Kasha Stewart’s unconventional path from film to product management
Kasha Stewart, director of growth and engagement for Adobe Express, pivoted her career from video production to the product world by asking a lot of questions.
Kasha’s first plan was a career in film, so she majored in Fine Arts at Howard University, attended film school at Chapman University, and settled in Los Angeles to follow in the footsteps of her favorite music video producer.
Just about the time Kasha began working on exciting post-production gigs, the streaming platform was born — Hulu appeared on the scene, and Netflix dropped DVDs in favor of streaming. Then, when the 2008 recession hit, Kasha took a full-time role with ABC.com and got her own introduction into the streaming world.
“At ABC.com, I was doing post-production work,” she remembers. “But I was also learning how video could be distributed to millions of people on a platform, how contracts and licensing worked, and how organizations made money and developed partnerships. It was fascinating.”
Kasha also had questions. The in-house tools for content publishing could be clunky, and there were frequent computer crashes to deal with. “I wondered, ‘Why does it have to be like this?’” she says. “So I talked to my supervisor, and he said jokingly, ‘You ask a lot of questions. You should go into product management.’” A couple of months later, an internal position opened for a product specialist, and Kasha jumped at the opportunity. Since then, she’s worked her way up in the product world at major entertainment and wellness companies.
Choosing Adobe and sharing the excitement about Adobe Express
Earlier this year, Kasha was ready to make a job change. “I’d always heard that Adobe stood out in the tech world for having a great culture. And I knew it was a good match when they told me they were planning a big pivot to embrace product-led growth. I wanted to be part of the change and bring a whole new group of consumers to Adobe.”
Coming to Adobe felt a little like a homecoming for Kasha. “It was a full circle because back in college, we had those big Mac towers, and you’d get a huge box from Adobe, and opening it felt like such a gifting moment. So now I’m geeking out about the idea of bringing new content creators to Adobe with Adobe Express.”
“We have a new generation of customers,” Kasha adds. “For them a lot of things are done in apps. I want them to know that Adobe Express is here to help grow their social presence or land a pitch — and ultimately to unlock their creativity.”
Following a product-led growth approach, Kasha makes sure users’ early experiences with the product keep them coming back for more. “Customers come, play on the platform, and solve their needs and repeat until they take a trial offer and then subscribe. Along the way, they don’t have to be intimidated, and they see that at a very competitive price point, we can solve their social and design needs in one platform.”
Managing teams and making the tech world more inclusive
As a manager, Kasha looks for employees who care about end users, have a track record of using data to make decisions, and know how to pivot when things don’t go as planned. Then she works to make sure each team member feels supported and empowered to make decisions and take risks.
Kasha is also dedicated to improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the tech industry through public speaking, podcasts, and mentoring for Black Product Managers and Women in Product. She even responds to every person who reaches out to her on LinkedIn for career advice.
“I don’t want the next generation of marginalized or underrepresented communities to feel like they can’t be part of this industry, can’t be their authentic selves, or don’t belong because they never saw anyone who looked like them. Because, on a human level, don’t we all want to be better and do better for the people who are coming after us?”
To those looking to launch a career in product management, Kasha suggests taking advantage of the full gamut of resources and opportunities, from product schools to YouTube tutorials. And she recommends building a network of peers and mentors in the field.
“Although product management may be hard,” she says, “it’s worth it to create and develop products that impact the lives of millions of people.”