The Photoshop of the Opera with Marisa Lenhardt

What is the name of your role and what does a typical day look like?

I am the Senior Manager of Programs and Business Operations for the Creative Technologies Lab at Adobe. This marisa-lendhartmeans that I am responsible for everything from meeting scheduling to managing project managers to doing PR so that the technology makes it into a new product. On a day-to-day basis, I might be meeting with my boss on strategy, drafting messages to one of our VPs, or conducting product team meetings among other tasks.

How did your educational background/work experiences prepare you for this position?

I got my degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. I’ve always been a geek; in fact, I was an early adopter of internet/technology, but without having a technical background or being an engineer, there wasn’t much to in tech at that time. In my early jobs, I would be one of the only people who knew how to use a modem, so I got more experience as people just gave me tasks. A friend asked me if I wanted to participate in a usability study and I got offered an interview, after which I became a user research recruiter. After some time, I switched to a similar role in Adobe and from there moved into a project manager position. There was actually a point when I wanted to leave Adobe to look for new opportunities in my career, but right before leaving, I got set up with a meeting with someone leading the research laboratory and everything fit into place as my next step.

What is your favorite part of your job?

Easily the people! Think about it, you can do most jobs anywhere but what makes it worth doing is always the people. Also, Adobe affords me the flexibility to still be a working opera singer, which has been amazing.

Can you discuss your role as a leader of the San Francisco Adobe & Women group?

The San Francisco program hosts monthly lunchtime discussions ranging from recruiting STEM women to communication styles. Next week we’ll have a panel of Adobe women who attended the Grace Hopper conference. This creates a strong community for women and is a great networking tool because women are more aware of one another.

What was your favorite part of being a panelist at GenHERation Discovery Days 2016 San Francisco?

It was a great experience and the girls were so engaged. I was hearing a lot of life lessons that I never heard growing up, like “you don’t have to decide now” and “allow yourself some flexibility because you never know where you’ll end up.”

What advice do you have for young women, especially those unsure of how to move up in companies?

Do what you’re passionate about. The pressure needs to come from within, not from outside; I have always aced the subjects that interested me. And understand that no matter how glamourous the position, there will always be some form of busy work that comes with it; it is unavoidable.

What is your favorite quote/life motto?

Momento mori. We get very little time, and youth is such a small part of our time here. Live richly and fully in the present while laying the groundwork for your future.

Contributor: Megha Keshav

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