Tracey Trewin is a self-proclaimed geek and the Chief Product Officer at Magic Leap where she enables engineers to build compelling experiences with new technologies. She is responsible for product and platform vision that defines the target scenarios that Magic Leap can uniquely address for enterprise customers. Previously she spent 25 years at Microsoft, incubating early-stage products into scale businesses across enterprise and consumer segments, including Visual Studio, Windows and Xbox. Tracey’s team worked closely with many of the world’s largest enterprise customers to use new technologies and helping them move successfully into cloud adoption, and leveraging machine learning, AI and AR streaming services to advance their businesses. She finds people who are inspired to solve big challenges motivates her the most.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I recently joined Magic Leap as the Chief Product Officer. I have always been drawn to early-stage products and I love being part of a team that is incubating something new. I have been attracted to opportunities to build teams that start out small. I believe passion and focus are the secret to successfully becoming a global team and creating global products. I love connecting with engineers all over the world and explore how technology can redefine their business and industry.
I am also a competitive equestrian rider with a horse training farm as my family’s business. It is important to me to support people having a wide range of interests because I know that it’s made a difference when I have support for my diverse passions, and I believe as a leader that people will be more successful if you encourage their diverse interests.
I grew up living in Hawaii, spent some time working in Australia, and have traveled extensively to meet with teams and customers all over the world. These experiences helped expand my perspective on how important it is to think about diversity on multiple dimensions across a variety of communities. Part of being inclusive is reflecting upon how different people and cultures are globally.
What is your typical day like?
I do not have a typical day yet since everything is new, due to my new role. In general, my days are filled with meetings to learn about and from the team.
Before, my day started and ended with 1:1s to check-in with my team members because we were spread across time zones – 19 in fact. The rest of my time was spent keeping the rhythm of business moving forward including project reviews, team meetings, planning sessions and address issues or challenges the team was facing.
There are two important habits that I have incorporated as part of my weekly routine. For the last 15 years, I have reserved Fridays as my learning day. I intentionally do not schedule meetings and I focus on expanding my skills, exploring new technologies, or simply spending time coding. More recently during the pandemic, I have also implemented “my horses and me time”. Several times a week, I spend time riding. This is a chance to reset and feel refreshed. Whether my morning has been great or a bit of a challenge, I get to start my day over after I ride –a new day with renewed energy.
What influenced you to pursue a career in Tech?
My mom! Not because she wanted to foster my love of math and science, but I was taking a year off from college. At the time, we lived in Hawaii and I was waitressing and making “great” money. She wanted me to do something else as my career. She found me a coding job with a Hawaii coastal zone management project. It was my first coding job and I continued to do it while I was finishing college. It was then I fell in love with coding because it satisfied my passion for creative problem solving.
How has your background prepared you to succeed in the industry?
I’ve learned there are many different things in a person’s background that can help them be successful in tech – yet it all comes down to your passion for solving problems. I have worked with people who love technology with degrees in Architecture, Education, Art, Design, and History, as well as career paths directly related to engineering.
For me, it was my desire to be involved with incubating new ideas and opportunities to be creative in how we built products and teams. I honed my skills in setting the vision with specific end-goals but remaining open to my team shaping the path we went to achieve our objective. As a leader, I learned three important things along the way:
- Having a shared vision is the most important thing. It shapes the future for a team, a product, and a company, it is what drives mission and focus. As a leader you need to share your vision, then invest the time to help your team capture and align with it. Allow everyone to see the world through your eyes and understand the milestones helps people envision the shared path ahead.
- Together we create! Enable the team to ideate on how you accomplish your milestones and goals together. It’s important to step aside, letting others bring their ideas and experiences to the journey. Be curious and open to learning. You need to have the end-state in mind to help the team align and support them as they determine what is the right path forward.
- Finally, do not be overly committed to what the outcome will be. Often, we would have big “Ah Ha” moments as we work together, which ultimately leads us to shift and evolve our plans which deliver better outcomes than what imagined.
Whether it’s incubating a new product, building a new team, or maintaining the rhythm of a business, I look for the gaps or blank spaces and find opportunities to make a positive impact.
What has been your most career defining moment that you are proud of?
One of the most important moments that continues to drive me is the Xbox 360 launch. I had the opportunity to take my children with me to a fan ‘thank you’ event at a large retail store. The first person in line waiting to buy an Xbox was the military wife of someone deployed to Afghanistan. She was very excited to be able to get him one to show him how much she loved and appreciated him. To this day, I tear-up when I think about how much joy this purchase was going to bring both of them. It deeply affected me because I had been a part of something that was a magical and helping people in ways that I had never thought about before. I knew I could be a part of many more moments like that one.
What are some of the biggest challenges and concerns people in tech need to consider?
With the significant pace of change and monumental influence of technology, especially in ML and AI, we need to be mindful about how we can impact people’s lives with both positively and potentially negatively experiences. We need to be thoughtful about the near and long-term consequences of what we build. Things like managing people’s data, biases driven by the algorithms and moving an experiment or model into full production demands new levels of intense scrutiny and thoughtfulness in how we build software solutions.
Is there one piece of advice you wish somebody gave you at the beginning of your career?
It’s okay to be you. When I realized and ultimately embraced my individuality, I unlocked my personal potential and empowered me to build diverse, high performing teams.
Find your tribe. it is important to have a group and place where you can be you. In that space and community is where you will be the successful and feel a sense of belonging.
What do you think companies can do to encourage more women to both attract and stay in tech careers?
I believe it starts with reflecting the communities you are serving. When your team looks like the community you live and work in which creates a more inclusive atmosphere, you can attract women and other diverse individuals. While in Microsoft CSE organization, I was fortunate to lead our Ambassador program with a volunteer group who are involved in their local communities to help people like themselves feel supported. I believe and have seen when a team feels connected to the communities they are in, you create a better work environment with people feeling a sense of responsibility to be better citizens because they are part of something bigger than just the organization.
Any resources that you would recommend? eg Podcasts, networking events, books, conferences, websites etc.
Anything and everything from Simon Sinek.
Fun fact about you?
I’m currently playing Skyrim again and over the holidays played Hellblade. When I finished Hellblade, my first reaction was – What? No, it can’t end this way…when does the next one come out?