Smashing Spotlight: Maya King, Senior Producer

Wonder what makes Smashing Ideas so smashing? Our people! We sat down with Maya King, Senior Producer, to talk shop, how she manages one of the agency’s largest international projects, and why she’s a true digital nomad at heart.

 

Schedules, budgets, coordination…oh my! You’re responsible for a lot of moving parts. How would you describe your job to people that don’t know what you do?

Producers make things happen! Even my co-workers may not know exactly what we do all day, which is probably because we do pretty much anything and everything to launch a successful project.

As a digital producer, I’m in the unique position to equally represent the client, internal team, and the end user. Externally with clients, I spend a lot of time scoping and gathering requirements for projects, and aligning new product ideas with strategic goals.

Internally, I lead cross-functional teams to determine the best way to implement new solutions, set timelines and releases, manage third-party vendors, and alternate as ScrumMaster and product owner on Agile teams.

It’s definitely a balancing act, but while we’re busy running around scheduling and scoping, something magical is happening – we’re creating awesome digital experiences.

 

You’re the Senior Producer on a very large-scale, complex project for Sony Pictures Television, which is comprised of a custom platform that supports a network of more than 100 websites in 22 languages, worldwide. Phew. What does a typical week look like for you?

Pretty much every day I’m on early morning calls with international teams and third-party vendors to check-in on projects and regional initiatives, and to provide technical support and training. It’s really interesting to learn about what shows and movies are popular in different countries, analyze why some promotions succeed in some regions and not in others, and design solutions that can be unique to a region while still supported on a global platform.

During the day I work with partners in our time zone, and lead teams of developers and testers to build new features, fix bugs, and migrate new sites to the platform. I spend a lot of time tracking tasks and removing roadblocks, leading planning and brainstorming meetings, and looking for ways to improve our processes. On any given day I might also help with QA testing, write documentation, groom backlogs, and whatever else it takes to keep everything moving. On a project of this scale, there’s always a new challenge and plenty of ways to keep busy – luckily that’s just how I like it.

 

Describe Smashing Ideas in 5 words or less.

Good vibes and smart ideas.

 

As Senior Producer you’re responsible for making sure a project stays on budget. If budget weren’t an issue, where would you go on vacation and why?

There are many places I’d love to explore around the world, but with an unlimited budget I would charter a yacht and/or seaplane to travel around the South Pacific – there are so many gorgeous islands to visit and endless ocean views, and I’m a beach bum at heart.

 

Working in the world of digital, what emerging trend are you most excited about seeing incorporated into mainstream use?

It’s pretty exciting to see new medical tech that’s emerging, from open-source 3D printed prosthetics to advanced devices that can restore real-time muscle activation for people who have been paralyzed. Can you imagine how amazing it would feel to have control of your muscles or limbs again if you had lost that ability? It’s truly awe-inspiring.

 

If you weren’t in the production world at Smashing Ideas, you’d be…

A digital nomad – I’m impressed by, and envious of, entrepreneurs who have created successful businesses online that allows them to travel and work from anywhere.

 

Hands down I’m the best ___________ that I know.

QUESTIONER!

I ask a lot of questions! Not that I’m a skeptic, but more that I’m naturally curious, and having lots of information helps me internalize what I’m doing or learning. I’ve also learned through working on digital projects that there are lots of hidden assumptions, and asking lots of questions can be crucial to surfacing the needed information as early as possible.

 

What is the magical methodology mix you use to run a successful project?

Every project is going to be different and plans will always change, so adaptability and open communication is really important. Agile project methodologies allow the most flexibility for changing requirements, so we’ve come up with a mix of Kanban and Scrum practices that works best for our team, and we iterate our process as we learn what works and what doesn’t. Constant communication, even over-communication, is also key to making sure everyone involved knows what is going on and can see where their contribution fits into the larger picture.

I believe the best products are built when we start with a problem that we’re trying to solve, instead of building to a desired feature. Focusing on the interdisciplinary view of a project – balancing the business, technology, and customer/end-user perspectives – can help find strategic opportunities and increase the likelihood of success when it hits the market.

 

If you could throw a parade of any caliber at the office, what type of parade would it be:

Probably something like this…

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