Over the last couple years, Vulcan has been trying something different with some of its philanthropic efforts. While there is a part of Vulcan and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies that still does grant writing, there's an effort to do something more. Vulcan has been getting a bit more involved, trying to develop technology to solve some of these larger problems. Technology that could scale and expand its application, to not just solve a problem for one group, region, or organization, but actually be replicable to help solve these problems at a global scale.
For example, one team at Vulcan is building technology that could help prevent illegal fishing. With the Skylight program, we help organizations by providing more information to help them to make better decisions. What's great about Skylight is that it wasn't built for one customer or one region of the world. It was built with an entire globe of oceans in mind, an understanding that illegal fishing is a issue that many countries and governments face. With that understanding, scalability and expandability was one of the core tenants the Skylight team kept in mind when building it. (To learn more about Skylight, visit their website
With this technology focus, thinking about roadmaps, customers, building betas, and releasing to General Availability, etc, Vulcan found it important to find a balance between philanthropic strategy and product development. Enter the product manager.
There used to be no "Product Manager" role at Vulcan. That was one of the changes made in the last couple years - building up a product management team. There are so many projects at Vulcan that involve some level of technology. While we have a few large projects, like Skylight, that have a dedicated Product Manager (or even a few dedicated product managers), not all projects are quite that large. In my role, sometimes I joke around that I act as a Product Manager Consultant or Product Manager in Residence. I find myself advising on product roadmaps, doing user research, or any number of Product Management activities on a range of projects here at Vulcan. On any given day, I might have meetings or work on range of topics and products - reducing carbon emissions in major metropolitan areas, understanding an endangered species population by improving an agency's ability to perform wildlife surveys, investigating options and technology that could help prevent illegal logging, to improving economic livelihood and security in remote areas through better livestock management.
We have this saying here at Vulcan - #OnlyAtVulcan. If you would have asked me, 5 years ago, what I thought I'd be working on now, I doubt I would have said things like, "learning about livestock trackers/sensors that can withstand summers in remote parts of Africa", or "discussing the illegal logging pipelines in South America". But working at Vulcan is different; it's special. #OnlyAtVulcan can I think of getting these opportunities, working with others with similar goals, carrying on Paul Allen's legacy - trying to make the world a better place.