse idea nuggets we have, across the company.

My role is about collecting, collating, and translating the details of an idea so that we can prioritise and plan the different pieces of work involved, in order to realise our goals.

A special sauce that I bring to the table is my desire to represent the needs of the Customer (or Musician). When it comes to software development, it can be easy to get bogged down in the technical details.

Staying in tune with our Melodics Players’ experience and weaving those insights into each mission we embark upon is the key to success.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in Product Management?

People often have a confused, blank look on their face when I say that I am a Product Manager. The job title itself, as it relates to the tech industry, isn’t very widely known as far as I can tell.

It seems like originally the term belonged to the realm of ‘commercial business products’ and was simply borrowed over to apply to ‘software products’.

I think the main thing that trips people up is the word manager or management. It can tend to imply that you are some major-league, shot-caller.

Leadership is an important facet of the job, but it’s vital that you understand your leadership style and how this plays out in the dynamic of the team.

Unilateral decision-making is not the name of this game. Good product management is about using data and insights, to make informed decisions with buy-in from the dev team and wider company stakeholders.

“My main dream as a kid was to do music, so in that sense I have hit the jackpot.”

Was working in tech something you dreamed about doing as a kid, if not what was?

Not at all. I have always had a penchant for problem-solving though. My main dream as a kid was to do music, so in that sense I have hit the jackpot.

Tell us a little bit more about your career journey and ultimately about how you ended up working at Melodics?

After completing my music degree and my social research post-grad, I moved over to live in Australia. I was keen to find work as a researcher but quickly realised research jobs in the social policy, advocacy, or service evaluation spaces were rare as hens’ teeth.

So I took a comfortable, day job as an Accounts Officer in the Finance department at a local shipping company, Monson Agencies, in Fremantle.

I ended up satisfying my research itch with a three month sabbatical, volunteer internship at a legal advocacy centre, GRACE, in Houston, Texas.

It was when I returned from this trip that my career path took a turn towards Tech. The shipping company was embarking on a massive data migration and software development project and I was nominated to be project lead.

From then on, I dove head first into cloud based, SaaS development and web programming.

I learnt Java Script on the fly, drew up flow charts to understand how APIs worked, and conducted my first usability tests with users. This was an amazing spring-boarding experience which changed the course of my future.

In 2014, I decided to move to Berlin to experience living and working in Europe. I managed to land a role as a Junior Technical Product Owner at the well-known, language-learning Startup, Babbel.

A whole new world opened up; Agile training and Scrum methodologies were my new ideology.

I was furiously writing on post-it notes, playing ping-pong and füssball with the engineers at lunchtime, learning to code Ruby on Rails in the evening and heading to Berghain on the weekend. After this first stint as a Product Owner I decided to branch out as a contractor.

I started to explore the world of User Experience Research and Design, including running some projects for a pioneer, music-technology company (Ableton) and building basic, java-script, front-end for web applications.

Upon returning home to Aotearoa, I reached out to Melodics and expressed interest in their product.

I worked as a User Researcher contractor for about a year during which I realised - there is something exciting going on here! I let them know that I wanted to get more involved, and the rest is history!

“Know yourself and what inspires you. Meaningful work is rewarding work.”

What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

When choosing a career: Know yourself and what inspires you. Meaningful work is rewarding work.

When you’re going for a position: Back yourself! Know your strengths and how to market yourself. And be persistent - in every failure, there is at least one lesson.

When you’re in a new role: Know your worth but at the same time, be courageous to acknowledge when you don’t know something and ask questions. It doesn’t mean you’re bad at your job, it just means you’re curious and willing to learn!

What do you love about working at Melodics?

The beautiful synergy of music, learning, innovation and empathy.

Lastly, Melodics continues to grow and evolve, what are the key traits and characteristics of people that will be well placed to work there?

People that are:

  • passionate about music learning
  • ambitious
  • ethically conscious

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