Behind Okta.com: A Day in the Life of Jamie Lee Rice
From discovering this blog post to downloading product resources, every step of your journey through okta.com has been thoughtfully curated thanks to Jamie Lee Rice, Okta’s Director of Web Marketing. Jamie Lee and her team genuinely care about creating web experiences that showcase each team’s unique work and help visitors get to exactly what they need. After sitting down with Jamie Lee (and after sitting on her team for two years!), it’s clear that this attitude extends well beyond the web to her team and the Okta community as a whole.
How did you find out about Okta? I was living in the Bay Area and had recently received a job offer in Madison, Wisconsin. I was in the middle of packing up all my stuff, but one of my good friends, who was the VP of partnerships at Jive, really didn’t want me to move. Working as a partner of Okta’s she knew Okta was hiring and recommended me for a role. I trusted her endorsement, always wanted to work in tech, and could tell the product was both interesting and impactful. I went through all of my interviews and in less than a week, I’d accepted the job in SF. Suddenly Madison was off of the table.
Why did you join Okta? The people. My interview process was amazing. I had one great conversation after another. It was obvious that everyone here trusted each other and wanted to see each other succeed. It almost seemed too good to be true.
Since I didn’t come from a tech background, my hiring manager and I talked at great length about both Okta’s investors, and about Todd and Freddy’s background. I believed in and appreciated their vision, as well as the confidence that the investors had in them. It said a lot that there were so many smart people who saw the future of what Okta could be, and who were working like crazy to make it happen.
Tell us about your role. I run web marketing for Okta. What that means is that I run our websites like www.okta.com, developer, and any microsites that we launch for conferences, campaigns, etc. I manage a team of external designers and developers, as well as our in-house web producers. We ultimately work with different departments across the company to build cool things and to highlight the great work that everyone else is doing.
Web is interesting because it touches on three pillars of marketing. First, product marketing: Okta builds great products, so we work to represent them in a complete, but simple way that speaks to a variety of audiences. Secondly, our websites are the main touchpoint that many people have with our business, which makes them a critical vehicle for our brand. And lastly, the website is the number one driver of leads, so as you can imagine, there’s a huge demand generation component.
You’ve been at Okta for over three years. Has web always been your focus? No, I started at Okta running advertising, but I had a lot more experience with web. Pre-Okta, I taught myself advertising in my spare time because I thought it was interesting. It paid off because it’s what got me in the door, but I took the role because I believed in Okta—not because of the actual job. Once I got here, I realized the opportunity for growth was huge and worked with my managers to find the right long-term fit.
What does an average day look like? If I ever find an average day, I’ll tell you! Generally, I’m working with people across different departments to understand their issues and break those down into relevant web experiences—or I’m brought in when something breaks. It’s the diversity in tasks and the change that keeps my job interesting. Ultimately, I get to create our strategy for the web, and then work with my team to execute it. Because of that, if I hate my job, then it’s my fault. (I don’t hate my job.)
So then what is the best part of your job? Again, the people. What keeps most people at a job is challenging work, autonomy over what you’re doing, the opportunity to learn new skills, and good relationships. There are many jobs where you can do the first three, but the people at Okta are extraordinary. We tend to hire individuals that are extremely smart, but still humble. We all want to help each other without stepping on toes and we all want to see each other succeed.
The best part of my job, specifically, is that I get to work with every single department in the company. That allows me to get to know new people and to see things from other perspectives. I’m pushed by my coworkers to figure out how to solve new problems; and I’m lucky that I’ve built great partnerships with people across different departments who respect what I do and want me involved in their work.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging thing is that everything changes—all the time. But it’s also why I love it. There was an All Hands meeting that Todd led years ago where he said something like, “No matter what you do, your job will be different today than it is three months from now because of how fast we’re growing.” He encourages us to have this approach. We try, we fail, we try again. We have to be flexible enough to move quickly and adapt to the change around us. It’s a constant state of evolution.
What is Okta’s culture like? Okta may be a tech company, but our culture is so much more than hoodies, ping-pong, and unlimited PTO. We’re tight-knit, we find creative solutions, and we work hard. We’re an identity company, so ultimately identity is behind everything we do. We embrace the uniqueness of individuals and of ideas—and not just because “it’s the right thing to do.” The diversity and acceptance in our culture creates an internal community that I’m proud to be a part of. It’s what makes our product better and our company more interesting. I care a lot about it, which is why I was personally compelled to create this video. And it’s not just me. These value are reflected throughout the company through our commitment to groups like [email protected], Okta for Good, and [email protected] [Jamie Lee serves on the committee the the latter two.], and it’s a genuine value of our leadership. We haven’t “solved diversity”, but I’m proud to be a part of a company that takes it so seriously.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work? I love trying new things and finding adventures in the city. We all know the Bay Area is expensive, but there’s a lot of cool stuff happening out here. I’m really into food. I’m up for learning pretty much anything. I go to Nerd Night whenever I can (it’s like TED talks in a bar), check out the great cultural events around the civic center, volunteer as the chair of the Project Open Hand committee for Junior League, and I just recently tried (and failed miserably) at a flying trapeze class! But, well, it’s good to be humbled.
Okta in one word: Ugh, as a marketer I feel like I have more pressure to make it a good word!
Opportunity. Both in the personal sense and for Okta in this space.