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Meet Aisling Hayes: Senior Product Owner at Travelport digital

88793.jpgWhat is it like to work at Travelport Digital?

It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding places I have worked during my (colourful!) career. No two days are the same in here! The people are great to work with, they are hardworking but can have the craic, at the end of the day we get the job done but we have fun doing it. It is one of the most effective teams I have worked in, in terms of getting things developed and delivered; every voice and input is heard and appreciated and everyone contributes to the end result.

What's more, I have never worked for a company that looks after their employees the way Travelport Digital does, they really put people at the forefront of everything they do.  

What does your role entail?

I started off in Travelport Digital as product owner where my primary role was to work very closely with our customers, to listen to their needs, working with them to define their vision, and bring that information back to the team so we could build those needs into an end product.

As a senior product owner I continue to work very closely with the customers to help them identify the best strategy for their app. I help them to identify and measure their goals and KPIs so we can assess how an app is doing and use this info to better enhance the user's experience and ensure that we are meeting our customer's business objectives and the objectives of their app strategy.

On a day to day basis I spend the majority of my time with our development team to define requirements, with our designers to work on the best UX and UI and with QA to ensure we develop product to highest quality. I also work with project managers and technical team leads to plan out roadmaps and releases as per our customer needs.

What advice would you have for anyone that is interested in working on your team?

You need to be good fun, not afraid of hard work, and confident to interject if you feel something can be done better, differently, or in a more effective way. You also need to be flexible and open to everybody else's inputs. It is also important to be customer focused - you need to be cognizant of our customer needs, and those of the end user. Finally, you need to be interested in technology and the travel industry as it is challenging and forever changing.

What is the favourite part of your job?

The most interesting and enjoyable aspect of my job is working with our customers to develop something from an idea right through to fruition. I also enjoy when we encounter problems, as problem solving exercises is so rewarding when you come to the end conclusion. I love building something out that our customer wants and that addresses the end-users’ needs. It’s so rewarding when you see the positive reviews and ratings in the app stores for a product you have helped to build out.

What is the best project you have ever worked on?

It has to be building a responsive website for one of our customers. It was my first project in Travelport Digital, and it was the first responsive site that Travelport Digital had built for a customer and it involved working primarily with an offshore team. It was both interesting and challenging!

What are you most proud of achieving in Travelport Digital?

My biggest achievement is working with a new customer of ours, helping them define the vision of their app, from the strategy to delivering the first production. It was the first time I had ever worked with a customer right from the outset - completing the full workshop, defining the requirements and usability, bringing those requirements to the team here at Travelport Digital right through to its very first release.

Describe your typical day in Travelport Digital

As I work across multiple projects I need to be organized so I start the day off getting through emails and doing my to do list for the day! At our daily stand up we go through the scrum activities and I then catch up with the other product owners and product managers on the projects that I work on to see what needs to be done and if there is anything urgent that needs to be addressed. The day then varies from working through outputs from workshops, usability proposals, story writing and working through designs right through to defining the strategy and KPIs for our customers and looking at google analytics and app review for our customers to identify areas that are working well and what needs improvement.

What do you like to do outside of work?

Outside of work you can find me looking annoyed in the gym, I don’t like going there but I still go! I also like going for walks along Dun Laoighaire pier. I’m from Tipperary so I love going home to my family, we’re like the Brady bunch! I’m the only one who took the plunge and left the county so I love going home for family dinners and catching up with my brothers and nieces and nephews.

I’m also a massive music lover, it was something I was brought up with so when I have any downtime I have the headphones on and my nose in a book. I have also found myself singing at a few weddings!

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I recently got engaged so I’m currently in the process of planning my wedding and trying to decide where go on honeymoon, considering I work in travel industry it's still not that easy, there are so many options!

What was life like pre Travelport Digital?

I took what some might call quite an interesting route to get to where I am now! I studied science for 5 years completing a degree in environmental biology, I did my diploma in Galway and my honours degree in Aberdeen in Scotland. When I finished college I worked in science for the next four to five years. I worked as an environmental technician in a mining company in Tipperary for a year and then did lecturing and teaching science in 3rd level institute. It wasn’t until I became a microbiologist that I came across project management.

I then took a year out and went travelling to Australia where I tried to determine what it was I wanted to do. I found the science industry quite repetitive and not very challenging and I realised that it didn't’suit my personality. So when I returned back from Australia I did a project management course as I had gotten a taste for it as a microbiologist. From there I worked as a PMO analyst in the insurance industry before taking my first foray into the travel industry when I became a business analyst in Aer Lingus. I spent two great years there and it led it to my initial role in Travelport Digital as a product owner before getting promoted to a senior product owner which is the role I’m in now.

How different is Travelport Digital to any other company you have worked for?

For me Travelport Digital is probably one of the most employee friendly employers, they really look after and care for their employees. It's fun, open to change and flexible. I find that it is a place that really gives you the opportunity to grow, they can see your strengths before you see them yourself so they help bring out the very best in you by giving you the best opportunity to further advance yourself in the industry. All the while making it a fun, nice work environment; it's a very social atmosphere and they go out of their way to bring cultures together under one roof, we have a good few relocators from Brazil, Spain, Italy, Poland etc.

What have you learnt working in travel tech?

The thing about travel for me is that it’s so diverse, no two days are the same within the industry. It’s evolving and growing so fast, that the challenge is to keep up with it. There is so much space in the market for us to break into, so Travelport Digital really encourages us to innovate as there is so much possibility, especially with all the new technologies that are out there. A key element is for airlines and travel companies to be differentiators in the market, it is an environment that is always looking for better, quicker ways to do things that will set you apart from others in the industry.

What is the favourite place you have been?

Hands down Dubrovnik, Croatia - it is just stunning.

Describe Travelport Digital in 3 words

Fun
Innovative
Rewarding
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