Culture, Process

PM Spotlight: Amy Graves

Nicole Hackley — January 28, 2015

Some of you may have heard of Amy Graves seeing as how she is the Project Manager for more than 50% of our clients. This April will mark her first year anniversary with White Lion, but with all she’s done for our organization it seems like she’s been here a lot longer. And I mean that in the best way possible.

I know what Amy is like at work: dedicated, passionate, persistent, detail oriented, organized, friendly, professional, courteous, and caring (the list could go on).  But I wondered if she was the same way in her personal life. She has a wedding coming up and I wanted to see if those same personality traits were consistent in the planning. Turns out, yes, but she’s also very funny, down to earth, carefree, and dare I say… hippie-ish. I’m sure glad I got to know another side of Amy, and I’m sure you will too, so please read on.

[Nicole Hackley] Personally speaking, who do you admire the most?

[Amy Graves] My parents. They are successful people who’ve taught me a lot about how to work hard and be persistent to get what I want. My dad use to work for Progressive Auto Insurance but now just manages our family farm in South Austin.  It’s mainly animals. We breed horses and have a training facility.

[NH] Do you ride horses?

[AG] I do! I grew up riding horses. I competed and was a National Champion Horseback rider.

[NH] What was your very first job?

[AG] After graduating high school, some friends and I tried to start a babysitting company during the summers. We sent out flyers and got a lot of business. I would return home each summer and do that. In college I worked at the front desk of a yoga studio.

[NH] Is that how you got interested in Yoga?

[AG] Sort of. I was already doing it in high school.

[NH] Because you just recently got your license as a trained yoga instructor. What did that entail?

[AG] It was a 200 hour program that took about 2 months; lots of classes and lectures. I had to learn how to teach yoga and its history and benefits.

[NH] Where can people come to see you and take your classes?

[AG] At Core Power Yoga, although I’m not teaching yet, just attending. I also teach out at my parent’s farm to mainly friends and family. Free class if anyone wants to come!

[NH] What would you consider your single most significant professional accomplishment to be?

[AG] Probably finding a way to move my career to Austin from California. Especially since my fiance was still in California. I didn’t really know anyone and Austin had changed a lot. It was hard to make that transition.

[NH] What about personal?

[AG] Getting my yoga teacher credentials recently.

[NH] You recently got engaged and are planning a wedding (congrats!). How is that going so far?

[AG] Good! The wedding is taking on a life of its own a little bit. I find that I have to let go of my perfectionist tendencies, which isn’t easy. There’s still a lot to do but I have to remember I’ve gotten a lot done!

[NH] It is coming up quick!

[AG] Yes! I’m getting married in April.

[NH] Will Bella (AG’s American Bulldog featured in the picture above) be a maid of honor?

[AG] She is actually going to be the flower girl.

[NH] I am going to need to see pictures of that too! So what are a few of your most memorable character shaping experiences which may have occurred professionally?

[AG] Probably going away for college to California. Getting out and seeing the world a little. Berkley was very different and I had to learn to be more independent. I graduated in 2009 and had to figure out how to navigate post college life.

[NH] What do you enjoy most about being a PM at White Lion (aside from me of course)?

[AG] It’s always interesting; new projects, new clients, new work, new challenges and learning new things.  There is a lot of variety among my clients, from law firms to insurance companies to retail and e-commerce sites.  There is a lot going on all the time and there are frequent opportunities to learn and develop. And that I can bring Bella!

[NH] What are some creative achievements or projects or situations where your creativity was put to use to solve problems?

[AG] That is happening now with my wedding; trying to do lots of stuff on my own. I have been feeling very crafty and creative. This is relevant to professional life, because as a PM you always have to find creative solutions and how those can translate to the web. I use my creativity every day.

[NH] How do you recharge or relax on the weekends?

[AG] I catch up on sleep! I like to spend time out at my parent’s farm on the weekends.

[NH] What’s the #1 most played song on your iPod?

[AG] I don’t want to talk about my wedding too much but I have been trying to find first dance songs. So lots of cheesy old romantic songs and I am finding out that they are indeed all cheesy. Aside from wedding music I have been listening to a lot of BANKS.  She is a mix between Lauryn Hill and Alanis Morissette.

[NH] What is one of your favorite quotes?

[AG] My parents say it, “sempre dritto”, and not like the chip. It means “straight ahead” in Italian.  Basically, you just got to keep going no matter if you are having a difficult day. I think about it a lot with the wedding. It’s a good motivating quote.

[NH] If you could have dinner with four people of your choosing either dead or alive, who would it be?

[AG] Jay-Z, who would hopefully bring Beyoncé and baby Ivy and not count towards my four, because he is a successful business man. Albert Einstein so I could see what all the fuss is about. George Washington so I could tell him how much has changed. And Jesus.

[NH] What are you passionate about inside and/or outside of work?

[AG] Yoga. My dog. I LOVE bulldogs. Yoga.

[NH] You have, almost single handedly transitioned our company over to using Confluence, which is a pretty big accomplishment! What was your most trying moment? What about the biggest accomplishment with that process?

[AG] It required a lot of patience because it was a big undertaking and a lot of buy-in from everyone in the organization. So I had to be a champion for the product over a long period of time. I am very happy with the final product. We have a central place to hold all of our information which makes everyone’s job a lot easier!

[NH] I would certainly have to agree with that! What is your ideal vacation?

[AG] A beach setting. For our honeymoon we are going to Tahiti. I need lots of sunshine and hot weather

[NH] What was the last good movie/show you saw?

[AG] I don’t watch a lot of movies or shows but I do watch a lot of documentaries on Netflix. The last one I watched was about conjoined twins who were joined at the head. They had surgeries that took over several years to separate them, but they lived!

[NH] If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

[AG] The little mermaid.

[NH] Great Answer!

What is the best book you have ever read? Or a good book you have read recently?

[AG] Anything by Ayn Rand. But what I really want to say is Harry Potter.  If I was to go with something more educational, I would go with Rand.

[NH] There is nothing wrong with Harry Potter! I am right there with ya!

What celebrity would you most want as your neighbor?

[AG] One time I met Aaron Paul at Coachella.  He was awesome and nice so he would probably make a good neighbor. Other than that, maybe Rhiannon, because she would have fun parties.

[NH] What super hero power do you wish you had?

[AG] I wish I had the ability to stop time so I could sleep more. Just the ability to create more time would be nice.

[NH] What are you favorite things to do around Austin?

[AG] Explore new restaurants and places that have come about since I grew up here. I like being outside and enjoying the weather. Going on the hike and bike trails or being on the lake.

[NH] Favorite Austin restaurant?

[AG] Barlata is one of my newer favorites. Manuel’s Mexican Restaurant because we use to go there every Sunday when I was a kid and they have really good food.

[NH] Greatest accomplishment to date at White Lion?

[AG] Helping with the transition to Confluence and helping streamline project workflow to be more Agile.

[NH] What strengths have you been able to bring to White Lion for the betterment of your department?

[AG] My previous knowledge of JIRA and Confluence has really helped a lot, particularly the JIRA agile piece. Just in general, my ability to be flexible and handle situations as things arise. Learning how to be flexible and dealing with those.

[NH] Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

[AG] My finance’s mom always tells me I look like Olivia Wilde. I sometimes get Reese Witherspoon.  Growing up I got the Olsen twins a lot, but I think it was because I liked them so much. They were my heroes growing up.

[NH] If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?

[AG] Just relax. People get so worked up over everything. Traffic, work, this and that. In yoga, you learn how to accept things and not react to them. Just chill out. Life is short. Enjoy it.

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