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Employee Spotlight: Jaron Hendrix

Updated: Aug 30, 2023

Every month, we like to shine the spotlight on our team members who make the biggest difference for our subscribers. This month, we interviewed Jaron Hendrix, our Product Manager! Jaron is a highly valued member of our team, and this is a Q&A you don’t want to miss out on reading!

Liftoff: How did you end up at Liftoff? Tell us your career story.

Jaron: I’ve been fascinated with the web since my family first got home Internet access (via dial-up with a 2400bps modem) in the early 1990s while living in Alaska. Once winter set in, the nights got long, and there wasn’t a lot to do besides read and learn. The landmark computer game Myst had just been released, and its underlying plotline that entire worlds could take shape just by writing them into existence lined up perfectly with the ability to create online content. I’ve been fiddling around with HTML ever since, and when CSS was introduced, the hobby became even more interesting, even if the options were limited.

Eventually, I enrolled at Georgia Tech, majoring in Computer Science. It didn’t take me very long to realize that the concepts and topics specific to the major weren’t exactly where I wanted to keep my focus, so I swapped majors to a more humanities-based course of study that focused on digital and new media. Unfortunately, owing to some family medical issues, I ended up taking a large break in my studies before returning for my final two semesters, during which I worked off and on as a freelance web designer. After graduation, I was having a tough time finding a full-time role – the market just wasn’t comparable to what it has become today – when, of all places, I found a job posting on Craigslist that sounded like a great fit. If memory serves, I applied on a Monday, interviewed the following Friday, and was hired within 24 hours! I’ve been with the organization we now all know and love as Liftoff Commerce ever since, and I couldn’t be happier!

Liftoff: What do you do here at Liftoff?

Jaron: When I started with the company back in 2013, my initial role was “web aesthetics developer,” which was more or less a mix of UX and basic front-end development leading up to the decision to create the Liftoff platform as it exists today. With the advent of Liftoff, I transitioned into the role of lead front-end developer while also handling the usability design of the platform. I served in that role until moving into my current role.

As the product manager for Liftoff, my main duties are to decide which features we add to the platform, which ones we change, and how they behave. Another priority in my position is to work to ensure that each and every feature we offer to our subscribers works to meet their individual business needs while simultaneously meeting the needs of the platform and subscriber base as a whole. It’s incredibly gratifying knowing that the work I do helps make the platform easier and more intuitive for our internal users, our subscribers’ admin users, and the end customers we empower the subscribers to service. It can be difficult to balance the various needs we encounter, but keeping the users in mind – regardless of which layer of our product they engage with – is a challenge I’m happy to be faced with. Hearing from our subscribers that our platform has even created the opportunity for new job openings within other organizations is just icing on the cake!

Liftoff: Do you have a favorite platform feature?

Jaron: I may be unique among our team on this, but I don’t have a favorite feature! Having to constantly critique and re-evaluate features doesn’t leave me much room for getting attached to one or another. Certainly, there are things that I’ve worked on over the years of which I’m quite proud, but if it doesn’t work for the people who actually have to use it, that’s that, and it needs to change.

It’s somewhat of a running joke (meant in all lightheartedness and with me at the center of it as a surly billy goat) for me to frequently approach stakeholders’ commentary on the design or implementation of something with regard to their own personal likes or dislikes with, “Okay, but why are you viewing your own homepage 20 times a day? Do the users like it? Because they’re the ones who matter. You can utterly hate it, and that’s ok! You aren’t the user! You don’t have to like it!”

What I like or dislike about the platform doesn’t matter if it doesn’t match up with what our users want and need!

Liftoff: Jaron, do you have a favorite sports team?

Jaron: I’ve never been a huge sports fan, but sometimes it’s fun to poke the bear (and sometimes, the bear eats you!). My favorite team is the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets, and whoever’s playing against the University of Georgia at the moment!

Liftoff: What do you like to do for fun? What makes you happy?

Jaron: When I’m not pondering workflows and clickety-clacking out new specs and ideas for the platform, I enjoy cooking a variety of cuisines, hiking, camping and backpacking, gaming, and spending time with my two pound-rescue beagles, Stella and Raphael. I’m also a sci-fi and fantasy nerd, and have a love for postmodern literature.

I’m a big believer in the saying that “variety is the spice of life,” and I also believe that a variety of spices make for a better meal. I usually have at least 100 different herbs, spices, and seasonings available in my pantry!

When it comes to gaming, I love strategy, open world, and RPG titles for video games, but I spend much more time with my regular gaming group for our weekly Dungeons & Dragons sessions. Those have been continuing with the same group for about six years now. I missed out on the game entirely until adulthood, and when the opportunity came to finally start playing, I jumped in with both feet. For those of you who share the hobby and are curious, my current character (going on ~3 years now) is a Warforged Artificer named Enchiridion.

I’m going to mostly keep quiet on the whole anime thing, and leave it at “I’ve seen every episode of One Piece.” If you know, you know.

Liftoff: Do you have any parting thoughts you’d like to share?

Jaron: In parting, I’d like to say that I’m incredibly grateful for the wonderful team of people I work with. Each and every person on the team brings a unique perspective, skill set, and specialization to our product. Without each person’s contributions, it wouldn’t be remotely close to what it is today.

I’m also very thankful for our wonderful subscribers and the constructive feedback they provide to us. Our goal is to give you what you need to succeed and to allow your customers to succeed as well. I look forward to continuing to work with all of you for years to come, and hope that we’re giving you what you need!



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