We want to welcome back our #WomanCrushWednesday blog series with Amber Manry!
In addition to being prior colleagues, Ladies that UX (LTUX) Richmond reconnected with Amber at this year’s Full STEAM Ahead conference – a local event dedicated to empowering young women through Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. LTUX and bitcubs both led workshops and that’s where we learned about Amber’s passion: teaching kids computer science through physical play. Of course we wanted to know more. Meet Amber!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hello! I’m Amber Manry. I’m a mother of 2 girls that spent 20 years as hands-on software developer and architect before deciding to create my own company, bitcubs. In 2017, I left the IT consulting industry to start a new journey teaching kids how to code.
What do you do? How did you get involved in the industry?
At my core, I’m a computer programming geek. I’m also the Founder and CEO of my startup company, bitcubs. I saw my first computer program when I was about 4 or 5 years old. After I studied Systems Engineering at UVa, I went on to work for several startup companies including Visinet, Ventera, Ardent Management Consulting, and Kore Federal. I also worked as an independent contractor for a decade and consulted at various government agencies. In 2013, my eldest daughter’s preschool asked for parent volunteers to come in and talk to the kids about what they do. This is when I stumbled across the idea of incorporating physical play into teaching kids about coding. I blog about it here. It was then that I realized there was a deficiency in teaching computer science at a young age. In 2017, I knew in my heart it was time for me to launch my company and take my ideas from concepts into fruition.
How do you define UX in your role?
The user’s experience is every interaction I have with my customers, and it is paramount for a startup company. It shapes my customer’s opinion of my company and brand. I have to devote a great deal of attention to every touchpoint I have with my customers, whether it be a newsletter, a follow-up email, or an easy checkout process. From a business standpoint, I have to understand the mindset of my users and any psychological barriers that may be preventing them from signing up. Am I priced too high? Am I confused and I don’t know which class to sign up for? Does the time and location work for me? These are all questions I have to ask myself on a daily basis. I try to survey my customers as much as possible to get feedback without inundating them with emails/questions.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Teaching the kids! When I see a child’s eyes light up when they have discovered something, I cannot describe in words the joy that brings me. I’ve had kids come in struggling to understand and by the time they leave, they have not only mastered the concepts, they don’t want to leave. If I can make an impact on just one person’s life, then I feel fulfilled.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
Like any other mother, my biggest challenge is prioritizing my time. First and foremost, I’m a wife and mother. My company is like my third “baby”. As a programmer, I want my website to be flawless and there have been times that I’ve blown through hours getting something to work perfectly. I’ve learned that there are some things that you need to “let go”.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for other women in technology?
It’s funny that you ask me that since I recently blogged about this here. The salient points are: Be resilient, stay hands-on, get outside your comfort zone, and surround yourself with people who support you.
What brought you to Richmond? What do you love about RVA?
My husband and I lived in the DC area for almost 17 years. Our families live in Va. Beach, Lake Gaston, and Danville, VA. When we had children, we wanted to be geographically closer to family and chose Richmond as our new home. We love the vibe of RVA and we are excited for our girls to grow up here. RVA is very family-oriented and rich in history, arts, and culture. It’s a medium-size city with fabulous restaurants and a surprising number of entrepreneurs. We couldn’t have picked a better place to live.
Huge thank you to Amber for participating this month! If you want to know more about bitcubs, contact Amber at email@example.com or 804-876-BITS.