We’re thrilled to introduce Ann Yauger, AVP of Product at CarMax. Ann shared how she built her career in advertising and product development with industry-leading companies, right here in Richmond!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in Charleston, West Virginia, but I have spent my adult life in Richmond. I moved here in my early 20s and have lived in various houses in the Fan and West End. I currently live in Henrico and have two teenagers, two cats, a dog, a fish and a horse. Actually, the horse lives a few miles away. I was an avid horseback rider as a kid, and I’m re-living it now through my daughter, who inherited my passion. I’ve been lucky to build an awesome life and career here in Richmond, working for people and companies that are leaders in their fields.
What do you do? How did you get involved in your industry?
I am AVP, Product at CarMax, leading a group of Digital Product teams focused on innovating around the online experience for car shoppers. I am responsible for developing our product strategy and vision, and for building a culture and practice that allows our product teams to operate like Silicon Valley startups. Our goal is to discover and deliver technology solutions that delight customers, drive business impact and transform our industry.
I actually started my career as an Advertising Account Executive, first at a small firm called Finnegan and Agee, and then spent many years at The Martin Agency. I joined CarMax in 2005 as the Director of carmax.com. I had to learn a lot on the job about technology, UX, analytics, web development and online consumer behavior. I networked like crazy, read a lot of books, and went to conferences and seminars. I learned a ton and discovered a passion for technology product development. And over my 12+ years, I’m proud to have led the organization through tremendous growth and transformation.
What’s your favorite part of your job? Least favorite part?
My favorite part of my job? It’s very hard to pick one thing. The people I work with are certainly at the top of that list. I work with some of the most earnest, passionate, smart, interesting and funny people I’ve ever known. I’ve had the privilege to interview and hire a bunch of them, and it’s really rewarding to put together teams of people and see what great things they can do together. But I think equally high up there is the fact that I am constantly learning something new, and there is always a new idea, technology or insight that excites me.
Least favorite? Meetings! No question. Sitting in meetings all day feels counter-productive. But it’s an unfortunate byproduct of being in management.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for other women trying to be leaders in their community and/or organization?
Don’t be afraid to admit what you don’t know. Many women I’ve known worry that it’s a sign of weakness to not have the knowledge, experience or academic pedigree they think they need for a leadership role. Ironically, being open about what you don’t know – and asking for help and advice from others you respect – shows tremendous self-confidence. The leaders I most admire (women or men) approach their jobs with equal parts confidence and humility.
What brought you to Richmond? What do you love about RVA?
My initial move to Richmond was pretty random. Some college friends had an extra bedroom in a big Fan apartment. I had been job and apartment hunting in New York. But when I realized I could make the same starting salary in Richmond and live in this relatively palatial apartment, I was sold. And I ended up loving it and stayed (with the exception of about a year of temporary assignment in New York when I worked for The Martin Agency. I finally got that NY experience after all!).
What I love most about RVA is that I was able to build a tremendous career, working for industry-leading companies and brilliant people, without having to move to a major city. Richmond is a unique and multi-dimensional place. I love the great creative energy here, intertwined with the historical significance of the area. Add the natural beauty, great cost of living, good schools, easy commute, great restaurants, and of course all the micro-breweries, and it’s just hard to beat.
Thank you for participating, Ann!
If you’re interested in learning more about the CarMax digital team, check out their website.