Data, storytelling and wellbeing

I’ve worn many hats in my 11 years at Adobe. First as a designer specialized in 3D rendering where I generated texture maps, then as project manager for our customers, and now as an internal specialist focused on making our company run as smoothly as possible. I’ve forged different paths here – some on my own to learn about different parts of the business, and some were presented to me. In my current role, as a Global Program Leader on Adobe’s Field Engineering Team, my role is all about building bridges. I help teams across our business to connect and work more effectively and happily.

What I do

In short, my work is to make people’s lives easier. One day that might mean ramping up newly hired employees to help them succeed in their roles. The next day, I might be providing continuing education to our long-time Adobe employees. Most often, I dive into our performance data to uncover strategic insights for our top-decision makers so they can lead their teams through change.

Change is a constant for our customers, and the only way we can lead them through that change is for our business to keep evolving ourselves. That's why I’m constantly looking for ways to improve Adobe’s processes and connect our teams so they work better work together.

“Data is the prism through which all of our important strategies are formed, and I see myself as an archeologist who digs through that data to unearth the unexpected.”

-Jennifer Dana

Breaking down siloes is one of my top priorities. Like any company that’s grown over decades, we’ve built some unintended walls between business units, and between the dozens of countries we serve globally. Siloes are inevitable, but they can’t be permanent if we want to come together as an organization and succeed as one.

It sounds a bit cheesy, but that’s one of the reasons I love this job – I get to impact the psychology of our business. It’s amazing what people discover when you break down barriers they never knew existed and open their ideas to new people and ideas. You challenge decision-makers to reconsider what they think they know, and they thank you for it.

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Adobe logo artisitically formed

Drawing on multi-faceted experiences

I’ve wanted to work at Adobe since graphic design school. I loved photography, and Photoshop was the go-to solution for image editing and self-expression. When I was given the opportunity work for the company, it was a surreal moment. As if everything had suddenly come together.

I’ve since had the luxury of seeing Adobe from many different angles, starting as a content producer, then working directly with our customers, and now improving the way we operate from the inside-out. Like many of my colleagues, I’ve always appreciated the flexibility this company gives us to move around and shape our experience.

“You have to be human to be creative, after all, and there’s nothing more human than being your authentic self with the people around you.”

Everything I know today, I learned on the job. Where traditional companies might count that against me, Adobe embraces the fact that people from uncommon backgrounds bring uncommon insight to their role. And that fresh thinking is infectious for the people around us. It’s amazing that the spirit of openness and creativity that goes into our products also permeates our working culture.

You have to be human to be creative, after all, and there’s nothing more human than being your authentic self with the people around you. That applies at work as much as it does at home. Words in my job description like “reporting” and “operations” might sound dry and devoid of humanity, but connecting with other employees, finding common ground, and working together to improve our shared experience is as human a role as you’ll ever find.

Storytelling with data

I view creativity as the constant pursuit of knowledge, and in my role that means the constant pursuit of self-knowledge about our business. That why data-driven insights play such a big role in what I do.

Numbers can be... boring. They don’t really mean anything until you start uncovering the story they hold within them. Everything has a pattern, and what I do is look for the patterns in the data so I can gain a difference perspective of our businesses’ story – uncovering areas that are doing well and those that need extra attention.

Next comes the most creative facet of my role, the storytelling. The best stories reveal something new to your audience, but the stories we tell as data archeologists reveal something even more compelling. They unearth and draw people’s attention to ideas they didn’t even know existed.

My team’s mandate isn’t just to relay information, it’s to disrupt, shift perceptions, and make sure decision-makers at Adobe take nothing at face value. I’m on a team where our impact to the business and to our customers isn’t always measurable with a “=SUM.” That’s where psychology comes back into play – I have to know how these people prefer to digest information. Are they visual learners who want to see results as graphs? Are they cut-and-dry thinkers who just want the numbers straight? Are they more inclined to act on good or bad news? Every decision-maker I work with at Adobe is different and has different needs, and that keeps me on my toes in the best way possible.

“I live for the moments when I single out a data point or trend in our data that challenges what we think we know at Adobe and forces us to change or adapt.”

Making corporate wellbeing a top priority

Culture, mental health, and wellness have long been passions of mine. As Adobe’s San Francisco Wellbeing Ambassador, I get to create and facilitate programs that are close to my heart and bring people together. I sit on the counsel that promotes corporate well-being programs at Adobe, such as Headspace (we’re members) and other initiatives. Being part of a team that empowers people to focus on their inner selves is immensely rewarding.

For me there’s magic when I make connections with others and in order to draw my colleagues into the wellbeing programming I create, I look to understand who they are and what they’re looking for. That manifests through the promotional material I generate, the language I select to elicit excitement or simply the design of a website for them to engage with.

One of my proudest moments was partnering with Pause+Expand, a unique company from Toronto that recreates the experience of sound baths for people at home, combining meditation, audio recordings, and visualization techniques to align their body and minds.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that a ‘go go go’ mentality isn’t sustainable and that burnout is a very real, and very troubling phenomenon. To be our best at work for the long term, we have to take care of ourselves first, and I’m proud to be part of an organization that truly believes that.

I remember one employee reaching out to me after a sound bath session and saying, “Wow, that is exactly what I needed to get through this week”. Comments like that are everything to me. From my day job to cultivating my passions and being supported by Adobe, there’s nothing like leaving work each day knowing that you’ve made a difference.