Dream maker...that's the title that I prefer. But normal folk might say I'm a product manager, or a tech product director.
But if you get down to the nitty gritty of what I actually do, what I'm good at, what my wheelhouse really is it's pretty simple:
Take 20+ years experience in marketing, journalism and communication, content creation, add 10+ years in project management, editorial management, throw in some freshly new 5+ years in UX, UX design, usability testing (I love this by the way), some web development, front-end programming, product managing mobile applications and software development, and for some spice data visualization in R and other beautifully programmable data software, and you get me; someone who takes ideas and turns them into digital reality with the help of a collaborative diverse team.
A recent M.S. degree in HCI/UX from DePaul University (go class of 2016) has added more craft to my strategy and now I can visually design, wireframe, prototype and task flow like an assassin showcasing and transforming all those pretty little thoughts in people's heads (and mine own) into real, live user-centered task flow entities called digital products.
But really I'm just a person who likes to create things that don't exist and finds a way to problem solve until they do.
So, I taught myself HTML and CSS so I could build websites. Really so I could just build cool 3D animations with CSS 3. (You can see one on my own website at www.ovetta-sampson.com).
I taught myself Python so I could build application platforms. Built my own server so I could launch some badly designed but fun apps I built using PHP and Ajax.
I got into programming and UX because I wanted to build products which didn't exist. Products for seniors like my mom, or for the hearing impaired like my friend Marilyn. I have, and now I'm looking to build products with other people who feel the same.
So yeah, I guess you can say I'm a product manager, but really I prefer dream maker. Because when a team and I get together and do all that above it's pretty magical. I've done it now repeatedly over the years, helping to take several digital products to the market...and each time I learn how to do it just a bit better for the end-user and all those involved.
I specialize in the meat of UX and the craft of UI but I work the best when collaborating with a team to get what needs to be done completed. So call me a Product Manager if you will but really just call me when you need to get something done.
Oh...I also do triathlons!
Here's a TEDx Talk I did at the University Chicago on my journey from being a 285-pound couch potato to finishing Ironman Cozumel in one year. :) Quite the journey I must say. But being a multiple-Ironman finisher helps me to be a better UX problem solver.
Because Ironman has taught me that in life you train your mind, body and spirit not for what's expected but so that you can deal with the unexpected and still succeed. And believe me if you can get through 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running in less than 17 hours you can pretty much conquer any task.