Julia Lin is a product manager and leader of Tendo’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council. Her curiosity and inventiveness are infectious and have had a significant impact on Tendo’s early culture.
Find out more about Julia in Tendo’s latest Employee Spotlight!
What’s the day in the life of a product manager (PM)?
Product management is highly contextual, and responsibilities vary depending on the company culture, teams involved, and many other factors. I think of my work as PM as recurring daily, weekly, quarterly activities, which include facilitating cross-functional discussions, learning about users, researching the market, and road map planning. Every day is different, but I try to block off two-hour chunks for deep work and execution at least once a day.
Some key soft skills that help me as a PM include:
- Building successful working relationships.
- Adapting quickly in changing environments.
- Taking time to think clearly when things get hectic.
What drew you to product management?
As a product manager in a growing early-stage startup, I’m drawn to the opportunity for rapid learning and growth. I enjoy working cross-functionally, empathizing with users, and synthesizing information to build a product for impact. Think big, work small!
What’s your favorite part about your job?
I love the flexibility of knowing I can work by myself at my peak productivity hours and collaborate through Slack or a Zoom call. It means I can arrange my schedule to fit my circadian rhythm — work in the early morning before my calls start, take a walk in the afternoon when it’s sunny outside, and read any interesting articles or reports after at night.
How did you learn about Tendo and why did you decide to join?
During the personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage in March 2020, I jumped into the Penn Health-Tech COVID-19 Rapid Response team and organized student volunteers to design, manufacture, and deliver face shields for local hospitals. A mutual LinkedIn connection introduced me to one of Tendo’s future founders and president, Jen Goldsmith, to discuss volunteer efforts.
After learning about her experience advising start-ups, I sought Jen’s advice on pitching, market sizing, and positioning for my own MedTech start-up. When Jen asked me to join Tendo, I saw the opportunity to make a larger impact in healthcare than I could on my own.
A year ago, I couldn’t have imagined myself at a company that didn’t exist in a role I didn’t even know about. However, what drew me to Tendo from the start was the mission-driven, talented, experienced people. It’s been amazing to develop relationships across the company — and across different time zones — with remote work. I’ve also learned so much already from Tendo through customer workshops, design review sessions, engineering architecture discussions, and sprint planning sessions.
What do Tendo’s values mean to you?
I think of Impact as building for long-term scalability, so the impact is larger than a one-off implementation.
I believe the Openness value differentiates us from many closed ecosystems and “proprietary” approaches to health tech.
Speed is inherent in any start-up. To me, it means we value quick decision-making and action!
What was your first job?
My first paid job was a laser cutting and 3D printing laboratory job as a student. It was cool to support other students and makers with their projects!
If you could snap your fingers and become an expert at something, what would it be?
Language learning! I would love to be a polyglot and be able to talk to anyone in their native language.
I grew up speaking Chinese at home, took courses in Taiwanese and French in university, speak conversational Twi from spending a year in Ghana, and I’m currently learning to read Arabic on Duolingo. My benchmark for language learning is being able to make and understand jokes in that language. It helps me make friends.
What are your top three favorite books or podcasts?
My two favorite books are War with the Newts by Karel Capek as an enjoyable dystopian fiction and Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans as my go-to career advice book to share with friends. My favorite podcast is NPR’s How I Built This by Guy Raz, which shares the fascinating stories of scrappy founders during the early uncertainty of their startups.
If you could only have three apps on your phone, which would you pick?
- Google Maps
I’d be lost without Google Maps. I would really not be as independent or social without it.
Messenger to stay connected and keep relationships up over time and distance.
Fun fact: Duolingo spun out of a Carnegie Mellon University computer science research lab. Users pay with their time by helping translate the web into other languages (10 similar answers from novice users is equivalent in accuracy to 1 paid translator).
What’s your biggest personal goal?
Maintain my ideal work-life-travel balance. Be surrounded by people I like, be adaptable enough to keep the adventure going, and seek ways to make a positive impact in the world!
What’s the biggest lesson that you’ve learned throughout your career?
My professional path is anything but linear, and that’s okay. I have learned from every person, experience, and failure, and continually seek to understand the ways that I add unique value. I’ve taken so many twists and turns over the years that I decided to document my winding path in OwnTrail to give myself a way to connect the dots. Working in healthcare, which affects people from all walks of life, I believe we need diverse perspectives to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges in an equitable and inclusive way. So if you believe in Tendo’s mission and know how you can add value to our growing team, we would love to hear from you!
As a creative problem-solver at heart, Julia fits right into Tendo’s growing family. We’re currently hiring across multiple departments, so if you’re interested in joining us and collaborating with amazing people on a mission to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges, check out some of our open roles!